Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Part of me thinks I should write something about how last week’s Supreme Court decisions are especially important for law students, and how they affect us in ways above and beyond the normal population. But after some thinking, I realize they don’t. The affirmative action one doesn’t because I’m already in school, and so it’s not really my business anymore how they choose the next generation of law students, right? I mean, I won the admissions lottery, so that means it’s just fine the way it is. (That’s my rationale for not supporting world hunger, too. I mean, I’m pretty full. I had a big lunch.) And the sodomy one doesn’t affect any law students because all law students are studying too hard to think about ever doing any of that stuff anyway.

My grandmother actually asked me what I thought of the two decisions, given my one year of law school education. I told her I thought they were both okay, but that I hadn’t read the opinions or anything like that, so I didn’t really have anything profound to say about them. And even if I had read the opinions, the odds that I'd have anything profound to say were pretty slim. Then she asked me what sodomy was. So I told her what kind of stuff she’d be allowed to do now, without getting arrested. And then she said she doesn’t like the kind of filth that law school is teaching me, and I should go learn to be a doctor instead. I told her the Court said it’s legal for doctors to do that stuff now too. Now she’s afraid to go to the doctor. And that’s pretty much where I run out of material about the Supreme Court decisions.

So instead I figured I’d write about July 4th. Independence Day. When we were kids it meant having a barbecue, watching the pretty fireworks, and taking great-aunt Sally to the hospital after she blew her finger off accidentally while lighting a Roman Candle. For whatever reason, it’s funnier to me if I think of an elderly woman lighting fireworks in my joke than if I were to have said “Uncle John.” I’ll use Uncle John next time I make a joke about rape, though.

But as a law student, I think of Independence Day a little differently. When I see fireworks, I think of defendants – the firework manufacturers, the stores that sell them, the police for not enforcing the anti-fireworks laws, the hospitals for being understaffed on holidays and not able to administer timely treatment, the insurance companies for denying legitimate claims built on the negligence of the fireworks makers, not on the negligence of great-aunt Sally, lighting the Roman Candle even though she’s legally blind. I think of the missing warnings on the packages, the missing safety features on the fireworks, and the missing digits on Sally’s hand. I think of contingency fees, and gruesome photos to gain the jury’s sympathy, and contingency fees. I think of money. I think of lots of money.

And that’s not all I think of. I think of the barbecue grill manufacturers, the meat packing plants that don’t test for salmonella, the failure of the meat thermometer to tell me when the chicken’s cooked all the way through, the failure of the city septic system to fully process what results from eating the infected meat, the poor image of great-aunt Sally, not really having a good evening, unable to share in the festivities of watching the neighbor’s house burn down after the fireworks land on his roof.

But I don’t just think of lawsuits. The mere words “Independence Day” remind me of my own independence. The independence to work for whichever law firm will hire me. The independence to pay off my loans on either the 10-year plan, the 15-year plan, or the 25-year plan. The independence to choose from a wide array of courses, all of which I’m guaranteed to get if my lottery number is low enough. The independence to sit in whichever seat in the classroom I want to, as long as it’s the one I’ve been randomly assigned by the assigned seat computer algorithm.

I also think of the laws that allow there to be liquor and fireworks stores on the side of the interstate in places like New Hampshire. “Live Free or Die,” they say. Yes, die of drunk driving, or of a fireworks mishap. Good choices there. How about getting drunk first, and then lighting fireworks? That sounds like a recipe for a fun evening.

Finally, Independence Day makes me think of that Will Smith movie where they blew up the White House. And that helps me sleep soundly at night.

So, a bit premature (but, hey, I just write what the muse tells me to...), have a happy July 4th. And be careful with your fireworks. But if you’re not, I know some law students who’d love to take your case.