Monday, May 08, 2006

Couple Things (First-Year Law Students - Newspapers - Writers)

First -Year Law Students

It is probably axiomatic that first-year law students who have fallen blindingly in love with the law--somewhat like adolescents experiencing their first crush--are indubitably egoists of the first order, pretentious to a fault. Even if, before they entered law school, these kids beamed normality, nice smiles and pleasant personalities, that first year of reading the law focuses those fine minds like blinders on a nag.

I was reading a first-year law student's blog the other day and he was opining about desecration of the flag of the United States of America. To paraphrase, he said (correctly) that desecration of the flag is not a crime in this country, that there is substantial case law that confirms that fact. He then went on to suggest that if an illegal alien wants to wipe their ass with the flag of the United States of America then, yes, that's their prerogative, that's their right...under the law.

Of course, the first-year law student--his infatuation with the law all-consuming, obsessive--neglects to realize that an illegal alien is an illegal alien. Operative word: Illegal. Yes, federal mandates require emergency health care, education and a number of other benefits for illegal aliens. But, I'm pretty sure that rights under the Constitution and the overwhelming paucity of case law (with regard to illegal aliens) do not give illegal aliens the same inalienable rights as citizens of the United States of America who can, indeed, wipe their ass with the flag of the United States of America if they're so inclined.

What the first-year law student fails to understand (those blinders keeping his focus so, well, focused) most citizens of the United States of America find the desecration of the flag, the disrespect for the flag of the United States of America at least offensive and, at most, actionable (a punch in the face, perhaps). Yes, those of us who lived through the Vietnam nightmare and the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s and '70s do, most likely, not object to the Stars and Stripes serving as a patch on the jeaned ass of some young thing or a Stars and Stripes hat or shirt. But, those of us who served our country in the Armed Forces and, indeed--probably more importantly--those of us who cradled our country, who prayed for our country, who feared the destruction of our country, who saw our country precariously close to the abyss, the final abyss whispered by the events of the '60s and '70s (including Kent State, Jack); those of us who came to love our country with an intensity younger generations don't seem to get; yes, we still find wiping one's ass with the Stars and Stripes offensive; we still find flying the Stars and Stripes upside down and below the flag of Mexico offensvie...regardless of Constitutional protections and case law supporting the same.

I do believe first-year law students gradually move beyond the inviolable notion that the universe revolves on the axis of the law and do come to understand that the rule of law in a free society is a necessisarily stabilizing influence--not the *fingernail of a saint to which one kneels and prays.

(*Whittaker Chambers)


It has been my contention that newspapers are the dinosaurs of the media, that their usefulness, their days are numbered.

From the Drudge report, comes the report that newspaper circulation has declined, on average, 2.6%.


Finally, from Garrison Keillor, comes a great article for writers. I'm providing a link to the Salt Lake Tribune, because our Rocky Mountain News (which also carried the piece) doesn't seem to have been able to post it on its website. The piece reads, in part:

Okay, let me say this once and get it off my chest and never mention it again. I have had it with writers who talk about how painful and harrowing and exhausting and almost impossible it is for them to put words on paper and how they pace a hole in the carpet, anguish writ large on their marshmallow faces, and feel lucky to have written an entire sentence or two by the end of the day.

It's the purest form of arrogance: Lest you don't notice what a brilliant artist I am, let me tell you how I agonize over my work. To which I say: Get a job. Try teaching eighth-grade English, five classes a day, 35 kids in a class, from September to June, and then tell us about suffering.

The fact of the matter is that the people who struggle most with writing are drunks. They get hammered at night and in the morning their heads are full of pain and adverbs. Writing is hard for them, but so would golf be, or planting alfalfa or assembling parts in a factory.

The biggest whiners are the writers who get prizes and fellowships for writing stuff that's painful to read, and so they accumulate long resumes and few readers and wind up teaching in universities where they inflict their gloomy pretensions on the young. Writers who write for a living don't complain about the difficulty of it. It does nothing for the reader to know you went through 14 drafts of a book, so why mention it?

The truth, young people, is that writing is no more difficult than building a house, and the only good reason to complain is to discourage younger and more talented writers from climbing on the gravy train and pushing you off.

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