Since the National Law Journal has just posted an article about TLB, I figured this is a good opportunity for a time-out from the serious law talk, which has occupied this forum for most of the month of June, and talk about some of the stuff that probably isn't mentioned often enough around here. A little levity always helps this kind of situation get going and so I'm going to quote from a post entitled, In Defense of Paris Hilton, by comedian, and talking monkey, Joe Rogan:
Paris Hilton is a guilty pleasure bordering on a national obsession.
What’s the deal? I understand that seeing her everywhere can be annoying, and that she’s got no discernible talent, and all that good shit… but I really don’t understand all the hate. The day she got out of jail a friend of mine who is normally very rational and intelligent was actually angry. Really fucking pissed. “Why the fuck should she get out of jail early? She gets home confinement in her fucking mansion? I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit!”
Meanwhile, across the world horrific drama goes on every minute of the day and gets relatively little attention. Bombs drop, and IED’s explode, people die… Cool, fun loving people that will be sorely missed by their loved ones vanish from the earth every day, but on the news it’s marginalized to a number. “13 US soldiers lost their lives in battle this weekend, making this one of the deadliest months on record.” Reduced to a number. A 1 in 13. A part of Monday’s update on the weekend’s action for those that went fishing and want to keep up on the count.
But Paris Hilton is BREAKING fucking news. Even when they’re talking about other shit they’ve got a Paris Hilton update scrolling across the bottom of the screen. “Paris Hilton hasn’t eaten or slept in days!” Larry King actually devoted at least two entire shows to Paris, and had people that were friends of Paris on. He asked CRAZY questions, like “Is Paris down to earth?”
“Really?” I was watching it and that was all I could think. Just “really?”
This whole scenario just seemed like a funny scene in a Judd Apatow movie or something. Just wow… how fucking weird are we? This is what we care about most while we’re in the middle of this crazy modern day holy war? I’ve actually heard a conservative talk show host say that if the media concentrated on each and every death and went into detail about it people would lose their taste for the war. He went on to say that the American people, especially the young just don’t understand the sacrifice it takes to keep this great land free.
Joe Rogan is one of the best comedians performing today simply because he's honest, and straight honesty is so horrifying you have to laugh or you'll completely freak out. Well, right now, I'm not laughing, and I think we should all be very freaked out-- not panicked-- just freaked out. It's good for the heart to get a little freaked out every now and then. It hopefully snaps you out of your drone-like complacency and you ask, "Yeah, who are those guys that died in some foreign land over the weekend?"
I don't know who they are. Do you? I'm all the way in China and I know Paris got out of jail (again) but I have no idea what's happening in Iraq. That troubles me, and I wonder what I'm going to do about it like some fat couch-potato wondering what he's going to do about his gut. Is the answer the same for both situations? Get off my ass? The couch-potato knows he has to go to the gym and eat better, but what do I do about the men and women that died over the weekend?
Cindy Sheehan, the "Peace Mom" who gained national attention protesting President Bush's Iraq war policy, officially told the world that she will resist the war no more. Since her son, Casey, died in the Iraq war, she has been working for peace in the Middle East and the US media dubbed her an "attention whore" for her efforts. In her resignation she said:
I have also reached the conclusion that if I am doing what I am doing because I am an "attention whore" then I really need to be committed. I have invested everything I have into trying to bring peace with justice to a country that wants neither. If an individual wants both, then normally he/she is not willing to do more than walk in a protest march or sit behind his/her computer criticizing others. I have spent every available cent I got from the money a "grateful" country gave me when they killed my son and every penny that I have received in speaking or book fees since then. I have sacrificed a 29 year marriage and have traveled for extended periods of time away from Casey's brother and sisters and my health has suffered and my hospital bills from last summer (when I almost died) are in collection because I have used all my energy trying to stop this country from slaughtering innocent human beings. I have been called every despicable name that small minds can think of and have had my life threatened many times.
The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think. I have tried every day since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most.
Are you freaked out yet? Of course, I don't even know if I want peace in the Middle East. Peace is a nice idea but so is utopia. I have to ask what the warhawks ask, "Is it realistic?" The people who hate the war say it's a war for oil and those who are for the war agree! Hey, at least there is a point that everyone agrees on! But if I agree with that, then shouldn't I be joining up? Or maybe what I should be doing is inventing an alternative to oil...?
What about this phrase I hear every so often: "They're fighting for
our way of life!" Isn't that a telling phrase? What is our way of life?
Isn't it American Idol, bad beer, bar-b-ques, and... attention whores?
Isn't the contemporary American dream
that we're all going to someday be movie stars and rock stars and
millionaires? What do we do when that reality doesn't manifest? Watch Fight Club again? Seek out a new catharsis like UFC or 24?
Something interesting you notice when you leave the US and you come to a communist country like China is that there are no cops. I'll go days without seeing a cop and when I eventually do see a cop, he's probably unarmed and directing traffic. The US is a police state! China has four times the number of people as the US and yet the US has more people in jail and prison than any other nation in the world. Are you freaked out yet? Why does the US have so many people locked up? There just happens to be more bad-asses in the US than anywhere else? Violence begets violence? Is this the way of life that is being defended by our nation's young men and women?
And what about the detainees being held at the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? We have devoted a significant portion of this blog's dialogue to the debate about the rights of the detainees. A recent article by Harper's magazine said that the lawyers defending the detainees "have been tarred with ethnic slurs and accusations of homosexuality, accused of undermining national security, subjected to continual petty harassment. They have also had their livelihoods threatened through appeals to their paying clients. These events have been reported as separate incidents in the press, but this conduct results from a carefully orchestrated Bush Administration policy that goes under the rubric of lawfare." Is this even remotely surprising now that the CIA is showing the world their "Family Jewels"?
Perhaps nothing shocks us anymore? Maybe no one believes anything is real anymore? It's just one very long TV show and it's all just make believe... It's this kind of apathy that encourages countries like China to produce TV documentaries called "The Downfall of America"... But what can be done? How do you overcome this inertia? Perhaps I'm completely digressing from my point, and so we should go back to Joe Rogan, who said near the end of his blog post:
Every day sons, brothers, and friends come home dead in boxes from a fucked up war in a foreign land, and the only people that freak out are the ones that know them. It’s gotten so bad that the media are actually forbidden from taking pictures of the flag draped coffins as they’re being shipped stateside, but the cameras never stop taking pictures of the crying little rich girl in the back of the police car. And please, don’t get me wrong… I’m not immune to the fascination. I watch it like all the other little monkeys.
I have to admit that I'm also guilty. There is a very interesting post on the Listless Lawyer blog entitled, On Truth and Meaning, which has a quote about Alice in Wonderland that summarizes this post really well:
In the trial scene in Alice in Wonderland, the White Rabbit reads an obscure verse which was apparently quite irrelevant to the case. The King triumphantly exclaimed “That’s the most important piece of evidence we’ve heard yet.” Alice flatly contradicted him and said, “I don’t believe there’s an atom of meaning in it.” The King then said, “If there’s no meaning in it, that saves a world of trouble, you know, as we needn’t try to find any.”
I don't start to freak out until I try to find meaning in any of it. Perhaps we should just laugh it off and get back to our work... Except it's just not very funny, is it?
[UPDATE: Click here for a visual representation of U.S. military deaths in Iraq, courtesy of Michael Moore. You can learn the names and some background information about the U.S. military men and women who have died in Iraq at Honor the Fallen.]