Love is a lawless thing, subversive of every tradition and custom on earth. Do you think people don’t sentimentalize it? Anyone who fails to grasp how lawless, how subversive love can be is sentimentalizing it. Love is a lawless thing and yet, paradoxically, love knows of laws the Law itself does not know.
(About a 1 minute read)
I profoundly regret I am unable to accept
Your apology, your olive branch,
Your redress, your atonement
for the insult
You hurled at me today.
Alas! I find myself unable to accept your apology
On a mere legal technicality,
No more than a mere legal technicality.
The mere legal technicality
That you did not offer one.
In the over 20 years I’ve known her, Suzanne has routinely done the most improbable, astonishing things — without herself even beginning to think how astonishing they are.
For instance, she was out in Boston one Sunday afternoon, driving through the Harvard area, when she saw the famous law school’s sign. Not at all knowing how prestigious the school was (Suzanne doesn’t concern herself with such trivia as which universities are notably good universities), she decided on the spot she needed legal advice about something.
So, she parked her car, marched into the offices of Harvard Law School, searched around for someone to talk to. Finally, she found a man alone in his office, working on that Sunday afternoon. She actually managed to get the man to give her free legal advice.
After she thanked him for it, she got curious. “So what do you do here, sir?”
He told her his position.
A day or two later, she called me up to tell me how she was doing. She mentioned the incident in passing, told me the man’s name, and then asked, “So Paul, is a dean, like, the head guy, the guy who runs things? I think that might be what a dean is, but I’m not sure.”
Later I googled the name she’d given me. Sure enough. Suzanne had gotten free legal advice from the dean of Harvard Law School — arguably the best law school in America.
(About a 5 minute read)
Some years ago, an enraged husband shot and killed a young man in my hometown who had been cheating on the husband with his wife. To aggravate matters, the young man had thought it wise to write several letters to the husband mocking him in nearly every imaginable way.
The husband was a private in the army — stationed at a distant base — and quite unable to afford a lawyer. His public defender was one of the best lawyers in town, albeit young, and this was his first murder case.
(About a 3 minute read)
Josh was lean as a wolf that fall
And strong as a hawk’s wings.
That October when the comet
Hung over the San Luis in the night.
And the coyotes called out in the night.
The coyotes yearned in the night.
Jackie heard the coyotes call
And wanted Josh but didn’t know
At seventeen how to overcome
Her ancient fears (born before the first gods)
For the sake of her ancient desires.
(Fire and ice
Ice on fire
Which will win?)
Jackie, then Josh, asked your advice
Back when you didn’t like
Too much responsibility,
Too little wisdom to know
Which way to turn a young life.
Someone else that summer
Offered herself to you.
She was as young as Jackie.
As beautiful as Josh.
You pretended not to notice.
And she pretended not to care.
You stayed friends that way.
Josh was lean, but you listened to her.
Josh was strong, but you felt her.
And (let’s get honest here)
She sensed you knew how to love a woman
So that she cared to be loved,
Cared to share her bed with you.
That’s why she turned to you.
But you didn’t see it then.
(How long we must live
Before we see anything!
We’re always half in our graves,
At least half in our graves
Before we know life at all.)
(And why didn’t you see it?
It’s not like you at forty
Were one of those boys,
Those boys, those “pick-up artists”,
Who know more about how to get fucked,
Than they know how to fuck.
You cared for her. She cared for you.)
Today you would have accepted her.
Your fire has rekindled now,
Now it burns green again.
You’re wiser now, less a fool,
And the blood of outlaws
Burns in your veins.
Love moves according
To its own laws.
According to laws
Born when the universe
You can try
To put chains on it,
And cage it, tame it,
Make it acceptable
As a garden plant.
(That’s what they do, you know.
Across the world they do it:
They play the alchemist:
With strange heats and poisons
They turn gold into lead,
But call it lead into gold.
Those guardians of morality.
But love is a weed
And will always grow wild.
A weed with thorns
It will have its revenge
If you try to pluck it.
Deny it and deny life.
Die years before you’re dead.
The busybodies will praise
You for how you sacrificed
To keep their civilization
From crumbling to the sea.
(Yeah they will. They really will.)
I hear their eulogies already.
Their ironic eulogies for you
That they’ll roar from their pulpit
(“Roar” by putting a moral spin on things.)
So even the dead may hear
How Jackie and Josh were lawful
And so were you.
And so were you.
Somewhere the coyotes call.
The savage coyotes call out
In the night to something
Inside you that’s no longer
Yours and is gone anyway.
But you did save civilization.
For you and the girl didn’t fuck.
Let this be your eulogy then:
“He denied love,
He kept the law,
Saved us all,
By not fucking,
By not confusing
Good with Evil.
Youth and age.”
Let that be carved in stone.
It’s enough to make a dead man proud,
And pride is more ethical than love.
(About a 7 minute read)
I think it can be said of Alex Jones that he is the poster-child for the “American disease” of tolerating the intolerable. Perhaps out of all major democracies, America’s democracy is the most susceptible to the disease. That’s because we tend to be extremists when it comes to protecting freedom of speech.
To be sure, America does limit free speech somewhat, but the limits are absolutely minimal. You cannot advocate physical violence against someone and/or their property, nor can you “yell fire in a crowded theater” for the mere sport of it, since that might lead to physical injuries.
(About a 5 minute read)
“There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily dishonest. I say vague, because when we consider to what extent confidence and honors are reposed in and conferred upon lawyers by the people, it appears improbable that their impression of dishonesty is very distinct and vivid. Yet the impression is common, almost universal. Let no young man choosing the law for a calling for a moment yield to the popular belief — resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation, rather than one in the choosing of which you do, in advance, consent to be a knave.” — The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume II, “Notes for a Law Lecture” (July 1, 1850), p. 82.
If you had just met my cousin, Ed, around 1975 or so, when he was at the height of his career, you might easily have formed a first impression of him as a former Boy Scout who had, however, never entirely left the Scouts. In appearances, he had that air to him: An innocent man, if ever there was one.
Of course, in truth, he was among the most morally corrupt men of any professional class that I’ve known. His career was not merely that of a lawyer, but of a political lobbyist on both the state and national levels. Least anyone harbor illusions about the essence of that noble occupation, Cousin Ed’s job was to bribe people, and he excelled at it.
Around age 18 or so, I attended one of Ed’s parties where I witnessed an eye-opening (for me) conversation. Ed was speaking to a small group of his closest friends — a group of at least moderately powerful bureaucrats for the most part: Men who ran departments of the State Government. Naturally, the conversation was mere shop-talk to Ed and them.
On the other hand, I was still naive enough to find it hard to follow. The last thing I expected was to hear how Ed had recently bribed a key US Senator, the head of the Senate’s powerful Finance Committee, to vote to deregulate the Savings and Loan industry. Although the Senator was not only a Democrat, but known as one of the nation’s more liberal Democrats, Ed had persuaded him to go along with Reagan’s eventually disastrous, crisis-causing, deregulation.
Now Ed wasn’t really bragging to his friends that evening. Instead, he was merely alerting them to the news the industry was about to be deregulated, and so they should ASAP get into positions to make their fortunes.
The bribe was, to my mind, ingenious: A huge chunk of it was in the form of stock in a certain S&L — stock that was bound to soar in value if and when the Senator voted to deregulate. His fortune was made — if only he carried through on his promise. And leaving nothing to chance, Ed had also greased the palms of two or three of the Senator’s key aides.
But to me the fascinating thing was Ed’s manner in telling his friends the news. There was not a hint in his voice nor demeanor that he was talking about anything beyond the day’s weather. My shock wasn’t so much from the corruption of bribing a US Senator, but from the casualness of it.
That evening, I formed almost on the spot the hasty and unfortunate opinion that lawyers routinely corrupted the democratic processes. That is, I naively blamed them for it, as if no one would bribe senators were lawyers somehow banished. And for years that was the bottom line for me.
Now I confess to being slow in every way but in bed. In bed, I will proudly defend my impressive life-long record of reliably performing my “services” with lightening-fast efficiency. So it took me a couple decades before I formed a more informed and honest opinion of lawyers. Much before then, I really didn’t look into it.
The change began with my reading an article on the Gaza Strip in which the author pointed out in some detail the consequences of the Strip’s lack of any legal means whereby the people could settle their disputes. Naturally, the disputes just didn’t evaporate simply because there were no courts, no judges, and no lawyers to resolve them.
No, what had actually happened was the people had fallen back on their families and on violence. In effect, they had returned to the vendetta system.
Which makes sense, if you think about it. What other recourse did they have other than to organize into trusted family-based groups, and — at least ultimately — resort to arms to settle things?
The more I thought about it, the more I came to grasp how lawyers, along with the rest of the legal infrastructure, are about all that stands between a civilization and its reversion to anarchy and most likely barbarism — for what family gang is going to stop at merely settling scores when it pays off under those circumstances to not only settle them, but to settle them in cruel and extreme ways designed to warn and intimidate others into not messing with them?
Like most bad ideas, the notion lawyers are necessarily dishonest is a persistent one. It has been around for far longer than Lincoln’s day — Shakespeare makes mention of it when he has “Dick the Butcher” propose to “…kill all the lawyers” in Henry VI, in order of course, to bring about a better country.
But would such a country most likely be better?
As for my cousin, he wasn’t all bad. At one point in my life, he gave me some of the wisest advice I’ve ever taken. He pointed out in forceful terms — forceful enough to get me to actually listen even at a young age — that I would never have a chance to be happy in life if I followed through with my plan to go into politics.
“Paul, I hear you say you want to help clean up politics, make it better. That’s a noble goal, and I believe you would do everything you could to stay honest and achieve your goal.
“But you need to realize before you make a huge mistake: Politics is a filthy, dirty business. It won’t ever change from that, no matter what you yourself do to reform it. You will be an ant trying to chew down a mountain.
“In the end, it will only commit your soul to living hell, just like it’s committed to hell almost every soul who has come before you. I know.”