July 3, 2006  ·  Lessig

Since my kid was born, we’ve tried to have a month alone off the grid. That starts this year in 6 hours. I have not asked anyone to guest blog while I’m gone, so this space will be quiet. There are a couple times when I might make a surprise return (they’re all preprogrammed). But my apologies for the silence otherwise. This year has been an especially burdensome year. We really need this time alone.

January 20, 2006  ·  Lessig

I’ve created a wiki for work critical of my own work. The aim is to build a text that would complement my own work. I’d be grateful for any help people could provide. Think of the entries as essentially “But see” c/sites.

The wiki is here.

December 5, 2005  ·  Lessig

So it has been more than a year since the argument in Hardwicke. John Hardwicke continues to work extremely hard to get New Jersey to protect its children. He’s asked people to write the New Jersey legislature to get them to consider one important bit of progress, Assembly Bill 2512.

E-mail the General Assembly

November 6, 2005  ·  Lessig

I’ve gotten a bunch of emails recently from people asking whether the NJ Supreme Court has ruled in the Boychoir case. (See Living with Ghosts). The matter has now returned to the blogosphere in an extensive piece by a sympathetic writer.

The answer is no. Though we argued the case almost a year ago (11/29), there’s no word from the Court. I am very surprised at the delay — indeed, a bit worried the delay is in part because of the New York Magazine article. I feel so stupid that I didn’t get a commitment from them not to publish the article before the case was decided. When they told me when they expected it would run, it was months beyond the normal time it take the NJ Supreme Court to decide cases. Anyway, bottom line — no word yet.

September 6, 2005  ·  Lessig

So the year resumes. Thanks to the guest bloggers — Cass Sunstein, the Free Culture Movement, Jimmy Wales, and Hilary Rosen. And thanks to all who’ve written worried about my silence, or asking for my return. I hadn’t realized how long it would take to dig out from my time away. I’m almost there.

July 18, 2005  ·  Lessig

So as I’ve mentioned before, the one promise I keep to my family is a month away, sans Internet, each year since my kid was born. This is year two. The month (or so) begins today. But I’ve lined up an incredible group to blog in my absence.

This weeks is Cass Sunstein. Cass is certainly the most influential law professor of our time (the only rival is Judge Posner, but he’s currently a judge (as you might have guessed)). In 2001, Cass published Republic.com, a brilliant if dark story about the costs of digital culture. Cass is in the first stages of a new book with the other side of the story — the good in digital community. I thought he could see something of that from the mix of sorts who live here.

Then beginning July 25, the kids from freeculture.org will blog for a week about the Free Culture Movement, and what students can do to advance it. As I’ve explained again and again, this is a movement begun far from my influence. But I am a strong supporter, and am honored they would spend some time here (during summer vacation, no less!).

Then for two weeks, beginning August 1, the extraordinary Jimbo Wales, founder of Wikipedia will have two weeks on this page. (He’s staying in my house with his family while I’m gone. You’ve heard about the high rents in San Francisco.) Jimbo has a project to figure out what things should be “free.” I suggested this might be a great place to explore that.

Finally, for the surprising close, beginning August 15, Hilary Rosen, former Chief Executive of the RIAA will visit this page. She has of course been a visitor in a different sense from the beginning of this page. I’m honored that she would spend sometime understanding and explaining here.

I’m sorry to be gone for such a long period of time. But with this lineup in my stead, you shouldn’t be. Thanks to these guests. Please be decent, however direct. And see you on the other side of a month repairing the bonds that distance has created.

June 8, 2005  ·  Lessig

Thanks to Ian and Jennifer for the guest blogging. This was different from the standard Lessig Blog stuff, but I’ve been a believer in Cass Sunstein’s concern about the Daily Me since we spoke about it almost 10 years ago. So I’m happy to mix your reading up a bit. (Don’t worry — just a bit). The issues of this last week are important issues for all of us to talk about. It is the great weakness of liberal politics that too much of the battle is waged in courts. Blogs are to be the space of public discussion of matters important to the democracy (as well as a bunch of other fun things as well). So I am grateful for the conversation (and especially for the break).

May 31, 2005  ·  Lessig

I am home after just about a month on the road, and about to leave to pick my family up at the airport. Realizing last month that this would be a time when I would spend little time here, I asked two friends who are publishing a new book to guest blog for the first week of June. Starting tomorrow, Ian Ayres and Jennifer Brown will be discussing their book, Straightforward : How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights. I’ve not read the book, but I’ve been talking to both of them about these issues since I was a visiting professor at Yale. These are two extraordinary authors, and the debate is certain to be more interesting than the usual stuff on this blog. (Yet another opportunity to see a surprisingly refreshing facet of the three blind mice).

So excuse my absence. I’ll be back on the 8th.

May 28, 2005  ·  Lessig

The comments to Living With Ghosts have done more for me than anything could. “Thank you” is too weak, but thank you.

Many have written asking, “What can I do?” Here’s a map for anyone interested.

As the story recounts, we’re waiting for a decision from the New Jersey Supreme Court about whether New Jersey’s law, which immunizes charities from “negligence,” is subject, as the trial court said, to a “judicial gloss,” making the statute “absolute,” and therefore excusing the organization:

“from liability for any degree of tortuous conduct, no matter how flagrant that conduct may be. Accordingly, plaintiffs’ contentions that employees and agents of the American Boychoir School acted willfully, wantonly, recklessly, indifferently – even criminally – do not eviscerate the School’s legal protections.”

There is — and there should be — nothing that can be done about that case while the Court is considering it.

But New Jersey has a legislature as well as a Supreme Court. And the real hero in this case — John Hardwicke, who has given everything he has not just to his case, but to changing the law in New Jersey — has, with others, started a movement to get New Jersey to FixTheLaw in a part that is unrelated to the case before the Supreme Court.

Even if we win our case, the law in New Jersey would still immunize a charitable institution from “negligence” in the hiring of a teacher. That means if a school hires a teacher without taking any steps to verify the teacher’s past — for example, asking why the teacher was fired from his last job — the school is immune from liability.

Assemblymen Cohen, Chiappone, and Bateman have introduced a bill to remove that immunity, so that a school would have the same duty that all of us have — to take reasonable steps to avoid foreseeable harm, at least if that harm is sex abuse. Yet this bill has been stalled by the very powerful lobbying of some — actually, primarily, one:

Leaders from the Catholic Church have opposed the change. Some of the same leaders, representing the “Catholic Conference of Bishops,” also filed a brief in our case asking the Court to affirm the “absolute” immunity — even for intentional acts — that the trial court had found.

It is completely beyond me why the Church spends its resources to make children less safe. No doubt, the Church has its own issues about liability. But is money really a church‘s only concern? Do its values really say that it is more important to avoid its own liability than to protect children in the future? Or more accurately — that it is right to protect its assets by making children in the future less safe?

In any case, there are more voices in New Jersey than this one. I’ve hesitated before about the appropriateness of noncitizens addressing New Jersey’s issues, but that may just be prudishness. And anyway, I assume the “Catholic Conference of Bishops” is not located in Trenton.

So: Hardwicke has a comprehensive site with links to contact legislators, and to contribute. If you are looking for something to do, I’d be grateful if you followed those leads. Or if you would lead others to them. Or, if you’re a Catholic, I’d be grateful if you would follow your own leads to the conscience of your church.

May 25, 2005  ·  Lessig

To everyone who has written about my ghosts, thank you. I am always stunned by the warmth of this community (though of course, stunned sometimes by the opposite as well). I had promised myself I would not read the piece, but the comments have forced me to break that promise. John is an amazing writer, and the piece has a rawness that is hard, but perhaps appropriate. (E.g., I rarely swear, though you wouldn’t get that impression from the piece.). Three comments below, but first a plea: that we drop the H-word, and B-word from commentary about this. This is an important social issue because of how ordinary it is in fact; and we need it to be understood to be ordinary, so as to respond in ways that can check, and prevent it.

Update: hero, brave

{Update II: Please see this follow-up.

(more below)

(1) Even I have been surprised by the extraordinary number who have written to share their own experiences. Many had never acknowledged it before. Many are struggling with how. We all need a better way to record this, so we can remark progress in its passing away.

(2) I regret the way the piece characterizes my view of the school today. I am not in this case to destroy a school — especially not this one which I believe can do extraordinary good in a kid’s life. The quote that suggests the contrary reflected growing anger at the behavior of the lawyers on the other side in this case. It is perhaps the one clear Scalia-like bit to my character: I believe in taking responsibility, yet this school is being held hostage by a very different ideal. At the point I said what was quoted, my thought was essentially this: if this is really how these people think this issue should be dealt with, then perhaps they are not reformed in the way I had thought they were reformed.

(3) My biggest regret, however, is the place my parents have in the piece. I can’t know this with certainty, but I don’t feel the blame that John saw in my words. At the time when it mattered, none in my family knew. Should they have known? In the world of 1972, from 250 miles away, it was easy to miss.