February 28, 2008  ·  Lessig

As some of you know, I helped the victim of child abuse win a pretty big victory in the New Jersey Supreme Court establishing clearly the right of victims to hold institutions responsible for abuse. As some of that some of you know, that led to the revelation that I too had been abused at the same school. (See also “Living with Ghosts“).

Both somes mean I now get email from victims of sex abuse all the time, asking for help in finding a lawyer. I have done what I can, but I don’t begin to have the right resources to identify good lawyers or other professionals to help these victims.

I realize, loyal blog reader, that this is beyond your usual scope. But if you could spread the word to others you might know, I’d be grateful. At this moment, I’m looking for someone good in Missouri. But again, I’d like to build a database with good recommendations beyond that. I’m not looking for a lawyer referral services, of which there are many, and many of which are very well run. I’m looking for one step beyond that — people who have experience in this field who have actually worked with others whose work they respect highly.

Please send any recommendations to advice4victims@pobox.com. Thanks.

April 27, 2007  ·  Lessig

I was extremely sad to read this morning that Jack Valenti has died.

I met Valenti just about 10 years ago while I was at Harvard. Soon after I met him, he published a piece that was extremely nasty about me. A couple months later, he came to Harvard to debate me. He began by apologizing, marking the piece as the “dumbest” thing he had written.

From that moment on, every moment I was privileged to know the man was also a surprise. He was brilliant, and funny, and extraordinarily generous. We debated four times. In each he was self-deprecating, funny, and very very clever — feigning ignorance where it helped, pouncing when it worked. The last time I saw him was at the premier of Gore’s film in Washington. He pulled me aside, and spent 15 minutes asking about everything in my life.

Our positions on many things could not be more different, though we shared certain, fundamental values. It took him 10 seconds to agree to endorse Creative Commons at our launch. Watch the characteristically Valenti (funny, self-deprecating, but very smart) (and totally exaggerating my role but forgive him for that) here:

Valenti taught me many things. But best among those things was the importance of civility. He was respectful and strong, never demeaning or belittling of those he disagreed with. A conversation with him would not produce converts. But it did, in important ways, produce understanding.

We are all worse off because of his passing, and he will be missed by many. But the model of his life as a man will always be remembered. And taught. At least, by me.

May 9, 2004  ·  Lessig

My wife, who, eight months ago, became the mother of this amazing boy who now says “mama,” told me the story of mothers’ day last night. Today, Mark Goldman sent around the poem that began it.

There are almost 600 American mothers who are thinking of just one loss today. Countless more elsewhere. They tell themselves about duty. Bravery. Courage. Yet I can’t begin to understand how anyone, mother or father, survives such a loss. Nor how anyone could understand it.

We are not a generation that has been raised to understand the losses of war. Not this war, not any war.

Let these mothers know peace.