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I'm exactly one half of the way through my first semester of law school.

Friday, I got called on in Torts class.

Then I had a bottle of water and a slice of pizza while watching Christopher Hitchens demonize people who support as people who have taken the same side as the terrorists.

That night, I saw Dave Grohl sing "Best of You" (a song about John Kerry's campaign) from the third row, and nearly started crying my eyes out.

I'm a pretty level-headed person. I don't outwardly express emotions -- or anything for that matter -- very well in person. I am an introvert. (INTJ on the Myers-Briggs for any psychology nerds in the house.) It takes lots to knock me off of my game, even more for me to show anyone. This is why Friday was so extraordinary.

Anybody who has gone to law school knows about the tipping point that everyone reaches by the end of the week. Nerves are short, sleep deprivation is very high. Everyone is realizing that exams are seemingly around the corner. Anxiety is not escapable. That's fine. I'm not complaining about it. I actually rather thrive on it. I'm just trying to paint a basic picture of what it is like.

First thing in the morning, I got called on in Torts class. For those not in the know, getting called on in a law class is stressful to the highest degree -- especially if you are unprepared. I've been pretty good with my reading, though, so I was able to explain to the class how the law views comparative negligence claims when someone who has done something negligent enough to wind up in the hospital, where he receives further negligent treatment.

It goes without saying that after your turn is over, you feel pretty good, but still anxious. I think this will get a little more manageable as I get more used to it. One way or another, law classes are very stressful.

At lunch, I went in to the auditiorium to watch a special guest of our chapter of the Federalist Society, Christopher Hitchens. I sat in the fifth row, right in the middle.

I watched all of the Federalist Society lackies stream into the room. They were all dressed alike -- short hair, black suit, moderate tie, shined shoes, dumbass smile -- and very easy to pick out. My impression of them was that they would pretty much kiss any ass necessary in order to please Dear Leader. It struck me that this must be what the Republican establishment is like. A vast army of white guys in suits who will do whatever the next rung up rung tells them to do, and like it.

Hitchens was to talk for an hour about the axis of evil, and the characteristics they have in common. I took notes. He remarked that "the axis is composed of totalitarianisms where one man is Superman." That's when I got the weird feeling in my stomach. His comment hit a little too close to home.

He went on to say that Iraq used to be a land where "the state had become the property of one man." and that all three of these nations are "always organized for war." His last revelation was that North Korea even institutes "control over morality."

At this point, the acid in my stomach was eating away at the lining. Was Hitchens describing evil, or was he describing the country where I now live? (Yes, I realize that our government's current "control over morality" is nothing compared to that of North Korea, but the language itself caught my attention.)  

Then the assault on you and I began. He called donators to "shameful" and exclaimed that "they are taking the side of the terrorists." Now my nerves combined with flat out anger like I have never before felt. I didn't really know what to do -- Americans buy this drivel? People buy his books? What is going on?

The Lackies laughed and clapped whenever they got a chance. Hitchens then opened the floor for questions, and they lobbed him softball after softball, inflating his ego and theirs. At this point, I was full-on nervous. Nervous for the future of the country, let alone humanity. How could people buy this shit?

Finally, a woman sitting behind me asked Mr. Hitchens why the axis of evil is only comprised of three countries, when so many more meet his criteria. He was a total dick at this point, and told her that she clearly did not listen to the first part of his speech, and then talked down to her when he informed her he would go over it again, "in case the first time wasn't enough for you." Then he got into some conveluted spiel about real politick (sic?), and how it justified the war and all of this. It was all very incoherent, and I thought rather demeaning.

The Lackies chuckled. I felt sick to my stomach. This, combined with the above mention law school breaking point made for a feeling that was not very good.

Is this really the way the world's only remaining superpower is supposed to act? With complete pomposity and disdain toward anyone who dares posit an objection to their rule? I went home and took a nap.

Two days earlier, I had purchased tickets to see Weezer and the Foo Fighters that night. I hadn't been too excited about going -- proabably a little to busy even to think about it -- but none the less I was going. I was still angry, upset, worried, etc. I was not in a great place.

(Follow me here...I have something to say, eventually.)

I had never been to the venue, and wasn't really sure where our seats were. It turned out that we were in row 3 of the section next to the stage, probably a grand total of fifteen feet from it, and exacly eye level with the band members. There was a large stack of speakers positioned directly in front of us. It was really loud.

Weezer is a great band -- topical, generally mindless three- or four-chord rock and roll. They always put on a good show. Tonight was no exception.

I have always loved the Foo Fighters song "My Hero". The "hero" is Kurt Cobain, and the song is Dave Grohl's tribute to him. For people of my generation, Kurt Cobain was larger than life. He has been almost martyred by us. When the third song of the night was "My Hero", the hair on the back of my neck stood up. And not in the normal "WHOA! That was awesome!" sense, but in the "Something earthshattering is going on here" sense. There's a reason I ended up here in this spot tonight.

For those who may not know, the Bush campaign used a Foo Fighters song called "Times Like These" at some of their events:

it's times like these you learn to live again
it's times like these you give and give again
it's times like these you learn to love again
it's times like these time and time again

When Dave Grohl found out, he hit the trail with Kerry for several events. The Foo Fighters' latest record is called "In Your Honor". "Your" is allegedly John Kerry, and the first single, "Best of You" is about Dave's experience on the trail.

So, already completely vulnerable because of "My Hero", I was blindsided by the next song, "Best of You".

I've got another confession to make
I'm your fool
Everyone's got their chains to break
Holdin' you

Were you born to resist or be abused?
Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?
Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?
Are you gone and onto someone new?

Oh man. Nervous goosebump city.
Here comes the part where I nearly lost it.

Has someone taken your faith?
Its real, the pain you feel
The life, the love
You die to heal
The hope that starts
The broken hearts
Your trust, you must

Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?
Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?

The sadness of the song.

If everything had gone the other way that day, I would not have been sitting in that auditorium, listening to Christopher Hitchens deliver the kind of soulless tripe that I heard today.

The Federalist Society lackies wouldn't be nearly as borg-like.

I wouldn't worry about the future of the very existance of the United States every night when I go to bed.

This was it. This was the only time in my life I can recall being effected all the way to my core. I had to sit down. I felt dizzy. I was in a sweat. Tears were streaming out of my eyes.

What I would give to live in a world where gatherings like the one I attended today are not part of the mainstream.

We were so close, I thought. Complete devastation.

Then Dave Grohl came over and stood on top of the stack of speakers in front of us to play his guitar solo. I could have touched him if my arms were four feet longer. There I was, watching Dave Grohl play a song about the Kerry campaign on a day when my personal tipping point had occurred in pretty much every possible way. Anxiety. Anger. Fear. Anxiety again. Sadness.


Then it made sense: I have no choice but to personally do everything that I can to see that we don't make the third mistake for the third consecutive time. I don't yet know what that means, I don't really have time to think about it at this point, but the realization that maybe this time around I can actually contribute in some way has made me feel much better since Friday.

I was pretty well spent after the show. I came home, had a Diet Coke, and managed to get some sleep. Everything is going to be alright.

But its still hard for me to listen to that song when it comes on my iTunes.

(Apologies for the schmaltz and the lenght. I needed to get this out.)

Originally posted to whitedawn on Tue Oct 11, 2005 at 01:41 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  wow (none)
    That's pretty profound. Keep us posted.
  •  good for you! (none)
    for seeing the day for what it could be.  Law school can be such a crucible, but once one gets through it, one is equipped with some amazing skills and perspectives.  (Although, sadly, some give in to the Dark Side -- compare Roy Cohn with Constance Baker Motley...)

    And music, of course.  And the banality of evil, and mindlessness of its shock troops.

    Anyway, enough cliches for one comment.  Great diary!  Best of luck!

    Loyalty comes from love of good government, not fear of a bad one. Hugo Black.

    by Pondite on Tue Oct 11, 2005 at 01:48:15 PM PDT

  •  Very powerful (none)
    Thanks for posting.  The juxtaposition of Dave Grohl's art with the reality of your daily life and the Hitchens event really illustrates the power that art can have in our society.  Truly great diary.

    "A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future." ~Leonard Bernstein

    by outragedinSF on Tue Oct 11, 2005 at 01:49:54 PM PDT

  •  Stay in Law School (none)
    ...but don't become a sell-out, would be my advice.  We need good lawyers.

    Read up on Clarence Darrow.

  •  You have Conscience and heart, and a brain (none)
    Three things the repugs don't have.  You were able to see through the federalist propaganda. Obviously the giggly lackeys are way below where you are. You can fight back by talking to the woman who was behind you.  Find out where there are like minds.  Build your strength, your case over time.  There will be times to speak out, challenge their party line, and you will be ready, directly or indirectly.  Dissect their lingo.  

    If you are an introvert, it's hard to reveal yourself in public.  You like quiet, and I personally hate confrontation.  There are other ways to work to challenge this.  You just have to figure them out.

    Congratulations, you are a great person!  

  •  Great story - thanks for sharing (none)
    I was never much of a Foo Fighters fan until I saw them over the summer in Paris. Been a devoted listener ever since!

    I know, sometimes things get a bit overwhelming. But it sounds like you have the right idea - making sure it doesn't happen again. (Also, thank God for term limits!)

  •  A little (unasked for) advice (none)
    Relax about law school.  It's really not that stressful, especially once you get the hang of it.  Do work along the way, study for finals, don't worry, be happy.

    The anxiety is escapable, just give it some time.

    That being said, getting called on is a bitch.

    "I don't know how to put this ... but I'm kind of a big deal."

    by Slim Tyranny on Tue Oct 11, 2005 at 02:31:30 PM PDT

  •  Hitchens has (none)
    been possessed by a William F Buckley vampire monster. No other explanation for it.
  •  Christopher Hitchens (none)
    will be played by Tim Curry at his toothiest, most unctious and most sleazy when they film the story of the Bush administration. He will be perfect for the role.

    Now who will play Andrew  Sullivan, Ann Coulter, Karl Rove, Cheney and Bush and Laura the Librarian?

    I think it needs to be a nusical, myself.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Tue Oct 11, 2005 at 02:41:52 PM PDT

  •  why didn't you throw a book (none)
    at Hitchens. Or something. I don't think I could have held back.
  •  Voting rights--we need good lawyers (none)
    Imagine being in Ohio fighting for everyone's right to vote, with the skills you will learn over the next couple of years.

    Hang in there and be a lawyer for the people. We've already got plenty of the other kind.

    "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Dr. ML King, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

    by bewert on Tue Oct 11, 2005 at 03:19:10 PM PDT

  •  I had a vaguely similar moment (none)
    on January 19, 2004, when I came home from work late to find that Howard Dean had fallen badly in the Iowa caucus.  That same sense of "we were so close."  

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