Law & Speculative Fiction Round-up

This week’s post are, to what I’m sure is the surprise of no one, Star Wars-heavy.


7th grader’s ‘Star Wars’ T-shirt banned because storm trooper was holding a weapon

by Eugene Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy

Star Wars kid

Joe Southern says his [7th-grader] son, Colton, wore a shirt depicting the “Star Wars – The Force Awakens” logo, along with a Storm Trooper holding a weapon, to class Thursday at George Junior High School….

On Thursday, though, school officials told Colton the shirt was banned because it has a gun, or at least a picture of what in the movie is weapon….

Actually, even T-shirts depicting real weapons are constitutionally protected against K-12 school discipline, unless there’s real evidence that the T-shirts are likely to substantially disrupt the educational process (something that’s highly unlikely here); categorical bans on all depictions of weapons, regardless of whether they are disruptive, would be unconstitutionally overbroad.

Read the full post.


The Most Important Charitable Initiative of the Year–OpenAI

By John O. McGinnis at Library of Law and Liberty Blog

A group of billionaires, including Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, have established a new initiative called OpenAI. It  will attempt to accelerate research into artificial intelligence (AI) but in way that assures that the resulting AI will be “friendly.” In my view, this is the most important philanthropic initiative of the year, perhaps of the decade, because it addresses a crucial issue of our time—dangers from the accelerating pace of technological change.

But as Musk and Stephen Hawking have argued, strong AI– defined as a general purpose intelligence that approximates that of humans—also could threaten humanity, because it might be unable to be controlled….

…[T]he only way to forestall malevolent AI is to accelerate research into so-called friendly AI—AI that is designed in ways that will make it live peaceably in the human community. If friendly artificial intelligence maintains a head start, it can help prevent the possible dangers that could emerge from other kinds of artificial intelligence….

Read the full post.


Why Is The Best Version Of Star Wars Illegal?

By Kathryn Rubino at Above the Law Redline

The other day I sat down to watch the original Star Wars trilogy with some friends. One of our group had somehow escaped her entire life without ever watching or even being spoiled about the plot (basically like Kimmy Schmidt, except with way less cult activity). Determined to remedy this glaring cultural faux pas, we started making our plans to marathon the movies. What quickly became apparent was that in order to have the true cultural experience we’d have to track down the un-Lucas-ified version.

But even though the Feds have shut down Silk Road, you can still get pretty much anything on the internet. And Yglesias might have found a loophole — but unfortunately it is an illegal one. Apparently, through a painstaking process a man named Petr Harmy has created a high-quality, digital version of the original cut of Star Wars — cheekily referred to as the “Despecialized Edition.”

[Petr Harmy] made it by digitally combining elements of the 2011 special edition Blu-rays, the 2006 bonus DVD, a 2004 HDTV telecast, a scan of an old 35-millimeter print, and a handful of other sources. It took a lot of hard work, but thanks to Harmy’s labor of love a really cool experience is now available.But, again, watching it is a crime.

Read the full post.


Eric Posner: The First Amendment’s Nemesis

by Ken White at Popehat

Every hero needs a villain.

The First Amendment is not an exception. The First Amendment is a hero, of a sort: a tireless defender of expression from angry mobs and fickle tastes, a sentinel against the sort of annoy-me-and-I-kill-you rule that has prevailed for most of humanity’s history. So of course it has a villain, a foe, cackling and scheming and plotting to tie it up and lower it into a bubbling vat of stinking, unprincipled lit-crit twaddle.

That villain is Eric Posner, professor at the University of Chicago. I would not go as far as to call him super-, but he is certainly the First Amendment’s archvillain.

Episode Two: Eric’s Army of Darkness. In this episode, temporarily thwarted in America by the First Amendment, Posner seeks to overthrow free speech in Europe through clever reliance on violent terrorists. Faced with the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Posner sees fear and violence as the path to power over what people can say….

Read the full post.


If Star Wars Launched A Law Firm

By Elie Mystal at Above the Law

So, that obviously got me thinking about what kind of lawyers Star Wars characters would be….

I think R2-D2 would be the best personal injury lawyer. He’s brash and confident. He can take on foes much bigger than him. He’ll look into the jury box and play a holo-recording of an injured client saying, “Help me, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you’re my only hope.”

Obviously, Boba Fett would be opposing counsel for the defense. He’s got corporate trial attorney hired gun written all over him.

Not that he’s a Biglaw partner. That’s Jabba the Hut: “Bring me the associate and the Wookie. They will all suffer for this outrage.” Vader is the managing partner of a Biglaw firm: there will be a lot of apologies accepted and whole bunch of “I’m altering the deal, pray that I do not alter it any further” when summer associates return to the firm to start full time….

Read the full post.

About H.P.

Blogs on speculative fiction books at Every Day Should Be Tuesday.
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