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Two WSJ Legal Zombies

July 17, 2013

Two interesting “zombies” in the Wall Street Journal;

1) “Tired of Superheroes and Zombies? This Summer Movie Stars Auditors” by Reed Albergotti:

A Lawyer Becomes an Accidental Mogul of Training Videos; Character Motivation

They may look like sophisticated Hollywood thrillers. But the films of British lawyer Duncan Wiggetts are actually high-budget corporate training videos. WSJ’s Reed Albergotti reports.

According to Albergotti’s article, a half-hour education video might cost $100,000. Recall all the trash talk against the IRS for making an expensive training video; that Star Trek themed video cost $60,000. But theme education is the new wave.

AND

2) “Congress for Dummies” by James Taranto, addresses the letter from Senator Murphy to Zombie Industries regarding Gun Control Lobbyist shooting targets.

Taranto brings up a Constitutional First Amendment argument about zombie art as political speech. He cites to the 2009 Supreme Court case Brown v. Entertainment Merchants, to liken the zombie shooting targets to video game expression. Taranto quotes from the Justice Scalia opinion in Brown omitting the citation for Scalia’s quote of Justice Reed’s 1948 opinion in Winters v. New York:

“Everyone is familiar with instances of propaganda through fiction. What is one man’s amusement, teaches another’s doctrine.”

The Winters case was about a sixty year old New York statute that prohibited magazines about crime and bloodlust (comic books?) in the interest of preventing crime. But the Supreme Court invalidated the law because it was too vague and indefinite. Similarly with the recent video game decision, California’s statute was declare unconstitutional. Recall also a similar case about free speech and violent video games decided in 2001 by Judge Posner in the Seventh Circuit, and was cited by the Brown case – American Amusement Machine Assoc. v. Kendrick.

The interesting connection between these two WSJ articles is to consider the educational implications of metaphors. There is an inclination to try to protect the children from so-called dangerous memes. But these same memes are highly valuable tools for instruction and training. No one knows how a single story can alters our decision making, the stories we use for education have implications.

Fictional characters like zombies may be a useful educational tools, but there can be dangerous implications. But as the Supreme Court will hopefully continue to say, the answer is not to ban dangerous speech (unless it’s child porn; but somehow animal crushing?!). Quite the opposite, the answer is to teach more about those dangerous ideas, not hide texts from kids but instead contextualize them into adulthood. /?

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