American Thinker asks “Where is Atticus Finch when you need him?” by Lee DeCovnick begins:
Atticus Finch, Harper Lee’s mythic Southern liberal, wisely shot the rabid dog before it could infect Jem, Scout, Calpurnia or the other town-folks of Maycomb with a lethal disease.
Then in reference to ebola says:
it is clearly evident that Obama and the Administration’s zombie- like factotum’s have purposefully abandoned the most basic of governmental functions: safeguarding the health and general welfare of all American citizens.
DeCovnick goes on to compare Atticus shooting the dog to closing borders and sending immigrants back. That strikes me as a strange reading of “To Kill a Mockingbird” but a good reminder that not everyone interprets characters in the same way.
While we’re asking this question (Where is Atticus Finch?) we can notice where else he isn’t. He’s not on the ABA’s list of “12 movies with pivotal lessons featuring lawyers” But already “To Kill a Mockingbird” is mentioned in five user-comments on that ABA site. Also absent from this movie list is any zombie movie but honestly I wouldn’t even know which one to suggest.
Speaking of ABA lists, PLEASE NOMINATE ZombieLaw for 2014 ABA Blawg 100, the deadline soon, please do it today! Obviously these lists are highly selective. It was a huge honor to be mentioned in 2012. If I don’t make this year’s cut at least I’m in good company with Atticus.
In 1999 law professor Steven Lubet wrote in the Michigan Law Review “Reconstructing Atticus Finch“:
Atticus Finch is a paragon of honor or an especially slick hired gun
Who are the heroes, who are the villains? It’s hard to know anymore.
Since this post is largely about entertainment, perhaps now is a good time to note last week’s episode of HBO’s “True Blood” with another pivotal lesson for lawyers: vampire clients are dangerous (not sure where to get the clip of this). Be careful when you give your client bad news about the state of the law. In this case, explaining to the vampire, estate planning for the undead (recall Prof. Chodorow‘s work on this subject).
It may be weird to consider the role of infectious diseases in developing civil rights policy, but consider how the Hollywood portrayal of dying gay men in the AIDs crisis (and of their difficulties transferring assets to their loved ones) may have been a contributing factor to the developments of equal rights for same sex marriage legalization. The awareness of the disease crisis lead to an awareness of the estate issues which lead to public support for equal rights in marriage policy.
With immigration policy it seems obvious to connect disease to historic examples of border security. It seems obvious that we don’t want to let diseases into the country. But these are not just diseases, these are people. Civil rights must mean treating people as more than mere disease vectors.