“I’m just saying that sometimes it’s justified,” said Professor Dershowitz. Fenno attempted to look deeply into Dersh’s eyes through the Zeiss lenses. He couldn’t be sure if the man was serious or if this was the longest-running bad joke since “Police Academy.”
“You would really torture Tribe simply for getting more airtime than you in any given month?” asked Fenno.
“I’m not saying that it has to happen, but if we know that I am going to torture him, let’s write it into the Constitution.”
“A constitutional amendment allowing you to tar and feather Tribe?”
“Yes,” said Dersh. Fenno looked around Dersh’s office. He had never noticed the rack in the corner or the noticeably out-of-season pumpkin peelers on Dersh’s desk. Fenno met Dersh’s glance for a moment. All was not right with Dersh. It was time to employ the best defense. Fenno jumped out of his seat and sprinted into the night. It was unseasonably warm, but still cold. The full moon illuminated the campus. Fenno stopped as he heard braying near Austin Hall. Garbled yelling echoed through the night.
“Damned equine bastards …” It was Brian Hooper standing beneath the “Ve Ri Tas” engraving on Austin. An American flag with the shadow of the World Trade Center on it had been pinned just beneath the engraving. He was handling a team of Clydesdale horses and appeared to be in the midst of a failed attempt to manipulate their action.
“Bow, damn it!” yelled Hooper. The horses didn’t seem to understand the beautiful gesture he was trying to coax them into. Fenno turned away just as he caught a glance of one of the horses biting Hooper. The door to Austin’s basement was nearby, so Fenno slipped inside to avoid potential association with the abomination unfolding. He heard yelling upstairs. Fenno walked up the stairway to see what was going on. The members of the Harvard Law Review were engaged in their accelerated Officer selection process.
Garrett Moritz sat across the table from Sasha Volokh. On the table was a .38 caliber revolver. Volokh put the gun to his head and winced as he squeezed the trigger. All of the editors jumped but the gun simply clicked. The chamber was empty. Moritz reached for the gun. Fenno’s shock and disgust propelled him towards the center of the game.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” yelled Fenno, grabbing the weapon from Moritz. “I really hope you’re running for president because otherwise this isn’t worth it.”
“It’s for managing editor, actually Fenno,” said Moritz. Fenno couldn’t believe it.
“Why! Why would you guys risk your lives for this?” asked Fenno. “Was this your idea, Volokh?” Everyone was laughing around Fenno. Bert Huang walked over to allay Fenno’s fears.
“Nobody’s risking their lives, Fenno,” said Huang. He was wearing a crimson sash with the word “President” printed on it. “There are no bullets in the gun. We call it Gannett Roulette.”
“But I don’t get it,” said Fenno. “Nobody wins. Why would you go through all that if nobody wins?”
“Ahh, Fenno, the point is that no one loses. We are all blessed with academic credentials that assure us places in the various Valhallas of the Legal Universe. Those who seek officer status are simply in pursuit of more pleasure-pain than is common. Once you understand that, you comprehend our true power,” said Huang.
“So you’re basically saying that these elections, these ‘games,’ are just symbolic gestures that you use to emphasize the extent to which the secret rules of the legal world will always allow you all to win and force me to lose.”
“In a manner of speaking.”
“I still don’t get it. How do you ever decide who wins!” said Fenno. He felt frustrated and stupid.
“Perhaps a simple demonstration will help, Fenno. I would like to offer you an opportunity to challenge me for my role as leader of our clan,” said Huang.
“Me? President of the Law Review? How? What do I have to do?”
“Have you ever engaged in pugilism?”
“I’ve been in a fight.”
“Simply go into the next room and prepare to do battle with your fists.” Fenno didn’t understand exactly how this would work.
“OK,” said Fenno. He walked into a small room in Austin and put on the pair of boxing gloves that lay on the desk. Fenno began shadow boxing to prepare himself when he heard a distinctive high-pitched voice that clearly was not Huang’s.
“You’re finished, Fenno, you writer.” Fenno turned to see former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson lacing up his gloves. Fenno summoned the spirit of the first Olympian as he sprinted out of the room. In the distance behind him he heard Tyson yelling out taunts. As one of them reached his ears, Fenno felt that he finally understood the game.
“I’ll #*@! you ’till you love me, Fenno!”
Fearing Tyson respected him less than a sports reporter at pre-fight press conference, Fenno jetted back into Austin and quickly scurried into the tunnel system.