Hazed and confused

BY JEREMY BLACHMAN

I’ve been a victim of hazing. The “forced physical activity” of having to read the anti-hazing statute a half-dozen times, causing me “extreme mental stress” and “extended deprivation of rest.” For a law school, they’ve written an awfully vague statute if you ask me. “Exposure to the weather” can count as hazing. There’s always some sort of weather, even nice weather. Any activity that meets outside – or inside, with a window open – I’ve been hazed! “Forced consumption of any food?” Come on, every single student organization on campus is in violation of that one. On day one, the Jewish Law Students Association (known for last year’s unfortunate “you must eat that pork!” initiations festival that caused quite an uproar) had a bagel brunch. I wouldn’t say they forced anyone to eat the bagels, but they did suggest it a number of times, and with some conviction behind it. I could easily see a 1L claiming he was coerced against his will. “…likely to adversely affect the physical health….” Law review. “[E]xtended deprivation of sleep.” Law review. “…or extended isolation.” Law review.

“Forced calisthenics.” There goes every intramural sport. Uh, all two of them. “Branding.” There goes anyone doing anything with Lexis, Westlaw, or Bar-Bri. Ha. I think Student Health Services is in violation every time they write a prescription, the Hark every time they poison the food, and any sort of competition at all is clearly a violation of the prohibition against “beating.” One of my professors forces us to bring the casebook to class every day. It’s heavy! I’ve saved the best for last, though: these law journals we’ve got are all in gross violation of the hazing statute. “Forced consumption of any… other substance.” Like a footnote? Like the Bluebook? “Forced physical activity.” Mass subcites? Fight the power. We’re all being hazed like nobody’s business. But we know now. Because they made us read the statute. All of them. Multiple times. And cite-check it for accuracy.

If these law reviews are going to violate the law, at least they ought to be able to turn it into a game of some sort. Make it fun to break state statutes. I suggest the adoption of a “law review drinking game” in the research room of Langdell during each mass subcite:

Take one sip for every “id.” Two sips for every “supra.” Three sips every time the author uses a Latin phrase just for effect (inter what?). Four sips for every page that’s entirely footnote without a single line of text. Five sips for every quote inside a parenthetical inside a quote inside a parenthetical. Six sips for every misquoted source. Seven sips for every generic web citation (see, The Internet). Eight sips for every point cite to a page that simply doesn’t exist. Nine sips for every time the reference librarian is able to assist with whatever difficulty you might be encountering. Oh, wait, that never happens.

Of course, this whole game could be played with coffee, inside one of Langdell’s bath-sized spill-proof mugs. Fill that up and you could take fourteen sips for each and every word you pass, and still be drinking from it a week from now. I filled mine up with water. My water bill doubled. (Do we pay water bills? Does anyone pay water bills? Or is water just one of those things that’s free, like illegal cable TV, or music files. I have no idea.)

I think final exams may be illegal under the hazing statute, actually. Writing them is certainly a “forced physical activity,” and surely they cause some people “extreme mental stress, including extended deprivation of sleep.” “Or extended isolation” in the library. Or in Gropius. Heck, Gropius alone is pretty adverse to anyone’s well-being. Down with Gropius. Down with finals. Down with hazing.

Want to join my new club, AHALSA (pronounced “cough, sneeze!”)? It stands for the Anti-Hazing Law Students Association (duh!). All you have to do to join is stand outside for 36 hours, doing pushups, eating walnuts, drinking lemonade, taking vitamins, while baking a cake (that gets the “whipping” and “beating” involved – you see where I’m going here), and advertising a leading type of dish detergent (“branding”) on the toothpicks holding open your eyelids. I think that just about covers the whole statute. We’re meeting tomorrow on some public or private property somewhere. For a mass subcite. See you there!

Jeremy Blachman’s column appears weekly. He also posts commentary regularly at

http://jeremyblachman.blogspot.com.

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