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Lessig portrayed on tonight's West Wing

Larry Lessig is appearing in tonight's episode of the West Wing! Or, rather, an actor playing Larry is appearing in etc etc and so on. Here's some spoilers

Here's Toby & Lessig's conversation (happening at the same time Igor & Vlad are having their conversation): Lessig says he picked up a few phrases -- the language isn't all that different from Polish. Toby notes that they're still eating lunch. Lessig says they love the roast beef. Toby says Lessig wasted the morning talking about a government system that'll never work for Belarus, & now he's given them an extended lunch break. Lessig doesn't think his discussion was a waste. Toby reminds him that the 2 delegates have to leave the WH on Friday w/ a set of laws to take back to Minsk. Lessig corrects him: it's not a set of laws, but a sense of the rule of law. Toby asks him if he's planning on writing a Constitution this week. Lessig asks him if he's familiar w/ Meyer v. State of Nebraska. Toby says Nebraska passed a law making it illegal to teaching anything other than English during WWI. Meyer wanted to teach German, & the Supreme Court declared the law was unconstitutional. Lessig asks where in the Constitution does it say you have a right to teach German in school. Toby: "Okay, & if Oliver Wendell Holmes were alive to serve as President of Belarus maybe they wouldn't need a constitution". Lessig says Holmes dissented on the case. Toby says the 2 delegates need a magna carta w/ real checks & powers. They need a "strong judiciary, a limited executive, a vital press". Lessig replies that a constitutional democracy only works if it reflects demoractic values already existing in the citizenry. Toby says the Belarusians lack those values. Lessig thinks that the most important job they have is to instill those values in the leaders through discussion & debate. Toby says he's talking about 8 people on a DC sightseeing trip. Does Lessig think he's going to reverse 50 years of brutal dictatorship by teaching those 8 people democratic values? Lessig says the 8 are all the President's men & they're teaching them how to scrutinize power. How many people does Toby think it takes? There's a pause, then Toby looks at Igor & Vlad. Then he looks past them & sees Gordon & Miss Universe. A note says, "Tick tock, tick tock".

(Thanks, Alex!)

I'm going to watch it with Larry today. I'll post any blogworthy reactions later. ;-)

UPDATE: It was fun watching Lessig watching Lessig. According to Larry, the screenwriter is a former student of Larry's and it is based on a true story. Larry was a constitutional law professor specializing in Eastern Europe before his recent focus on the Internet and copyright.

UPDATE 2: Lessig comments.

UPDATE 3: Video on Lisa Rein's Radar.


This is cool, but will the show's viewership be able to fully appreciate the real-world inspiration of this character? Meaning no disrespect to Larry Lessig, I would add that most people don't know about him.

I asked my 3-year old daughter who Lessig is and she gave me a long monologue about digital rights, ownership, creative commons, and Brazil's recent move to open-source software. I think that means Lessig is pretty well known ;)

Yes, Adriaan, but isn't that the same thing she said about Doraemon last week?

Jim O'Connell you are just to funny - that was a sublime moment fo me!

I think what we need is a reading of Lessig's Free Culture done by Doraemon.

All that soaking in the bath hasn't helped you much, Jim. What my daughter said about Doraemon was more about the concept of helping the needy and to responsibility we all have to stand up for the weaker persons among us. Listen better, man.

New on Adriaansdóttir's blog: a candid exposition as to how Doraemon's cornucopian pocket is really a parable for the fecund and munificent future that will be fostered by a cultural and scientific commons free of recrementitious encumbrances... :-)

What little Kee Adriaansdóttir seems to grok that her somewhat addled father does not is that Doraemon's utopian vision of the free and creative commons is exemplified by his bountiful pocket — the more that is drawn from it, the more it has to offer. After all, Doraemon himself and his magic pocket were most certainly pulled from the magic sack of Felix the Cat in a way that wouldn't now slip past the noses of the interested corporate legal teams.
It's a good illustration of how neither character is diminished by the mashup and as a result, several generations in two cultures were enriched by healthy cross-cultural derivative creative reinterpretation. Old Walt understood this when he heavily sampled Keaton's "Steamboat Bill" for his little rat's debut. Without the former, the latter lacked a reference that gave the film context and substance. On its own, the premise was weak, but given the precedent, audiences were able to laugh at the cartoon reinterpretation of that age's greatest comic genius. These days, Buster Keaton is largely forgotten and Mickey has lost all but reflexive appeal to audiences old enough to use a toilet by themselves, but the industry built upon the foundation of these early mashups is one of the chief economic pillars of the United States. Yet sadly, they mistakenly believe that further cross-sampling will diminish the value of their properties when it may be the one thing that can preserve them to history. After all, who can actually name another Buster Keaton film?

I asked my Mom (a kind, but naive lady who doesn't even have net access) who Larry Lessig was. She knows exactly who he is! So, I must retract my elitist notions about the "unwashed masses". Sorry.

Somehow this is connected: Brian Reich said yesterday (at OSN 2005) that he was the model for the Josh Lymon character on West Wing.

Wonder if Brian and Larry have been hanging out?

What was the closing music on The West Wing tonight?

The jazz instrumental played during the party scene is "Take Five" by Paul Desmond, originally recorded in 1959 by the Dave Brubeck Quartet for the album Time Out.

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