American Samizdat

Monday, June 04, 2007. *
On December 23, 2002, The Clash frontman Joe Strummer unexpectedly died from a heart attack. His death did not just alert a certain generation to the alarmingly rapid passage of time. ("Fifty? How can a punk rocker be fifty?") It also marked the loss of a truly brilliant artist. Strummer was a musician who stripped rock back down to its raw essentials, then exploded its creative vocabulary with borrowings from around the world. He was also a lyricist who channeled the ragged anger of punk into a vast, incisive social critique.

The tributes paid to Strummer in recent weeks have not forgotten that The Clash were the most politically engaged and articulate musicians of their time, perhaps in the history of rock and roll. Other bands wrote protest songs. The Clash had a full-blown foreign policy. Touted early on as "the only band that matters," they very nearly lived up to the hype.

But Strummer could have been much more than that. He would have made one heck of law professor.

The range and depth of The Clash's commentary on law and justice humbles that of just about any other rock band. (It also happens to compare favorably to the written output of many tenured legal scholars.)

After all, how many popular musicians began songs by proclaiming "This is a public service announcement... with guitars!" or swearing "by Almighty God/To tell the whole truth/And nothing but the truth," as The Clash did in "Know Your Rights" and "Guns on the Roof"?

But before any sentimental record companies rush to endow a Joe Strummer Chair of Punk Jurisprudence, they should prepare themselves for a lively clash of values. For Strummer, "justice" and "the justice system" were fairly inimical concepts. As a result his views fell squarely into the "Critical Legal Studies" camp.

Given today's political climate, Strummer would have faced a tough road to tenure. But through his songs, we can at least get a glimpse of what the curriculum might have looked like.

This would be a great syllabus for anyone whom still believes in Jurisprudence, Law, and human rights. More at the above link.

Also, Once Illegal, Always Illegal

Let's hope that now, finally, someone will say 'nough is 'nough and shut this sham of legality and Guantanamo Bay down.
posted by Uncle $cam at 3:20 PM
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