Jocelyn's Other Desk

The writings of Jocelyn Smith, aspiring author, soon-to-be lawyer, once and future politician, all-around opinionated twentysomething.

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Location: Orlando, Florida, United States

I'm a lawyer in Florida, working on three novels, a screenplay, and half a dozen pieces of fanfiction at any given moment.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Lee, Is There Something We All Don't Know About You?

Has anyone else noticed that dear old Lee Goldberg, self-professed enemy and bain of all things fanfiction and general perversion in literature, has become more and more obsessed with posting increasingly-detailed "examples" of the oh-so-depraved material?

Scroll down his main page, note the pictures of the book covers, and the detailed and exceedingly gross example of Willy Wonka fanfiction. While the latter was no doubt written by the losers who style themselves as fanfiction's version of "shock jocks," and I think it's obnoxious (not to mention revolting), for someone who claims to hate such material so much, Lee certainly devotes a lot of time to advertising it! In the past few months, there have been pictures of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock in a most suggestive and semi-nude position displayed on Lee's blog for all to see and lament the twistedness of their makers. Oh yes. He's just doing this so we'll all know how WRONG it is! Yes, sir!

Better be careful, Lee, or people will start thinking you enjoy finding and reading these "examples" that you share with us!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Road Rage

Elderly Man Drives 3 Miles With Body In Windshield

Swell. Another "poor little old man who enjoyed driving" who nobody had the "heart" to remove his driver's license.

As many of my Blog sparring partners like to remind me, I am a young woman. I don't mind being young--it gives me an empathy for the situations of teenagers with the judgment of an adult. As a teenager, I took often-vocal issue with the stigma of carelessness and semi-inhumanity surrounding my age group. (My "teen rebellion" involved a lot of bad poetry.)

The crux of the hypocrisy, in my view then and now, was that actions for which teenagers are lambasted in the press, hounded by politicians, and thrown into jail in order to make an "example for our youth" receive next to no attention in any other age group.

Within the past two years, elderly drivers have taken out dozens of people by slamming their vehicles into farmer's markets and sidewalks because they "hit the accelerator instead of the brake, poor old dears..." etc. As in this new case, the elderly driver receives next to no sanctions.

Traffic Homicide Investigator Jockers said, "That was the one thing he had, to get in his car and just drive for the sheer enjoyment of driving."

Boo-frickin'-hoo. Tell that to the victim's family when they ask why the person who ran over their relative isn't being charged?

Would such a sob story ever hold water for a 16-year-old, an 18-year-old? Of course not. The press would scream for that "reckless" driver's blood. The driver would spend the rest of his life in prison. Reforms would be demanded to make driving standards for teens and beginning drivers much more stringent.

As well they should if a particular age group is shown to be higher risk. But why this coddling of elderly drivers? "Age discrimination" nothing--if an individual is no longer competent to drive, then they're no longer competent, and a danger to everyone else on the road.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome!

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The Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society Presents
the first show of its 33rd Season:


8:00, November 9 - 12, 2005

The Georgetown University Law Center
Hart Auditorium (Old Moot Court Room)
600 New Jersey Ave NW
Washington, DC 20002

Tickets can be purchased or reserved by calling (202) 662-9270,
or by emailing us at
Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

Students: $8 in advance, $10 at the door
Non-students: $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

Scantily-clad women (and men)! Cross-dressing! Dirty dancing (no, the real thing, not the movie)! Fantabulous musical talent!

These guys (including me) are GOOD! Come join us!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005


So it's probably not Meniere's Disease. (Thanks for the tip, though, Lincoln and Claire.) I did broach the subject with two doctors at the Student Health Center, but each tossed that possibility due to the nature of my dizzy spells--specifically, no spinning. Meniere's Disease seems pretty solid in the "classic vertigo" department, and whatever's going on in my head/ears is anything but.

Nothing came up in my blood tests except elevated anti-nuclear antibodies (even as a nurse's daughter, that was a new term for me) so now I'm off on a referral to Rheumatology to see if they can shed some light on that--even though the ANAs may not be connected to the dizzy spells at all. I'm also trying an Ear/Nose/Throat specialist.

Gotta love the shotgun approach!

If I do have some kind of Condition, I hope it doesn't have a name that ends in "Disease" or "Syndrome." The stigma of those types of terms scare teh bejeezus out of me, not to mention anyone who discovers I have it, even if it's something like "Chronic Epidermal Irritation Syndrome" whose primary and only symptom is being ticklish (relax, I made it up, there's no such Syndrome.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bloggerphobia, Or "The Shark Scare"

(Note to Clair: no offense. While I did get this idea from our discussion on Spike Heel's blog, I'm not trying to badmouth you or your opinions.)

Some sick bastard with a DeviantArt account tracked a girl down on LJ, girl wound up dead. Employees get fired from their jobs for posting about their work on their blogs. It's in the paper and on the news at least once a week: all the bad, BAD things that happen to people who blog.

I blog. A lot. I'm getting quite a reputation for it among my Real World friends and family. My friends mostly tease me. As for the family...

"But people get FIRED for blogging!"
"People get STALKED if they write about themselves on the Internet!"
"Look, you used your real name! ANYBODY could find out who you are!"

Hell, I use my full name, and there's only one person with my full name at Georgetown Law--look me up if you're in town. Go ahead.

Why? Because blogging is not dangerous. Not inherently dangerous, anyway. Yes, there are sharks in the water, but that will never stop me from swimming.

What many of the previous generation (Mum's age and Grandma's age, etc) don't realize is that the Internet is not a small pond. It's an ocean. There are millions upon millions of people writing online, about themselves and others, every day. The Internet is a massive sea of words and information and names and fake names and false information and true information all mixed together. The odds that I will be the one to attract a psycho with the interest and attention span to glean out my information to get to me in the Real World are highly slim.

Most "cyber-stalkers" first find their prey in the Real World. Internet pedophiles are an exception to this, but even they have their particular grazing grounds. And while I may stroll into the water bold-faced, I am NOT suggesting that children or even teenagers be allowed to play online unsupervised. There are ripcurrents of addictive games and stinging tentacles of pornography hard to see in the murky water until it finds you. There are sharp rocks of not-criminal-but-not-nice people, many of them teenagers, who take advantage of the anonymity of the Internet to expand their natural childish cruelty to new levels of nasty.

Every young person should have a supervisor when they are on the Internet, who keeps an eye on them depending on their age and maturity and trustworthiness, who lets them know when it's time to dry off and come inside.

That said, I am 24. I blog. I spend several hours a day blogging my own journals and reading the blogs of friends. My favorite band at the Maryland Renaissance Festival has finally connected the Real World me with the face on the blog entries where pictures of them performing are posted, and now they wave and mug for me when I turn up with the camera. I've attended "meet-ups" of my online fanfiction groups with people from age 16 to 38. Friends who have shared experiences with me that I blogged about have said that they often go back to that entry to re-read it and laugh from time to time (I focus on capturing the funny, spontaneous side of life.) I have many people with whom I share interests online who I met by posting on certain subjects on LJ, who I have never met in person but consider them a friend.

I don't know the details of the Taylor Behl case. Pedophilia-type cases I tend to avoid reading about in detail because they sicken me so. And I would never remove a shred of responsibility from the monster by suggesting that the victim somehow "brought it on herself."

But I have read the reasons bloggers are fired from work, and as I have tried REPEATEDLY to tell lecturing relatives, they were not "fired for blogging." They were fired usually for one of two reasons:
1) Violating a professional (if not legal) confidentiality of their workplace, or,
2) Bad-mouthing colleagues or clients.

The best thing that a blogger can do to protect herself is to exercise common sense in the Real World. As far as "posting information on the Internet" goes, I tend to view it this way:

If you would not consider it "a good idea" to scream the information on a random streetcorner, don't post it. (Assuming it was normal practice to scream randomly from streetcorners.)
  • For example: If I shout "MY NAME IS JOCELYN AND I AM A STUDENT AT GEORGETOWN LAW!" people may think I'm weird for yelling random stuff, but I won't "get in trouble."
  • If I shout, "THERE'S THIS GIRL AT MY OFFICE AT XYZ CORPORATION WHO'S A REAL BITCH NAMED MISS PERSON AND I HATE HER AND SHE DID THIS THING AT A CLIENT MEETING YESTERDAY...blahblahblah" I run the risk of someone who knows Miss Person or XYZ Corporation--and ruffling at my saying such things.

If you could shout something from a street corner, and the most likely reaction would be a weird look and "so what?", it's innocuous information for the general Internet.

Another important thing to remember is that cyber-stalkers, unlike sharks, do not approach silently and attempt to blend in with the water. They like to play with their prey. They announce their presence--maybe subtlely at first, but their typical modus operandi is to play with, then frighten their victim. They don't feed on fish (or surfers). They feed on power and fear.

A person with good common sense and Real World instincts will get that vibe from a person approaching them on the street who isn't Quite Right. That same vibe will appear in such a creature making its appearance on the Internet. Often, especially for women my age with more experience than young teenagers, the type of man who tries to stalk an adult woman has less than brilliant people skills and can't cultivate the friendship and ease needed to get the woman's confidence before switching over to Stalker Mode and sending up danger flags.

Of course, my use-your-common-sense method may not work 100% of the time. No self-protection method ever does. But that's not reason enough to avoid LiveJournal or DeviantArt or the hundreds of other places on the Internet where people converse and share creative works or opinions.

Yes, there are sharks in the water, and a host of other dangers.

But those bad points will NEVER outweigh the benefits of a day at the beach.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Now's Your Chance To Weigh In!

(And possibly get your name in a law journal.)

As you may know, I am writing a paper for my Intellectual Property seminar about fanfiction. Specifically, about where fanfiction stands in current copyright law.

I intend to take into account the arguments made by opponents to fanfic, even the laypersons, so I'm looking at the issue from several different angles:

1) Economic Rights. This is the most basic discussion we usually hear about the legality of fanfiction. Should fanfiction be protected under copyright fair use and/or free speech laws if it does not impact the original author's profits?

2) Moral Rights.
Does an author's personal opposition to fanfiction permit him to prevent it due to his non-economic (ie emotional, creative) stake in his work? NOTE: Moral rights are not a prominent legal doctrine in US copyright law, but they are in other countries, so I'll be looking into how other legal regimes define moral rights, to determine whether fanfiction would be under more legal pressure in those countries due to how they define the author's rights.

3) Common Law.
Are there other "injuries" or "harms" an author can claim resulting from fanfiction? What about "infliction of emotional distress" or the like? Could such a claim be made and what would the author have to prove about the fanwriter in order to win their case?

4) First Amendment.
Free speech does not allow the government to discriminate between allowing different types of speech based on the content of that speech. But does Copyright law allow a private individual--an author--to do so if they object to sexual content in fanficton, even if that fanfiction is not legally obscene? Should the author have such a right?

5) The purpose of Copyright Law and the fair use exceptions.
Both Copyright law and the fair use exceptions (parody, commentary, criticism, education, etc) were created by Congress to encourage creativity and progress and discussion. Would that purpose be better advanced by protection fanfiction or allowing copyright owners to restrict it?

There have already been a few papers on the legalities of fanfiction, but recent developments in case law, like Suntrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin, (The Wind Done Gone case), have added to the definitions of fair use, parody, and commentary in a way that makes this an issue worth re-visiting.

I'm hoping to update legal discussion on fanfiction as much as possible by looking at the most recent cases and legal developments, and another way I want this paper to be different from ones past is that I'm trying to address as many arguments made by fanfiction's opponents as possible. While most if not all of the anti-fanfic crowd I talk to online are laypersons, the topics I listed above are my attempt to translate their positions into corresponding legal arguments.

SO...I put it to you, readers of my blog and occasional sparring partners: if you see an argument or a topic about the Great Fanfiction Debate that I have missed or that you would like to add to, please do weigh in! I hope to publish this paper, and I want it to be as thorough and as fair as possible.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sex Sells. Get Over It.

Oh dear. Warning to Clair, the Jammers, The Other People, and any of my more socially-conservative friends who may be stopping by: I fear that this post will probably make you MAD. You will most likely NOT agree with my position.

But you know how I feel about any meddling with speech and expression, or even suggestions of such meddling.

I'm going to Renaissance Faire tomorrow (big surprise there, eh?) And on Monday, I'm making a trip out to Tyson's Corner, in Virginia. I'm going to the new Victoria's Secret store that just opened, and I'm going to buy something. Not sure what yet, since VS isn't really my style, but I need a sexy slip for part of my costume in Cabaret, and there's some kind of seamless underwear they carry that's supposed to work under a leotard.

It'll be the first time I've ever bought anything at Victoria's Secret. Why? That's why.

I've read the transcript and watched the video. The following are my reactions:
  1. To the clothes (or lack thereof) on the mannequins: Ytch! Also not really my style. Not my style at all, actually. I find that kind of underwear downright ugly, not to mention that it looks damn uncomfortable!
  2. To the complaint about the poster/mannequins engaging in lesbian sex/foreplay: Big deal, lingerie stores and magazines show posters or mannequins of men and women feeling each other up all the time. (Still not my style, however. I prefer landscapes and city skylines.)
  3. To the Americans For Traditonal Values woman: go shove your morals down someone else's throat, lady. The store wouldn't sell that kind of stuff if people didn't buy it by the truckload.
  4. To the "shocking" presence of children in the store: responsibility...of ANY babysit...your...children!!! WHY are ABC 7 and that Conservative Busybody Female ranting and raving about how shocking the STORE is for having children present instead of shoving their microphones and their pamphlets up the nose of the parents who bring the little tykes INTO the store in the first place?!

# 4 is my primary point. Ohhh, it's so shocking to see a kid sitting alone by a fitting room while Mommy goes and tries on her BDSM costume. Don't get me wrong: I don't like it, nor do I approve of leaving kids unattended in ANY store.

But it's a well-documented fact about pedophiles that they hang out in toy departments, not Victoria's Secret. And for those who are fearing that the poor little innocents will be somehow turned into raving sex maniacs by seeing those mannequins or posters, ask yourselves: did YOU find underwear sexy as a child? Or did you just mutter, "Ewwww!" and beg Mommy to let you go play in the Toy Department while she perused the bras and underwear?

Above all else: Victoria's Secret did not put up those mannequins and posters as part of some nefarious scheme to turn children into sex fiends. They did it to sell the clothes those models are wearing. And people are buying, obviously, or they wouldn't be bringing their little urchins into the store while they try things on. And Victoria's Secret wouldn't spend the advertising dollars and the development money (imagine how much cash putting together a line of products like that and displays like that must cost!) if people were not buying.

Whether an interest in the kind of sex that the store is promoting is "moral" or not is not the issue. My point is that either way, stores sell what people buy. Stores display what people want to see. More people want to see those types of products than don't, or else VS wouldn't have bothered.

As both an American consumer and a militant believer in free will and free expression, I object rather strongly to some pompous female and sensationalist reporters trying to prevent a STORE from selling adult materials to adults.

They are not peddling kiddie porn. No mannequins were harmed in the production of those displays, no models were raped in the photo shoots. They are dealing in adult products for adult consumers.

If there are children in a store that sells adults-only products, the nature of that store's advertising is the LEAST of this country's problems.

What does it say about the number of PARENTS who stroll right on in with their kids in tow? Why are the media and the Self-Appointed Morality Police attacking the store and not them?

So the store has my support, even though I personally do not like what's on those mannequins. And when I go spend some cash there on Monday, I will tell them so.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Stars Are Stacked Against Me...

The year I was born, January 19 fell into Aquarius, rather than the usual Capricorn. According to my astrology-expert sister, this makes me "An Aquarian with Capricorn tendencies."

However, it's well-known that Aquarius and Capricorn are two of the most conflicting signs in the zodiac, if you believe in that kind of thing. (I'm not sure I do, but it's a lot of fun, especially since I DO seem to be rather weird even by usual weirdo standards.)

My Horoscopes today, courtesy Georgetown Law Weekly:

Aquarius: Your class notes will start to resemble nursery rhymes. This is a sign of insanity.

Capricorn: Avoid ducks.

I'm doomed. DOOMED.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


So I made yet another Renaissance Faire excursion this weekend, this one to King Richard's Faire in Boston whilst visiting with friends. Along with drenching rain, cold temperatures, mushrooms growing in the haybales and roving bands of ducks, a definite discussion point of the trip was Tale of the Tiger.

On the right is one of their stars: a golden tabby tiger, the rarest variety of big cat in the world. But as much as I enjoyed seeing the tigers and the leopards, and as much as I love big cats...the whole thing left me uncomfortable.

The reason is that I am firmly of the belief that using large wild animals like big cats as "animal actors" (as they're called by the group that performed at Faire) is an incredibly bad idea. The painful thing about it as that, as a die-hard cat lover (no pun intended) I am well aware of the attraction to these animals, the desire to touch them and see them play and romp--and to play and romp with them.

But it's that playfulness, those inherent feline qualities that big cats share so adorably with their little domestic counterparts, that makes big cats so incredibly dangerous.

I posted this sad case in point to my livejournal as well--the story that made me finally decide firmly against the idea of trying to train tigers and lions, be it for the circus or petting zoos.

When my sister was in her early teens, she performed in The Little Match Girl with the Gainesville Ballet Theatre back in Florida. In the first year she was on the cast, they had an elephant onstage at one point. The second year, it was a tiger.

The company hired a local group called The Cat Dancers to bring their young white Bengal tiger, Jupiter, onstage. Everything went beautifully--Jupiter was still a cub, but the size of a pit bull. Everyone adored him. Such a beautiful animal. He stole the show in that first act. The Cat Dancers were a trio of trainers, a husband and wife team, and another trainer.

Barely three years later, it all went horribly wrong.

The details remain murky, and the article posted above paints Jupiter as some kind of monster. But anyone who knows anything at all about wild animals knows that they are not vicious creatures. They are simply wild. Meaning not domestic. Meaning no matter how much training they receive, how much love and affection, their predator instincts never leave.

In Jupiter's case, it was one of those ornery feline moments that struck--with several hundred pounds of muscle behind it. Where a domestic cat gets cranky and takes a swipe or a bite out of his owner and might require stitches...tigers are capable of the same sudden mood shifts.

From what we heard in Gainesville (the Cat Dancers and Jupiter lived in Newberry, a small town to the west), there had been some kind of construction or work going on near Jupiter's holding area that upset him. When one of the trainers went into the pen to take Jupiter out, he jumped on the man and killed him. The Cat Dancers and those who knew them were heartbroken, but they decided not to put Jupiter down.

Six weeks later, one of his other owners, a lady who had been onstage with him back in The Little Match Girl, went to visit and feed him. She had reportedly been deeply depressed after her fellow trainer's death, lost weight, and uncertain about the group's future. No doubt Jupiter, with those uncanny feline instincts that cat owners know all too well, realized that something was not right with his "mother." He bit her on the neck and killed her.

The last remaining Cat Dancer, the husband, had witnessed both attacks, seeing his wife and fellow trainer killed by the beautiful animal they had raised since he was six days old. When the Alachua County Sheriff's SWAT team arrived, he gave permission for them to shoot Jupiter.

Thus ended three innocent lives.

We've all heard of the fate of Siegfried & Roy, when one of the famous duo fell afoul with his trained tiger. They argued that the tiger was just trying to "protect" Roy. Knowing cats and their instincts, it's entirely true. But where a cat or a tiger can lift their young by the neck without hurting it, it nearly killed a human being.

Conservation and preservation of these beautiful animals should be continued in every way possibly. They are not monsters. They are creatures of instinct, not cruelty. But wild animals are also not toys, nor will they ever be pets.

I sympathize deeply with the Cat Dancers and other trainers and animal performers because, as a cat lover, I feel that desire to caress and cuddle with a "giant kitty." And maybe I could...for a time. But it's all too likely that the animal who loves and is loved by his human trainer could kill her--most certainly by accident. But they are simply too large, too powerful, and too untameable to ever be handled safely by human beings. And in the end, we must all accept that.

We should enjoy them and love them from a distance, keep them growing and breeding so future generations can see and marvel at them. But let them be.

Monday, October 03, 2005

He's Everywhere! He's Everywhere!

Run for the hills, my Washingtonian friends!

Matthew Lesko, TV-personality and all-around weirdo extraordinaire is taking over the world!

I was at Regal Cinemas in Gallery Place/Chinatown on Friday night, watching Serenity for the third time in five days (yes, I know, I am a silly sci-fi nerd. So sue me), and there he was! I fumbled with the camera a bit (in case the blurry picture didn't clue you in) and had to elbow through the line, but I caught him in his evening garb: it's black with a bowtie, instead of his typical blue-gray suit.

Apparently, he never ventures anywhere without those telltale question-marks on his clothing. An interesting character, to say the least.

I saw more than my share of bizarre characters at the three Serenity screenings I attended--and only a few of those were actual viewers of the movie (and of those viewers who could be described as "bizarre characters," three of them were me.)

For a recounting of this highly-amusing week, see below: