Thursday, September 20, 2012

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That Time Judge Richard Posner Met a Furry in Second Life

Richard Posner meets a furry

Judge Richard Posner is currently having a kind of public feud with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, which isn't totally surprising, because Posner is probably the country's most respected and provocative legal theorists, but as I was going through my old posts this week, I remembered Posner had a more pleasant encounter that would probably surprise most people who know his work: In 2006, Posner created a Second Life avatar and delivered a lecture about his latest book to several dozen avatars, stayed around to autograph virtual copies, and as I managed to capture above, had a nice chat with a furry.

"Is that a raccoon?" the judge asked. "I'm a 'furry'. Not sure how I got this way," replied the furry. "I'm really an IP lawyer from DC. Honest." Judge Posner then complimented his tail, but also wondered aloud if the furry was a member of Al Qaeda. (Probably because Posner was there in Second Life to lecture about jurisprudence in the post September 11 era, and the topic was on our minds.)

Speaking of which, as he was taking audience questions, a griefer appeared and tossed fireballs at him, but the Judge was unperturbed: "I'm afraid I'll have to go, before I'm blown up," he said. All of which impressed me, because few people in the legal world seem so open to new ideas and experiences, let alone potential nominees to the Supreme Court, which Posner was once a serious candidate to become. I kind of think if Judge Scalia went into Second Life, he would not have as much fun.

Anyway, read about the whole encounter here, which folks in the legal world will especially love.

Judge Posner griefed in Second Life

In it, Posner makes a lot of cogent points about the Constitution in the terrorist age, and I keep hoping academics cite it, so that others will wonder why the country's greatest legal theorist seems to be talking with a six foot cartoon raccoon and dodging balls of flame.


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"I kind of think if Judge Scalia went into Second Life, he would not have as much fun."

I cannot speak for his experience, but Scalia dive-bombed by flying e-weenies or griefed with fireballs would make my century, in either life.


Thank you for sharing this with someone who was not around then. I wonder how many sitting judges, or elected officials, have ever taken the time to experience technology like Judge Posner did.

I often wonder if some of the legislation and judicial rulings we see put forward today, often ill conceived at best and totally absurd at worse, are being created by people who have no real understanding of what they are talking about. It is like watching someone trying to fit a legislative round peg in a technological square hole, and then scratching their head because the thing still leaks.

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