In the world of social media, two things of interest—one an affirmation:
- I have removed the "Interested in: Men" indicator in my Facebook profile, because when it's checked, almost all of the ads along the right side are gay, gay, gay. Enough already. Although being gay is a big part of who I am, it's not the only part. Besides, I need to keep up with what the straight people are seeing—with that Heterosexual Agenda they got goin' on and all.
- My friend and colleague, Nick, tweeted to me about sharing a room for three days in Wilmington at a conference we'll both be attending there in November: "Hope you're ok rooming with me at UNC CAUSE this year. Stan booked you and I a room, which means we don't have to get reimbursed." I tweeted back that that was cool, and he replied: "Awesome news. You just made my day. Now there's no reimbursement shit, and i have a cool 3 day roomie :-)"
which was responded to with a surprise tweet by his wife, which made me laugh out loud:
Eventually I felt good enough to force myself to go to the gym, where I did 60 minutes on the elliptical machine, while listening to the Pro Se episode of This American Life. The first thing I learned was that Pro Se is the legal term for acting as your own lawyer in a court of law.
The second thing I learned was that I am not alone in having tried this, as an inordinate amount of people try this each year—over a million each year in NYC alone. I defended myself for a DUI in college—my undergrad years, so back in the late 70s. I don't know if you could say I "won," but I did get my DUI reduced to a careless-reckless charge. Have you ever acted Pro Se? And if so, how'd it go?
I found the Prologue interesting for its presentation of statistics and facts about Pro Se attempts. Act One and Act Two were totally compelling to me as they present strong support on both sides of an argument while highlighting conflict, which is at the center of all good stories. Act Three was the only one that didn't work for me at all. Act Four was a funny accounting of someone who comes to realize something rather sad.
Host Ira Glass describes the scene at a courthouse resource center in lower Manhattan where people learn how to represent themselves in civil court. Attorney Ruth Sharfman, who assists at the center, tells Ira that some of the pro se litigants are more prepared for the job than others. (4 minutes)
Act One. Psycho Dabble.
From London, TAL contributor Jon Ronson tells the story of a man who has spent more than a decade trying to convince doctors that he’s not mentally ill. But the more he argues his case, the less they believe him. (25 1⁄2 minutes) Song: "Twisted," Annie Ross
Act Two. Disorder In The Court.
Earlier this year, admitted drug user Jorge Cruz decided to act as his own lawyer in an Albany, New York criminal court. Impossibly, he won. Ira talks to Francisco Calderon, the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, about what it feels like to lose to an amateur. (10 minutes)
Act Three. Swak Down.
Jeff Simmermon tells a story from his days as a student teacher, about a time when he decided to forgo all the rules, and administer frontier justice on the fly. This story was recorded in front of an audience at the Moth storytelling series. Jeff tells other stories on his blog AndIAmNotLying.com (9 minutes) Song: "Kiss Me Deadly," Lita Ford
Act Four. Underling Gets An Underling.
Stef Willen tells Ira about a time that she took matters into her own hands, even though she was only a lowly production assistant on a reality show. (7 minutes)