William Jacobson, who’s some kind of professor at Cornell Law and who first achieved wingnut-o-sphere notoriety by breathlessly peddling PouponGate, is sick and tired of seeing only white people get their stuff nationalized and thinks it’s high time some Negroes get nationalized as well. And who better than the descendants of Martin Luther King? Instead of just abandoning King’s work into the public domain and moving into some dilapidated crack house in Newark to live on welfare, the King family has had the temerity and the uppity-ness to charge for licenses to use King’s intellectual property.
I am against this trampling of individual property rights, which are the foundation of our democracy. But if it is going to happen because of the large Democrat majorities in Congress and Obama’s personal popularity,1 then there is one aspect of the economy Democrats should nationalize before anything else: The history of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Actually, since Jacobson doesn’t propose that the United States pay anything for the King rights, he should know, as a law professor, even an “assistant clinical law professor,” that the correct word is not nationalization but expropriation. But the Kings don’t deserve compensation because of their devious plan to force children to spend months studying Martin Luther King and then to pay royalties to the King Estate for the privilege.
We created a national MLK holiday in 1986, thereby elevating MLK to a position in the nation’s history almost unparalleled in over 200 years. Virtually every school in the country devotes more time to discussing MLK’s legacy than the history of any president or war.
I’d like to see some support for the last assertion there, but I suspect that the support involved Jacobson putting one hand behind his back, delving deeply into a particular cavity, and then pulling the support out of said cavity with a grand flourish, a spray of dingleberries and a self-satisfied smile.
Few people realize that reprinting the “I Have a Dream” speech without permission of MLK’s family, and in many cases the payment of royalties, will result at a minimum in a nasty lawyer letter, and even a lawsuit. These efforts to maintain copyright control over MLK’s speeches are international in scope.
The latest example is an attempt by two MLK family members to stop a film about MLK’s life because some copyrighted material was used without permission or payment of royalties:
DreamWorks plans the first big-screen portrayal of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, the studio announced Tuesday, but two of King’s children immediately threatened legal action because the film deal was brokered without their blessing.
My, oh, my, for an assistant clinical law perfessor, Jacobson shur don’t reed zo gud. The linked article noted that the King Estate had indeed licensed the movie and received royalties. Two of the three King children are complaining not because DreamWorks didn’t have permission or didn’t pay royalties. They are complaining about how the Estate is run and have sued the Estate.
For MLK’s family members, the economic structure they have created could not be better. They have nationalized2 their father’s persona, but profit by controlling the written and spoken words which memorialize his history. While the foundation may be not-for-profit, the salaries and other perks the family garners are hardly not-for-nothing.
Gee, that’s just outrageous. I can’t think of any other instance of a family of a famous man profiting from his legacy, can you? Do we get to expropriate that estate too?
The time has come to end this madness. If Democrats are going to nationalize much of the economy over the protests of Republicans and independents, then Democrats should first nationalize Martin Luther King, Jr.’s history, including the “I Have a Dream” speech.
The dean of the University of Tennessee Law School has reportedly sent a letter to his counterpart at the Cornell Law School thanking Cornell for snatching from Tennessee the distinction of being the law school with the most embarrassing right wing blogger.
2The perfesser don’t right zo gud neether. The family can’t “nationalize” anything, only the Democrat Socialist Islamic Red Maoist Gay Marriage party and its leader Obama can “nationalize” things. Perhaps he means that they have made King a national hero, although one has to imagine that King had much more to do with that than did his children.