Lessig and the American Boychoir School

Lawrence Lessig is one of my personal heroes. So I was really interested in this long article from New York Metro that details his role in pressing the legal case against a school where not only Lessig’s client, but Lessig himself were longterm victims of child sexual abuse: Lawrence Lessig and John Hardwicke fight sexual abuse and the American Boychoir School.

During his work on the case, Lessig has been asked more than once by the press if he had experiences at the school similar to Hardwicke’s. And Lessig has replied, “My experiences aren’t what’s at issue here. What’s at issue is what happened to John Hardwicke.”

The answer is appropriate, politic — but it’s not entirely true. For Lessig has told me that he too was abused at the Boychoir School, and by the same music director that Hardwicke claims was one of his abusers. Lessig is by nature a shy, intensely private person. The fact of his abuse is known to almost no one: not the reporters covering the case, not the supreme-court justices. The fact of his abuse isn’t even known to Larry Lessig’s parents.

Well, until now.

Here’s another excerpt:

“Is this really right? Should you really be doing this?” Lessig asked.

“You have to understand,” Hanson replied, “this is essential to producing a great boychoir.” By sexualizing the students, he explained, he was transforming them from innocents into more complicated creatures, enabling them to render choral music in all its sublime passion. “It’s what all great boychoirs do,” Hanson said.

It ratchets up several notches of complexity from there.

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