Law in Contemporary Society

Humans are Hominid Primates. Hominid Primates Believe What They See And Imagine What They Hear.

-- By OliviaMartinez - 16 Apr 2021

To make things happen in society using words I will need an effective approach using words that spark the imagination and visuals that can not be denied of their truthfulness.

Words Making People Talk

I have always known that words can make things happen. As a child, when I wasn’t in school, I was in the library. I was constantly transporting to new places with new characters and, once I was old enough to start volunteering there, I was able to share this magic with others. I watched as adults, stopping by after work or dropping off their children for a puppet show, sat down on the wooden benches between the shelves. In a matter of seconds, they forgot all of their ailments and responsibilities they came in with for a chapter or two. The library taught me a lot of important things about community and responsibility, but most importantly I learned about the power that words have over people: something in the words the adults were reading made them want to tell me about their time serving our country, their political activism, or their childhood memories. Without prompting done by the words they read, I would never have heard their stories. Thus, I know that words and storytelling make things happen in society, as they made things happen within the people around me.

Words Defeating Monsters and Words Creating Heros

Growing up in South Jersey, I was terrified of The Jersey Devil, a creature I had only heard of from neighbors and classmates. One day, I decided to look up the monster for myself. Somehow, in searching through different pictures and reiterations of this story, the creature became less scary. I believed what I saw, and the Jersey Devil was merely a winged, horse-like creature, instead of the endless, limitless being I imagined. To my ears the Jersey Devil was a million things all in one, but to my eyes he was merely a single, defined creature.

Although words made the Jersey Devil smaller, they can make things bigger, too. Harriet Tubman was a small woman with a debilitating illness. She was also a powerful hero, known by many to make things happen. Those who were enslaved heard of Tubman by word of mouth and, by her songs, they knew she had arrived. Oral messages were crucial forms of communication for constantly surveilled enslaved populations. These words, passed between people and sung by Tubman, made her larger than life.

When people hear of a person or a thing, it can grow in their imagination. When people see something, it is limited to the boundaries of what is before them. Seeing is believing, and hearing is imagining.

Using Imagination and Belief To Make Things Happen

An important part of making things happen with words is to make others understand why the thing matters, and why it should happen. For example, police body cameras made it possible for America to see that George Floyd’s death was a murder. While the words, “I can’t breathe” were powerful, we have heard them before without the same effect. However, this time, a full eight minutes of video footage could not be denied. The judge and jury did not need to imagine what happened -- they saw. This visual element that was present in George Floyd’s case, showcasing visible evidence of the wrong being done, placed directly in front of the eyes of millions of people, can help to make movements and changes in society effective.

Issues Hidden in the Shadows

With issues of little visibility, such as conditions of confinement in prisons or domestic violence or inhabitable apartments, those who do not live it can close their eyes to these ills, and might not ever see it. These issues are not caught on camera, and often impact people who are already pushed into the corners of our society, hidden from the sight of many. When stories of such issues do emerge, often as headlines in the news, it makes them seem irregular: this is the one story of this happening and that’s why it is broadcasted. Although the image might be horrific, it confines the issue to what a viewer can believe, rather than what they can imagine, like seeing the Jersey Devil’s image did for me. Thus, awareness of such issues is not enough. The ugly truths need to be there even after a person closes their eyes to the horrors, and even after the news story is done. The marches, the chants, and the use of social media have forced Americans, even those who look away, to know George Floyd. People may close their eyes, but they can not close their ears to the sounds of pain and the sounds of change. They can not close off their imagination to what can come from this.

Re-Imagining Justice

A Story of Big Ideas

My theory of social action involves storytelling. From what I have learned this year, ranging from the theories of Afrofuturism to the art of attending Zoom school, I know that creating a more just society will require imagination. Belief is a powerful thing, but if the systems around us will truly change, we need a future that is beyond what we can believe, and that exists in the imagination. It is not enough to reform the bail system or to change sentencing, because we already know the boundaries of these things. Instead, we should imagine a world without bail, without sentencing, and without prisons. I want to offer the world an idea that exists beyond the boundaries of what we already know, calling on the imagination of others to make that idea bigger and better. I don’t know my big idea yet, but I know the things that I want to make happen in society and I have an idea of how to use words to do that.

This is fine work. It needs unification. You are writing about the consequences and ramifications of one idea, which happens to be my Second Law of Social Psychology for Lawyers. But the Jersey Devil, the living legend that was Harriet Tubman and the body cameras of the early 21st century paramilitary police are relevant illustrations that take up too much space and detract from the unity that is the draft's architectural ambition. They need to be presented lucidly in their essentials, perhaps supplemented by other ways in which making things happen in society using words triggers imagination through story-telling and acted drama. From Arnold to Leff to Simpson we read works that might contain other useful examples that can be invoked in very few words. I think the fulfillment of the effort ilies in pulling the skein more tightly together, so as to emphasize the richness of your single idea once it has been orchestrated as you choose.

You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable. To restrict access to your paper simply delete the "#" character on the next two lines:

Note: TWiki has strict formatting rules for preference declarations. Make sure you preserve the three spaces, asterisk, and extra space at the beginning of these lines. If you wish to give access to any other users simply add them to the comma separated ALLOWTOPICVIEW list.


Webs Webs

r7 - 19 May 2021 - 20:27:41 - OliviaMartinez
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM