Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Rhetoric and Law

Given how easily most people grab onto the wrong parts of situations to summarise or evaluate them, I'm glad that law is reasonably insulated from public discourse.

I recently saw this fine example on Twitter: 「Meteorologist fired after defending her ‘ethnic’ hair」. I immediately suspected this was a bullshit interpretation of what happened, read the article, and confirmed that the article had entirely missed the point, and while technically true in both a timeline and an event-corrisponding way, the phrasing is entirely off. Either the person who wrote the headline is dishonest, or they're not intelligent enough to understand what they're writing about.

To spell it out more explicitly, it was not the specifics of "defending her hair" that got the meteorologist fired. It was that she responded to viewer comments in violation of company policy. That's it. Pretty simple. Just? Unjust? One could go either way, but it's best phrased in a straightforward way.

Why was it written the way it was? Perhaps to make it seem more relevant; a story about somebody violating a company policy and getting fired is much less interesting than a story about somebody being fired for their cultural identity. Particularly when some subset of the readers are either black or of the faction of liberalism that thinks ethnic identity is a deeply precious thing, and a fair subset of either won't have the intelligence or discipline to try to accurately understand the situation.

These faults are problematic in broad society, but would be far worse were they in our legal system; fortunately, the guildlike nature of law and the institutions of our jurisprudence provide some insulation from these faults.


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