Monday, November 25, 2013

Dirty Word

Here is an interesting little debate found recently USA Today:

A defense lawyer in Tennessee earned the ire of the prosecuting attorney for referring to the prosecution as “the Government” during trials. Here is what she said:

"The State has noticed in the past few years that it has become commonplace during trials for attorneys for defendants, and especially Mr. Justice, to refer to State's attorneys as 'the Government,' " she wrote in her motion. "The State believes that such a reference is used in a derogatory way and is meant to make the State's attorney seem oppressive and to inflame the jury."

This brought a response from the defense attorney. He filed a motion requiring the prosecution to refer to him as “Defender of the Innocent” or perhaps “Guardian of the Realm.” The whole thing was dismissed because the judge said the word “government” isn’t derogatory.

Of course, no judge could be impartial in such a matter, every judge works for the government.

I try to stay out of the way of “government” in general. To be fair, I have had some experiences with “government” that I would call neutral. But even the neutral experiences are often what I would term “annoyingly neutral.” Most of my direct experiences with governments have been negative. Try as I might, I cannot remember even one positive experience when dealing directly with “government.”

So I must overrule the ruling of the judge in this case. With me, at least, the very term “government” is quite derogatory. I wish it were not so. I can imagine arrangements of government that would make it less so, perhaps. Making “government” smaller would make it better. Does that imply that none at all, at least in the versions we are accustomed to, would be best? We can debate that one.

But for now, given all the governments with which I must deal, calling something “the Government” is about the most derogatory handle I can imagine.  It’s along the lines of “scum-suckin’, low-down, double-dealing, no good, no account, two-faced, liar.”  Doesn’t that sound like a recent list of “Government” policies and activities?

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