Medicine and Law rather more closely resemble illnesses in US society and certain others, than remedies. As controlling things approaching citizens’ access to life and liberty, and on a lesser level health and property, it is very easy for the practitioners within the reigning professions to rule with iron hands, whatever the form of government those citizens impose upon themselves. In fact, it appears that, in more democratic nations, physicians and attorneys at law merely usurp the power that is decreaseded in the heads of state therein – leaving such other citizens as are not in a position to wield wealth, really in little better a situation than they’d be in in more totalitarian regimes.
Law and medicine, as known today, at least in the US, are much more word-centered than are other pursuits, short of those of full-time authorship and journalism. As tossed between professionals with inordinate power and persons of low power and tendencies toward mob emotionalism, words can be the work of the devil. Let us drop medicine at this juncture and treat only of one aspect of law, in which this claim of mine is well illustrated – and ask the above titular question here.
All professionals love to try to make their work esoteric from the masses, for reasons of ego, income and whatever else; but law, by nature, once it should become an inhouse thing, no longer can serve its social function – because the public must know the law to be responsible citizens, and only in such case can the law work to the society as a whole’s advantage. Thus all the words or other designations of the law, presumed to be a set of codes by convention of the society as a whole, must be directly understandable by the public in theirterms, albeit divorced from the tendency of the simpler portion of the public to let words drift along with not necessarily appropriate emotions.
Avoiding the issue of the use of common English in the law (with which the English appear to be more compliant today than are North Americans), let’s center on the interface of law and the public as it occurs in newspapers. I have asked the title question here of journalists but have not yet done so of lawyers.
Journalists consistently spout that the public can’t handle numbers; but today, popular society is inundated with numerical specifications of computers and many other devices. It is, for reporters, at least, I conclude, too much of a hassle for them to relate to legal codes. So journalists ramble on in reporting crimes and other legal matters with rubbery words, in the absence of code citations, without our being able to tell, sometimes, very much at all what some quarrel between an individual and society is really about, or maybe just a quarrel between that person and law enforcement. Words like ‘assault’, ‘molest’, ‘violence’, ‘serious’, ‘deadly weapon’, etc. have become almost meaningless these days. No doubt attorneys like it that way. The more confusion, the more jobs attorneys can find to support themselves. I do know that politicians just love it that way, because they can get elected almost solely on screaming with such words about how they will, if elected, get new laws passed killing all misdemeanants six ways at once for breathing second-hand weed or whatever, while having nothing intelligent to say about preventing actual damage to the public or hanging government together more efficiently. And every time significant crimes or civil suits are reported in newspapers, knee-jerk bills are composed by simple-minded legislative clerks and never made consistent with the many other related laws, until decades after they’re passed into law – at which time all kinds of such cycles are overlapping. Of course, again, this in no way hurts the legal profession. . .but it does cause all the rubber words to bounce around through further iterations, until law, as applied in the US at least becomes nothing but a means of support for attorneys, judges, police agencies, and the vast array of support personnel in their organizations. . .while nobody knows what the laws are, and less and less people care – not the least of which are attorneys at law. And law libraries split their sides with the bleached carcasses of our continent’s once extensive forestlands.
So, what say attorneys and others here about the nationwide, at least US, taboo on pinning down in print what exact federal, state or local codes are being charged, or are officially cited as applicable to any given dispute reported in a news article? Often, the only vernacular verbal descriptions leave one without even knowing whether a charge is an infraction or a capital offense.