Exploring Civil Disobedience and Legal Jargon
First let me say that I am supportive of legitimate civil disobedience and it is a great way to bring about peaceful change.
This past years Occupy Wall Street was an example of civil disobedience although the message was somewhat lost on me. That is, there were several messages being pushed at the same time and it became hard to get one clear cause.
Some were protesting corporate greed.
Some were protesting government bailouts.
Some were calling for more government involvement in the markets.
The movement seemed to begin with libertarians but then got cooped by the tea-party. The republican party wanted their piece of the pie and then socialists moved in and claimed a piece of the movement as well.
Co-opting of movements is in fact a very good public relations strategy to deflect and dilute an uprising. Keep that in mind should you ever need to disband a movement.
That however is a topic for another podcast.
Specifically I want to cover the foundation of a civil disobedience movement and look at some of the tactics and messages used.
You will be listening to 3 different audio clips referenced from various sources online for educational purposes. By way of a disclaimer, I have not fact checked all the claims made in these clips and I am in no way providing legal advice, endorsements or recommendations. The use of these clips is to demonstrate the use of language in various contexts and for various purposes.
My goal is to get you to think differently about the words a government gives you and to ask for questions and definitions.
The first audio clip is a lecture by Walter Wink, a biblical scholar, theologian, and activist who was an important figure in Progressive Christianity. Wink covers the Jesus’ teaching at the Sermon on the Mount and brings a perspective that you don’t often hear regarding the phrase “turn the other cheek”.
His interpretation is one of civil disobedience.
When this biblical passage is taken in context of the times it was written, you see a much different picture of Christians. Wink illustrates how social norms and Roman law were turned on their head by Jesus. This alternate perspective will change how you view Christianity and biblical teaching.
Additionally, Wink points out how the word “resist not evil” has been intentionally mistranslated.
Quoting Wink, “When the court translators working in the hire of King James chose to translate antistenai as “Resist not evil,” they were doing something more than rendering Greek into English. They were translating nonviolent resistance into docility. The Greek word means more than simply to “stand against” or “resist.” It means to resist violently, to revolt or rebel, to engage in an insurrection”
Jesus was teaching the Jews not to respond violently. This is logical as they would clearly be over powered by the Roman Army. The case he makes in the audio, is that Jesus offers his followers an alternative 3rd way
Has you will hear, King James, in part, authorized the translation of the Bible to English to help prevent insurrection.
So you can see that message manipulation dates back to 1611 when the King James translation was complete.
The next clip is from the School Sucks Podcast episode 104, Discovering Doublespeak.
Brett Veinotte interviews Marc Stevens of the No State Project and covers the topic of legal jargon and how it’s designed to confuse. Marc discusses how this jargon can be turned against itself within the legal system in a peaceful, non threatening way. I am not recommending to you adopt Marc’s approach but only consider the logic behind his approach and apply to other places in your own life.
Please check out Brett’s podcast he does an amazing job at consistently providing quality content.
Finally we end with Alfred Adask who covers his personal legal adventures in his lectured titled Man or Other Animals. Adask approaches his case from a Christian perspective which is important to note while listening. His legal case centers on the wording in a law that states “man OR other animals”.
He takes you on a historical journey through the definition of “man” and what it is to be a sovereign person. He builds his case around how it was once only kings that were endowed by God with sovereign rights and how radical the Constitution was by giving all men the rights of kings.
It’s an interesting conversation however we’re not sure what the legal conclusion was on his matter.
I have included this clip to demonstrate a modern day example of what Walter Wink covers in his lecture. Namely the demand to be treated as an equal human with dignity and rights as a human.
Final Word of Warning:
The intent of civil disobedience outlined here isn’t to get out of traffic tickets, IRS audits or law suits. In fact, while you might win a moral war, there is pretty much a guarantee you will probably lose in the eyes of the law with these tactics. Wink points this out in his lecture at the beginning. One person demanding respect from a government does little to change anything. The problem for governments is when the masses start to act out in a certain way.
From a Brand No standpoint these audio clips are to educate you about how prolific logical fallacies are in society. They are not just used in marketing and PR but in the very structure of government and throughout history. Additionally we look at how the jargon of others can be used to an advantage. How King James intentionally wanted a passive interpretation of the Bible to keep control over the people.
I hope that the take away is that you will strengthen your critical thinking as you move through your day and ask as many questions as possible of the messages put in front of you.
Walter Wink – Turn The Other Cheek