Tricia Christenson writes, "The jury's decision demonstrates a very sad
state of affairs in our country," and labels the trial a "travesty of
Unlike the jurors in the Simpson trial, most of us were NOT able to listen to
all of the arguments judged admissable in this case: the opening arguments,
direct and cross examination, the closing arguments, and the various
evidentiaryexhibits. Also unlike those jurors, most of us WERE subjected to
amounts of hearsay, speculation, and the like via the media.
And so I wonder, on what basis do WE make OUR judgments?
It seems to me that a commitment, evident in Tricia Christenson's post, to a
rhetorical culture requires a willingness to suspend disbelief, an openness
to persuasion, a fidelity to the terms of judgment one accepts, and the like.
It also seems to me that a commitment to a rhetoric of law requires a willing-
ness to suspend judgment until and unless one has heard the arguments, listen-
ed to the evidence, etc.
One very interesting area of study, then, would appear to be the public's
willingness to rush to judgment with the smallest measure of evidence, with-
out having listened to impassioned, reasoned, zealous advocacy. If anything
suggests a need for instruction in rhetoric, the rush to judgment may be it.
Sean Patrick O'Rourke