Monday, November 19, 2007

Back from the Panopticon

Jury duty, which I was called for this morning, was sort of a false alarm. The courts agreed that my having not lived in Manhattan for years disqualified me from serving in Manhattan. It did not end up disqualifying me from first watching a short film about what it means to be a juror. The gist of it was how lucky we are to live in America where there is trial by jury. The movie begins with examples (reenactments, even) of medieval justice in action, trial-by-drowning, etc. The point being, thank god that's over with. Of course it turns out my jury duty was on the same day as the class where we're discussing Foucault's Discipline and Punish, which also begins with a description of 'barbaric' pre-modern punishment... only to conclude that today's 'kind' punishments are in fact more cruel. I was all set to explain this to anyone who'd listen so that I could leave the courts and teach my class tomorrow, but thankfully I cannot afford to live in Manhattan, which took care of everything.

Another highlight of this movie was the part about the dark side of ancient Roman justice, which was demonstrated by an image of Christ himself in a crown of thorns. I mean, the good news is they didn't blame the Jews for killing Christ, but the bad news is, how exactly is Jesus's death at all relevant to anyone's jury duty?

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