•How does the prosecution and defense each represent the truth? •Values and attitudes of the participants? •Robertson’s values and representation of the truth? Truth can be represented in differing ways according to the values and attitudes of the persona whose representation of truth is being expressed. Throughout Geoffrey Robertson’s The Justice Game the responder is convinced to accept the composer’s representation of truth through the use of composing techniques such as the short story structure, Robertson’s social status, various language techniques, symbolism and the use of examples and quotations to back up Robertson’s statements.
The perspective on truth held by the other participants in each trial is however also included. The term ‘truth’ refers to accurately placing information in accordance with fact or reality. The ‘truth’ in The Justice Game is essentially about revealing to its readers “What is kept from the public, and what the public wish to be kept from”. Each case was chosen by Robertson to provide different representations of the ‘truth’ based on different values and attitudes. The short story structure allows many themes relevant to society to be coherently included in one text.
Through the eyes of Robertson people have the opportunity to see the ‘truth’ in these highly publicised cases from the perspective of a learned and involved man. Robertson is assumed to be a reliable source of truth by the average reader, because he is a celebrated lawyer and has been chosen to represent people as high profiled as the “Princess of Wales”. The genre and format of the text represent certain qualities to the reader, along with the social status of Robertson which in turn, act to convince them that what is written is true. The Trials of Oz” is a case that took place in 1971 against Richard Neville, Jim Anderson, and Felix Dennis, editors of the infamous underground Oz magazine. The controversy arose from the prosecution’s perspective that the material in the magazine was detrimental and corruptive to society of that time. In particular the comic strip satirizing Rupert the Bear elaborately renamed Rupert the Bare, and a small advertisement titled Suck. The prosecution represents the truth through a traditional method of attack that shows Leary’s Victorian image.
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Brian Leary representing the prosecution draws on the jury’s traditional background to make them empathize with his perspective of the truth that the Oz magazine was an indecent article. Leary discredits witnesses with his “insinuatingly effective” cross- examinations. The defense and Oz magazine were branded as the ‘alternative society’ in order to alienate them in the jury’s mind, and to make the jury feel unwilling to belong to the defence and therefor the ‘alternative society’.
The prosecution feels that the ‘alternative society’ has no respect for the accepted values and attitudes of ‘normal society’. The ‘alternative society’ is described to worship sex until it reaches the ultimate stage of “fucking on the streets”. This is an example of the generalisations made which portray the ‘alternative society’ as unattractive and distasteful to be a part of. The Defence on the other hand, use high profiled witnesses and statistics, such as the pornography survey conducted on married couples, to highlight the harmless nature of the Oz magazine.
John Mortimer representing the defence, undermines the seriousness of the trial through his permissive attitude towards life. The defence lightens the atmosphere with comical jokes such as when Leary asked Dixon how old he thought Rupert the Bare was, he replied “I’m not an expert in determining Bears’ ages… maybe you are more familiar in the field? ” This aids in reducing the seriousness of the accusations. He trivialises the magazine by referring to it as a “schoolboy prank” or “cheeky criticism”, and thus considerably plays down the charges.
The language technique of using humour makes the whole trial appear as a joke. The composer states that “Perhaps the best thing about Oz is that they just don’t have trials like that anymore. ” Robertson’s representation of the truth toward the Oz magazine is that he sees it as cheeky but not harmful. Experts are used as witnesses to portray the defendants as essentially guiltless, and to make the prosecution’s arguments appear groundless, based on confusion tactics and unreality.
Robertson constantly undermines and discredits most people who hold power in the establishment. This is represented in his ridicule of Judge Argyle as he points out the mistakes he made when sentencing, and how he portrays judge Argyle as narrow minded and unreasonable. The composer shows himself as an advocate of new society through his belief that the trial is merely a “collision of cultural incomprehension”, with the older generation symbolised by Judge Argyle, being unable to understand the revolutionary notions held by the younger generation.
This is shown by his constant criticism of the judge, whose inability to comprehend contemporary vernacular and general knowledge is stressed repeatedly, effectively conveyed through the misunderstanding of the phrase “right on” and the sexual act of “cunnilingus”. Robertson aligns himself with the values of his target audience, the working class and lower middle classes, allowing the reader to identify with him. Consequently the reader is content to allow Robertson to represent their opinions as they are convinced that the authors representation of ‘truth’ is correct, although being subjected to other representations of the ‘truth’ as well.
Robertson’s main argument in “Michael X on Death Row” was that “the death penalty was, in itself, a cruel and unusual punishment” Robertson’s representation of ‘truth’ in this instance is that prolonged stay on death row amounted to cruelty and was contrary to the Bill of Rights. Robertson, a Civil Libertarian, believes that there is only hope in the courts and not in politics, and that his strong stances on humanity can only be achieved through battling the government to change the law, in court.
Robertson states that he is “passionately in favour of the incorporation into British law, the European Convention on human rights. ” This fact and Michael’s ordeal are what brought about the battle to save death row inmates, that Robertson endured for twenty- years. Robertson repeatedly reminds the reader of the longevity of his battle to abolish capital punishment in commonwealth countries, which reflects his slightly egotistical nature but also symbolically reminds the reader of the many years spent by inmates on death row.
As a young lawyer when Robertson took up this case, he was highly idealist and his interest in the case was genuine. The prosecution refutes the defences statement that “prolonged stay on death row is inhumane” arguing that in many cases the reason for long delays before executions are the self- induced delays of last minute desperate appeals on their behalf from their lawyers. The prosecution continues that innocent people were never convicted and “All murder convictions are approved by the finest judges in the world,” and deserved their sentence.
The defence represents the ‘truth’ of capital punishment being “unbecoming to human dignity. ” They evoke emotion and sympathy from the reader and the courts through phrasing death with terms such as “human sacrifice” and using emotive language. Robertson aids this cause through colourful analogies such as comparing his visit to see Michael X to that of seeing the rarest species of animal at the zoo. The defence believes that although their immediate client Michael X cannot be saved, they are helping countries through the progression of their constitutions.
Robertson presents this case in a very biased manor, creating a strong sympathetic feeling in the reader towards the “solemn, vulnerable member of the living dead” Michael X. Throughout the story Michael X is referred to as simply “Michael” establishing that the inmate is a changed man. Robertson presents Michael X to be the victim and the state to be the villain, which once again portrays his distain for authority evident in his other stories. A detailed description of the process of execution is given which adds to Robertson’s view that capital punishment goes against the European conventions of humanity.
The crime committed by Michael X is only referred to a whole ten pages into the story, after creating a sense of innocence to the character of “Michael”, and the crime itself is not given any real importance by Robertson. This is a technique used to portray other ‘truths’ as such, whilst convincing the reader to conform to Robertson’s representation of the ‘truth’ and not letting the reader believe the alternate ‘truth’. All the descriptions of death row are negative, prejudiced by Robertson’s opposition to capital punishment.
As the subject matter is a serious one dealing with capital punishment, Robertson has chosen the use of an objective and serious tone of voice in contrast to “The Trials of Oz” which is presented in a more light- hearted tone to emphasise the undermining of the charges. The first person narrative structure allows the ‘truth’ to be told from a different and more reliable source than “The Trials of Oz” as Robertson is more learned in this case, as he was personally involved.
This however, brings about the technique of employing one- sided story telling to build the character of Michael X as a victim of the out dated death row execution system, and emphasises that “He was a different man; four years on. ” Through the technique of careful positioning of facts, Robertson persuades the reader to agree with his representation of the ‘truth’. He appeals to the readers humanity and convinces them to sympathise with Michael X, by showing the inhumanity and immorality of the execution system through illustrations of exaggerated cruelty of the ghoulish rituals performed before and during execution.
In Sylvia Plath’s poem The Mirror, the personification of the mirror stands as the objective endorser of truth. The mirror tells the responder that it is “not cruel, only truthful,” that it has no other purpose but to “reflect” the physical appearance of the female body, as a lake would do. This is expressed through the metaphorical statement “Now I am a lake. ” Personification allows the “mirror” to make unbiased and “exact” observations and through these we come to understand the importance of appearance to the woman.
The woman “searches my (mirror’s) reaches for what she really is”, conveying Plath’s representation of the ‘truth’ that to the woman, her true self is based purely on her external appearance. The “mirror” describes itself as having no “preconceptions” allowing it to simply reflect the unbiased reflection of a woman’s physical appearance, unlike candles and the moon, which are said to be “liars” as they cast mellow lights that can distort the reflection from the truth of daylight.
Plath metaphorically likens the mirror to “The eye of a little god”, emphasising the power that it has over the emotional state of the woman who ironically “rewards (the mirror) with tears and an agitation of hands” acknowledging the importance of the mirror to her, and its “faithful” reflecting of her true physical appearance. The poem is a comment on society’s fixation on image.
Plath exposes the truth about aging: the resentment and rejection of it, especially through the continuation of the water imagery that the “mirror” asserts that in it the woman has “drowned a young girl”, and “an old woman/ Rises”, to devour the ageing woman “like a terrible fish. ” This simile provides a grotesque image of old age. The use of the mirror in the poem is in fact an extended metaphor with the mirror possessing the power to reflect image. The poem endorses the importance of image that rectifies the truth about oneself as it best sees fit.
Unlike “The Trials of Oz,” The Mirror is not written in a comical and light- hearted tone. It is written in an objective tone of voice as Plath takes on the persona of a mirror to seriously describe its value to the woman. Both texts are however, are relatively unprejudiced in their representations of the ‘truth’. The reflective essay Southpaw by Ken Willis, portrays a representation by a “side-lined” left- hander that left handed people are discriminated against by contemporary society. The persona sees himself as “discriminated against” because he is a “southpaw”.
The essay is light- hearted and satirical, but nonetheless the “left- handers are forced to live in a world designed for right- handers. ” A series of humorous anecdotes are included to portray the disadvantages faced by the left- handed “subordinate group. ” The accepted values and attitudes of the right- handed society include the acceptance of the downgrading of the “subordinate group”, as common phrases used in everyday speech are coined with an underlying prejudice against the left side.
Colloquial phrases among Australians such as “she’ll be right” are used as examples within this reflective essay to support the notion that left- handers are discriminated against by the “Right handers, as members of the dominant group. ” In this phrase however, the literal meaning of the word ‘right’ is to be correct, not the right side as Willis has understood it. This shows that the absolute truth in the Australian phrase has been distorted to reveal Willis’ representation of the ‘truth’.
The literal meanings of the word ‘right’ in Latin and French, is however included to reiterate Willis’ perspective that right- handers are able to enjoy the sub- conscious discrimination of left- handers. The word ‘right’ means “endowed with dexterity” in Latin, and “adroit and experts in the use of hand and mind” in French. Willis takes his case of accusing society of discriminating against left- handers by bringing in Christian religious connotations.
He describes right- handers as “sit(ting) at the right hand of God” whilst exclaiming that “those who sit on the left are ‘cursed into the eternal fire. ’” These expressions are once again taken out of the context in which they are used, and are exploited by Willis to aid in his representation of the ‘truth’. The biased qualities seen in this reflective essay is not unlike “Michael X on Death Row” as both Robertson and Willis attempt to distort the absolute truth into evidence to support their own representations of the ‘truth’.
The tone of voice however differs greatly as Southpaw is written in a more comical manor than the serious tone of “Michael X on Death Row. ” Through the study of the above named texts, different representations of the ‘truth’ can be identified with depending on the influence of certain values and attitudes possessed by the participants involved with the text. It is shown that the absolute truth, in terms of information that is accurately placed in accordance with fact or reality, can be manipulated and twisted by the composer in order to portray their representation of the ‘truth’.
A certain enlightenment is provided in dealing with prejudiced and biased material, as persuasive techniques employed by the composers are also revealed. As a Civil Libertarian, Robertson passionately believes that the Law can humble the most powerful: governments and wealthy private litigants such as the Princess of Wales. The law permits justice, meaning the side with the best case, to be gained through equal opportunity. Robertson presents his representation of the ‘truth’ about what he elaborately coins “The Justice Game”.
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