hellorousseau

an eloquently warped point of view from the tongue of a cartoon character.

Tag: writing

That was Their Case

Heads up: This post is not about body positivity. Sometimes I do things for school. This is one of those things.

I attended my first court case last week.

First, I illegally parked in front of a fire hydrant. Then, I set off the metal detector because of the studs on my boots. After I checked the time and realizing I only had 5 minutes to get to room 316, I shuffled into elevator and across hallway, stopping anyone I could to direct me through the massive wooden doors.

When I made it to the courtroom, I sat breathlessly in the corner, facing the massive throne of the judges seat, and witness boxes (or would it be a testimony box? I’m sort’a lost on the lingo). In the middle, a dark haired girl dressed in black with a white tie around her neck clicked away at a computer, occasionally turning her attention to the two lawyers in the room.

Both lawyers laughed and joked as they chatted. The two women were dressed in tailored suits, their hair brushed (unlike mine), their voices varied. While the one spoke in sharp, clean sentences, her voice crisp and commanding, the other was much more timid and sweet, her voice breaking for small smiles and quiet comments.

When the accused was brought in, he was silent. He stared at the floor. His gray hair was greasy and pushed back, his thin frame wilted. His glasses clung together with bits of browned scotch-tape. He wanted to cross his legs, but the shackles stopped him repeatedly.

His family sat near him. His mother, his niece, his brother, his son. He missed his daughter’s wedding when he was arrested, his lawyer told the court. His only daughter’s wedding. The weekend of October 9th. Just a few weeks after he was arrested for allegedly harassing, stalking, and tormenting his female victim.

He allegedly left her hundreds of voice mails. He allegedly chased her down her condominium hallway. He allegedly described the contents of her fridge, the dust on her paintings, the new clothes she bought. He allegedly slipped his notes under the door; hundreds, detailing his feelings. Some sympathetic and caring, others aggressive and disturbing.

The lawyer reads a letter out to the court. In it, the accused jokes about how he’s outside her door, and how her nose-blowing will wake up the other tenants in her condo. He lets out a stifled chuckle, folding his hands across his lap.

They say because he’s 57, they say because he’s never had any criminal history before, that he is not likely to reoffend. He would go to counseling once a week, they say. He would be monitored, too. There would be no more contact and a radius where he could not venture.

If he stays in prison, he only gets 7 months. In fact, since he’s served a few already, he’d only get around 3. All that time for making a woman feel so uncomfortable, that she fell behind in her professional career. All that time for making a woman constantly question her sanity, and safety. All that time for traumatizing a woman so much, that she had to get rid of her high-heels so she could run away faster.

The sixth chapter of Homicide starts in a court room, something I found to be pleasantly coincidental. By no means am I comparing an attempted murder case of a police officer to an aggravated stalking case, but reading about the parallels validated my thoughts and feelings that I had as I sat in on court.

Simon described court like a play- everyone has their starting positions, roles, and cues. The pregnant wife walks her blind, police husband into the courtroom, “where all is suddenly silence.

The jury, the judge, the lawyers, the entire assembly sits transfixed as Police Agent Gene Cassidy stretches his right hand, touches a wooden beam, then guides himself into the witness stand. [His wife] touches his shoulder, whispers, then retreats to a seat behind the prosecution table.

The clerk rises.” (292)

A lone juror cries softly in the back tier. The accused stares at the victim. The witnesses talk. The witnesses cry. The witnesses swear or affirm that they will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

By the end of the trial, the police are certain that they have nailed their man. They’ve provided compelling evidence, shown how dangerous the accused is, and have had witness after witness confirm his actions that led to the blinding of Gene Cassidy. But still there is doubt, and that doubt is crippling.

“There wasn’t enough, he tells himself. I’m losing this jury because I didn’t give them enough. An eyewitness. Corroboration. A jail-house confession. Somehow, it wasn’t enough.” (301)

Simon does an excellent job of building the tension in the chapter. He speaks confidently about the facts of the case and the possibility for justice, but then as tensions raise while the jury deliberates, the police’s hard work becomes essentially useless.

It’s scary to note that no matter how much compelling evidence is built against someone, sometimes it comes down to 12 people making a decision in a room. Or even one person making a decision.

It’s also scary that someone can stalk, harass, and target a woman for months on end, spending days and days obsessing over her every little move, only to receive up to 7 months in prison.

As I have witnessed it, court is a legal stage that allows a careful dance of justice and bargaining to be performed at centre mast. It’s delicate and dainty, with ribbons of legal jargon and plea bargains wrapping in colourful twists, the judge extending a more commanding performance, the lawyers on pointe for an encore.

But as we see in chapter six of Homicide, although the evidence may be damning, and the feeling in the air confident, at the end of the day,

it all comes down to single decision.

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“Believe in Your Eyebrows”

ImageFor my writers craft class, we had to write a paper in the form of a This I Believe essay. Basically, you talk about something you’re really passionate about; something that you truly believe in.

I decided to write about topics that intertwined with my blog, seeing as I’m passionate about self acceptance. I’d also like to give colossal props to my incredibly talented classmates who moved me to tears with their essays.

I Believe-

I believe in total body acceptance. I believe in the self-expressive twitch that drives fat women to skin tight dresses, and thin women to big, baggy, blue jeans. I believe in allowing a person, no matter their size, age, or gender, to adorn a pair of heels, slap on a pound of makeup, and not shave their legs for three-and-a-half months. I believe in wearing as little clothing as possible, and I believe in wearing as much clothing as possible. I believe in looking however the hell you want.

I used to draw my eyebrows in black. I’d shade, sketch and smooth my big ol’ ‘brows. I liked them dark and thick and cartoony. When I’d go into public, people would stare, and then people started to comment. They were taken aback by my decision to look the way I wanted. I started doing my eyebrows thinner and lighter to avoid public speculation, and then I stopped all together. I let stranger’s opinions spoil my confidence. Total body acceptance means respecting other people’s choices.

A lot of us body shame without knowing it. Saying things like, “She would be so pretty if…”, judging other people’s clothes, and playing dietitian are harmful vehicles that contribute to low self esteem. Total body acceptance means keeping your opinion to yourself.

Do not shame those who choose unusual adornments over a cookie-cutter social norm, and visa-versa. Self expression and confidence come in many different shapes and sizes, and what may give you a boost of self admiration is not the same for the person next to you. Difference in appearance and clothing is a good thing; thinking less of someone because of their difference in appearance and clothing, is not. Total body acceptance is admiring the self-expression of others

So acknowledge the differences that separate us from one another. Do not comment on the shortness of shorts, or the longness of dresses, but rather, admire the spirit of the person in that clothing. Do not judge the thickness, or lack of makeup, but the lips on the face that speak stories and valuable experience. Trust in the self expressive twitch that will drive you to dress up in bright colours, be edgy in black, or comfortably naked. Believe in the power of your favourite shirt, shoes, or hairstyle, regardless of other’s opinions. Believe in your fat areas, your thin areas. Believe in your choices. Believe in your eyebrows. Believe in total body acceptance.