Best Of The Web
“I’ve been called for jury duty three or four times, but was never selected until last month, when I was put on the jury for a civil case in Superior Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It was a long day. You’re expected to show up at 8:30 in the morning and often don’t leave until 5. Entering the court building, you go through metal detectors operated by court marshals. Much to my surprise, no containers of water or other liquid are allowed to come into the building. Vending machines are available inside. In Bridgeport, you take the elevator to the building’s top floor and take a seat in a large, stuffy room, along with approximately two hundred other prospective jurors. The air-conditioning is minimal. Registration, which begins at nine, takes about forty-five minutes, most of that time spent standing in line. There is nothing high-tech about the process. Paperwork and a driver’s license do the trick. Once registered, you take a small sticker that identifies you as a juror, and that must be worn at all times. If you go out of the building for lunch, you have to show the sticker to get back in. Once everyone is accounted for, a video about jury duty, narrated by judges and former jurors, is shown. The video is both informative and intended to assuage the anxieties of those unfamiliar with the judicial process. After the video, a judge appears in his robes to thank everyone for taking the time to perform “this important civic duty.”
I waxed a bit patriotic hearing those words. How often are we as citizens told that we have duties as well as rights? It reminded me of something the novelist John Lanchester wrote about his father in his memoir, Family Romance: A Love Story: “He grew up in a culture in which duty and reticence and honor and privacy and lack of ostentation were regarded as forms of goodness and public-spiritedness. Plenty of people still believe in all these things, but they have vanished from our public culture, or at least from our publicized culture, and no one celebrates them anymore, or even admits that they were once seen, and not so long ago, as virtues.”
In their reticence, lack of ostentation, and willingness to listen to one another, my fellow jurors demonstrated a genuine public-spiritedness.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"The likely successor to British Prime Minister Theresa May, Boris Johnson, has plans to subsume the government department overseeing development aid into the foreign office, effectively eliminating it. That will destroy a post-Brexit United..."
"Gerard Baker, editor-at-large at the Wall Street Journal (no reflexively anti-Trump publication) recently wrote a piece decrying Donald Trump and his foreign policy as a fount of erratic unpredictability. This essay will give the counter view...."
"On Wednesday, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar announced that she will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories in the coming weeks. Omar will be accompanied by Rep. Rashida Tlaib. The two freshman congresswomen have become a focal point of..."
"Netflix may have lost US subscribers for the first time since it began making its own shows, but that didn't stop the streaming giant from dropping new figures about how many people are sucked into its Adam Sandler vortex. (Spoiler: More than..."
"A few years ago, Amy Balliett, CEO of a Seattle-based design and marketing firm, noticed that as the work week slogged on, her employees’ energy and productivity wilted. “That would slump to such an extent that the same task on Monday would..."
"Over the last few days the #faceappchallenge has taken over social media. This “challenge” involves downloading a selfie-editing tool called FaceApp and using one of its filters to digitally age your face. You then post the photo of your wizened..."
"Although there are plenty of irrational aspects to life in modern America, few rival the odd fixation on lawns. Fertilizing, mowing, watering — these are all-American activities that, on their face, seem reasonable enough. But to spend hundreds..."
"Can a book change the way we think? I don’t mean that in the sense of a reader’s opinion or ideology shifting—of course the right literary work can do that. But can a book rewire the brain itself, literally changing the way one particular mind..."
"It’s our job to let kids know we see and hear them, but we’re not necessarily going to solve siblings’ conflicts for them (or else they never get the practice). When squabbles start, imagine you’re a sportscaster and describe what you see in..."
"Magali Trejo-Martinez, a 22-year-old living in Salem, Oregon, recently went on a date that was rather uninspiring. “I had dinner, had a couple margaritas, and then went home,” is how she recapped the evening. This outcome wasn’t entirely..."
"The first lunar landing was many things — a D-Day-like feat of planning and logistics, a testament to the power of man's will, an ostensible propaganda coup for NATO. It was also, I think, one of the most misunderstood events in the history of..."
"THE FIRST TIME Bernie Sanders ran for president, he didn’t talk much about being Jewish. In fact, he didn’t talk much about himself at all. His 2016 primary campaign, like his whole political career, was relentlessly focused on one topic: income..."