A 3 Geeks and a Blog July 13 (Turning Internet Nasty Into Money for a Cause) started me thinking, perhaps in the slipstream of others, about people who use websites and blogs intentionally or unintentionally to redress consumer (and other) injuries and grievances or to shame those “who done them wrong,” rather than hiring a lawyer – or to help build public support for their own pro se / self-represented / small claims lawsuit.
I’m not talking about The Complainers, those people who would rather have their grievances (and their whining) than a solution to a problem. I’m thinking instead about people who really do try to solve problems creatively with deliberation, conversation, research and hard work. (See the example in the 3 Geeks post, that of Anita Sarkeesian, and Heather Peters, the California Small Claims Court litigant)
Journalists, newspapers, and other days-of-yore print media have always use Publication to educate and persuade, but now, almost anyone can broadcast. Consider, for example, that 2009 U.S. Supreme Court case (Safford Unified School District v. Redding) about the strip search of a high school girl by school officials. After oral argument the print and the online chatter was brutal, shaming, criticizing, and outright laughing at the utter and apparent cluelessness of many of the Justice’s questions and assumptions about Real High School Life (specifically for young women). I wonder if that onslaught of “are you kidding me?!!” types of broadcast reaction forced the Justices to step back a little to rethink their previously fixed opinions, if only to retain a little professional and maybe even personal credibility, dignity, and respect. (Their own children and grandchildren are surely not banned from telling them A Thing or Two About Youf Today.)
Taking matters into your own hands, and your motherboard, does have its risks (think about the time and money invested in the Obsidian Finance Group, LLC. v. Cox lawsuit), but that’s why one needs to think deeply and strategically before pressing the Enter key.
I’m the first one to suggest the possibly of a “lawyer letter” to many of our library patron non-attorneys who want to call out the militia to redress grievances rather than thinking clearly about the best way to solve their problems quickly and maybe even cheaply, in both time and money. But I more than half admire the aggrieved who take to the airwaves, and the internet pipes, when they do so with skill and panache (and good research and manners).
I’m sure that far more agile and creative legal minds than my own have examined this trend and I’m watching to see its affect on the legal profession – and on the self-represented litigant community.