Earlier today I watched a bit of the Zimmerman trial (if you’ve been living under a rock or live outside the USA where I’m guessing it’s not such a big news item, here’s a basic rundown) because I’m somewhat interested and also apparently a bit masochistic this morning/early afternoon. As I listened, something occurred to me: the literary world has something to offer the justice system.
We don’t need jurors listening to all this testimony, viewing all this evidence, listening to the lawyers work to spin it this way and that.
We need a board of editors instead. Think about it. Who else is more qualified to cut a story down to its essential details and throw all the fat away? Who else has seen more convoluted plots and worked to make something understandable out of them? Who else is trained to ignore flowery prose and overwrought adjectival constructions (which are basically what lawyers do when they’re speaking aloud)? Who else is experienced in stripping all that flowery-ness and adjectival overdoing down to terse, clear prose?
The only catch in my idea is the fact that professional editors just don’t have the time. They’re already buried under their slushpiles, I can’t imagine getting them to take on trial work as well.
What a shame. They’d be perfect.