A while ago I published my article The Negative Society about what is pretty much the face and attitude of the official world we live in today.
Yesterday I received a letter from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service informing me of Jury Duty. While the act of doing ones civil obligation is no problem whatsoever the way it was presented was everything I talked about and more.
First off, the letter is completely void of any type of warmth or gratitude. There is not one single “dear”, “please” or “thank you” to be found anywhere on either side of that frosty little issue. Instead there is an aggressively stamped title of “JURY CITATION” as a title followed by a cold bullet point list, one of which is an immediate warning of a £1000 fine if I fail to attend.
So, in less than 5 lines into an official document the people who composed this letter feel that the best first course of action is to issue a threat. This presents an underlying assumption that one is already guilty and needs a warning of punishment in order to secure attendance.
The next deals with the unbalance of compensation. Now I’ve been called for Jury Duty before and thankfully it was cancelled but I looked in to compensation for time lost and from what I recall the full daily amount was not up to much at all. The cherry on the cake is that you are expected to apply for and sort this out yourself with only a website address provided which considering that attendance is mandatory is a bit of a slap in the face.
This brings us on to our last point in that someone called for Jury Duty has no choice in the matter.
This is 2016 and we purport to live an a 100% free society but this is just damning evidence to the contrary. Citizens should not be forced to do anything and especially not under threat.
The reason all this is so callous, aggressive and negative is simply due to the fact that they do not need to be nice and cosy about it and so they don’t bother. How bad is it that an official body won’t even waste a few drops of ink on a letter to even say “thank you” to the person it is ordering to comply. That is a worrying reflection of the official system as a whole and the juxtaposition of some elements are downright insulting. They expect you to cough up £1000 yet the compensation is nowhere near that?
Doing one’s duty as a citizen is a noble thing and I very much approve of the jury system but hoodwinking citizens to participate at metaphorical gunpoint is simply not fair, it’s not democratic AND it may actually influence the outcome. It’s hard to remain completely impartial when you have been forced to do something as I know that I am going to go into that courtroom resentful, bitter and more than a little angry. In fact even receiving the letter was one of the big low points of my day and that really sounds stupid when you say it out loud.
Would it not be so much better to provide incentives rather than threats to citizens to do a civil duty? To provide a reward rather than issue what is really a preemptive punishment?
What about rewording the letter and starting with –
“Dear John Smith,
You have been honourably selected for Jury Service. This position is of the highest accolade and importance and the Courts would be eternally grateful if you would choose to attend. If you accept then you shall be entitled to a citizen’s reward for services rendered (See below).
Please not that a reply either way is required within 7 days.
Thank you for your time and consideration.”
To ASK someone to do a task and to present that task in a positive manner makes a huge difference. As for reward, what if they did choose to attend they received a flat sum of £1000 or maybe 3 months without having to pay council tax or even a special pass that granted free travel on all public transport for a year? What this would do would be to provide a positive incentive (in what is currently hard times) and cross that with the ability to actually make a choice in the matter then I guarantee that you would have probably a 100% voluntary attendance rate. I know I would without question and I’d do it with a good attitude knowing that my time was worth something to the state.
It will cost money, of course it will but ask yourself with all the MP’s expenses, unusable nuclear weapons and wasted taxpayer’s cash on failed schemes wouldn’t the money be better spend on you know……the people? And compared to these horrid wasteful things the money needed would be a pittance.
Or is a citizen’s time, opinion and choice not really worth much?
If you are making the argument that it’s just a small thing in an otherwise free country and we should be grateful for what we have then you are the problem. A wrong, no matter how small is still a wrong. People probably said the same about votes for women at the time. “Ahh what can you do”, “Life is unfair” or the classic progress killer “That’s just how it is……deal with it!”.
If you have a load of small injustices that don’t seem so bad individually but add them up it soon becomes apparent that this society isn’t that progressive.
You think you are free? Ok, if you are a man then try going to your work in a dress instead of a suit or if you are a woman then try walking about a city topless during summer.
As for Jury Duty, The Scottish Government would do well to look at and review this outdated, forceful and wholly unfair method if they propose to actually be a progressive government and it may very well be a good promise to make for an Independent and forward thinking Scotland.
With all this negativity from officials pouring down from above like a toxic rain is it any wonder that it seeps into society as a whole. How do the powers above expect civil and decent citizens when they can’t even muster a measly morsel of gratitude for it’s people?
I’m beginning to think they don’t want nice, happy people in their society.
Keep them down, keep them wanting………keep the fear!