494 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 4 J U L Y 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE
If we do not disclose material facts on an ex parte application, we can both
lose the case and breach other duties. If we misstate a fact to the court or
opposing counsel, we risk not being trusted. If we do not extend basic courtesies,
we risk being treated the same way.
Commentators or purveyors of commentary need to be aware of the consequences
their words can have as well. And as the potential audience, we
can at the very least choose to obtain our news from the sources that least
undercut and that most benefit our society—the reasoned, contextualized
Thoughtless headlines create a physical danger in this fraught world.
Based on a few alarmist words doled out we may simply assume the worst
and act accordingly. A recent headline, for example, proclaimed the presence
of Russian bombers and fighters near Alaska. This turned out to be the
lead-up to an article in which U.S. officials assured there was no concern
and noted this event was simply a reversion to what had been a practice up
to 2015. Given that we live in a time where a certain world leader cuts short
security briefings so he can have a Coke, is it too much of a stretch to imagine
him ordering a military attack based on an exaggerated headline from a
favoured news source? You don’t have to answer that.
While the time spent on any one headline is minimal, cumulatively looking
at these vacuous statements takes up a lot of it—time that could be spent
on other things. Yet still they tempt us—so many people seem so willing to
comment on matters that it is easier to mimic what they are saying than
research the underlying issues to come to reasoned conclusions of our own.
And in that sense the shorter the statements, the better—we may get a
sense of greater accomplishment from reading five short if meaningless
comments in the time it would take us to get through a couple of paragraphs
of a single well-crafted article.
We need to stop consuming information as if it were junk food. Candy
will not sustain a healthy body. Similarly, hyperbolic statements designed
to elicit emotional responses will not sustain a healthy mind or a healthy
society. As lawyers we are not immune to the curious foibles of human
nature—eating at a fast food restaurant is easy, initially satisfying but often
a big mistake for a whole host of reasons. The same is true with jumping on
bandwagons. It is kind of fun at first, but pretty soon you realize you’re on
a wagon playing banjo with a bunch of hillbillies.
Lawyers are perhaps better equipped to process information in a more
nuanced and meaningful way than our culture currently seems to want us
to. As officers of the court and proponents of the rule of law, it is incumbent
upon all of us to insist on principled reason to address the complex issues