Censorship of Trial

During the court proceedings, there is a request that all women and children be removed from the courtroom so the “truth” may be heard in full rather than the testimonies having to be censored for the spectators. This is an arbitrary request, perhaps a ploy to lure Judge Taylor into permitting censorship of the testimony and muddying the already murky and questionable details of the case in favor of Mr. Ewell.

Judge Taylor’s response, however, is ,”…people generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for…” Those who are in the courtroom have as much of a right as any to hear the details of the case as any. They made the conscious decision to be there, and to take away that right is to nullify the reason for the trial in the first place–to determine the innocence or guilt of Tom Robinson. Besides, the graphic nature of the details will, according to Judge Taylor, not sway the people’s opinion because if people want the kernel of guilt to be planted there, they will hear it no matter if the accused is truly culpable of the crime.

The case should be heard for what it is, not a censored version that allows the details of the incident to be buried beneath anonymity and vague blanket statements. If people hear only half of the story, their opinions will be disproportionately skewed with far-reaching outliers. Guilt will be presumed, and a fair and equal trial will have been robbed from the accused. Whether the case was ever able to have a fair shake due to racial predetermination in the community is a separate argument in itself; however, it is able to be accurately stated that there can be no fair trial without the presentation of all the details. People made the conscious decision to absorb the presented information as everyone in that room knew in advance there were accusations of rape; nobody forced them to sit in a courtroom and listen to the gruesome details. They did that of their own volition and therefore presented their consent to listen to the details. If they decided it was too much for them, they had the right and freedom to leave at their discretion.

One thought on “Censorship of Trial”

  1. An interesting interpretation of Mr. Gilner’s request to clear the courtroom. I’m not actually sure how doing so would have affected the outcome of the trial, since of course the jury would remain. But I’m compelled by the connection you seem to be drawing between Judge Taylor’s prioritization of honesty and transparency over protecting the delicate sensibilities of women and children. What I think you’re getting at here is that there are things the trial can accomplish beyond the arrival at a verdict. If women and children can’t be in the courtroom, Scout can’t have this experience, and it can’t be narrated to us!

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