Violence and the Word, 95 YALE L.J. 1601 (1986)
Legal interpretation' takes place in a field of pain and death. This is
true in several senses. Legal interpretive acts signal and occasion the imposition
of violence upon others: A judge articulates her understanding of
a text, and as a result, somebody loses his freedom, his property, his children, even his life. Interpretations in law also constitute justifications for
violence which has already occurred or which is about to occur. When
interpreters have finished their work, they frequently leave behind victims
whose lives have been torn apart by these organized, social practices of
violence. Neither legal interpretation nor the violence it occasions may be
properly understood apart from one another. This much is obvious,
though the growing literature that argues for the centrality of interpretive
practices in law blithely ignores it.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Cover, Robert M., "Violence and the Word" (1986). Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 2708.