Saturday, November 9, 2013

Coal Powered Cars: A child custody litigation analogy

09 November 2013

I have most recently completed my 500th blog posting. This was bookend by two seminars the prior day; Chinese criminal law and, skepticism of organized religion/cult dogma. Then after its writing a meeting with a prominent child advocate to work on a proposal for healthier school environments. So with that to produce my latest ramblings I am resigned to let my thoughts flow freely without the constraints of exhaustive research. I have chosen for this exercise the fun topic of coal powered vehicles and how an analysis of their liturgy based marketing provides a model by which to examine child custody litigation.

In that you may not be aware of the coal powered vehicles which are gaining status as trend-setters then, in a manner, General Motors and Toyota have failed in their awareness efforts. Contrarily maybe it is that they have succeeded in that you are not aware. In that you may be picturing a Stanley Steamer in your mind, they have.

To most people, opinion matters. Mannerisms, attire, place of residence, liturgical practices and, to a large extent, a Facebook page are all influencers that are tailored to project a public persona. In our modern social atmosphere it is a rarity to find an individual propounding the virtues of burning fossil fuels. It is actually quite fashionable to make overt displays of one's absolution of such. To harangue those who make opulent displays of their wanton disregard for such conservation efforts is now lauded. The subtle hypocrisies evident is some exchanges is worth noting – condemning those who engage in the action for which you deplore while a proxy does so.

A dog by any other name is still a dog. It's our collective peccadillo of laziness that allows acceptance of the various nomenclature obscuring true being. Look not to the name to identify what something is. Rather, seek to evoke its essence first. Then identify what it is. That failure is what allows some people – most – to believe that the power to run an electric car is produced from electricity. However, electricity is no more the fuel used to produce power for a car than an Oreo is the seed to grow cookies. Coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, and non-hydro renewables are the sources for nearly all electricity produced in the United States. Coal is the greatest source accounting for about 40% and then the others are in descending order. In industrializing countries like China, coal is used for electricity production at a much higher rate.

Thus, an electric car does not derive its energy from electricity – the store for its direct output – but rather it is the source of energy for the production of electricity that provides the power to an electric vehicle. About 90% of the energy an electric car uses is coal, natural gas, and nuclear – turbine fuels. That is what General Motors and Toyota are not going to show. Imagine for a moment that commercials were based upon the concept of providing a truthful depiction of a product. Their electric cars would appear to be personal sized steam locomotives shown with a smokestack belching out coal soot while driving past a fracking operation. As the commercial closes the view pans across a cooling tower at a nuclear power plant while the voice-over promotes the virtue of an electric powered vehicle - “electric cars: the power of fossil fuels with the consequences in the backyard of someone else.”

Pitch that idea to an automaker and watch it go the route of the pictures of drivers decapitated by factory installed seat belts. [oh! You haven't seen those?] Child custody proceedings are no less a platform for the marketing guru than is the video screen. Attorneys and their advisers attempt the craft of persuasion using the power of preconceptions that an abjectly neutral vernacular with its implicit biases can evoke. A parent who has spent hours “educating the child at home” is to be commended – unless it is revealed that the basis of such an education is rooted in the production and distribution of illicit drugs. Likewise, spending “quality time” with the child is a noble and ignominious goal. This direct contradiction can be explained in the qualifier of such time – quality. Quality is a neutral word which is defined as the features which make something what it is. Thus the quality can be of utmost superiority or it can reflect the poorest of craftsmanship.

Those are just two examples of the semantics I use which can have an impact on a child custody proceeding. It is imperative that a practitioner master the use of language to project the better features of his client while at the same time recognizing the triggers that mandate a further examination of the opposing party. The ends justify the means. Courts of law are not a forum in which to express brutal honesty. Don't get defeated by a romantic view of the noble judiciary as a marketplace where the pedant practitioner reveals the truth which produces the just and moral outcome.

Again, what something is said to be does not always make it be. Knowing when a term avoids essence or reflects it may make the difference in a parent-child relationship.

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©2008, 2013 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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