Friday, November 18, 2011
Activism That Could Get Somewhere
Did you see this shocking story in today's New York Times? New York's family courts were ordered to provide open access to the public fourteen years ago, but they have simply ignored the law, with over 90% of them refusing the public access. The whole family court system apparently desires the hearings to be closed, so that the public doesn't see things like mothers permanently losing custody of their children in a seven-minute hearing. Now, if an "activist" really wants to help people by making a substantive change, rather than stroking their egos by telling themselves how their drum circles are "bringing down the system, man," why not fix this? If, say, a quarter of the people at OWS showed up at family courts demanding access (which courts have said is their legal right!) every day, I bet it would take about a week for the system to break down and family courts to start adhering to the law. One week, and they could accomplish a dramatic change for the better in the legal life of many poor families. But actually fixing a real, albeit small and local, problem in a way that actually helps people doesn't sound nearly as romantic as "changing the world," does it?