I had once mentioned in an earlier blogpost that I find corporate policy documents quite entertaining . I suppose I should have listened to my mother and pursued a career in law, as something about legal jargon and the law, in general, fascinates me.
I see legal lexicon as an interesting offshoot of language. I wonder why English language courses do not have a module on just this. Not only are policies and disclaimers interesting to read, they can be very empowering and they really help to draw the line between what is allowed and what is not, what is right and what is wrong. There is no such thing as a grey area. Only if the law or disclaimer is fairly new and does not have at least 5 appendages to it, it may have grey areas. (A classic example being a law which gives a live-in couples in India the same rights as a married couple, but does not state HOW they can establish themselves as a live-in couple in court.)
I hate the colour grey because within grey there are different shades. Black or white only has one shade – and nothing can be clearer than that. I find most people are uncomfortable with such stark truths or rules. People like me are either considered too clinical or too “split-personalityish” to not appreciate the different shades of grey. I do not like shades of grey, but that does not mean I make fun of people who do.
According to me, life is full of hidden disclaimers. Society and its norms are probably what make up for all the disclaimers. They may include things like:
- The legitimacy of a child is important to grant him rights to respect from his peers. It also enables the child to have access to inheritance. Medical and educational provisions can be arranged for easily if legitimacy is established.
- Legitimacy is possible through the legal and socially sanctioned norm known as marriage.
- Marriage insists that you be with one partner for the rest of your life. This, in effect, includes putting up with farts and burps and watching thick manes turn to receding hairlines and see fab abs turn into paunches.
- Women on the whole will typically be portrayed as giggly and feminine, while men will typically be portrayed as macho and stern. This might also explain why the law typically does not acknowledge alternate sexualities or behaviour as “normal” or “permissible”. This however, is being reviewed by many legal systems the world over.
- You are allowed to have subjective opinions that may not represent the opinions of the nation; however, remarks, comments or jokes that tend to denigrate people on the basis of religion, caste, gender, culture, sexuality, race or nationality will be dealt with severely. The definition of ‘denigrate’ will be decided based on the current socio-political mood swing of the nation or world. For example, any anti-national statement made during war might be deemed as denigatory and might result in death of the individual who made the statement.
- Man is a social animal and tends to co-exist peacefully in any society. This includes “rebels” who claim to hate society but fail to realize they are a part of it anyway. Life is easier, be it in the form of the availability of basic sanitation, medial provisions or security when you live as a society.
- While most people do not follow set rules for basic sanitation (some people segregate paper and plastic, some others dump garbage from their windows) or medicine (some people visit the doctor for a headache, some others wait till they are rushed to the emergency ward) – things like marriage and education have set rules and timelines that all are expected to follow. Failure to follow these timelines may result in the formation of socially unacceptable persons such as an uneducated youth with poor career prospects, or lonely individuals who breed negativity or find wrong channels to deal with sexual repression. Such persons are likely to be a nuisance rather than a benefit to the society and/or nation.
- There are very few legal provisions for those who do not wish to abide by the norms stated above. It would either mean living in isolation, which can be difficult, or compromising.
Would you like to add any to this list?