Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jury-duty story

The other day a reporter for the Albany Democrat-Herald called up Paul and said he found out that the Mennonites in the area are exempt from jury duty if they present a letter from their church. Paul said that was true. Could Paul send him a copy of the letter? Sure. So Paul faxed him one.

The reporter wanted to include Paul's picture but Paul didn't feel comfortable with that and the reporter was cooperative.

The article appeared on the front page of the paper yesterday. It was entitled "12 Angry Mennonites? Not in Linn County courts." Haha, clever, I thought.

It was a nice, factual article. Unfortunately, nobody else seemed to "get" the title.

Paul and the other ministers discussed it at prayer meeting this evening, I am told, and were all three mystified as to why in the world they chose that title. A local Mennonite guy wrote to the paper and said while he himself does jury duty, he felt the title was disrespectful to those who don't.

The paper replied, apologetically, that they got a bit carried away. See, there's an old play called Twelve Angry Men which we read in Mr. Rubis's English class in high school. As I recall, the entire drama takes place in one room, with this jury of twelve men debating whether the guy is guilty or innocent, and the tension ratchets up as the play goes on.

So, a story about Mennonites not doing jury duty? How could they resist? Twelve Angry Mennonites. . .

The three ministers, and I would imagine the letter-writer, all had plenty of high school and even a bit of college, and yet they never made this connection.

I think that's kind of troubling. But maybe I just had a better English teacher than most.

Quote of the Day:
"We got carried away trying to be clever by referring to Reginald Rose’s teleplay from the 1950s, “Twelve Angry Men.” We regret causing offense."
--the Democrat-Herald


  1. I didn't get the headline either. Obviously my liberal education wasn't liberal enough (though I'm sure Tom would say otherwise!).

  2. I did! And I thought it was quite cute. It's a good piece to read. I have read it several times, enjoying the authors ability to create consistent characters who are very human. Go dig out your high school literature books and read it! It's titled Twelve Angry Men.

  3. I am another person who was upset by the newspaper headline, and had absolutely no clue until this recent clarification what the connection was. However, in reading your explanation, it makes much more sense. But I daresay that most Mennonites did not "get it"--and are likewise upset. Let me also add that I don't recall anywhere in the ACE/SOT curriculum that play ever being referenced... Thanks for your widely-read clarification; it will perhaps appease the masses! :-)

  4. Richard Miller2/11/2010 7:05 PM

    I have an 8th grade education in a very conservative, anti-education Mennonite church, was taught primarily with Rod & Staff curriculum, and I "got it" the instant I read the title.

    But I am probably just weird.

  5. I had almost exactly the same education as the above commenter, and I "got" the title the instant I read it. So if Rich is weird, so am I! :)