JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 337
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a hermeneutical dialogue that writes and rights an event of social trauma
through the folds of social unanimity and mutual understanding. To
highlight the consequence of what this strategy of transmission over-
looks, I will conclude with a discussion on the limits and exclusions
produced through the (1985) trial of the military in Argentina.6
Recently, legal scholars have become concerned with the social-
educative role that criminal trials play in a society that is coming to terms
with past human-rights abuses. This legal-political discourse draws its
pedagogical assumptions from the same hermeneutical claims discussed
above. Work in this area points to three intertwined pedagogical goals
that such trials strive for: deterrence, communicative competence re-
quired for social deliberation, and social-solidarity/reconciliation. Thus,
in a nation recently torn apart by authoritarian abuses, the trial of human
rights violations becomes itself an educational forum that not only
commemorates the wrongs of the past, but also stages a communicative
and consensual process for appreciating and building solidarity around
the deliberative virtues of (liberal) democracy.
Drawing largely from the example of Argentina, Carlos Nino and
Osiel note that "the judicial task" in a post-trauma society employs the
law of evidence, procedure, and professional responsibility to recast the
courtroom drama in terms of an educational "theater of ideas," where
large questions of collective memory and even national identity are
engaged. Rules of criminal procedure and professional responsibility end
up ensuring a measure of civility when they confront the divisive issues
implicit after a period of social trauma. Hence, the give-and-take herme-
neutical protocol at work in a criminal trial provides the "enabling
constraints" necessary for conducting an edifying conversation that
citizens can come to understand and identify with (Osiel, "Making" 221 ).
In helping to overcome mutual incomprehension, the law-in the
hermeneutical sense of a "continuing tradition"-provides the hori-
zon of possibility that allows the immediate disputes of the litigants
to be "woven into a larger story about the community, its history, and
its evolving normative commitments" (Osiel, Mass 73). By narrating
the horrific consequences of"illiberal vices" from the past regime, the
law stages a formal reconciliatory structure, a concentric axis, for
historical interpretation and public understanding that all parties can
come to draw upon: "The contrast between legality of the trials and the
way the defendants acted is prominently noticed in public discussion
and further contributes to the collective appreciation of the rule of
law" (Nino 147). Thus, such law-related activities inevitably foster an
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Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition (U.S.). JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004, periodical, 2004; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28644/m1/83/: accessed May 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .