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6 - Silence in the Court: Moral Exclusion at the Intersection of Disability, Race, Sexuality, and Methodology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 June 2019

Amy Jo Murray
University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Kevin Durrheim
University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
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In this chapter, we trouble the implicit and explicit assumptions tucked behind the phenomenon of the unsaid, actually the forbidden, by examining events that unfolded in a New Jersey (US) state courtroom where conflicting stories about sexual love/violence clashed in the fall of 2015. We examine the ideological and social functions of banished testimony in the context of the trial on aggravated sexual assault where “protection” was deployed to silence a sexual relationship that violated most normative taboos; where “denying voice” to the presumed victim was enforced; where reproducing an old story of “sexual violence” was used to bury another story of connection, love, and desire. Data we present derive from what was said and unsaid, who was and was not allowed to speak, and what evidence was admissible and excluded. It unpacks how voice, silence, protection, and exclusion operate at the delicate intersection of disability, science, law, and sexuality to reproduce hegemonic notions of power and the denial of desire. The binaries and boundaries that were crafted within this case allow us to theorize how the unsaid can sustain and mask injustice as if it is were normal, appropriate, and fair while it reproduces brutal exclusionary realities within our social world.

Qualitative Studies of Silence
The Unsaid as Social Action
, pp. 107 - 125
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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