Monday, April 16, 2007

a new bluebook signal

Dear Bluebook Editors,

I would like to propose a new addition to the Bluebook's list of citation signals.  As you know, see is among the most popular support signals, indicating helpful cases, law review articles, and other sources of information which support the author's point with only a small logical step required.  But see also plays an important role showing sources that disagree with the author's point and thereby promoting healthy and vigorous debate. In addition, these signals serve the valuable secondary role of allowing authors to demonstrate they are widely read and erudite, easily able to rattle off a string of supporting and disagreeing authority.

I propose the addition of a new signal: don't seeDon't see would introduce authority that disagrees with the author's contention, and that the author has read and considers so poorly reasoned that the author advises the reader to avoid it.  Obviously, use of an explanatory parenthetical would be strongly recommended.

Consider the benefits of don't see.  It serves the purpose of making authors appear erudite because it allows them to show they have read every source, even the junky ones.  More importantly, what could foster the give-and-take of vigorous academic debate and a full airing of the issues better than citing an author's work with a don't see signal?  In fact, don't see would promote a veritable democracy of ideas: currently, an author must discriminate against those sources the author considers poorly reasoned by omitting them because the required order of authorities leaves no room for the author to tell the reader which of the listed sources the author considers helpful.  This new signal would allow the author to list sources the author regards as poorly reasoned or unhelpful, allowing the reader could make up her own mind about them.

I hope you will give serious consideration to including don't see in the next edition of the Bluebook.

False Data

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