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Douglas Schuler
Public Sphere Project (CPSR)

Every day throughout the world violence is unleashed against defenseless people, animals, habitats. Domestic violence, police or military abuse, neglect of children, the disabled, the poor


genocide, environmental abuse, white collar crime, corruption, domestic abuse, prison, psychiatry, orphanages, old folks home, police abuse, violent crime, neglect. Occasionally these stories find public exposure. More often they do not. When they are revealed, positive actions can be -- but are infrequently -- taken.


Witnessing, initially, requires presence at the scene of the transgression. Beyond that it requires making some type of record. The record can take many forms -- written, spoken, audio, video, drawings or photographs, songs, music, or theatrical presentations. The record must be conveyed because it gains significance when it becomes more public. Witnessing requires courage and perseverance. Exposing violence or criminal action exposes the perpetrator and hence the risk of retaliation is voluntarily assumed by the witness.

Increasing the publicity associated with the crime increases the chances that the criminal will be prosecuted; ideally -- ultimately it would result in fewer instances of that type of crime. [it may also force the crime underground!] At the same time increasing the publicity can increase the risk to the witness.

Witnessing is a legal as well as religious concept. Explain...

Please note that this pattern submission is a draft at this point.


The act of witnessing must be supported and protected, it must have positive consequences and be prevalent if it's to be an effective tool in society.

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