Why Couldn’t You Just Keep Your Knees Together?: The Four-Discursive Operations of Language in the Court Proceedings of Her Majesty the Queen v. Alexander Scott Wagar
This thesis examines how the “four discursive operations of language” (Wade, Coates & Todd, 2002), as used by legal personnel, distort the appearance of truth within the court proceedings of an alleged sexual assault. The methodology of content analysis is used, with the application of procedures to enhance internal validity (i.e. a decision tree and the inclusion of a second rater), to show how language obscures violence, hides victim responses, diminishes the perpetrator’s apparent responsibility, and in effect accuses or finds deficiencies with the victim of violence instead. The measure of interrater agreement found (kappa) was 0.890, which indicates a high level of consistency in the coding of the transcript and hence strong internal validity for the research. Illustrative examples of how the judge and court personnel’s use of language distorts the perpetrator’s use of coercion along with his victim’s resistance to this coercion, while allocating the responsibility for the violence to the victim herself, are identified.