Thursday, December 10, 2009
So I've been having this running dispute with my next door neighbors about their barking dogs, and last night from somewhere in the depths of my brain arose the phrase, "sic utere tuo ut allenum no laedas." (Roughly translated, "use your property in a way that does not harm others." Latin scholars, feel free to correct me.) First, I'm truly frightened that Latin phrases I learned in first year property can come back to haunt me in this way so long after the fact. Second, how ironic to find myself in a middle of a personal situation involving property and land use while I am co-editor of this blog and while I'm working in a land use policy-based clinic! So often we talk about these things in an academic sense, but occasionally we get to experience them in the human sense.
The issue with the dogs is indeed aggravating, but I'm hopeful we can negotiate ourselves through it. Of course, there are always legal remedies, but despite being a lawyer (or because I am a lawyer) I find myself reluctant to pursue them. Because of my work with environmental justice clients who are facing far more serious nuisances - such as extreme environmental pollution - I understand the human toll of involving legal mechanisms, such as lawsuits. These mechanisms are unweildy and time consuming and can be emotionally exhausting. I also understand (and one of my students has written on this blog about) how hard it can be to get the authorities to do the right thing. So, we all struggle along attempting the negotiated solution, even as we ask for regulatory fixes for our clients that may or may not help.
Far better scholars than I have thought long and deep on this issue and may want to comment. In the meantime, I'll just say you can get your own "Sic utere" shirt on-line, and here's hoping for more neighborly consideration everywhere.
Jamie Baker Roskie
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