We have no choice

Came across this (common) phrase in the cease-and-desist letter sent by the New York Times to (aptly named) developer Cody Brown:

If the video has not been taken down within three (3) business days of the receipt of this letter, we will have no choice but to pursue all available legal remedies.

Key words: "We will have no choice".

It's a common thing to say, both in legalese like this, and in everyday conversation.

But it's bullshit.

Of course they have a choice!

They can choose which legal remedies they pursue, they can pursue none. Of course those choices have consequences, and they may not like those consequences and so they choose the option with the best likely consequences for them. But it's still a choice. Saying otherwise is a lie.

It's like Louis CK said the other day (in the New York Times, no less) about people saying they were forced to apologize:

How did somebody make you apologize? Did they literally hit you on your body?

So how will they have no other choice? Will the be hit on their body or put in jail for the rest of their lives if they don't? (And even if so, it would still be a choice.)

And why is it that the authors in this case feel a need to lie?

Probably because they know they have the choice of not being as aggressive legally, and they're not willing to own it. So they play the victim card. "We really have no choice in the matter. We're just victims of the circumstances. It hurts us as much as it hurts you."

But you can't have it both ways.

Be aggressive and own it. Or be reasonable and own that.

I'm not saying that the New York Times shouldn't pursue all available legal options. Just don't lie about their choice in the matter.

Not fully owning our choices saps our energy. Fully owning every choice gives us strength and power and integrity.

2 comments

Maj Wismann liked this on Facebook.
By Maj Wismann on Sat, May 25, 13 at 02:37 · Reply
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@calvinconaway nice post. I hate that phrase too.
By markaufflick on Sat, May 25, 13 at 08:15 · Reply
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