The Universe of Discourse

Wed, 31 May 2023

Why does this phrase sound so threatening?

Screenshot of tweet from Ari Cohn (@AriCohn)
saying “If you are the lawyer for the Village of melrose Park, this
phrasing is really not what you want to see at the opening of the
opinion.”  Below that is Cohn's screenshot of the opening words of a
2022 opinion of U.S. District Judge Steven C. Seeger: “The Village of
melrose Park decided that it would be a good idea”.

I took it the same way:

The Village of Melrose Park decided that it would be a good idea

is a menacing way to begin, foreboding bad times ahead for the Village.

But what about this phrasing communicates that so unmistakably? I can't put my finger on it. Is it “decided that”? If so, why? What would have been a less threatening way to say the same thing? Does “good idea” contribute to the sense of impending doom? Why or why not?

(The rest of the case is interesting, but to avoid distractions I will post about it separately. The full opinion is here.)

Addendum 20240508

I described Judge Seeger's tone here as “restrained but unmistakably threatening”. Would you like to see what it looks like when he abandons all restraint?

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