Wednesday, February 20, 2008

When the Diplomats Sit in Judgment

Chairman of the Tribunal: Gentlemen, today we are unfortunately forced to concern ourselves with a very serious case. I have tried to put off these proceedings, but the force of common outrage has incited this tribunal... (leafs through papers) The charges maintain that a robbery and murder were committed in plain daylight. A peaceful pedestrian was attacked in front of several witnesses... In addition, the witnesses' statements agree in their particulars...


Chairman of the Tribunal: You are the victim's widow?

Widow: Yes.

Chairman: The court would like to express its deep sympathies to you. You were present at...the unfortunate incident as a witness? Can you tell me how it happened?

Widow: Yes. (Pointing) That murderer did it!

Man With a Wart on His Nose: I protest against this public insult!

Chairman: I remind the witness that she may not point at anyone. So you maintain that an unidentified bystander committed the murder?

Man With a Wart on His Nose: (reaching for his hat) Gentlemen, I cannot sit here any longer if I hear the word murder once more. It was simply a legal act of self-defense.

Chairman: I recognize your definition. So your husband, madam, was walking peacefully down the street--

Man With a Wart on His Nose: Pardon me, that is incorrect. He was not walking peacefully. He had just arrogantly deposited some money at the bank--and he seemed threatening.

Chairman: Threatening? In what way?

Man With a Wart on His Nose: He gave the impression that he was not afraid. It seemed like he was even armed.

Widow: It's not true! He wasn't armed!

Chairman: That was a great carelessness, my dear women. If he had been armed, he could have saved us from this indelicate conversation. This...unfortunate incident (sighs resignedly) could have been avoided. Next witness, please. Sir, you were present at--

Witness: Yes. I was there when the deceased was attacked by a man with a wart on his nose...

Man With a Wart on His Nose: And who was this man? Could you name him?

Witness: No. I'd rather not.

Man With a Wart on His Nose: Right. I wouldn't advise anyone to.

Chairman: It would be better if the witnesses did not identify anyone too directly. This would ensure the court's faithful and just verdict. Next witness, please.


Chairman: Gentlemen, with the testimony of all the witnesses it has been documented, that a certain person...not further named...with the goal of transferring to his possession a wallet...discharged a firearm on the street, which as a result ended a human life. In light of the fact...that we have expressed our condolences to an increasing number of such incidents in the recent past, the high court has arrived at the following verdict. In the name of human rights! Without reference to anyone in particular, we would like to proclaim...that in future incidents of this sort we would be forced to again express our condolences...and again, without naming anyone, to describe such incidents as regrettable and contradictory to the common good. That is all.

Man with a Wart on his Nose: This verdict is inimical, of course, and rather threatening. I protest against all verdicts on principle that would decide what is regrettable and what is not "in the name of human rights." In the future I shall not come, gentlemen. I do not have time for this.

Chairman: We are very sorry about this, sir. We would not willingly lose your participation in the maintenance of human rights and order. The court assures you of its particular esteem...


Associate Judge: It seems to me, as your colleague, that it might be better if we did not strain ourselves with cases as serious as robbery and murder.

LN 17 November, 1937

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