Case: Rex vs Mister Beaver Hateman, Criminal Libel
Presiding Judge: Sir George Jeffreys
Counsel for the Prosecution: Godfrey Badger K.C.
Counsel for the Defence: Mister Hootman G.H.O.S.T
Mr Hootman: Much has been made in this Court of you generosity, has it not?
Uncle: Yes…but not by myself I might add.
Mr Hootman: Is it not true, however, that this generosity comes at a price?
Uncle: I have no idea what you mean…
Mr Hootman: Well, let me put it this way – is it not expected that you receive something in return for your gifts? For instance has the King of the Badgers, himself, not bestowed medals on you in return for small favours you have done him…
Uncle: Well, yes, but…
Mr Hootman:…and at one point even the Town Hall Mace?
Uncle: He did indeed give me that item, but its value…
Mr Hootman: …and is it not expected that those you assist are expected to show their gratitude by depicting those events in paintings, and to lay on celebrations in your honour…all to massage your ego and to reinforce the image of yourself that you have created as a great benefactor?
Uncle: You are twisting these facts to cast me in an unflattering light! This is ridiculous…an elephant of my position being spoken to like a common…
Mr Hootman:…criminal? Do you mean the sort of person who might, for instance… take a bicycle without the owners permission?
Uncle: I am well aware of the incident to which you allude. It is a well-known fact that I merely borrowed the bicycle – I certainly was not prosecuted over the matter and I think that you will find that the owner has been quite happy with the recompense I have made to him for this slight error of judgement…
Mr Hootman: So you say, so you say, but suffice to say that there is no smoke without fire.
Judge Jeffreys: Have that remark struck from the record. Members of the Jury I ask you to disregard that last remark. Counsel, you should no better than that – please keep speculation out of this Courtroom!
Mr Hootman: I apologise most profusely your honour – a mere slip of the tongue. Let us pass on to your relationship with the accused. Would it not be correct to say that you consider him to be a thorn in your side?
Uncle: He has caused a number of problems in the past that have upset the normal running of Homeward.
Mr Hootman: I put it to you, Sir, that you are a self-confessed capitalist and that as the owner of a vast property, with many business interests – you are dependent on docile tenants to guarantee your rental income and subservient workers to assure the smooth running of your enterprises.
Uncle: I think that my rents are more than fair and that my workers receive a very adequate remuneration…
Mr Hootman: A very patrician attitude…almost feudal one might say.
Judge Jeffreys: Where is this line of questioning leading, Mister Hootman, I must say I do not see its relevance?
Mr Hootman: Your honour, I merely seek to show how someone who might attempt to aid these tenants and workers to improve their lot might be seen as a danger, by Uncle, to his life of privilege.
Judge Jeffreys: You may continue, but I warn you to be careful how you proceed.
Mr Hootman: Thank you M’lud. I put it to you, Uncle, that you are jealous of Mister Hateman.
Uncle: I have no idea what you mean?
Mr Hootman: You must be well aware, that Mister Hateman, is seen by many as somewhat of a Robin Hood character….
Uncle: He’s a thief you mean.
Mr Hootman: No, no, of course not…but he is seen my many as standing up for the poor against the rich, is he not?
Uncle: No, I think that most people see him as a con artist and a felon.
Mr Hootman: I put it to you that, the fact that he is so loved, enrages you because unlike yourself he has no need to buy adoration!
Uncle: That is the most ridiculous accusation…
Mr Hootman: No matter, let us pass onto the events you so eloquently, if incorrectly, described yesterday. Firstly let us consider the ‘magical’ Wizard’s Dressing Gown.
Uncle: By all means. A most powerful and dangerous weapon in the hands of the wrong person.
Mr Hootman: A Dressing Gown?
Uncle: Indeed, one with the properties of that particular dressing gown.
Mr Hootman: Yes, supposedly conferring the power of invisibility.
Mr Hootman: As you know my client’s version of events is that he was wandering around the Museum and fell asleep. When he awoke, feeling somewhat chilly, he saw the dressing gown and placed it around himself to keep warm. He was certain that it had no value because it was so worn out and moth-eaten. Does that not sound more likely than you extraordinary claims that he stole it because of its enormous value…as a ‘magical’ garment?
Uncle: I believe the prosecution will be calling a number of expert witnesses in order to prove this.
Mr Hootman: We shall see…I shall now move onto the crimes that you claim were committed by my client using this ‘magical’ gown. You claim that he stole all the paintings from your Art Gallery?
Uncle: Indeed I do.
Mr Hootman: But is it not correct that when the Badgertown Police were called into investigate the thefts that they found all the paintings present and correct?
Uncle: No that is not true, what they found were crude imitations of the originals…
Mr Hootman: So you say, but so far we have the borrowing of a dressing gown, and you yourself have admitted to the borrowing of items in your own past, and an art theft that never happened. Is that not the truth?
Uncle: The curator saw the paintings being taken. They floated out of the Museum…
Mr Hootman: Members of the jury…we are expected to believe that they ‘floated’ out of the museum, carried by persons unknown wearing a ‘magical’ dressing gown… I put it to you, Uncle, that you are a fantasist. Your whole life is a fiction…you imagine that you live in a castle with ‘magical’ places and ‘magical’ objects, and that you are the master of this ‘magical’ kingdom, where all the tenants bask in your bounteous presence…
Uncle: That is nonsense!
Mr Hootman: ‘Magical’ Dressing Gowns? Is this not the stuff of children’s fiction? Honestly, you will be expecting us to believe in Schools for Wizards next! Your adherence to a world of fantasy is merely an opiate for the people! It is a means by which you exert control. As the great philosopher Plato said - Ignorance or error about reality is among the worst disasters that can befall us, and from these so many other pains and disasters follow; and fantasy is a contributor to that worst disaster. You create an illusory fantasy world where the people are happy with your rule – you require that the people believe in this fantasy so that they will make no demands in the real world. To call on them to give up their illusions is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions.
Uncle: That is a monstrous distortion of the truth!
Mr Hootman: Is it not a distortion of the truth to claim that innocent tourists, who accidentally found themselves in your Treasury, were using a ‘magical’ dressing gown to steal from you ?...I ask you, members of the jury, next he will be asking you to shout that you believe in fairies! No more questions M’lud!
Judge Jeffreys: In that case, we will adjourn for the day.