Crown versus Rover
The plaintiff failed to prove in the court that he had been a victim of racial discrimination.
AWest Indian living in England has complained to the Race Relations Board that a dog in his neighbourhood barks only at black people and never at whites. He has demanded that strong action be taken against the delinquent animal.
“Order in the court!” shouted the bailiff.
There was a hushed silence and a tense air of expectancy prevailed. Outside the court, the police had a tough time controlling National Front supporters.
The judge entered the courtroom and took his place on the high bench. The Crown prosecutor and the defence lawyer took their respective seats. The defendant was bought in on a leash and securely tied to the dock. He was thoughtfully chewing on a bone and he wagged his tail merrily at the judge, the defence lawyer and the spectators, but studiously ignored the Crown prosecutor. The spectators eagerly craned their necks to have a look at him.
“The defendant shall forthwith stop chewing on his bone!” thundered the judge and turned to the bailiff. “Call the case!” he snapped.
“Crown versus Rover,” intoned the bailiff.
The judge turned to the Crown prosecutor. “You may make your opening statement,” he said.
The Crown prosecutor bowed. “If your lordship pleases,” he said, “this is a case of momentous importance, with far-reaching implications for building a fair, just and equitable, multi-racial society. The Crown will prove that the defendant, to wit Rover, does intentionally and with malice having racial undertones, does willfully bark only at black people and never at whites and thereby contravening Section 3(a) of the Race Relations Act. We shall further prove that the defendant, to wit Rover, deliberately practices canine apartheid. We shall ask for an exemplary sentence, based on the evidence on record.”
There was a collective gasp in the audience over the gravity of the charges. The defendant continued to chew thoughtfully on his bone.
“You may call your first witness,” the judge told the Crown prosecutor.
“My first witness will be Rufus Jones.”
Jones came forward and was duly sworn in and took his place in the witness-box. “Jones, what’s your occupation?” the prosecutor enquired.
“I’m a be-bop drummer on Notting
Hill and, hey man, you ought a hear beating the skins!”
“Please, Jones,” said the prosecutor, “don’t digress from the point. Now kindly tell the court what happened on Friday, the 13th instant.”
“Well, suh,” said Jones, “I was peacefully walking along the street, thinking of my ma and pa back home in Kingston, Jamaica, and humming a reggae tune, when the defendant barked at me hysterically!”
“But surely, Jones,” said the Crown prosecutor, “it’s the normal reaction of dogs to bark at strangers.”
“No, suh,” said Jones firmly, “I’m sure, as sure as my hair is kinky, that he barked at me because I be a darkie!”
“Thank you, Jones,” said the prosecutor. “You may step down. My next witness will be Teddy Boyce.”
Teddy (“Butch”) Boyce came forward and was duly sworn in and took his chair in the witness-box. Outside the court, the crowd was shouting “Sock it to ‘em, Butch!”
“Boyce, what’s your occupation?” the prosecutor enquired.
“I’m a full-time skinhead hooligan and a Paki-basher!”
“Boyce, now kindly tell the court what happened on Saturday the 14th instant.”
“Well, sir, I was peacefully walking along the street carrying a machete, a length of cycle-chain and a wooden club and a blackjack, when the defendant wagged his tail at me!” “What did you do then?”
“Well, sir,” said Boyce, “I bent over and tickled him behind the ears and said affectionately, ‘Hello, doggie!’ and ‘Nice doggie!’”
“Thank you, Boyce,” said the prosecutor, “You may step down.”
Turning to the judge, he said triumphantly, “Your Lordship, the Crown rests its case. We’ve conclusively proved that the defendant, to wit Rover, does bark only at black people and never at whites. Under the circumstances, we shall ask for a summary conviction and an exemplary sentence.”
The judge ignored the prosecutor’s interjection and turned to the defence lawyer, “You may call your first witness,” he said.
The defence lawyer bowed and said, “If your Lordship, pleases,” he said, “we seek a brief recess so that my client can find a suitable place to bury his bone.”
“Request denied!” the judge snapped and he turned towards the defendant and thundered, “The defendant shall forthwith stop licking his paws! Call your first witness!”
“My first witness will be Enoch Powell.”
Powell strode forward and was duly sworn. He took his place in the witness-box. “Powell, what’s your occupation?” the defence lawyer asked.
“I’m a member of the Mother of Parliaments. I also make grim predictions if the rate of Asian immigration into Britain continues at its present level.”
“Powell, kindly tell the court what happened on Sunday the 15th instant.”
“Well, sir, I was peacefully walking along the Embankment measuring the amount of blood flowing in the Thames, when the defendant barked at me hysterically!”
“Powell, you’re a member of the White Caucasian race?”
“And the defendant barked at you hysterically?”
“Case dismissed!” the judge announced and left the courtroom.
RACE RELATIONS This is a case of momentous importance, with far-reaching implications for building a fair, just and equitable, multi-racial society.