Wednesday, June 9, 2010



A motley crowd of about thirty people peppered the front rows of the church. In front of the altar stood the coffin, decorated not with flowers, but with a black gown and white wig. This indicated that the deceased had once served as an official of the previous republic, when such strange medieval costumes were used to give an impression of wisdom and honour to empty headed scoundrels. The year was 2015, in the Peaceful Republic of Zombia, and three years had now passed since the Peoples Redemption Council took power from the previous corrupt regime.

Standing beside the coffin, about to address the gathering, was one of the mourners. But perhaps we should call them witnesses, for they had not gathered to mourn, but rather to ensure that the deceased was well and truly buried.
‘We are gathered here today,’ he began, ‘to bear witness to the departure of one of the magistrates of the previous notorious regime. The actual name of the deceased is not available to us, because it was lost in the Great Fire which accompanied the Glorious Revolution of 2012, during which the deceased lost his reputation, his name and his mind. However, back in the days before the Revolution, judges did not have names like ordinary citizens. They had titles. A judge had to be called Your Honour, irrespective of how dishonourable he actually was. But ordinary people, who were not as stupid as the judges imagined, had their own names for these enemies of the people. And so we had the Hanging Judge, the Bought Judge, the Bent Judge, the Heartless Judge, and so on.
‘So let me explain to you the origin of the name of the late unlamented magistrate who lies here today. The deceased was famous for bringing cases of contempt against innocent citizens who dared to exercise their constitutional right to express an opinion on the very strange things that were going on in his court. Such strange cases included the malicious prosecution of the demonstrably innocent, and the inexplicable acquittal of the demonstrably guilty.
‘But being comprehensively ignorant of the law, the late departed never understood that the law was made by the people, and he was accountable to the people. Instead he was contemptuous of the rights of the people. And in perfect symmetry with his contemptuous behaviour, the people found his misuse of the law to be beneath contempt. So that became his name. And so, my comrades, what we have here in this coffin today is Beneath Contempt.’
As the witness finished speaking, the congregation stood up and sang a hymn dedicated to the memory of Beneath Contempt, and sung to the tune of What a friend we have in Jesus
What a fool we had in Contempt
All his guilt he has to bear!
How embarrassing to carry
Everything to God in prayer.
How justice went to forfeit!
What Contempt we had to bear!
Pray he never goes to Heaven!
Pray we never find him there!
But then the priest walked to the side of the coffin. ‘As Christians,’ he said, ‘it is not fitting for us to use a eulogy to curse the departed. We are obliged to look at the good side of everybody, and commend his soul to Heaven.’
‘He died of shame,’ said a voice.
‘The Lord puts all of us on Earth for a purpose,’ said the priest. ‘And in the life of Contempt, you have much to be grateful for.’
‘Such as what?’ the same voice interrupted.
‘Without Contempt,’ explained the priest, ‘you would never have understood contempt. As has already been explained by the previous witness, it was because of him that you came to recognise contempt. You recognised him as contemptuous of you, and that is why you found him contemptible.
‘Previously we had always prayed for the government, and prayed to God to guide the government, believing that they had our interests at heart. But God, having heard our prayers, was keen to send us a message so that we could see our situation more clearly. Therefore, through his messenger Contempt, he provided a clear example of how the government was treating people with contempt. This message provided a divine revelation, and marked the beginning of the uprising against the old order. Once people had recognised one instance of government’s contemptuous treatment of the people, they began to see it everywhere. What began as contempt for a contemptible magistrate soon became contempt for the entire government. The Lord, in his wisdom, had opened our eyes. So just like Judas Iscariot before him, Beneath Contempt was an unwitting instrument of our salvation.’
With this message from the priest, the congregation went more thoughtfully to the graveyard. There they watched Beneath Contempt being lowered into a very deep grave, after which a lorry load of cement was tipped on top of him.
‘Can we really believe?’ said one to another, ‘that he deliberately gave outrageous judgements in order to expose the true nature of the government?’
‘We shall never know,’ said the other. ‘But I’m very glad that Beneath Contempt is now Beneath Cement.’


  1. Great article. I wish you could post them everyday.