A group of highly intelligent alien beings are congregated in an alien courtroom. A human is seated across from the judge’s bench with another alien beside him. Across from them sits an alien prosecutor. The atmosphere of the courtroom is tense as everyone whispers quietly. Suddenly a loud voice is heard.

OFFICER: Will the people of the court please rise?

Everyone rises from their seats as the alien judge comes in and takes his seat. The clerk hands him a piece of paper.

JUDGE: This court is now in session. The people will be seated.

Everyone sits as the judge looks over the piece of paper. He then looks down at the desk where the human and alien are both seated.

JUDGE: Will the defense please rise?

The alien rises but the human remains seated. The man looks bewildered, almost as if he didn’t hear.

JUDGE: Will the defendant please rise?

The man looks around confused, but the fiery look in the judge’s eyes compels him to stand.

JUDGE: Mr. Hominis, you stand accused of the crimes of kidnapping, assault, mental, physical, and sexual abuse, slavery, torture, and wanton murder. How do you plead?

HOMINIS: I…I don’t understand.

JUDGE: Did you or did you not commit these crimes against your fellow-creatures?

HOMINIS: I’m not a murderer! I didn’t kill anybody!

JUDGE: Then you plead not guilty?

HOMINIS: Yes.

JUDGE: Very well, then. Mr. Hominus, you may approach the stand.

The man walks to the box beside the judge’s desk.

JUDGE: Will the prosecution please rise?

An alien lawyer rises.

JUDGE: You may proceed.

PROSECUTOR: Mr. Hominis, did you kidnap, assault, enslave, torture, and kill any of your fellow-creatures?

HOMINIS: Of course not.

PROSECUTOR: You didn’t pay someone else to commit these crimes for you?

HOMINIS: I did not.

JUDGE: Didn’t you own a restaurant, Mr. Hominis?

PRISONER: I did.

PROSECUTOR: And what did you serve in that restaurant?

HOMINIS: What restaurants usually serve. Steak, burgers, mutton, pork, veal. Is this relevant?

PROSECUTOR: And do you know where your food comes from, Mr. Hominis?

HOMINIS: From farms?

PROSECUTOR: And do you know what happens to the creatures on these farms?

HOMINIS: I think so…why does this matter?

PROSECUTOR: They kill them, Mr. Hominus. They confine, torture, and murder them so they can be delivered to your restaurant, isn’t that so?

HOMINiS: I wouldn’t call it that…

PROSECUTOR: And did you or did you not directly pay for these atrocities to be done on your behalf?

HOMINIS: I wouldn’t call them atrocities…

PROSECUTOR: Yes or no, Mr. Hominis!

A brief silence.

JUDGE: Answer the question.

HOMINIS: Yes.

PROSECUTOR: Nothing further.

The prosecutor returns to his seat while the defense attorney rises to take the floor. He looks at the defendant, then looks over at the jury.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Do we hold our children legally accountable for their actions?

HOMINIS: No.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And why not?

HOMINIS: They don’t know any better.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY to the jury: You see? Like children, Mr. Hominis simply didn’t know what he was doing. He was simply a victim of his time and his culture, and what are clearly crimes to us seemed so normal to him that he didn’t bother question the consequences of his actions. Can we really blame this human for not realizing what he was doing any more than we could blame one of our own children?

The attorney walks back to the desk as the prosecutor rises and approaches the man again.

PROSECUTOR: Are you a child, Mr. Hominis?

HOMINIS: No.

PROSECUTOR: Nothing further.

The prosecutor retreats back to his desk as the defense attorney approaches.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I understand you have a family, Mr. Hominis?

HOMINIS: Yes. Two boys and a girl.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And would you say that you love your family?

HOMINIS: More than anything.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So, could you say that these alleged crimes that you unknowingly committed were for done the good of your family?

HOMINIS: Yes.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So, you wouldn’t need your restaurant if you didn’t need to support your family, would you?

HOMINIS: No.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, there you have it. Mr. Hominis was doing what he felt was right for his family. His intentions good, even if the consequences were not. Clearly, Mr. Hominis is a good man that was merely mislead by culture and circumstance into making the wrong decision. He can therefore not be held accountable for his crimes any more than a child misled by their parents.

The prosecutor marches to the front of the courtroom before the defense attorney is seated.

PROSECUTOR: Are there other ways to make a living, Mr. Hominis?

HOMINIS: I suppose.

PROSECUTOR: Yes or no.

HOMINIS: Yes.

PROSECUTOR: And are there other ways of making a living available to you which don’t involve the torture, abuse, and deaths of your fellow-creatures?

HOMINIS: Sure, but I –

PROSECUTOR: Nothing further.

The prosecutor walks away as the defense lawyer approaches.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Mr. Hominis, would you say you are a religious man?

HOMINIS: Yes, I would.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And would you say your religion prescribes that you value certain things more than others?

HOMINIS: Yeah, I’d say so.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And what are some of those values?

HOMINIS: Faith, hope, and love.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And do you believe you are living according to those values?

HOMINIS: I do.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And does your religious text place the value of human beings above other creatures?

HOMINIS: Yes. Human beings have souls. Animals don’t.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And could you say that you are living the best life you can according to your religion and your values?

HOMINIS: Yes, I believe I am. Genesis tells us to be stewards of the land and rule over nature.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nothing further.

The defense attorney walks away as the prosecutor approaches.

PROSECUTOR: Mr. Hominis, you said that your faith prescribes love, correct?

HOMINIS: Correct.

PROSECUTOR: So where was the love for the animals you had enslaved, tortured, and killed?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Objection!

JUDGE: Sustained. Rephrase the question.

A brief pause.

PROSECUTOR: Mr. Hominus, is all of God’s creation good?

HOMINIS: Yes, it is.

PROSECUTOR: And do you consider yourself as part of God’s creation?

HOMINIS: Yes.

PROSECUTOR: And do you believe that animals are also a part of God’s creation?

HOMINIS: Yes.

PROSECUTOR: And do you believe that God loves animals as well as humans?

HOMINIS: Yes.

PROSECUTOR: And do you believe you should also show love for God’s creation?

HOMINIS: Of course.

PROSECUTOR: Then what reason, Mr. Hominis, could you possibly have for destroying it? What possible reason could you have for destroying other beings? You’re not a child, so you knew full well what you were doing. You could have found another job at any time which didn’t involve torture and killing, but you chose not to of your own free will. Even your own religion which you profess to believe in compels you to love and care for all of God’s creation – especially the weak and the vulnerable.

This leaves us with one possible explanation: you did it because you could! You did it because it gave you pleasure! Did it make you feel like more of a man to strip another being of its life, its liberty, and its happiness? Tell me, Mr. Hominis, would you do the same to your wife and children?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Objection!

JUDGE: Watch it.

PROSECUTOR continuing: Religion is not a weapon you can use to justify your behavior, Mr. Hominis. You know perfectly well what you did, and no amount of spiritual invocation can save your soul from the consequences or bring back the innocent lives you stole from others. I hereby rest my case.

The defense attorney rises and gives his closing remarks. The jury deliberates for a half hour and returns to the court. A member of the jury then hold up a piece of paper.

JUDGE: How do you find the defendant? Guilty or not guilty?

JURY MEMBER: Your honor, we the jury find the defendant guilty on all counts.

JUDGE: Mr. Hominis, for your crimes, I hereby sentence you to life in prison without parole.

As the man hears the guilty verdict, he begins to feel the room swirl around him. Suddenly he is mute. He feels his body go numb and sees the courtroom dissolve before him in a haze. “What have I done?” the man says aloud to himself. “What have we done? God help us all…”

As the officer comes to take him away, the man cries as he exits the courtroom, powerless, voiceless, and soon to be nameless – marked with a number and confined to a cell to live out a tortured existence: a life he unwittingly gave so many powerless, voiceless, and nameless others.

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