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PENALTY  9'?m4f Death Penalty: "cruel and unusual" or justice?

(scene: judge's bench or podium)

BAILIFF -- (enters, remains near wings) Hear ye, hear ye, hear 
ye. This court is now in session. As you all know, since the 
alien creatures conquered the earth, they have slowly taken over 
government jobs previously held by earth people. Today marks the 
first day that an alien creature will preside over the criminal 
court of this county. So, for the first time, I present Judge 
Mork.

MORK -- (alien creature toddles to Bailiff wearing black robe, 
speaks half of sentences in low pitched voice, half in falsetto, 
punctuates sentences with shrill grunts, shouts into Bailiff's 
ear) This court will come to order.

BAILIFF -- Not to me. To them. (points to audience)

MORK -- Excuse me?

BAILIFF -- You are to address your remarks to the court... 
(guides Mork to bench) from the bench. (points)

MORK -- The bench.

BAILIFF -- (pats bench) The bench.

MORK -- (smiles) The bench! This court will come to order. (to 
Bailiff) How did I do?

BAILIFF -- You did fine. (points) The gavel.

MORK -- The gavel.

BAILIFF -- Yes. Every time you make a pronouncement, the gavel 
is a sign of finality. (hands gavel to Mork)

MORK -- Finality. Yes, of course. (holds gavel high) This court 
will come to order.

BAILIFF -- (aside) Oh, brother. This is going to be a long day. 
(to Mork) You must strike the bench with the gavel. (mimics)

MORK -- Did the bench do something wrong? Why is it being 
punished?

BAILIFF -- (sigh) No. The bench did not do anything wrong. The 
bench is not a living creature. You won't hurt the bench if you 
strike it.

MORK -- This court will come to order. (bangs gavel, smiles, 
nods at Bailiff) 

BAILIFF -- Very good. (points) Now, you call your first case.

MORK -- (reads) Case number 3418763. The penalty phase of the 
state versus Thug Williams. (to Bailiff) THUG Williams? Is that 
his name or his title?

BAILIFF -- That's his name. His mother never thought he would 
amount to much.

MORK -- (examining paper on bench) She was right. THUG Williams 
has been convicted of five murders.

DEFENSE -- (enters hurriedly) I object, Your Honor. Your 
comments are prejudicial against my client.

MORK -- (beckons Bailiff)

BAILIFF -- (whispers in Mork's ear, remains upstage and off to 
one side during the remainder of the play) 

MORK -- (mechanically) Objection sustained. My last comments 
will be stricken from the record. (smiles at Bailiff)

BAILIFF -- (nods, points at papers on bench)

MORK -- (reads) What is the recommended penalty for five 
murders?

PROSECUTOR -- (enters speaking, carrying file folder, crosses to 
bench) The state contends that five counts of premeditated 
murder deserves the death penalty.

MORK -- The defendant shall be put to death. (pounds gavel, 
smiles at Bailiff)

DEFENSE -- Your Honor, I object. You haven't heard oral 
arguments yet.

MORK -- Oral arguments. (beckons Bailiff)

BAILIFF -- (whispers, points finger repeatedly at Prosecutor and 
Defense)

MORK -- (mechanically) Objection sustained. My last comments 
will be stricken from the record. (smiles at Bailiff) Let's 
argue.

DEFENSE -- Your Honor, the death penalty is cruel and unusual 
punishment.

MORK -- Cruel and unusual punishment.

PROSECUTOR -- Your Honor, the death penalty is not unusual. It 
has been the common punishment for murderers since before our 
country was founded. And it's much less cruel than what the 
defendant did to his victims. (flips pages of file folder, lays 
on bench)

MORK -- (nauseated) Will the defendant's death look that 
gruesome?

PROSECUTOR -- No, Your Honor, the defendant's death will be much 
less painful than his victims.

DEFENSE -- Your Honor, the death penalty would be nothing more 
than revenge.

MORK -- What's wrong with revenge? Is revenge forbidden in the 
law?

DEFENSE -- I don't know. No. I guess not. But how can a 
civilized society sanction the killing of human beings?

MORK -- You think that someone who takes another person's life 
should be allowed to keep his own? That doesn't seem fair.

DEFENSE -- Your Honor, I object. You're siding with the 
prosecution.

MORK -- (mechanically) Objection sustained. My last comments 
will be stricken from the record. (smiles at Bailiff) When do I 
get to bang the gavel again?

BAILIFF -- Soon. (whispers)

MORK -- (to defense) I apparently spoke for the prosecution, but 
the prosecution can speak for himself.

PROSECUTOR -- Your Honor, the death penalty has it's origins at 
the dawn of man. The survivors of the great flood....

DEFENSE -- ...the ALLEGED great flood...

PROSECUTOR -- ...The survivors of the ALLEGED great flood... 
were instructed to take the lives of those who take a life.

DEFENSE -- Your Honor, when governments take the lives of their 
own people, even murderers, it cheapens human life.

PROSECUTOR -- Actually, the opposite is true, Your Honor. Our 
laws were engineered to give the greatest penalty to the 
greatest crime. The taking of a human life was given the 
greatest penalty because man was of the greatest value of 
anything in nature. But since the theory of evolution was 
introduced, the intellectual elite of this nation has tried to 
reduce man to a mere accident of nature. But most of the nation 
still believes in God. And we still believe that man, being 
created in the image of God, is far more valuable than an 
accident of nature.

DEFENSE -- Your Honor, I object. The prosecutor is introducing 
God into the affairs of law.

MORK -- What's wrong with that?

DEFENSE -- There's a separation of church and state in this 
country.

MORK -- Why?

DEFENSE -- Why?

MORK -- That's what I asked.

PROSECUTOR -- Your Honor, these same intellectual elitists who 
reduced the value of man also recently created an artificial ban 
on public discourse about God by quoting an obscure letter from 
one of our country's founding fathers. 

MORK -- Why?

DEFENSE -- Why?

MORK -- Yes. Why did they go to all that trouble to forbid 
talking about the creator? Isn't the creator the standard for 
behavior throughout the universe?

DEFENSE -- No.

MORK -- If there is no standard for behavior, what will you base 
your laws on?

DEFENSE -- We were hoping to be able to create our own 
standards.

MORK -- How were you going to do that, by popular vote?

PROSECUTOR -- Until you came along, Your Honor, their unelected 
judges were forcing their personal opinions into the law.

DEFENSE -- We called it judicial activism. For instance, we 
don't think criminals should be punished at all.

MORK -- Is this one of your earthlings jokes? (obnoxious laugh)

DEFENSE -- I'm not joking.

MORK -- (quits laughing suddenly) Oh. My laughter will be 
stricken from the record. (smiles at Bailiff) 

DEFENSE -- Your Honor, the defendant himself is merely the 
victim of adverse circumstances. We think he should be 
rehabilitated.

MORK -- Re hab il it ated.

DEFENSE -- Anger management. Job training. College courses. 
Things like that.

MORK -- May I laugh now?

DEFENSE -- I don't see anything funny about that.

MORK -- Surely this is Earthlings humor. You're saying that if 
someone didn't have enough money to pay for college, all he has 
to do is murder someone and the state will pay for it? I get the 
joke. (laughs)

DEFENSE -- It's not funny.

MORK -- (quits laughing suddenly) My last comments will be 
stricken from the record. (smiles at Bailiff) 

DEFENSE -- Alright, if you won't give him rehabilitation, my 
client at least deserves prison.

MORK -- (to Bailiff) Prison. Please explain prison.

BAILIFF -- (pulls paper from bottom of stack on bench, whispers, 
points to paper, steps back)

MORK -- (examines paper briefly, smiles) This is an earthling 
joke. Prison. Very funny. (laughs)

DEFENSE -- What's so funny about prison?

MORK -- A man murders five people and is assured of three meals 
per day and his own bed and complete indoor toilet facilities 
and reading materials for the rest of his life. That is not a 
joke?

DEFENSE -- No.

MORK -- You earthlings have such a sense of humor. If a person 
is homeless, he merely has to murder someone and the state will 
give him a home to live in... (reads) PRISON. (laughs) How much 
does the person have to work to pay for his home in prison?

PROSECUTOR -- He doesn't have to work. Not at all.

MORK -- That's funny. Murder someone and you get a free place to 
live for the rest of your life. (laughs) 

DEFENSE -- It's not funny.

MORK --  (stops laughing) My last comments will be stricken from 
the record. (smiles at Bailiff) Shall we argue some more?

PROSECUTOR -- The prosecution rests.

DEFENSE -- Defense rests.

MORK -- (to Bailiff, picks up gavel) Now?

BAILIFF -- Now.

MORK -- The defendant will get the death penalty! Everything 
else is a joke. (pounds gavel) Court is adjourned. (pounds 
gavel, exits)

(all shrug and exit)

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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