|The Chicken or the Egg
Author: revellyrobinson PM
The radio play is set at a court hearing of a man from rural Victoria who has been charged with sedition for publishing remarks on the internet that are deciphered as supportive of Al Qaeda. The man's defence is that he did not publish the remarks but that his chicken had lain on egg on his computer keyboard which caused the random configuration of lettersRated: Fiction K - English - Humor/Parody - Words: 4,115 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 01-02-13 - Status: Complete - id: 3088520
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The radio play is set at a court hearing of a man from rural Victoria who has been charged with sedition for publishing remarks on the internet that are deciphered as supportive of Al Qaeda. The man's defence is that he did not publish the remarks but that his chicken had lain on egg on his computer keyboard which caused the random configuration of letters to be posted on the internet. Courtroom drama erupts as accusation fly about who really posted the comments, the defendant, the chicken…or the egg.
Alfred Doomsbury (the defendant)
Graham Bell (the prosecution's witness)
Sound effect: Rustling of papers and the crowd.
Sound effect: Banging of the gavel.
Judge: This court is now in session. The matter of the Commonwealth against Alfred Doomsbury will now be heard. Mr Doomsbury, to the charge of urging a person to assist the enemy under section 80.2 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, how do you plead?
Alfred: nervously) I…plead not guilty, sir…I mean, your honour.
Judge: And is it correct that you are representing yourself in this matter, Mr Doomsbury?
Alfred: Yes, your honour. I can't afford meself no lawyer.
Judge: Very well. Are you aware of the severity of the alleged offences, Mr Doomsbury?
Alfred: Well, yes sir…but I didn't do nothing wrong…I promise sir.
Judge: Right. Prosecutor, you may now make your opening address.
Prosecutor: Thank you, your honour. Your honour, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions charges the defendant, Alfred Doomsbury, with the offence of Sedition under the Criminal Code. On 14 February 2006 the defendant transmitted a message, via the internet, to a communal forum inciting persons to assist the enemy, the enemy in this situation being Al Qaeda, a terrorist organisation so proclaimed by the Attorney-General. The defendant was reckless as to the seditious communication which had the effect of inciting others to assist the enemy by posting the comment "orf peop/ sld ionj alq] deea 2 8sh". This has been deciphered to mean "all people should join Al Qaeda death to Bush".
Judge: Excuse me Prosecutor. Can you please repeat the seditious comment in question?
Prosecutor: Certainly, your honour. The seditious comment is "orf peop/ sld ionj alq] deea 2 8sh". This was posted on the internet chat-based forum " " which is a forum for users to exchange discussions on internet access in rural areas.
Judge: Very well. And the defendant, Mr Doomsbury, your opening address please.
Alfred: Yes, your honour. My name is Alfred Doomsbury and I'm from Yackandandah sir. The internet's no good where I'm from sir. And the connection cuts out all the time. I'm just on dialup y'see. Anyway, what happened on this day is that, you see sir, I own a chicken farm and I like to give me chooks a bit of freedom, you see, you like free-range chooks don't you, your honour? Well so anyhow, on this day I was on the website chatting to people about my internet connection. But it takes so long to download you see, so I went away from my computer for a bit. Couldn't of been more than fifteen minutes, I reckon, at the tops. Anyway, I comes back and next thing I know is that one of me chooks had jumped on me computer, you see, and laid an egg. I just wanted to save the egg, your honour. I wasn't paying no attention to what was written up there. 'Cos it wasn't me that wrote it, it was the chicken…so how can I be guilty your honour?
Judge: Is that the conclusion of your opening address Mr Doomsbury? I see, Prosecutor you may proceed with your case.
Prosecutor: I call the first witness for the Commonwealth, from the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation – Mr Graham Bell.
Sound effect: Footsteps of person entering the court.
Prosecutor: Mr Bell, do you swear that you will answer all such questions asked of you, without favour or affection to either party, and that your answers will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help you God.
Graham: I swear.
Prosecutor: Thank you Mr Bell. Mr Bell can you please state your full name and position for the record.
Graham: My full name is Graham Gregory Bell. I am a Senior Intelligence Officer at the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation and I specialise in the decryption of internet communications.
Prosecutor: Thank you Mr Bell. And can you please state what your role entails?
Graham: I perform intelligence services for the Commonwealth. I monitor the internet and all transmitted information for any content that can be considered malicious to the national interest. This includes content that may be encoded, encrypted or transmitted in another language.
Prosecutor: And Mr Bell, why did this particular transmission catch your attention?
Graham: It was the use of Alq] that initially brought our attention to the seditious communication. We monitor any transmissions, particularly public postings for any derivations of known terrorist organisations, Al Qaeda of course being the organisation that's the most fully investigated. We want to make sure we capture every possible permutation of the name. In this case there was an obvious link between the intent in the message and terrorist organisation.
Prosecutor: And then what action did you take?
Graham: In consultation with my superiors and the relevant areas of the organisation we analysed the communication and came to the unanimous conclusion that the intent of the post was to urge others to join Al Qaeda. This intent is further reinforced by the sentence suffix 'Death to Bush'.
Prosecutor: And how did you come to that deduction?
Graham: Well first of all we took a commonsense approach to interpretation and analysed the sentence word by word. Look at the term 'orf' that's obviously meant to mean 'all', 'peop/' means peoples, 'sld' is a direct translation of 'should' and 'ionj' is an anagram of 'join'. Then of course there's the obvious 'alq]'. Finally to render the intent unequivocal the last three words of the sentence are 'deea 2 8sh' meaning Death to Bush.
Prosecutor: So you figured out the code…
Graham: The message in code was 'All people should join Al Qaeda death to Bush'.
Prosecutor: And where did the code appear?
Graham: We thought that the posting of the code on the website was also highly suspicious. The posting was clearly strategically arranged to encourage people from rural areas to join Al Qaeda.
Prosecutor: Why did this pose a concern?
Graham: Well we have had concerns that Al Qaeda and other affiliated organisations have been trying for some time to increase their allegiances in rural communities. As a result, communications in these areas have been highly monitored.
Prosecutor: And how did you trace the code?
Graham: We tracked the code through the IP address of the computer that made the posting. The records of the website and the details provided by the internet service provider confirmed that it was Mr Doomsbury's computer that made the posting.
Prosecutor: What did you do after you translated and traced the code?
Graham: I briefed the relevant superiors and in consultation with the Attorney-General's Department we made a submission to the Attorney-General for him to recommend that the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions commence proceedings against Mr Doomsbury.
Prosecutor: Thank you Mr Bell. Your honour I have no further questions.
Judge: Thank you Prosecutor. Does the defence have any questions for cross-examination.
Alfred: Um…no sir…your worship. No questions…
Judge: Does the prosecution have any further witnesses?
Prosecutor: No further witnesses, your honour.
Judge: Very well, now can the defendant please present his case.
Alfred: Um…yes sir…
Judge: Mr Doomsbury…would you like to take the stand?
Alfred: I would, your honour, I would like to tell my story..
Judge: If that's the case please take the stand.
Alfred: Of course, sir.
Judge: Now Mr Doomsbury, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God.
Alfred: I do, sir.
Judge: Very good. Now please state your name and occupation for the record and then proceed with your witness statement.
Alfred: My name is Alfred Doomsbury. I'm a chicken farmer from Yackandandah…some ducks and geese as well…but mainly chickens. On 14 February 2006 I was trying to get on this internet forum… it's called…see I'd been having problems with my connection lately and it'd been going really slow…so I wanted to get some tips you see…on how I could make me connect quicker. So anyway…I was trying to load up and it was taking ages and ages…it seemed like I'd been waiting forever…so I went into the kitchen to get meself a cuppa…couldn't of been gone more than ten minutes I reckon…and during that time the bloomin' chook must've got on the computer…you see…sometimes I leave the windows open…that time of the year being hot and all…and the chooks…I just like to let them run free…so I comes back…and there this bloomin' chook was on me computer…and not only that…but she laid an egg for me as well…so don't blame her your honour…she's a good chook and all…but you see I didn't know I was sending this message…committing treason…or whatever…and neither did me chicken…she just wanted someplace to lay her egg is all…
Prosecutor: Objection, Your honour!
Judge: Yes, are those all the facts Mr Doomsbury?
Alfred: Yes…well I guess that's all I want to say. I'm sorry for all the fuss I caused with saying this stuff about Al Qaeda and stuff…but you see I didn't know…
Judge: Okay, thank you for your statement Mr Doomsbury. Does the prosecution have any questions for the witness?
Prosecutor: Mr Doomsbury, you are a subscriber to the internet, is that correct?
Alfred: Yes sir.
Prosecutor: And while on the internet what websites do you commonly visit?
Alfred: Well, I use my email and internet banking and I sometimes look up what's new in chicken farming and of course I go on sometimes.
Prosecutor: So Mr Doomsbury, would you say you're a fairly avid internet user?
Alfred: Well, I like to look up things on the internet. I just wish it wasn't so slow is all.
Prosecutor: So Mr Doomsbury, as an avid internet user would you say that you are aware of how to monitor your usage on the internet?
Alfred: Well, what do you mean?
Prosecutor: I mean that as an internet user you are responsible for the actions taken online using your internet account, is that not correct?
Alfred: Well…I try to be…but I couldn't control the chicken…
Prosecutor: But you were indeed reckless to the communications that could be made on your computer, were you not?
Alfred: But…but…I didn't even know the chicken was there?
Prosecutor: Precisely. You should have been monitoring the usage of your computer to prevent any seditious communication? Do you not agree Mr Doomsbury?
Alfred: Well I only left the room for a minute or so…and when the chooks get clucky they can lay their eggs anywhere you know…and this chook really took a liking to my keyboard.
Prosecutor: Mr Doomsbury, whether or not the chicken was on your computer is irrelevant, don't you agree?
Alfred: No…well…yes…well what do you mean by that question?
Prosecutor: I mean that regardless of whether or not the chicken had caused the post to be made it was nonetheless your responsibility to monitor your computer against any potential for seditious activities, something that you failed to do, isn't that correct?
Alfred: Well it's true that it might not of been the chicken…
Prosecutor: Precisely my point, Mr Doomsbury.
Alfred: It could've been the egg.
Prosecutor: Excuse me?
Alfred: It could've been either the chicken or the egg, when it was coming out I mean, that wrote those things. It's hard to tell. But the egg could've rolled over the keyboard or something. So I'm not blaming the chicken.
Prosecutor: Are you blaming the egg, Mr Doomsbury?
Alfred: Well I'm not blaming no one for nothing. I keep tellings you. I didn't commit no crime here…and neither did my chicken…and neither did her egg.
Prosecutor: Mr Doomsbury, the facts of the matter are that at 2.16pm on 14 February 2006 a communication was sent from your computer to , is that correct?
Alfred: That's true sir.
Prosecutor: And you admit that you were using your computer and your internet account to access the website at that time, is that correct?
Alfred: That's true also sir.
Prosecutor: And it was from your computer that this posting was made to the website, is that correct Mr Doomsbury?
Alfred: Well, I'm not sure sir. As I said before it could've been either the chicken or the egg that done it.
Prosecutor: Mr Doomsbury, during the course of these proceedings you have been provided with evidence proving that your computer sent the message posted on the website that reads, and I quote "orf peop/ sld ionj alq] deea 2 8sh". Are these the facts or not Mr Doomsbury?
Alfred: Well I guess if there's evidence showing it my computer then it must be I guess…with all these little bits of information going around nowadays everything's tracked one way or other I spose.
Prosecutor: So in fact Mr Alfred, you agree that you were reckless to the making of the seditious comment "all people should join Al Qaeda death to Bush" which was transmitted publicly from your very own computer, of which you have exclusive control, to the public domain, inciting subscribers and reviewers of the website to join a terrorist organisation?
Alfred: Well, I already says, it not me that done it. It was me chicken.
Prosecutor: Or the egg, Mr Doomsbury?
Alfred: It could've been the egg as well.
Prosecutor: I have no further questions your honour.
Judge: Thank you Prosecutor. Mr Doomsbury, you may sit down.
Alfred: Thank you sir.
Judge: Now does the defence have any further witnesses?
Alfred: Well sir actually I do have another witness.
Judge: Very well then Mr Doomsbury. Call your witness to the stand.
Alfred: Well I thought I should bring along me chicken so you could see how she could've written this stuff, you know. Here she is.
Sound effect: Chicken squawking.
Prosecutor: Objection your honour!
Judge: Mr Doomsbury, are you honestly saying that you want to put a chicken on the stand?
Alfred: Well I just thought you should be able to see for yourselves you know…how she could've done this…that it wasn't me that wrote those things.
Prosecutor: Your honour this is a perversion of justice. The defendant should be charged with contempt!
Alfred: Well I think its important to hear what the chicken has got to say…seeing as she wrote this stuff which you say is sedition.
Sound effect: Chicken clucking.
Judge: Mr Doomsbury, do you know just how far out of line you are by bringing a farm animal in to my courtroom?
Alfred: Well I just want to show everyone a demonstration is all…of how the chicken jumped on the computer and wrote this stuff…
Judge: Very well then Mr Doomsbury. You are permitted to put your chicken in the witness stand for the purposes of providing evidence.
Alfred: Thank you sir, I have my laptop here as well so I can show you how she done it. How she laid an egg on the keyboard is how I mean.
Prosecutor: Your honour I object! The defence has failed to provide adequate notification of a second witness. He can't put a chicken on the stand.
Judge: I am accepting both the chicken and the laptop as evidence. They shall be exhibit A and B respectively.
Alfred: Your honour I brought the egg as well.
Judge: The egg will be exhibit C then.
Prosecutor: Your honour, the prosecution will lodge a claim for a mistrial in these proceedings.
Judge: And you are undoubtedly entitled to make that claim prosecutor. But for now I would like to hear what the chicken has to say. Mr Doomsbury, please proceed with your evidence.
Alfred: Thank you your honour. So anyway I wanted to show that I had me laptop set up like this you see and it was connected to the internet like it is now but you know much slower cos I was on dialup and the connections not really so good in Yackandandah you see. So anyways I was on the website here and was about to make a posting but was waiting so long for it to load up so I walked away from the computer and what must've happened is that little chooky here…hey chook chook…she must've jumped on the computer here like this.
Sound effect: Sound of wings fluttering.
Alfred: Hang on a minute…chook chook…where are you going? Come back here chook chook…
Sound effect: Chicken squawking sounding quite scared.
Prosecutor: Your honour there is a chicken loose in the courtroom.
Sound effect: Sounds of voices murmuring and screaming.
Alfred: Look she gets like this when she's about to lay one you know…just gets a bit restless.
Sound effect: Chicken is still squawking and flying around.
Judge: Mr Doomsbury, is she going to settle down soon. You understand you simply can't just let a chicken loose in a courtroom, especially when that chicken is now evidence.
Alfred: Your Honour once she gets used to the place she'll settle down. She's just hankering to lay an egg your worship…it's not her fault…she's just a bit scared.
Prosecutor: Your honour, with all due respect this courtroom is not a farmhouse and there certainly shouldn't be animals running around causing chaos.
Judge: That's right Prosecutor. This courtroom is not a farmhouse but it is my courtroom and if the chicken is part of the defence's case then they are certainly entitled to use the chicken as part of a demonstration.
Sound effects: Chicken noises subside and there is the sound of keys on a laptop rattling.
Alfred: There you go your honour. See she's settling down now. She seems to like my computer keyboard. I think she thinks it's a good nest. See how she kicks at all the keys on the keyboard. She does that your honour. Okay, here she goes. She's ready for the egg now. Here it comes. Oh no…your honour I'm not close enough to –
Sound effect: Egg rolling on table and cracking on the floor. Chicken lets out a squawk.
Alfred: Sorry your honour…I didn't get to the egg in time. It's broken now.
Sound effect: Wings fluttering.
Alfred: See now she's okay. She's calmed down now she's finished laying her egg. She's a lot more relaxed now.
Sound effect: Chicken gently clucking.
Judge: Hmm…yes, I see Mr Doomsbury. Your chicken certainly does have a penchant for laying eggs on your computer.
Alfred: And she wrote something on here as well.
Judge: What did the chicken write…or the egg as the case may be…
Alfred: She wrote "ala rase 0ma ni laen ie 4 im".
Graham: Clearly that's a code! "ala rase 0ma ni laen ie 4 im" why that stands for (pauses) 'ala' is 'Allah', 'rase' is 'praise', 'oma ni laen' that must be Osama Bin Laden. And 'ie 4 im' must mean die for him. 'Allah praise Osama Bin Laden die for him'. The chicken is a terrorist!
Judge: Silence please Mr Bell. You are not in the witness stand therefore you are not permitted to talk.
Graham: But surely this shows a pattern. Arrest that chicken!
Prosecutor: Mr Bell, as the prosecution's witness I would kindly request that you please stop shouting and sit down.
Alfred: Are you saying my chicken's a terrorist? No sir, she's just a chook.
Graham: But it's a code. Can't you see the code? Clearly she's being used by the terrorist agents to transmit messages to secret operatives, urging people to join Al Qaeda.
Judge: Mr Bell, I do not want to ask you again but please sit down.
Graham: Mr Doomsbury, why is it that your chicken must always lay an egg on your computer? She's doing it to get a message out there.
Alfred: Well it's hard for her to find somewhere comfortable to lay her eggs me thinks.
Graham: Mr Doomsbury, I'm sorry but I'm afraid I'm going to have to take your chicken in for questioning.
Judge: Mr Bell! That chicken is part of the evidence of these proceedings. I can't allow you to remove the chicken from this court.
Graham: The chicken needs to be interrogated!
Judge: Mr Bell, if I have to tell you one more time to sit down and be quiet –
Sound effect: Sound of running footsteps, fluttering of wings and chicken squawking.
Graham: I need to catch the chicken in.
Judge: Mr Bell, you are in contempt of court. Bailiff, please take Mr Bell away.
Alfred: What are you doing? I already told ya. She just a chicken. She didn't do nothing wrong. Stop chasing her.
Prosecutor: Mr Bell, you are making a mockery of the prosecution's case.
Judge: Bailiff, take Mr Bell away now please.
Graham: You don't understand. I'm trying to protect you people. That chicken is evil. She's proven it not just once but twice. How much more evidence do you people need. We need to protect ourselves against terrorism (voice fades in the distance).
Sound effects: General rustling and disturbance.
Sound effects: Banging on the gavel.
Judge: Order in the court again everyone. Thank you. The proceedings are still in progress everyone. Does the defendant have any further witnesses?
Alfred: No your honour.
Judge: Very well then. The prosecution may now present their closing statements.
Prosecutor: Thank you your honour. Your honour…the facts of the prosecution today stand. Section 80.2 of the Criminal Code was inserted as part of the Anti-Terrorism Act to protect Australia's national interest and ensure that our laws are adequate to deal with the ongoing threat of terrorism. The defendant has shown that he is reckless to that threat by allowing the usage of his computer for the seditious act of urging support for the enemy in a message decoded by…uh…expert intelligence officers. The defendant himself has not disputed these facts and consequently the prosecution has satisfied it's burden beyond a reasonable doubt that the offence of sedition was committed by the defendant. Thank you your honour.
Judge: Thank you counsel. Now Mr Doomsbury, do you have closing remarks for the defence.
Alfred: Yes sir. Thank you. (clears throat) Your honour, as you have seen here today, my chicken sometimes can't seem to find a good place to lay her eggs. She seems to like laying her eggs on my computer keyboard. I guess she's used to it now. I promise your honour that I will do my darnedest to try to stop her doing that again. But your honour in all honesty, she's just a chicken and she didn't know she was committing sedition…and neither did I your honour. I don't think what she wrote was trying to get anybody to be a terrorist or anything like that. She was just laying an egg is all. And surely that can't be enough to get a person arrested nowadays can it your honour. Well I hope not, cos I certainly didn't intend on committing no crime. Especially not one as serious as terrorism, I wouldn't never dream of doing that to this country. That's all I gotta say. Thank you your honour.
Judge: Thank you Mr Doomsbury. That closes the prosecution's and defence's case. I now adjourn these proceedings.
Sound effect: Gavel bangs. Fade out of rustling courtroom sounds.
Sound effect: Fade in of rustling courtroom sounds to indicate that some time has passed since the court comes back into session.
Judge: I now declare this court in session.
Sound effect: Banging of the gavel.
Judge: In the matter of the Commonwealth and Alfred Doomsbury I declare this court in session. Prosecution do you have any further comments before I declare the verdict?
Prosecutor: No further comments your honour.
Judge: Very well and does the defendant have any further comments.
Alfred: No comments your honour.
Judge: Very well then, the verdict is as follows. In the matter of the Commonwealth against Alfred Doomsbury of the charge of Sedition under section 80.2 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, I pronounce the defendant 'Not Guilty". Mr Doomsbury you are now free to leave the court…and you may also like to take your chicken with you.
Alfred: Oh, thank you so much your honour. I'm glad I can have my chicken back too.
Sound effect: Chicken squawking.