Coffee Break Read – The Trial

They had taped her mouth for the trial.
“The woman may not speak. Let a man speak for her,” the judge decreed. “What is the charge in full?”
“The woman committed the crime of questioning something a man said as being offensive.”
“Was it offensive?” The judge asked, determined to be fair and just.
“Exhibit A.” The prosecutor showed all the men of the jury and they knitted their brows in puzzlement. “As you see,” the prosecutor went on, “it was something no man would see as offensive, but this, this woman, said she found it so.”
A rumble of contempt and anger was heard through the jury.
“How dare she?”
“Who is she to say?”
“What difference does it make what she thinks anyway?”
“No one cares what she thinks. She’s only a woman after all.”
The judge banged his gavel to bring order to the courtroom.
“So, who speaks for this woman?”
A man stood up looking a little nervous and cleared his throat.
“Your honour, this woman wanted to say that she found this offensive and degrading to women.”
The judge frowned and the man sat down quickly.
“Degrading?” The judge gave a snort. “Who else wants to speak for the woman?”
Around the courtroom, here and there a woman tried to rise to speak, but each was pulled down and her mouth taped shut by the men – and women – around her.
“So how does the jury find this woman?”
“Guilty!”
“Guilty!”
“Guilty!”
The word echoed around like a chanted orison.
The judge brought the gavel down again.
“Let all her words be struck forever from the record so none may see. They might offend the men or encourage other women to speak out.”
Around the courtroom, most of the men nodded at the wise judgement and some of the women did too. Those who did not were left too afraid to speak up, too afraid to say, in case their taking offense at the fate of the woman was seen as an offensive thing.

E.M. Swift-Hook

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