Jon de Vos: Guano, Guantanamo: Take your pick
December 31, 2007
You just hate to see racial discrimination anywhere, but when it happens in your own home, it’s especially disappointing. Some years ago, my wife and I adopted a young African female. We hadn’t seriously planned it, or even discussed it much, but then suddenly it was done, and she moved into our home. At first, it was sweetness and light but the child lost an inner struggle and had a serious brush with the law. It turned out badly for her and she now lives in a gated community.
Ah … truth to tell, she’s doing life in maximum security in a Colorado pen.
Before she was sentenced, my parrot … say, I did mention it was a parrot, didn’t I? An African Gray? Whatever. She had free roam of a large tropical aviary, a room that my wife quite mistakenly referred to as the “dining room.” My parrot’s nearing 30 years old, still a youngster among African Grays. It’s sad, so young, so gray, and so in prison. You’ll also notice the shift in the personal pronoun of “our” parrot, to “my” parrot.
Like so many grays of African descent, she has been wrongfully imprisoned, betrayed by a system designed to keep grays down. At her trial, the Judge (whose identity will be revealed later in this column) said that she had never seen “such wanton destruction of private property.” The arresting cop (identity revealed later) testified that she put up a terrible squawk at being apprehended and claimed that Buddy presented a big flight risk. The prosecuting attorney (revealed later) claimed falsely that Buddy confessed to the crime.
Despite the fact that her mercy speech would have plucked a tear from Shylock’s eye, the Judge stood firm. The clear bias was obvious. The Judge should have taken herself off the bench, she should have recused herself for this trial, if for no other reason than it was her very own property that was allegedly damaged by the accused. For the same crime a White Macaw might walk on, this African Gray received a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
It all started when my wife (henceforth: Your Honor), in a clear burst of ethnic confusion, bought a piece of antique Japanese furniture called a Tansu. It was very lightweight, old, and clearly hand hewn. Lots of drawers, sliding doors and various cubby holes, it was her pride and joy. I had to schedule glances under her supervision if I wanted to view the sacred Tansu. She used it to store the “good” linen napkins and the “good” wineglasses for company. Despite eons of marriage, I do not know where she keeps the “bad” napkins or the “bad” cutlery.
The Tansu sat in our aviary … oops, dining room, until one day in a burst of devilish exuberance, Buddy ate the living bejabbers out of it. She chewed up one whole side of that Asian oddity like a third grade chainsaw artist hacking up his first bear. It looked like the Phantom of the Opera’s bad side.
“It … it … it doesn’t look so bad if you squint very, very hard,” stammered the defense counsel (me).
By now you’ve guessed that the cop, the prosecutor, the jury, the bailiff, the jailor, and all of the opposition roles were played by my wife, the Judge, while I can only argue that the bird received poor legal representation, obviously ineffective, hence the jail term.
The Judge in the case was a stern young woman, full of fiery, righteous indignation and quick to call fowl, er foul.
How long, O Lord, before birds of all feathers can flock together?
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