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Missionaries and the Law

Updated on March 27, 2016
The new courtroom, courtesy of the missionaries (Image source Broderbund CD file)
The new courtroom, courtesy of the missionaries (Image source Broderbund CD file)

Dan Sullivan was no missionary

It is hard to imagine that there could be a genuine Redneck with a PhD degree, but there was at least one of them, my buddy, Dr. Dan Sullivan. He is no longer with us other than for the many tales he left behind. This is but one of them. Should my fingers bear up under all of this typing, I will toss some more of Dan’s wacky stories at you later. Like I did with this tale, I will fix up Dan's language considerably so as to make his memory a clean and fun affair.

The new courtroom, wigs and all

Many years ago, when the practice was popular and rampant, several British missionaries were assigned to proselytize in a small kingdom located in the heart of Africa. As was the custom among missionaries, they brought with them a large number of bibles printed with bigger than usual lettering, enough mercurochrome to heal the wounds inflicted in all of the wars ever visited upon mankind, and everything else that might be required to install real British law and decorum into this faraway place.

It may have been most unusual, but the natives of this remote African kingdom cottoned to these stuffy ecclesiastical visitors from King George’s islands, and they really took to British law with great passion and interest.

Back to England went the missionaries

Thus, by the time the missionaries were recalled to England following their three-year tour of duty in Africa, the natives had set up an almost perfect working version of the British Parliament, and a superbly correct British-model court of law.

The missionaries were well pleased, even though hymn singing had not gone as well as their lesson plans had intended. Parliament and particularly the court were humming right along to absolute perfection. No longer did the king simply have a spear or two run through a malefactor. Each lawbreaker was now properly tried and convicted before being speared through.

So, back to England went the missionaries, justifiably proud of having accomplished their mission in so proper and successful a manner.

Like bad pennies, back to Africa came the missionaries

Some years later, those missionaries were again assigned to proselytize within that same African kingdom. They looked forward to their return, for they were anxious to see if the lessons they had provided years ago had actually "stuck."

Well, the hymn singing was still woefully out of tune, and the Parliament had slipped back somewhat into more primitive ways of debate and counter-debate. After seeing those things, the missionaries wandered over to the courthouse to check on how things were going over there these days.

The courtroom was busy because there was no shortage of malefactors in this little kingdom. The courtroom had an air of dignity and decorum that pleased the Englishmen.

A little wooden chair

They sat through a first trial in absolute awe that these people had totally mastered the ways of operating a court of law in the British manner. They did notice one small difference.

In front of the judge’s bench was a little wooden chair on which sat a man whose eyes continually darted back and forth around the courtroom as the proceedings droned on.

One of the missionaries turned to the native seated next to him and asked, "Sir, what is that fellow doing – the one seated on that small wooden chair in front of the judge’s bench?"

"He’s our titter," explained the native.

"I don’t understand. What’s a titter?"

Just then the jury returned with the verdict. The man who had been seated in that small wooden chair jumped up and ran back and forth, all around the courtroom, row after row.

Lessons learned to perfection

When he came to a female spectator, he placed a hand under each of her breasts and joggled them up and down.

The missionaries were stunned and perplexed by this breast joggling business. They waited until after the courtroom had been cleared of spectators. Then they approached the judge.

"Judge, what in the world was all of that breast joggling about? We have never seen anything like that in any courtroom in all the world."

"Gentlemen, if there is one thing we learned from you, it was to do all of this law stuff ‘by the book.’ It’s all right here in the law books you gave us before you returned to England those many years ago. Look on page 1673 in the ‘Annals of British Law.’ It says, ‘When the verdict was returned in the case of Aston versus the Crown, a titter ran through the courtroom.’"

"Would you have us do anything less?"


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