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Thursday, 28 July 2016

A Matter of Opinion


JOE AVERAGE: A perfectly moral, decent and good citizen.

ZENO: Yes, that Zeno. Because I've always liked him.


Joe and Zeno are seated at the breakfast table reading the morning papers. Sunlight filters in through the windows of their comfortable suburban home. The distant sound of lawnmowers forms the drone note beneath a counterpoint of birdsong.

Joe throws down his paper in disgust. 

JOE: I can't believe  this verdict - that bastard should have been locked up for life!

ZENO: So, he was acquitted?

JOE: What? No, of course not! But he only got three years, so he may as well have been.

ZENO: Ah, I see - it's the sentence, not the verdict, which has upset you.

JOE: Oh, for god's sake, Zeno - why are you so fussy with words? Don't you know it's every man's inalienable human right to be lazy and inept with language and still expect to be perfectly understood? Words! They're the sly, tricksy weapons of the media elite. They just don't matter.

ZENO: Really? No, I wasn't aware. Well, in that case: Banana paradox flugelhorn Frenchman sultana.

JOE: Are you having a stroke?

ZENO: How could you not understand me? I was saying very clearly, in my own personal and therefore perfectly valid way, that I believe communication is futile unless we first agree what words actually mean. Did you not get that? My, how pedantic you are about words, all of a sudden.

JOE: Okay, you can be as clever as you like...

ZENO: Thank you. I intend to.

JOE: clever as you like, but it doesn't change the fact that three years is a bloody outrage. Look - the front page of the Tele says it is, so it must be. I just can't understand what the judge was thinking.

ZENO: Really? I read the judgement and it all seemed perfectly clear to me.

JOE: What are you talking about? Is this another one of your philosophical tricks? You know, I tried that thing with the turtle and the arrow and it didn't work at all.

ZENO: Logic is not life. Anyway, 'judgement', in this context, refers to the document wherein judges outline their specific reasons in law for the sentences and/or verdicts which they hand down.

JOE: I stop listening when people use words like 'context' and 'wherein'. Only experts and smart people use those words, and they're never worth listening to.

ZENO: They write down why they did what they did.

JOE: Yeah, right. So what's that got to do with anything?

ZENO: You said you didn't understand what the judge was thinking. Reading the judgement might be a good start, don't you think?

JOE: No. I don't. I just emote. And it's everybody's inalienable right to emote on the basis of inchoate feelings of outrage, formulate that emotion with incoherent and imprecise language and then call the products of this process a 'considered opinion'.

ZENO: I see. Well, exercising this right and going by your process, it is my considered opinion that you are a scabrous, mentally handicapped, deaf mute donkey. On that basis, there is absolutely no need to ever speak or listen to you again.


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