“Conversation Stopper” by Andrew Campbell Kearsey, London

Crime and Punishment September 7, 2011 22:44

topic: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT medium: TEXT

as submitted for the “Connected” Contest

Apparently there’s quite a media storm. That’s how my lawyer puts it. She says I’ve divided the nation. I’ve asked my neighbour to keep all the press clippings. I’ll have to start a scrapbook when I get home.

I gave myself up straight away. Sandra, the lawyer, says that’s always a good thing. It’ll stand in my favour. There was no need for an extensive police search funded by the public purse. Juries like that. She says that’ll play well in court. Is it all a game then?

Finally, my day in court. I get to put my side of the story. Sandra’s told me what to expect and what to say. She’s sorted out some clothes for me; had the keys to my flat. I don’t like the idea of her rummaging through my wardrobe and drawers. Nothing was suitable in her opinion. That’s why I’m kitted out in all this stuff from Next. Hope she doesn’t expect me to pay for it. She even gave me some make-up tips. Bloody cheek!

I’m due to see the judge in an hour’s time. Only had to wait a couple of weeks after my arrest. Couldn’t afford the bail. The prosecution thought I was a flight risk anyway. Me? I don’t even have a passport. Made a change not having to cook for myself; made the most of it. My sister sent me a letter. She went on about how I’d brought shame on the family and she wanted no more contact with me. Suits me fine.

*****

That wasn’t too bad. Getting out of the police van was weird; all those photographers. The judge seems a nice old guy. I reckon he hasn’t got long until he’s digging his allotment full-time or joining the bowls club. He asks if I understand what they’re charging me with and how I’m going to plead. It’s simple – guilty. Sandra wanted to go down the ‘diminished responsibility’ road. But, like I said to her, I knew exactly what I was doing.

The old guy turns to me.

“Have you anything to say in your defence before sentencing begins?”

“Yes, your Honour. I’m sorry about the damage and the inconvenience but if I had my time again I’d do the same thing.”

Without looking I can imagine Sandra wincing. The judge seems amused. I continue.

“I wanted to take a stand. People are glued to their computer screens, all talking in cyberspace or tweeting. Pubs are closing down every week. Nobody talks to anyone these days. You walk down the street and everybody ignores you. Everyone’s happy to talk to God knows who in a chatroom. Found out that the local server for Facebook wasn’t far away. I learned which wires and connections to cut through. The internet’s a great teacher.”

“If you felt so passionate about this, there are legal channels you could pursue. All you did was cause the network to crash for forty-five minutes. You could have electrocuted yourself. Was it worth it?”

“I think so, your Honour.”

I’ll just use stronger wire-cutters next time.

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