Monday, November 30, 2009

The Trial of General Tso

Scene seed from Paul Noth's comic in the November 23rd issue of the New Yorker:

Two chickens are having a discussion in a fenced in pasture. The caption on the comic reads: "History's greatest monster: General Tso or Colonel Sanders?"

The General sat in the witness chair and swore on the Bible even though it was ironic since he had fought against the Taiping rebellion and their Heavenly Army of Christians. The judge turned to the general and said, "You are not required to testify against yourself."

"I thank you for your courtesy," said General Tso. "I have no fear of testifying. I am innocent."

"We'll see," said the prosecutor as he stood up and paced before the witness stand. "Are you familiar with General Tso's Chicken?"

"By familiar do you ask whether I've heard of that sickly sweet Chinese-American dessert they serve as an entrée at restaurants? Or do you imply I had a farm at one point? I did consider farming silkworms when I was young, but I daresay many in our audience," the General swung his arms pointing at the tiers of chickens that sat on benches and in coops around the courtroom, "have eaten worms."

"Yes, yes, the Chinese entrée. And do you know how many chickens are killed every year for this meal?" Murmurs broke across the courtroom and the judge pounded the gavel for silence.

"Probably hundreds of thousands. But --"

"See," said the prosecutor looking directly into the jury coop. "The General is guilty of killing hundreds of thousands of chickens a year."

"I did not say that," screamed the general.

The judge slammed his gavel and shouted, "Silence!"

"The prosecution rests."

The judge asked, "Does the defense wish to cross-examine?"

"Yes, Your Honor," said the defense attorney as he stood up and faced the General. "Would you please finish your answer that was rudely cut off."

"Objection," said the prosecutor. "Your honor, the question is argumentative."

"Objection overruled," said the judge.

"Probably hundreds of thousands of chickens are killed to be served as General Tso's Chicken, but," the general paused. "This dish wasn't introduced until the 1970's, at least 85 years after I had died. In a restaurant in an American city, New York to be precise. I am innocent of these deaths."

"Ladies, gentlemen," said the defense attorney, "and chickens of the jury as you can see my client, General Tso, is innocent of the genocidal claims of massacre made by the prosecution."

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