Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Epitome of Understatement

Forget about Chuck Shepherd's NEWS of the WEIRD or even the Odd News category for Yahoo! News aggregation. If your tastes run to the off-beat, then click your heels three times and say, "There's no place like the BBC!" After all, this is news from the country of William ("Lord, what fools these mortals be!") Shakespeare (even if he cribbed that line from Seneca). Last night's dispatch, however, was not a matter of British whimsy coming from some remote corner of the "sceptered isle" but a rather curious account of the justice system in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

A minister in the Democratic Republic of Congo has ordered a Kinshasa jail to release a dozen goats, which he said were being held there illegally.

Deputy Justice Minister Claude Nyamugabo said he found the goats just in time during a routine jail visit.

The beasts were due to appear in court, charged with being sold illegally by the roadside.

The minister said many police had serious gaps in their knowledge and they would be sent for retraining.

Perhaps Nyamugabo felt that understatement would be the best way to emphasize the absurdity of this situation without having to face up to the problems faced by humans unfortunate to find themselves in the DRC prison system or addressing the question of whether "blame the evidence" is standard operating procedure in the Ministry of Justice. After all, the blindfold that Justice wears probably does not affect her sense of smell!

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