The Bailiff announced: “all rise for the Reverend Judge Solomon Dungry.”
Dr. Tundra watched as the Reverend Judge entered the Court. The inquisitor was a tall, cadaverous man, with piercing blue eyes and lips that were so thin, you could only see them when he scowled, which he did most of the time. He took his seat, a low bench next to a tall cross on his dais, and said: “everyone but the accused may sit.”
“That’s you,” Dr. Tundra’s Writ-appointed lawyer told him — a well-meaning man, but weak, and clearly a cog in this fundamentalist system.
“You are accused of three counts of heresy, Dr. Tundra,” the Bailiff read from a clipboard. “One — you have purposefully taught the heretical notion of evolution. Two — you have posited another Supreme Being than Our Christian Lord, God. Three, you have called this False God the Flying Spaghetti Monster.”
“How do you plead?”
“Not guilty of course,” Dr. Tundra said. “But may I ask, am I not entitled to a trial by jury?”
The judge stood up, as did the rest of the Court. “No, heretic, you are not.”
“But doesn’t the Constitution grant me –”
“No, it does not. Before I pass sentence,” the Reverend Judge said, “may I ask what possessed you to do these things? Surely you knew of our Holy Writ before you came to America to teach?”
“I did not. I have been practicing medicine in Africa for the past five years, and I have been incommunicado, as it were,” Dr. Tundra explained. “I took a transport straight here, without returning home, or catching up on things, so I did not know.”
“Ignorance of the law is no excuse, even in your wayward country’s secular system,” the judge said, his lips disappearing in a ghastly smile.
“That is true, but judge, I would at least like to make a statement about what I was teaching. My reference to the Flying Spaghetti Monster as the Creator was purely a joke. I don’t really believe it.”
“As you do not believe in Our Lord,” the judge said.
He may have been a fundamentalist, but his mind was as keen as any other judge’s. Perhaps less clouded, Dr. Tundra thought.
“And if your students do not learn the rudiments of evolution and science, how are they to compete with –”
“Again, your ignorance is vast, heretic. We do not seek to engage with the world. You are found guilty. The court decides to administer mercy, however, and you will be sent to a Holy Writ Reeducation Retreat, and if in a year’s time, you can renounce your false faith and accept the Truth, you will be allowed to serve the Holy Writ.”
“Oh, well I doubt I can unlearn all the science I’ve learned. Besides, I wouldn’t want to,” Dr. Tundra said, feeling much less courageous than it sounded.
“You will be surprised at how effective and . . . inspirational . . . our Reeducation Retreats are,” the judge said.
It was a chilling thought.