Sex on Trial, ACT I: The First Degree
Editor’s Note: As long as there have been humans, there has been sex. And for as long as there has been people having sex, there have been people whose sole mission was to ensure that sex was never spoken, broadcast, published, whispered, or thought out loud. Over the next several weeks, Sexis is pleased to present G.L. Morrison’s three-part teleplay dealing with these themes. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have.
Act II can be read here. Act III can be read here.
SFX: Birds chirping and other clean, refreshing artificially created sounds of Nature.
Smiling Actress: (With motherly concern) Is your down there not so fresh? Douche it, spray it! Our bleach scented feminine hygiene products will practically scrub this troublesome area off. (Fade out.)
Announcer: *BLEEP!* This has been a test of your emergency cuss word system. If this had been an actual swear word, you would have been instructed to be offended while this station and its affiliates would have been bleeped, pixilated, fined an outrageous amount of money and beaten (and not in the good way). We now return you to your regularly scheduled obscenity already in progress.
Cue Opening Title: Law & Odor: FCC
SFX: Bah dum
Narrator: There are a number of words that are considered particularly heinous. The men and women who prosecute these words are members of a special task force: the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). These are their stories.
Judge Judy: (Yawning from the bench.) Call your next witness.
F. Lee Bailey: (Rises from the defense table and clears his throat dramatically.) The Defense would like to call The First Amendment to the stand.
The First Amendment saunters up the aisle to the front of the courtroom. She is wearing a white dress sheer enough to show what she isn’t wearing underneath. Her attitude says she has nothing to hide. She is sworn in without any actual swearing. She sits, turning to face the jury, legs uncrossed Sharon Stone style.
F. Lee Bailey: (His gaze never wavering from beneath The First’s hemline) Please state your name for the record.
The First: (With a voice like melting silk) I’m The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.
F. Lee Bailey: (Chuckles) That’s a mouthful.
The First: (à la Groucho) That’s what she said!
The jury titters appreciatively.
Judge Judy: (Scowling) May I remind you that in this courtroom, it is your solemn duty to laugh at no punch lines but my own?
The jury settles.
F. Lee Bailey: (Directing his question to The First) What is it that you do exactly?
The First: (Seductively) That depends on who you ask. (Tone becomes serious) But let me give you my complete job description: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
F. Lee Bailey: (Frowns in a practiced, litigious way, then turns that frown toward the jury) Religion? You don’t strike me as particularly…religious.
The First tosses her hair, contemptuously. Judge Judy scowls as a reminder to all that she is the only one allowed to hold lawyers in contempt. (However, many members of the jury, audience, and even other attorneys continue to do so anyway.)
The First: (Indignant) I am the High Priestess of personal freedoms. Without works, faith is dead. Without me, faith and non-faith are silenced equally. I protect prophets and whores.
At the Prosecution table sit Senator Joseph McCarthy, William Jennings Bryan, Lord Voldemort, Adolf Hitler and J. Edgar Hoover. Rude snickering erupts. The Lead Demon from Wolfrum & Hart cackles.
Lord Voldemort: (In mock innocence) Did she say she protects profits for whores?
F. Lee Bailey: Your honor! I object!
Judge Judy: (Sighs) Counselor, don’t whine. Prosecution, wait your turn.
F. Lee Bailey: (Continues, nonplussed, to question the witness) Do you know the defendants? (Gestures to the defense table behind him where Clarence Darrow, Voltaire, Johnny Cochrane, Ben Matlock and Perry Mason are playing Hangman with two of the seven defendants.)
The First: Yes, I know them very well.
F. Lee Bailey: How would you characterize the Infamous Seven Words currently on trial?
The First: I would say they are versatile and outspoken, but usually fair. They’re blue-collar words. Hard-working. They have two or three definitions just to make ends meet. They may not be pretty, but they tell it like it is.
F. Lee Bailey: Would you call them “obscene”?
The First: Only when they wanna be.
F. Lee Bailey: Thank you. That’s all the questions I have for this witness.
Judge Judy: (To the prosecutors) Prosecution, are you ready for cross?
Hitler: (Rises for the Prosecution) Ja wohl, mein Fuhrer… er, I mean, yes, your honor.
Judge Judy: (Tersely) Proceed.
Hitler: (Addressing The First) So, you know zem?
The First: Intimately.
Hitler: (His moustache a tremble) All of zem?
The First: Yes.
Hitler: That must have been zum party.
Extra #27: Slut!
The First Degree, con't.
At the prosecution table, Freud looks around as if to say, ‘Who said that? Not me.’ Hitler sits down, and, as if an invisible baton has been passed, J. Edgar Hoover, toting a sizable stack of file folders, rises for his leg of the marathon.
Judge Judy: Order! Order in the court! Mr. Hoover, are you prepared to proceed?
J. Edgar Hoover: Yes, your honor. (Turns to address The First and pats his files confidently) Now, these comrades of yours have been known to get into some trouble haven’t they?
The First: Yes, they like to party.
J. Edgar Hoover: (Swooping in for the kill) And you like to party with them? Don’t deny it. We have pictures. (Hoover flashes photos to the jury before snapping the files closed possessively.) And wire taps.
The First: I wasn’t going to deny it.
J. Edgar Hoover: Of course not, you like being associated with bad boys.
The First: (Purrs) And bad girls.
J. Edgar Hoover: (Sneering) You don’t care what side they’re on. KKK, Black Panthers. It’s all the same to you. You and the ACLU (aside to jury), which, by the way, is just another filthy four-letter word in my book (returns to addressing The First), you’ll give it to anyone. Free Speech. Free Love. Or whatever you young people call it.
Sigmund Freud: (Sotto voce) Slut!
Freud feigns a cough as Kinsey kicks his foot from the row behind. Freud attempts to look embarrassed but instead appears smug.
J. Edgar Hoover: Do you see yourself as the Pied Piper? You lead ’em on, and then they take the fall while you hide behind an old piece of paper. “Not my fault, I’m just a little part of the Constitution.” Lady, you’re not a witness. You’re a co-conspirator!"
Perry Mason: Your Honor, I object. He’s badgering the witness!
Judge Judy: So?
A badger: (From the gallery) I resent that.
A beaver: (Standing next to the badger) Get used to it, Pal.
J. Edgar Hoover: (Leaning in so close that The First can smell the corruption on his breath) Answer the question.
The First: That wasn’t a question.
J. Edgar Hoover: What do you think this is, Jeopardy? I have to phrase my questions in the form of a question?
The First: I’ll take constitutional law for 400, Alex.
J. Edgar Hoover: Okay then, here’s a question, Ms. Smarty-No-Panties, isn’t it true that you’ve been known to consort with militant homosexuals, white supremacists, flag-burning anarchists, and…(pregnant pause, then shudders) comedians?
A collective gasp from the gallery.
Atticus Finch: (Rising for the defense) Objection, your Honor. Irrelevant and prejudicial.
J. Edgar Hoover: (Snarls) It’s extremely relevant since the seven words on trial today are best known for being arrested onstage in Chicago with comedian George Carlin. These “so called” comics think of themselves as language freedom fighters, but are nothing more than potty-mouthed domestic terrorists threatening the moral fabric of this nation.
Shit: (Snickering from the defense table) He said potty mouthed.
J. Edgar Hoover: (Mutters) Filthy degenerates.
The Ghost of George Carlin: I resemble that remark.
Disembodied voice of another comic specter-cum-ventriloquist: Aye, I and I too.
The Ghost of Nipsy Russell: The ayes have it!
The ghosts of Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks high-five each other.
Judge Judy: Order!
The Ghost of Redd Foxx: (Moaning dramatically) I’m coming, Elizabeth!
The Ghost of Richard Pryor: (Shaking his ectoplasmic head) Dude, that’s not as funny as when you were alive.
The Ghost of Redd Foxx: It’s still funny, fool. Only now it’s, “Elizabeth, I came. Finally.”
Judge Judy: (Shouts) Order in the court!
The Ghost of Richard Pryor: Was it something I said?
Judge Judy: (Stands) Anyone who doesn’t shut up immediately will be held in contempt. I will clear the court if I need an exorcist to do it! Do you understand?
Matlock: (From the defense table) Your honor, please don’t do that. Many of our witnesses are corporeally challenged Americans.
The Ghost of Flip Wilson: Wearing a black dress don’t make you God, honey. (To jury) I should know.
Matlock: Hush now, Mr. Wilson.
The Ghost of Flip Wilson: The devil made me do it.
Judge Judy: That would explain a lot. Don’t you all have some comedy club in Hell to be haunting?
The Ghost of Lenny Bruce: Oh, yeah! SRO, Every night. Hell is Heaven for comedians.
Judge Judy: (Looks impressed in spite of herself) Really? What is there in Hell to laugh about?
The Ghost of Dean Martin: (Floats over to the bench, rattling the ice in his glass as noisily as Marley’s chains—Bob wore very loud jewelry—sloshes a little phantom whiskey on her Judgeness, while sneaking a peek down her robes). Mostly, we joke about how lame the clubs in Heaven must be.
The Ghost of Lenny Bruce: Can you imagine who’s headlining there? Our side got all the artists, man. Poets, painters, musicians and comedians. What have they got? Pat Boone and Lamb Chop?
Judge Judy: Pat Boone isn’t dead.
The Ghost of Lenny Bruce: How can you tell?
J. Edgar Hoover: Can we get back to the witness at hand?
Judge Judy: Right after this commercial break.
SFX: Bah dum
Cue Credit: To be continued…