On New Year’s Day I was in a book store with a special lady friend and I flipped through a book of Aesop’s Fables. One of them I had never seen before, known as the The Wolf, the Fox, and the Ape, got my attention:
A wolf charged a fox with theft, which he denied, and the case was brought before an ape to be tried. When he had heard the evidence on both sides, the ape gave judgment as follows: “I do not think,” he said, “that you, wolf, ever lost what you claim; but all the same I believe that you, fox, are guilty of the theft, in spite of all your denials.” The dishonest get no credit, even if they act honestly.
Good lesson, right? Too bad this little story has too many question marks to hold up.
First of all, good luck finding a place where there’s an ape, fox, and a wolf living together. What country is this fable taking place in, Narnia? I know they’re just trying to teach a lesson, but you think Aesop would at least use three animals from the same habitat. None of his other fables throw together odd animal combos because it would distract you from the point. There’s no story called The Penguin and the Hermit Crab that teaches you not to cheat on your wife. Why? Because the whole anti-adultery message would be lost while everyone tries to figure out why a penguin and a hermit crab are hanging out.
I’ve blogged about foxes before, and I understand the point of including the fox. But I feel like wolves are being thrown into the “dishonest animal” pool because they’re fast and they’re good at catching slow animals. That’s not fair. Wolves gotta eat. Just because they get their grub on doesn’t mean they pig out. I guess the only possible reason why an ape wouldn’t believe a wolf had something stolen from him by a fox would be that animals don’t own shit. Think about it – the fox didn’t break into the wolf’s studio apartment over by the creek to gank his IPod. At best, he might have stolen some berries or a rotting animal carcass, but you have to believe that either of those items would fall into the forest’s equivalent of public domain.
The whole idea of animals holding a trial is pretty funny, too. What kind of legal system do they adhere to? Who has better law schools – the forest or the wetlands? What kind of punishments do they dole out? Even if the wolf was able to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the fox had stolen from him, it doesn’t seem clear what a bunch of animals would do about it. I wish Aesop had written an epilogue where the ape, squinting through reading glasses, reads off a sheet of paper: “I sentence you to four years in a penitentiary, which is pretty much that patch of grass over there that we have a bear keep an eye on. Plus 500 hours of community service.”
You’d have to think that every trial that takes place would be incredibly stressful, seeing as though at any moment a lion could break into the courtroom and eat everybody. I’m not up to snuff on my animal law or anything, but I’m pretty sure you have grounds for a mistrial right there. It’s hard to uphold justice when the king of the jungle is shitting out your bailiff.
Which brings me to my final point: why is the ape the judge? The ape hardly strikes me as a litigious beast. People need years and years of legal experience before they’d even be taken seriously as a judicial candidate. I don’t see an ape being patient enough to put up with such a rigorous work schedule. Can you even picture an ape in suspenders and rolled-up sleeves, pouring over legal briefs while he’s prepping for a case? I can’t. Even if you play devil’s advocate and say that the ape makes it to the bench, he’s not going to keep working hard. He’s an ape, he wants to relax. For all we know, he going to spend half his time in chambers, jerking off to a picture of a banana.