It was the future.

It was many thousands of years into the future, although society had not changed to much of a degree. There were still only five terrestrial TV channels, and two of those showed mainly repeats of 70's sit-coms and hardcore pornography. Mankind was still yet to colonise space, as it was really cold and unpleasant up there. And the legal system was very much the same as it is now.

Judge Langley Balustrade adjusted his white wig, and patted the head of the young maiden under his desk who was expertly fellating him. He cast a look around at the sea of eager faces before him, waiting for his next performance. Judge Balustrade's cases were always lucrative spectator events, and some of those present had paid top dollar for front row seats.

"Call the next defendant," he said, only the slightest quaver in his voice. A sigh of satisfaction went through the spectator gallery, and some of those present produced lit zippo lighters to hold aloft.

"Call the next defendant," shouted everyone.

The next defendant was Professor Boris Doily, a newly-arrived time traveller from the twentieth century. He was led into the room by a pair of uniformed police officers, and when he was in the stand they took up position either side of him.

Then, as if by magic, the defence counsel appeared in a puff of smoke. He wore shiny blue wizard's robes decorated with moons and stars, and held a narrow magic wand overhead. A few spectators began booing, but lapsed into silence when they found the wand being pointed threateningly in their direction.

Judge Balustrade was not going to be intimidated by the defence counsel's childish antics. He turned his attention to the defendant. "You are Professor Boris Doily?" he said.

"I am," said Professor Boris Doily.

"Professor Boris Doily, you stand here accused of the most heinous crime our legal system has to offer. Not only did you park an unregistered time machine on a double yellow line, but you then went on to speak... the word which cannot be said. How do you plead?"

"Look," said the baffled professor. "All I did was say 'why the hell is everyone wearing panties over their trousers?'."

A shrill scream echoed throughout the courtroom. One or two attendees fainted.

"You also stand accused of saying the aforementioned word just now in your last sentence," added the judge.

"Which word is it?" demanded the professor.

Everyone in the courtroom immediately made a zipped-mouth gesture, having seen people fall for this before.

"Look, how the hell am I supposed to know which word I'm not allowed to say if you won't tell me? Which was it, trousers?"

The judge chuckled to himself. "Of course it isn't trousers. If we went around arresting people for saying trousers, they'd say we're all bloody mad."

"M'lud, our case is a simple one," butted in the defence counsel, not wishing to allow his client to dig a deeper hole for himself. "My client wishes to plead ignorance, since he is newly arrived from the 20th century and knows little of our customs."

"Objection," went the prosecution. "Ignorance is no defence."

"Unless Ignorance was the name of some Viking shield, or large dog," pondered the judge aloud. He flashed a dazzling smile at the audience gallery, and those people who fainted earlier fainted some more.

"If we can get back to the matter at hand," said the defence counsel, "I would like it put on record that the prosecution is a big fat tosshead."

"Granted," said the judge.

"I object to being described as a big fat tosshead," said the prosecution, but all present ignored him as though he were not there.

"Anyway, how can my client be arrested for something he simply knows nothing about?" continued the defense. "It is quite simply unfair on him. I move for a mistrial."

"If your client is simply ignorant of our system," said the judge, "then we must educate him. Many years ago, during the final of the 2999 Olympic Don't Mention Panties, reigning champion Roger Connery got up from his seat mid-game, walked straight out of the stadium, and disappeared forever. Before doing so he spoke to several people, and according to the ancient rules of Don't Mention Panties, anyone he spoke to immediately became a player in the game, as did anyone THEY spoke to. Eventually we gave up working out who was in the game, and just declared that the entire population of the Earth was a player. As such, saying 'panties' immediately disqualifies a person from the human race."

"I move for a mistrial," said the defence. "On the grounds that you said 'panties' three times in your speech."

"Objection," said the prosecution. "The defence counsel just said -" he could not finish his sentence, as the defence counsel turned him into a frog.

"Croak," said the prosecution. "Croak croak croak."

"Sustained," said the judge, hoping to distract from his misdemeanours. "The defence counsel will refrain from turning any more members of the courtroom into frogs."

"I move for a mistrial," said the defence.

"You seem to do that an awful lot. On what grounds?"

"That by ordering me not to turn people into frogs, you are discriminating against my profession and are as such guilty of gross misconduct."

"Oh, bumflaps," said the judge.

Fortunately, at that point the entire fucking world exploded, thus bringing an end to a story that was really going nowhere.

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