It was a bright cold day in April, and a disheveled man lay dead on the floor of an empty courtroom. The court had been adjourned just an hour ago and the deceased man was all that remained in the aftermath of what had been a quick and decisive trial.
The trial began early in the morning. The Prosecutor, drawing from decades of legal experience, arrived before the courthouse had even opened. In his hands he carried a grande Starbucks dairy-free latte and a synthetic patent leather briefcase. Inside the briefcase was a meticulously crafted legal case, the rhetorical equivalent of a high-caliber rifle. His arguments had been honed to perfection the night before. His evidence was foolproof. His dry-cleaned suit was immaculate and his silk tie shimmered with a confidence found only in the most seasoned of legal professionals.
The court convened and the jury filed into to their ranks. The Judge seated himself at the head of the courtroom. The Prosecutor strode into place and neatly arranged his notes on the oak podium. Silence befell the courtroom. The Prosecutor produced his case, a two thousand page opus of remarkable logic and insight. Every line had been personally written by The Prosecutor, every image, chart, and graph hand-selected.
His case was a masterwork of legal knowledge and expertise. A graduate of the esteemed Harvard Law School, The Prosecutor was a formidable opponent in the courtroom. In thirty years of criminal investigations The Prosecutor had yet to lose a case. He excelled at debate. For every argument, he had several counter-arguments. For every counter-argument, he had several more counter-arguments. He was a master of both logic and emotional appeal. Juries were said to have regularly been brought to tears from his heart-rending soliloquies.
The trial began and The Defendant was nowhere to be found. The jury grew restless with boredom. The Prosecutor remained collected and determined. Attempts were made to call The Defendant, each attempt resulting in the call going straight to voicemail. After forty-five minutes had passed, the doors of the courtroom swung open and The Defendant shuffled to his podium.
The Judge was furious. Hushed, nervous whispers could be heard from the jury. Banging his gavel, The Judge called for order and the courtroom fell silent once again. The Defendant carried with him no briefcase, no folder containing a legal defense. The Defendant, in an unprecedented decision for this type of criminal investigation, had selected to represent himself. He wore no suit, wore no tie, and instead wore a simple t-shirt and jeans. The Prosecutor eyed The Defendant with an air of superiority. It would be a short trial.
The Prosecutor stood up and began to pace. The evidence was clear. Fourteen years ago the accused party was found to have been in possession of illegal image macros with intent to distribute. Federal investigators had confiscated The Defendant’s hard drive from his childhood home and uncovered over nine thousand contraband images and animations saved to the disk. More incriminating, however, was The Defendant’s Internet history.
The Defendant’s Internet Service Provider had disclosed that during a span of roughly six years The Defendant had frequented hate sites, whereupon he first encountered the aforementioned illegal image macros. Under executive order of former president C. Clinton, the possession and distribution of illegal image macros, known colloquially as assault memes, was a capital offense. While such hate sites had long ceased to exist, their ugly mark had been left on the Internet.
The Bureau had since been tasked with finding and destroying all traces of illegal image macros. Numerous raids had been conducted on flagged individuals; individuals who had frequented hate sites in their youth and were thought to have once been in possession of digital contraband. The Prosecutor strutted to the projector, and producing a flash drive from his breast pocket, showcased a curated selection of images confiscated from The Defendant’s hard drive.
A crudely drawn cartoon frog appeared on the screen. The frog smirked at the jury, a Mona Lisa smile of mischievous intent. Members of the jury began to shout and scream. One woman even began to cry. The Prosecutor looked away from the projected image and stared at The Defendant.
The Judge called for order. The crying woman had collapsed onto the courtroom floor and had entered into a spasmodic fit. She was escorted out on a stretcher and the trial resumed.
Harvard Law School had prepared The Prosecutor well for such gruesome cases. Cybercrime prosecution was the fastest growing and most lucrative field of law. Possession with intent to distribute illegal image macros was a capital offense in all 193 U.N. member states, and a war crime in the United Kingdom.
His fate sealed, The Defendant stared down at his podium and avoided eye contact with The Prosecutor. The Prosecutor switched the projector off and turned his gaze to The Judge. Your Honor, the evidence is unmistakable. The Defendant is a sick and twisted individual. For six years, he collected such ghastly, repulsive images. For six years, he spent his nights on vile websites. For six years, he festered in a pool of bigotry and hate. Men like him do not deserve to see the light of day.
The Judge prompted The Defendant for a closing statement. The Defendant had not uttered a word since the trial commenced. The Defendant, without speaking, walked from the podium to the projector and pulled out his iPhone 12 S Space Gray Edition. The smartphone connected wirelessly to the projector, and after a short loading time, displayed a single image on the screen.
An unshaven, obese version of The Prosecutor appeared clad in an oversized black suit and a black fedora. The man in the photo held the tip of his fedora down with his left hand and clenched a replica samurai sword in his right.
The jury howled with laughter. The Judge couldn’t contain himself either, and after hastily acquitting The Defendant of all charges, joined the sonorous chorus. The Prosecutor, humiliated at his staggering defeat, pulled a small derringer from his suit pocket and shot himself in the head.
The jury laughed even harder.