Visitors to this web site will know the dry, analytic style with which I approach the Great Problems of the Day. It’s OK for fellow geeks and it certainly keeps the Trolls at bay. But how do we get the ideas more generally discussed? There has to be a story, some element of drama, strong feelings, tension, perhaps blood on the carpet.
This is why we put a cow on trial. She represented the global livestock industry, accused of serious crimes against the biosphere. Some people think livestock are responsible for a quarter of global warming, more than all the transport, not to mention other environmental effects on biodiversity, water supply and so on. Others vigorously dispute this, even arguing that correctly managed livestock can solve the climate problem all on their own. So, much to argue about.
The Trial took place at the Shambala Festival in Northamptonshire, in August. We rigged up a Crown Court inside a large marquee. There was a judge, real lawyers, nationally-respected expert witnesses, a jury, and in the dock, Daisy the Cow. Moo! On this occasion Daisy was a pantomime cow: a real cow required too much paperwork.
The trial took about two hours, and finally the Jury retired to consider its verdict, which was arrived at by secret ballot. Much to everybody’s surprise, Daisy was found Guilty, although the Judge was not severe; he sentenced her to community service. Moo! A report of the Trial can be found here.
Naturally Daisy’s lawyers have mounted an appeal, and if this is successful Daisy will reappear for a retrial at the same Festival in 2018, and perhaps in other places too. Watch this space.
THE SUBSEQUENT ADVENTURES OF DAISY THE COW
By the autumn of 2018, Daisy had had four further outings, and the collected reports can be found here.
One interesting innovation is to use the whole audience as the Jury, and to include a debate for, say 30 minutes, before collecting ballot papers for verdict.
The ‘scratch’ version in Bath even used members of the audience to play speaking parts. The verdict was finely balanced: Guilty by 33:32.
That’s 4 Guiltys and 1 Not Guilty so far.