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A Modest Proposal Concerning a Loathsome Oath

The names given in this piece have been changed to protect both the innocent AND the guilty.

Here it is: I swear that the evidence that I shall give, shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

Is this fair? I mean, "the whole truth"? 

I mean, all of it which pertains to the question at hand?

Come on, that's impossible.

Suppose the procedure commonly called "urination" is germane to the witness' testimony?

Is he then to give, for example, what was going through his mind as he was urinating? Isn't this part of the whole truth of the act? Is the color of the towel which he used to dry his hands after washing them part of the "whole truth"? Where is the witness to draw the line between the relevant and the irrelevant as it applies to the trial? And what if what was going through his mind was, as he was holding his pee-pee instrument, the last time he had boinked his secretary, while his wife was present at the trial?

Let me give a real-life example of how the "whole truth" oath has failed.
A friend of mine was once on trial for perjury and was convicted of the crime and sentenced to three years in prison for it. The situation arose as follows.

There was an original trial in which he was both a witness and the aggrieved. His wife had shot him in the back. After he had recovered from the wound (the bullet pierced a lung and broke two of his ribs), he filed an assault complaint against his wife. At the trial, he was of course a witness. After taking what I consider the "loathsome oath," he was asked by the defendant's counsel if after taking a leak he had not screamed, "Where are the fucking towels, Ellen?", at the top of his lungs. My friend had answered that indeed he had screamed that. At this point the defense lawyer for Ellen had said, "No further questions, your honor." The people's lawyer then asked my friend to give his account of what happened. His account went as follows:

"It was simple, your honor. I took a leak, then washed my hands. When I turned to grab the towel on its rack, I found that that there was none. I then did indeed yell, 'Where are the fucking towels, Ellen?' My wife then came in and shot me in the back. It's that simple your honor."

The defendant's lawyer then got up and put this question to my friend, "Isn't it true, sir, that on the floor of the bathroom there was piss?"

My friend then answered, "No, sir, it is not."

The defense lawyer then asked that a photo be shown. In the photo there is the complainant's body lying face down with the entrance point of the bullet in his back neatly outlined by a circle of blood. Next to the body there is indeed a rather large blob of pee. The defense lawyer then explained that the picture had been taken by the wife, minutes after she had shot her husband.

The upshot of that trial was that the wife was sentenced to ten years in prison. 

But there was another trial. My friend claims that it was an act of vengeance. His wife had friends in the court system and got them to bring charges of perjury against my friend. At the trial, there was this question from the people's lawyer, "Did you not omit in your testimony against your wife that you are incontinent and often leave pee on the floor of your bathroom?" 

My friend, sworn to tell the whole truth at the trial of his wife, then had to admit that indeed that was the case. He often did leave pee on the bathroom floor. 

The people's lawyer then asked him, "Is it not the truth, sir, that you are incontinent?" 

My friend then answered, "Yes, I am incontinent?" 

"And you omitted to say this, sir, did you not, at the trial of your wife, when you gave your version of the facts?" 

"Yes," my friend answered, "I did omit that fact."

The reader should know something. First of all, the wife had not only rigged the unfair accusation against my friend, but had also arranged that the prosecutor be a woman, and that the majority of the jury be women. 

Now I ask the reader this simple question, "Is it fair that nature has provided women with a much simpler method of dealing with pee problems, and should not the prosecutor, the jury, and -- especially -- the judge, have taken this into account and acquitted my friend, instead of sentencing him to three years in prison?" Women need not reply to this question.

I also make this proposal. Let's change the oath and make it simply. "I swear that I WILL TRY MY BEST TO ENSURE THAT the evidence that I shall give, shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God."