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An Arthur Beauchamp Novel
also available: Audiobook
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Cuddling a nearly new laptop — I just got it today — I pause halfway down the stairs and listen to Arthur taunt Ariana Van Doorn in the moose room. She will make her debut tomorrow, and Arthur and Nancy are prepping her.

“Necessity? Necessity? My dear Professor Van Doorn, why was it so critical, so necessary, to commit a serious criminal offence, a surreptitious break-and-enter by night, when no one’s life was in immediate peril?”

“Excuse me, my field is biology—”

“It’s a simple question, madam, I’d like an answer, please.” Arthur has Khan’s slightly old-school accent down pat.

“Okay, in my opinion, people have been hurt, they were in immediate peril. According to the pesticide poisoning statistics we heard yesterday, one in 12,500 users accidentally imbibe insecticides in any given year—”

“Immediate peril, not some accident in the vague future…”

“Objection, counsel is baiting the witness, and is also being ridiculous.” That’s Nancy.

Ariana gives a throaty laugh. I carry on down to the back patio with the Dell notebook. Okie Joe will be stopping over to make sure it isn’t rigged to explode in my face. I pack a pipe with pot.

I’m seeing criminal law in a new light. There’s flexibility to it. I find it profoundly creative of Arthur and Nancy to have made adjustments on the fly to the frail defence of necessity. They’ve narrowed its focus to real people, like the unlikely duo of Barney Wilson and Charlie Dover.

Most people are deaf to the climate crisis, they don’t want to hear about the bees, it’s all too depressing and abstract. It was maybe asking too much of our jury to conclude we had to knock over an insecticide lab as a wakeup call against planetary collapse. But the poisoning of a fellow hominid brings it home.

Because we raided the Vigor-Gro plant, because we exposed their corrupted tests, because we spoke up, because of the publicity, because of this very trial, we have rescued farmers susceptible to what we now call the Dover-Wilson Syndrome.

That’s the essence of today’s testimony from an agricultural economist, a climatologist, and an actuarial scientist with a doctorate in statistics. Together, with reams of tables and stats and graphs and international sales figures for Vigor-Gro, they made a case that it’s statistically likely that a “significant” number of pesticide users out there are allergic to ziegladoxin. And it’s also statistically likely that our action has warned a “significant” number of accidental imbibers to get flushed out right away. Something like that.

It’s a pretty stretchy theory, so taut it could easily snap as the jury tussles with it. But if they’re desperate to find reasonable doubt … just, possibly, maybe?


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