“I didn’t have a chance”

Jenkins stood before the judge and pleaded not guilty.   He had robbed a bank at gunpoint and had been caught by police two blocks away counting the money in an alley.

The judge said, “You were caught red-handed and we have several witnesses who have identified you. What do you mean by ‘not guilty’?”

Jenkins responded, “I was forced to rob that bank. I didn’t have a choice. Besides, it’s my first offence, so it doesn’t really count.”

The judge spoke harshly: “Every offence counts.” Then asked, “Who forced you?”

“My ex-boss at the factory where I was working. He fired me last week just because I was goofing off a little, and then I ran out of money. I had to rob that bank if I was going to eat, didn’t I?”

“Look,” said the judge, “if I point a gun at you and say you’ve got to do something or I will shoot you—that is using force to take your choices away from you. Only then do you have to do what I say, or get shot, perhaps killed. If you goof off at a job when you are getting paid to be working and you get fired, you are receiving and experiencing the reality, the consequences, of the choice you have made to goof off. Your boss didn’t force you to take the job in the first place, and he didn’t force you to goof off. And he didn’t force you to not look for another job, or to not have saved up food for a rainy day when you were working. You are guilty and you are going to receive the reality of jail that you alone have chosen for yourself. One year at hard labor. No pay. Time added for goofing off or any other bad behavior. Lock him up!”

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