the criminality of goats

the latest from nigeria:

“Police arrest goat accused of armed robbery”

“Police in Nigeria are holding a goat on suspicion of attempted armed robbery.

“Vigilantes seized the black and white goat, saying it was an armed robber who had used black magic to transform himself into an animal to escape after trying to steal a Mazda 323.

“‘The group of vigilante men came to report that while they were on patrol they saw some hoodlums attempting to rob a car. They pursued them.

“‘However one of them escaped while the other turned into a goat,’ Kwara state police spokesman Tunde Mohammed said.

“‘We cannot confirm the story, but the goat is in our custody….'”

(if you read the rest of the article, you’ll see that the police are not 100% convinced about the criminal-turns-into-goat tail tale. thankfully!)

this story reminded me of the animal trials which happened in medieval europe. yes, you read that right — animals on trial:

“Animals and insects faced the possibility of criminal charges for several centuries across many parts of Europe. The earliest extant record of an animal trial is the execution of a pig in 1266 at Fontenay-aux-Roses. Such trials remained part of several legal systems until the 18th century.

“Defendant animals appeared before both church and secular courts, and the offences alleged against them ranged from murder to criminal damage. Human witnesses were often heard and in Ecclesiastical courts they were routinely provided with lawyers (this was not the case in secular courts, but for most of the period concerned, neither were human defendants). If convicted, it was usual for an animal to be executed, or exiled….

“Animals put on trial were almost invariably either domesticated ones (most often pigs, but also bulls, horses, and cows) or pests such as rats and weevils. Creatures that were suspected of being familiar spirits or complicit in acts of bestiality were also subjected to judicial punishment, such as burning at the stake, though few if any ever faced trial.”

thank god for the flynn effect!

(note: comments do not require an email. speaking of goats — see!)


  1. “yes, you read that right — animals on trial:”

    Yup. In Eire for instance a bee could be charged with stinging a person.

    “thank god for the flynn effect!”

    I don’t know, doesn’t seem so bad to me. Right now if someone’s normally friendly dog bites someone the owner is taken to court at great expense to us all. If this were the case of a dog that was known to be violent I might understand, but it happens no matter the circumstances. So the dog is doing the biting, judge the dog, decide if it needs to be put out of our misery or some other penalty. Then the owner is not liable for one off actions of his animal. It also reduces the likelihood that a dog could get to the point that it would be a multi-attacker. And since the owner is not liable for the dog’s actions, it keeps him from trying to cover up or excuse their actions.

    The more I learn about Europe the more satisfied I am that they were wise and judicious. And they made really good dog stew from tried animals :D


  2. @aoirthoir – “So the dog is doing the biting, judge the dog, decide if it needs to be put out of our misery or some other penalty.”

    yeah, but you couldn’t charge a non-human animal with criminal culpability. h*ck, i’m not even sure you can do that equally with all people!


  3. Well you could back then:D. I’m not saying it’s the bestest thing ever but I understand it. And I do think it is preferable than charging a man thousands of dollars in a civil suit because his dog bit someone. I mean I don’t get paid for seeing ugly people on the street and they are sentient! :D

    And you are right about it not even being able to be equal with all people. In some cases (of legislation not really Common or Natural law) a parent could be charged for their children’s crimes and a husband for his wife’s crime.


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