Saturday, January 24, 2009

Goat Cheese and Handcuffs

     The other day, in Nigeria, someone stole a car.  I would guess that this is not an extraordinary occurrence.  But the only reason that this made it all around the world, including to my little corner of the Great White North, via the Associated Press and whomever else, was what happened after the car was stolen.  Actually, what happened after that was quite extra-ordinary.  See, when a group of local vigilantes (and why not, who better to get involved with this than a group of vigilantes) cornered the auto thieves, one of them escaped, like a normal car thief would, and the other took a more, how do we say, a more non traditional, no, innovative way of trying to get away with his crime.  He took the unusual step of turning himself into a goat.
     Hmmmm.....yeah.  A goat.  He turned himself into a goat.  At least that is what people are saying.  And not just any people.  Not just the grizzled old guy with cataracts who sits in front of a local village hut chewing tobacco.  Some very reputable and official-type people are saying this.  The first of these people is local police spokesman Tunde Mohammed, who not only told this to a newspaper, but took the extra-ordinary step of parading the "suspect" before the media.
     All of this business came to light because a large Nigerian newspaper, one of Nigeria's largest daily newspapers actually, called The Vanguard, actually reported this.  It was the newspaper that published Mr. Mohammed's account.  It was the newspaper that got to witness the goat parade.  It was also the newspaper that published a photo of the "suspect."  How fantastic.  When the AP came sniffing around, however, local police, including Tunde Mohammed, could not be reached for comment.  Strange how that works, isn't it?
     Let's be honest.  Nobody turned into a goat.  Do you know why?  Because people don't do that.  I know, many people in rural Nigeria believe in black magic, but people just don't turn into goats when they are about to get their ass kicked by a group of local vigilantes.  That just doesn't happen; people don't turn into goats not then, not ever.  There are many things that occur on this planet, in this Universe, in out lives in general that we don't understand.  There are things that happen that we don't know why they happen.  And there are things that go on that we don't know about.  But a person turning into a goat, that doesn't happen.  I know this because I have never heard about it.  I have never seen it.  There is no pictorial or video evidence of it happening.  And don't bullshit me and tell me that a picture of a goat in a Nigerian daily newspaper is proof.  Because it's not.  I could claim that Mikealicious turned into chicken sandwich and produce a picture of a chicken sandwich in order to support my claim and you would laugh in my face.  You know why?  Because I could have just gone out and got a random chicken sandwich from ANY RESTAURANT ANYWHERE and taken a picture of it.  Right?  Well here is the secret.  Goats are as prevalent in Nigeria as chicken sandwiches are around this town.
     I also don't believe in this man-turns-into-a-goat business because there is no evidence of that ever have happening anywhere anytime.  And if that had gone down, everyone would know about that.  Because it's amazing.  And don't give me the whole "Well, you'd have to believe in and practice black magic to make it happen" routine.  Fine, I understand what you are getting at.  There aren't going to be a lot of video cameras lying around in rural Nigeria where the black magic practitioners are doing their thing to document the event.  But you know what?  There are plenty of people around the United States, Western Europe, Japan, China, Oceania, etc. that are practicing black magic in their suburban split-levels that if it could be done, they would have done it.  And they would taped it.  And it would be on YouTube.  Or at least a mySpace page somewhere.  But it's not.  Because it's never happened.  In 2003 there were 159 million cell phones in use in the United States.  And that was in 2003, six years ago.  So imagine how many there are now.  And just about all of them, except for maybe Zack Morris' phone and maybe Duke's old one, have camera that take video.  So don't try to tell me that there wasn't a camera around to record some black magician in Ohio turning their little brother into a goat.  So I don't believe it.
      I wonder if anyone out at The Vanguard ever thought about this scenario: Let me lay it out for you.  Two guys swipe a Mazda sedan in Nigeria's heavily rural and impoverished Kwara State.  So they take off and a group of local vigilantes tracks the guys down before the police do.  There happens to be a goat floating around, as would be expected.  The first guy escapes in a very visible manner.  I am thinking he runs down a small rural street, probably runs into an old lady or two, tumbles over a fruit cart, and probably scatters some chickens. Fine.  While he is doing this the second guy - the goat guy - slinks off into a nearby alleyway very quietly, leaving just the Mazda and the goat.  So the crowd, having lost the first robber, turns back to apprehend the second one.  But he's gone, and now the vigilantes just see a goat.  So they go with what they know, the black magic, and assume that the second robber turned into a goat.  A few minutes, hours maybe, along come the police, who discover that there are no robbers to be found.  So they've got a stolen car and no one to blame it on, and they are embarrassingly late to get to the scene.  Or maybe the car belonged to someone with some wealth or power.  Who knows.  But they don't want to have egg on their collective faces, so they take the vigilantes story and they run with it.  Parade the goat in front of the cameras.  Let's make some statements.  Let's get The Vigilante in on it and save our own behinds.
     But it doesn't work, and they know it.  That's why I can't find the story anywhere on The Vigilante's website, despite spending a half hour working searching for it.  That's why the local police suddenly can't be reached for comment.  Because they never expected it to run through the wires across the Western world.  Because they went home and slept on it and realized that it is kind of retarded.  And because people don't turn into goats.  And because it just plain doesn't make sense.  If you are a car thief, and you are about to be apprehended for swiping a car, and you have the power to change into an animal, you don't choose a goat.
     Seriously?  A goat?  Why would anyone in Nigeria choose to change into a goat?  I understand that there are goats everywhere you turn in rural Nigeria, so maybe you are looking to blend in.  But I would guess that goats are also routinely slaughtered in Nigeria.  And I would guess that goats are not fast.  Personally, I would turn myself into like a tiger, or maybe a fly.  Or a locust.  Maybe a bird.  Something that could run away quickly, maybe burrow into the ground, or something that could fly away.  I am not sure what I would turn myself into but I can tell you this: I wouldn't turn myself into a goat.  That's for sure.  All goats do is stand there and eat grass and tin cans.  How is that going to help you escape?  It just doesn't make much sense to me.
     So let's get real Nigeria.  You've got a lot of things going for you.  You have a HUGE population that I am sure has it's fair share of creative, hardworking, talented individuals.  You have lots of natural ports and a river that runs deep into the African interior.  Oh, and you have billions of gallons of oil buried beneath your soil.  You can add to all that a reputation for arresting goats, and then telling everyone about it.  Please just tell the world that you were drunk, or your ambassador is going to get laughed out of the next United Nations meeting.  Or maybe tell them that you had one of those terrible African diseases that makes you have hallucinations.  Just think of some story to tell the world tomorrow morning.  And please, please, please do not have it involve someone turning into a goat.

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