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In re Underby’s Case

The dawn light seeped through the hazy Babbage air as Grace read over her final draft. She leaned back in her chair, joints in her hands aching and eyes bleary.

To The Clockwinder, Mosseveno Tenk, Mayor of New Babbage
and The Babbage Militia

In re: Underby’s Case

Esteemed Mayor and members of the New Babbage Militia, chief among those being Jedburgh Dagger and Sky Netizen:

The continued jailing of Mr. Yoyo Underby, accused murderer of the being called Pip Steamer, must cease immediately.

The following facts cannot be disputed:

1. Mr. Underby, a citizen of New Babbage, has already been held on the basis of hearsay evidence longer than the law allows.

2. The autopsy of Pip Steamer, performed by the esteemed Dr. Miggins, has demonstrated conclusively that Pip Steamer was not, by definition, a human being.

3. The law, as written, states that murder is the act of one human being causing the death of another human being.

Regardless of public opinion concerning the nature of Pip Steamer, the law does not provide for the punishment of a human being who has allegedly murdered a non-human. Thus, logically, it follows that the “murder” of Pip Steamer is not an actionable crime, and all charges against Mr. Underby must be dropped.

I await your confirmation that Mr. Underby will be set at liberty post haste.

Grace Toussaint, Esq.


Grace slowly copied out her letter three times, and then headed to City Hall, hoping to put one in the hands of Mr. Tenk before heading to the Militia headquarters to post the letter on its doors.

((It is now up to the citizens of Babbage to work together to either change the law … or I suppose attempt vigilante justice. *smirks* Either way, I look forward to more healthy debate on just what constitutes life and how best to protect it!))

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  1. Sky Netizen Sky Netizen September 15, 2010

    *steps outside the Militia HQ doors on the way to the Church for prayers and stops to read the note*

    Drat. And a half.

    *resists the urge to torch the note as she continues on her way, shaking her head*

  2. Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger September 15, 2010

    ((actually I call a party foul.  This was investigated by a private detective agency, Terranova Investigative Services, who is currently under contract to the the City-state of New Babbage to provide such services as the city may require.

    I am a naval officer.  Sky is a civilian.  Since there were no boats in this particular drama, it was not investigated under color of the militia law))

    • Sky Netizen Sky Netizen September 15, 2010

      ((Sadly, there is only one decent jail cell in town, at Militia HQ. That explains how Underby ended up there though militia law was not being carried out.))

      • Grace Toussaint Grace Toussaint September 15, 2010

        ((Yeah, I wasn’t sure how to address it to you two….  Should have looked up the name of your service.  Regardless, it’s in your court now.  *smiles*))

  3. Queer Hermit Queer Hermit September 15, 2010

    A well written and very logical brief Miss Toussaint.  I suspect that a town hall meeting will have to be called by the Clockwinder to effect a change in the law to codify the legal existance of a non-human.  I welcome your intent to modify the statues so that all beings within our sooty city walls can be afforded equal protection in the eyes of the law.  After such changes are in effect, can we then re-charge Mr Underby?

    ((Actually including the militia is a proper step as Mr. Underby is confined within their walls.  By using its resources they are now a party by association Jed.  Should have thrown him in the city gaol instead.  Oops, do we have one?  If not, the canals will do just fine I think.))

    • Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger September 15, 2010

      ((We don’t have a city jail, so it is the only cell for the RP in town.))

      • Cyan Icewolf Cyan Icewolf September 15, 2010

        ((Drat I guess it means I also need to hurry up and finish my police station.))

        • Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger September 15, 2010

          ((technically we have a police station.  The 3rd floor of Bow Street Station has always been the home of the Babbage Constabulary.  It was used for a while by the Topographical Service,  but that is the home of the 5-0.  It just doesn’t have a cell.))

          • Cyan Icewolf Cyan Icewolf September 15, 2010

            ((Well I think would have to reorganize things in order to make a jail… although have a decent idea for that now possibly.))

            • Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger September 16, 2010

              ((come get me when I’m in-world, and I’ll show you what I was thinking…))


          • MichaelD Mannonen MichaelD Mannonen September 16, 2010

            Babbage HAS a “Constabulary”??? *blinks*

            • Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger September 16, 2010

              Well, Had is more correct.

    • Grace Toussaint Grace Toussaint September 15, 2010

      In most democratic societies there is a prohibition of ex post facto laws, meaning that if a law is changed the government can’t “look back” and charge people with the new crime that was not actually a crime when it was committed.  However, this being Babbage, who knows?

      • Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger September 15, 2010

        You are correct in your ex post facto assessment.

  4. Queer Hermit Queer Hermit September 15, 2010

    Miss Toussaint brings up a point.  We have charged Mr. Underby with murder which is a statue under English common law which is handled by judges.  Now that’s different than just “common law” which is handled by the government. Now since there are no judges authorized to operate within Babbage we must assume our sooty city operates under common law, which could be changed via the town hall meetings. So could we not create the proper statues and then apply the new and improved (protecting all citizens of the city-state) ordinance against him as a new charge…please???

    • Mara Razor Mara Razor September 15, 2010

      Wouldn’t Ex post facto still come into play?

    • Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger September 15, 2010

      Occam’s Razor.  Please email me when you get a chance.

    • Grace Toussaint Grace Toussaint September 15, 2010

      I would object to this division between statutes and common law you have proposed.  Common law is more the body of precedent created by past judicial rulings and history.  Though in England much of the judicial role was performed by Parliament, they were still serving in a judicial capacity at that point.  Statutes are the dominant rules of law in some areas of the law, but common law is used to fill in the gaps.

      And again, regardless of how the law is changed, ex post facto would come into play.  It would be up to the lawgivers (be they citizens or some other form of “government”) to determine if a law should be retroactive.

      Personally, I’m against creating ex post facto laws, but that’s just the lawyer in me who quite enjoys finding the little loopholes and causing a ruckus.

  5. Queer Hermit Queer Hermit September 15, 2010

    Oh poo Miss Razor, don’t you want a trial???  I wonder who would be nice enough to be the prosecutor?  Or will there be so many lining up that we have to have a lottery?

    • Mr Underby Mr Underby September 15, 2010

      Miss Hermit, I must ask what it is I have ever done to you, or what makes you so certain I am guilty?  You seem to have a rather grand chip on your shoulder, despite the fact that I have been nothing but cordial in the very few times we have met.  I would like to speak with you once I am released.

      Also, it is “statute”, not “statue”.


    • Mara Razor Mara Razor September 16, 2010

      Of course I want a trial.  Hopefully, a nice long one.  It makes for such entertaining reading from my nice squishy arm chair in Steelhead.

      I was wondering that this morning – who will be the prosecutor?

  6. Queer Hermit Queer Hermit September 15, 2010

    Ah, well Mr. Underby I see this as a method to determine fair and equal protection for all our citizens.  I have seen the anti-furry, anti-elf, anti-vampire, etc. factions with other lands and hope to use you as a tool to make sure that those forces never, ever gain a foothold in our fair sooty city. So in essence you will be a martyr, achieving a glorious victory for others.  Your guilt or innocence matters little in view of the larger goal.  Such is the code of Bushido which I adhere to.

    ((Nothing personal at all I assure you.  I just think it’s extremely interesting that a legal role play is evolving from all this.  I hope to see a steampunk lie detector from someone soon.  Now that would be cool.  Thanks for the mention of the word, I wasn’t sure myself of it.))

    • Mr Underby Mr Underby September 15, 2010

      I am an individualist, Miss Hermit, so the martyr idea does not appeal to me.

      I will leave you with the words of a wise philosopher:  “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person was of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”



      • Valice Davi Valice Davi September 15, 2010


        *jots the quote down as a note on his list*

      • Mara Razor Mara Razor September 16, 2010

        Nice quote.

        But, if the majority of Babbage citizens determine that Pip and other artificially created beings are still alive and are beings – Then, while you may still be entitled to your belief otherwise, are you still entitled to be able to kill those beings?  There are still people who believe that persons of color ((since we are in the time period just after slavery was abolished in America)) are not human beings.  They’re entitled to those beliefs.  The majority has no right to silence them.  But, if one person from that minority kills a person of color then – regardless of his belief – he will still be charged with murder.

  7. Gilhooly Skute Gilhooly Skute September 15, 2010

    cor, this is bad, innit?

  8. Wiggy Undertone Wiggy Undertone September 16, 2010

    *reads the letter on the door*   Pip was not a human being, yet was still alive?  Oh, all this philosophical debate gives me a headache!  I wonder if Loki is serving absinthe at this early hour…  I bet CeeJay would know.


  9. Sheryl Skytower Sheryl Skytower September 16, 2010

    *reads letter*

    *scratches head*

    *nibbles on warm brownie so thoughtfully left by her coal pile*

    Curiouser and curiouser…

    *makes plan to dig new tunnel for possible hiding and escape*

    *wanders off, smelling of burnt chocolate and tea*

  10. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon September 16, 2010

    *starts building a second control room for the power station in the hidden underground basement*

    • Mr Underby Mr Underby September 16, 2010

      Underby sat on the floor of his cell, in lotus position, his eyes open but unseeing.  Bib stood at the bars, Sky sat nearby making certain he passed nothing inside.

      “Hey boss.  Ozzie.”

      Underby’s goat-like eyes flickered into awareness of his surroundings.  “Hm?”

      “Mrs U just told me that Steelhead Shanghai ain’t dealin with Babbage until you’ve been takin care of… fer killin a non human.”

      Underby smiled.  “It is nice to know so many people believe in justice, even if it is of the sort dangling from the end of hemp rope.”

      Bib smirked.

      Underby’s brow creased slightly.  “But… who is this Steelhead Shanghai person?”

  11. Gizzzy Allen Gizzzy Allen September 16, 2010

    /makes sure her sawblades are sharp and tightens all her screws ” artificial people aren’t people? hmph, better not touch tis key!” 

  12. Alana Steamweaver Alana Steamweaver September 17, 2010

    ((OOC: I like it!)) ((Edit: That was supposed to be a reply to M. Underby’s post…))

  13. Mosseveno Tenk Mosseveno Tenk September 17, 2010

    Mr. Baroque, take a memo.

    Miss Toussaint.

    In further correspondence, please use term “person” in place of “human being,” unless you actually wish to define a person who is a member of of the genus and species homo sapiens.

    Your oversight is apalling. Your presumption has nearly caused an international incident and caused difficulties for our commerce interests abroad. Need I remind you of how fast news travels in the modern world?

    Shame on you.

    -Mosseveno Tenk


    P.s In the meanwhile, Mr. Mr. Underby may be released to house arrest. I trust a militia member will take up watch at the Bucket of Blood to ensure compliance.


    *fiddles with the label on the pneumatic cannister and locks it in the chute with a whooosh*

    • Mosseveno Tenk Mosseveno Tenk September 17, 2010

      *waits to see what outstanding militia member volunteers to take up watch. on a bartender. in a pub. *

      • Bookworm Hienrichs Bookworm Hienrichs September 17, 2010

        I would volunteer my services, but alas, I’m going to be away for most of the weekend! I’m hoping to at least be here for the Salon, but no guarantees.

        ((Ha! Now that you’ve pointed that out, I’m sure you’ll have *plenty* of volunteers. *grin*))

    • Mara Razor Mara Razor September 17, 2010

      ((I thought the group refusing to do buisness with Babbage was one of the crime families of Steelhead Shanghai?  Isn’t legal trade happening between Babbage and Steelhead as always?))

      *wonders exactly how it is Grace’s fault that the law says human being instead of person*

      • Alana Steamweaver Alana Steamweaver September 19, 2010

        ((Well, there is the little matter politely referred to as “dock fees” to be paid…))

  14. Edward Pearse Edward Pearse September 18, 2010

    Miss Toussaint, since there is evidence that your client has spent time as a bird while a guest of our esteemed Clockwinder, where is your proof that Underby himself is in fact a “human being”?

    I further contend that your copy of the legal text is either deliberately false or a poor translation. New Babbage has a long history of recognising the existence of non-humans.

    ((While the horse has well and truly left the stable, I find it very hard to believe that a city founded by a significant number of non-humans (cf. Salazar Jack, Khashai Steinbeck, Reitsuki Kojima, Lazlo Wombat) would make laws denying themselves justice.

    This is certainly the first time I’ve ever heard about any laws in Babbage regarding the definition of murder, so I can only assume one of the current players has made this up. I realise this is only RP but the starting premise is flawed.))

    • Mr Underby Mr Underby September 19, 2010

      Evidence of me spending time as a bird?  Absurd!  The clockwinder certainly caught a bird he believed was me for some reason, but I cannot account for the dementia suffered by various citizens.

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