Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you today in hopes of redeeming the good and honorable name of Shere Khan. This is the sullied name of a tiger who was stigmatized, vilified and victimized for trying to save the life of every animal in the jungle. What’s worse, Shere Khan could not be with us today due to the heinous actions of the defendant, Mr. Mowgli.
Over the course of this trial I will prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my client Shere Khan broke no laws and acted well within his rights for the betterment of the entire jungle. And yet, Shere Khan was unlawfully and violently executed by a savage vigilante who had taken the law of the jungle into his own human hands.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Shere Khan was a noble Bengal tiger living freely in wilds of India. But the sad truth is that he was only one of a dwindling number of tigers still in existence. There are only around 2,500 Bengal tigers left alive on the entire planet. Tigers like Shere Khan have been hunted down and murdered without mercy for centuries. They have been terrorized endlessly by whom? By men, men like Mowgli. And when tigers aren’t living in constant fear of murder, they must deal with the harsh reality that their homes and hunting grounds are being destroyed by humans at an unstoppable pace.
Now, I ask you ladies and gentle men to not be swayed by the defendants young and innocent appearance. Mowgli is a man. Mowgli belongs in a man village, with men. Do you know the man population? There are over 1.2 billion living in the country of India alone. In India, tigers are outnumbered 700,000 to one, and that ratio is wildly growing out of control as we speak.
To fully understand this case you must fully understand one of the few laws of the jungle: man is forbidden. And yet, despite every man, bird and beast knowing this basic law, Mowgli, the man, and Mowgli’s man father recklessly and purposefully trespassed into the jungle.
It should go without saying that the very presence of two humans is enough to terrify countless animals, but these two humans took their brazen disregard for the law one step further and produced what the animals refer to as “man’s red flower.” You and I know it as fire.
This should also go without saying but I will do so just for the clarity’s sake: fire is forbidden.
When Shere Khan first caught wind of the humans and their dangerous display of fire he took it upon himself to act. As a well-respected leader in the jungle, the duties of protection fall directly on his striped shoulders. The actions my client took to protect the land and creatures were taken out of necessity for survival. When the livelihood of the jungle depends on you, tough choices must be made. But as the wolves so often say, “The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”
Shere Khan loved the jungle. Out of this love, he had the duty to protect it from the reckless humans. Shere Khan found the strength to dispose of two threats, the fire and Mowgli’s father. But in doing so he was permanently disfigured by the illegal fire and was unable to dispose of Mowgli.
Instead of a humane death, Mowgli was sentenced to a cruel death by starvation since he, as a man cub, cannot survive in the jungle. That is until he was rescued and illegally harbored by the woefully liable actions of Bagheera and Akela. These two fugitives coerced and broke numerous laws when they devised their reckless plan to raise the man cub in the jungle.
But tigers like Shere Khan do not become leaders by giving up. When Shere Khan discovered the treacherous plot, he knew he needed to finish his task for the protection of the entire jungle.
By harboring the human, Akela had led his pack and the jungle astray. Akela put the entire jungle on a collision course with a terrifying fate. Shere Khan had already seen this fate; he had experienced it. So for the betterment of the pack and the entire jungle, it was Shere Khan’s remorseful duty to remove Akela from power.
It was a sad day and Akela will always be missed, but Akela had weakened the pack. And as the wolves say, “the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”
Later in this trial you will have an opportunity to speak with one of the wolves who witnessed these events. She will have you believe that Shere Khan acted malice with no mercy. She will have you believe that Mowgli is good and pure, that Mowgli is part of the pack. This wolf will be lying to you.
The defendant Mowgli is not a wolf. He is not a panther. He is not a bear. He is not even a monkey. Mowgli is a man. And worse, he’s a man living illegally in the jungles. Mowgli might have you believe that he is an animal like the wolves, panthers, bears and monkeys, but he is lying to himself, and more importantly, he is lying to you. Mowgli does not belong in the jungle. He has never belonged.
The defendant will stand before you and claim that he murdered Shere Khan out of self-defense. He will plead that he was given no other option. He will say that Shere Khan’s wanton need to kill was too unjust. Mowgli will claim that banishment to the man village was sufficient punishment.
Banishment would never work. Mowgli had become too untamed in the eyes of man and he was too evolved for the world of animals. A stranger to both worlds, there is no place for Mowgli and the poor boy is destined to bring destruction wherever he goes. Think of the reverse situation. A tiger cub raised in captivity cannot survive in the wild nor can it peacefully live freely in a human civilization.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me make one thing very, very clear. My client is and has always been a tiger. He wished there could have been a different way to save the jungle. But as a tiger, the courses of action he can choose from are severely limited. And Shere Khan had learned through the atrocities inflicted upon him that, with humans, it’s kill or be killed.
Are you prepared to punish a tiger for doing the very things that define him as a tiger? Are you prepared to rule against biology? Against science? Should we penalize the sky for being blue? Should the grass be arrested for being green? When did we become so bold in our dominion over all living things to punish a living, breathing creature for acting within the constraints of its DNA?
Shouldn’t we as humans, we who have been blessed with special gifts of wisdom and ability, know better than to tread on that which should not be tread? Yes we once were animals, but we grew. We evolved. We became something more. And therefore must be held to a higher standard than our animal counterparts.
Mr. Mowlgli would have you believe he is as much an animal as the wolves. He is not. Mr. Mowgli surrendered his right to that defense the moment he used his opposable thumbs and his flexible, bi-pedal abilities to create tools and structures that spit directly into the face of those who abide by the rules of the jungle.
Now I ask you ladies and gentlemen, as we go through this trial I want you to ask yourselves these questions: Who recklessly brought fire into the jungle? Who terrified ever animal at the watering hole with fire? Who destroyed the homes and lives of countless animals by irresponsibly spreading that fire? The answer to all of those questions will not be Shere Khan. It will be Mowgli.
You cannot paint Shere Khan as the villain. To do so will be a travesty to the very existence of nature. No, the true villain here is a man named Mowgli.
NEXT ON THE DOCKET:
- The Jungle vs Kaa the Snake. Kaa has been charged with felony stalking. The plaintiffs claim Kaa’s uncanny knowledge of past events and her ability to recall events to the tiniest detail proves she has been following and silently harassing citizens of the jungle for many years.
- Alex B Clark vs King Louie Singing Mid-Movie. The plaintiff claims that King Louie singing destroyed all sense of dread and turned the ominous, mobster orangutan into a goofy vaudeville act. The defendant claims that audiences love the song from the original animated version and therefore found it necessary to shoehorn it into the new movie.