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Chewbacca Defense

From Academic Kids

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Chewbacca

The Chewbacca Defense is a satirical term for any legal strategy that seeks to overwhelm its audience with nonsensical arguments and thus confuse them into failing to take account of the opposing arguments and, ultimately, to reject them. It is thus a kind of logical fallacy, specifically a red herring fallacy and non sequitur similar to argumentum ad nauseam.

The term originated in the animated television series South Park. In its typically hyperbolic style, the show satirized the late attorney Johnnie Cochran's closing argument defending O.J. Simpson in his murder trial.

Origin

The term Chewbacca Defense was first used in the South Park episode "Chef Aid," which premiered on October 7, 1998 as the fourteenth episode of the second season.

In the episode, Chef discovers that Alanis Morissette's hit song "Stinky Britches" is the same song he wrote years previously, before abandoning his musical aspirations. Chef contacts a "major record company" executive, seeking only to have his name credited as the composer of "Stinky Britches." Chef's claim is substantiated by a twenty-year-old recording of Chef performing the song.

The record company refuses, and furthermore hires Johnnie Cochran, who files a lawsuit against Chef for harassment.

In court, Cochran resorts to his "famous" Chewbacca Defense, which he "used during the Simpson trial", according to another South Park character. Aside from reading his defense below, you can also listen to it (http://images.southparkstudios.com/media/sounds/214/214_chewbacca.wav).

Ladies and gentlemen of the supposed jury, Chef's attorney would certainly want you to believe that his client wrote "Stinky Britches" ten years ago. And they make a good case. Hell, I almost felt pity myself!
But ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider: Ladies and gentlemen this [pointing to a picture of Chewbacca] is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk, but Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now, think about that. That does not make sense! Why would a Wookiee—an eight foot tall Wookiee—want to live on Endor with a bunch of two foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense!
But more important, you have to ask yourself, what does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense!
Look at me, I'm a lawyer defending a major record company, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca. Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense. None of this makes sense!
And so you have to remember, when you're in that jury room deliberating and conjugating the Emancipation Proclamation... does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense.
If Chewbacca lived on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.

Adding to the humor, Chewbacca did not in fact live on Endor in the Star Wars series, and neither did the Ewoks, who lived on the Forest moon of Endor. The myth of Chewbacca living on Endor most likely stems from reports of early drafts of the "Episode VI" script that placed the shield generator for the new Death Star on the Wookie home planet of Kashyyyk. This was changed in subsequent drafts to the forest moon home of the ewoks that was filmed. Furthermore, since Cochran was representing the record company suing Chef, asking the jury to "acquit" would be asking them to find against his client.

Cochran's use of this defense is so successful that the jury finds Chef guilty of "harassing a major record label" and sets his punishment as either a two million dollar fine to be paid within twenty-four hours or, failing that, four years in prison.

Ultimately a "Chef Aid" benefit concert is organized to raise money for Chef to hire Johnnie Cochran for his own lawsuit against the record company. The concert (a parody of Live Aid) features his old showbiz friends - Elton John, Ozzy Osbourne (who kills Kenny by biting his head off), and others (the real-life artists recorded songs for the episode and accompanying album). At the concert Johnnie Cochran experiences a change of heart, offering to represent Chef for free. He again successfully uses the Chewbacca defense, this time to defeat the record company and make them acknowledge Chef's authorship of their song.

Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, you must now decide whether to reverse the decision for my client Chef. I know he seems guilty, but ladies and gentlemen... [pulling down a diagram of Chewbacca] This is Chewbacca. Now think about that for one moment—that does not make sense. Why am I talking about Chewbacca when a man's life is on the line? Why? I'll tell you why: I don't know.
It does not make sense. If Chewbacca does not make sense, you must acquit!
[pulling a monkey out of his pocket] Here, look at the monkey. Look at the silly monkey! [one juror's head explodes]

Usage

The term Chewbacca Defense is used on many weblogs and Internet discussion forums, especially ones that often feature legal issues. Slashdot is one such example, where the Chewbacca Defense has been occasionally mentioned in discussion of legal affairs where the poster feels the legal arguments make no sense (or alternatively where the poster feels the argument of another is similar to the Chewbacca Defense, e.g. [1] (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=147225&cid=12335942)). As of August 2004 the most common targets on Slashdot were Microsoft, SCO, and the RIAA. (See [2] (http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=97252&cid=8313542), [3] (http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=97252&cid=8312673), [4] (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=33301&cid=3597510), [5] (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=79944&cid=7058527), [6] (http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=45304&cid=4691894)). See also Slashdot subculture.

The notion of a person putting forward a Chewbacca Defense has also spread to the realm of political commentary. Commentators have accused the United States Department of Justice (see [7] (http://lsolum.typepad.com/copyfutures/2004/10/the_doj_uses_th.html)), Michael Moore (see [8] (http://moorewatch.com/index.php/weblog/comments/1357/P50/) and [9] (http://wizbangblog.com/archives/003315.php)), Dan Rather (see [10] (http://www.indcjournal.com/archives/000909.php)), and Randy Cunningham (see [11] (http://triptronix.net/ishbadiddle/archives/2005/06/14/15.00.55/)) of putting forward Chewbacca Defenses, of one form or another, for example.

See also

is:Chewbacca vörnin

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