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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison


The problems of international copyright had been well illustrated by the patenting of elements of the human genome. The ownership of genes which lead to the human orgasm was a spectacular example. The multi-national, Genetic Industries, made a fortune by licensing orgasms on a one person, one event basis, with licences retailing at fifty dollars.

The public outcry and the burning-down of the headquarters of Genetic Industries, however, led to their commercial decision to sell the patent for ten billion dollars. This was a price which the Vatican felt well worthwhile. Indeed, after intense bargaining, the Pope even included perpetual and irrevocable absolution from all past, present and future sins for the directors of the company.

The subsequent abolition of the fee for a ‘one time orgasm’ licence was at first widely welcomed. The criteria for licence issue imposed by the Pope, however, was disappointing. Licenses were issued solely to heterosexual, Christian, married couples at a rate of one per year during the natural period of fertility. Subsequent licenses were issued only if procreation could be demonstrated as an outcome of the previous.

Due to their patent, the Catholic Church enthusiastically supported international copyright. Until, that is, the discovery of the one-hundredth name of God.

Arabic tradition identified ninety-nine names of God. Legend told that the smile on the face of a camel resulted from the beast’s awareness of the one hundredth. There was an irony, therefore, that it should be a Saudi Arabian camel herder, Mustafa Omar who, while singing to his favourite camel, accidentally vocalised the true name of Allah.

The word was so unique, evocative and beautiful that its sacred meaning was immediately self-apparent. Mustafa’s first reaction was to fall to his knees and praise Allah for his inspiration. His second reaction was to get out his mobile phone and contact his lawyer. So it was that the true name of God became subject to international copyright.

The following day three cardinals arrived at Mustafa’s tent to promote multi-faith understanding and co-operation. They offered coloured beads in exchange for the copyright then bright, shiny mirrors then many fine camels. Mustafa finally explained in their native Italian that he had been educated at Oxford where he has studied comparative religion and philosophy. He could say ‘Piss-off you devious, patronising bastards,’ in half-a-dozen languages. He chose, however, not to do so.

‘There are two circumstances in which I will share the ownership God’s name,’ he declared. ‘Either the Pope must convert to Islam, or he must pass to me the orgasm patent.’

There was much subsequent discussion at the Vatican though, finally, His Holiness accepted the latter.

Mustafa, like most of us, was self-interested but, at heart, magnanimous. He decreed sole use of the patent for himself and any chosen partners until his death, and that then orgasms should be freely available to all.

Eighteen months later he died - an exhausted but happy man.