The Slap
a folktale from Turkey

Nasreddin Hodja was standing in the marketplace when a stranger stepped up to him and slapped him in the face, but then said, “I beg your pardon. I thought that you were someone else.”

This explanation did not satisfy the Hodja, so he brought the stranger before the qadi and demanded compensation.

The Hodja soon perceived that the qadi and the defendant were friends. The latter admitted his guilt, and the judge pronounced the sentence: “The settlement for this offense is one piaster, to be paid to the plaintiff. If you do not have a piaster with you, then you may bring it here to the plaintiff at your convenience.”

Hearing this sentence, the defendant went on his way. The Hodja waited for him to return with the piaster. And he waited. And he waited.

Some time later the Hodja said to the qadi, “Do I understand correctly that one piaster is sufficient payment for a slap?”

“Yes,” answered the qadi.

Hearing this answer, the Hodja slapped the judge in the face and said, “You may keep my piaster when the defendant returns with it,” then walked away.

The Königsberg Criminal
a folktale from Germany

Manfred was the most dangerous criminal in Königsberg. One day he was arrested. The courtroom where he was to be sentenced had a sign that said, “Treat others as you want to be treated.” So Manfred appealed to the judge: “If you were in my place, you’d want not to be sent to jail; so by the golden rule you can’t send me to jail.”

The judge replied: “You misunderstand the golden rule. I can send you to jail, because I’m now willing that if I were in your place (as a dangerous criminal) then I be sent to jail. I hereby publicly tell everyone: ‘If I do such criminal acts, then please send me to jail too!’”

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