There was a justified outcry recently when a video surfaced (below) of an Ohio man William Bailey making fun of a young girl with cerebral palsy at a bus stop. It is a brief video but enough to enrage a nation. Now, Canton Municipal Judge John A. Poulos ordered the maximum sentence for Bailey, who pleaded no contest to reduced misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and aggravated menacing. I realize how emotionally charged this case has become, but should mocking be treated as a criminal act?
Bailey insisted that he was reacting to name-calling directed at his 9-year-old son, but most people see the video has a direct mocking of the little girl with a pronounced limp.
The Knight family has lived next door to the Baileys for two years and the families had developed serious problems. The case is reminiscent of the Petkov case.
The film below does not show what normally passes for disorderly conduct or menacing. These terms have always been uncomfortably ambiguous for civil libertarians. Here they seem to be simply the most convenient way to vent well-founded anger at Bailey. The charges were reportedly based on the video, though originally the girl’s family said that Bailey threatened to choke the mother with a chain.
If mocking a little girl can be charged as disorderly conduct and menacing, how about mocking other people for political or religious reasons? This man appears a perfect tasteless cad. However, should he be criminally charged?