We have another example of school officials and prosecutors criminalizing a school prank this week to an absurd degree. Authorities in Arizona have charged Hunter Osborn, 19, with 69 counts of indecent exposure when, on a dare from a friend, he exposed himself during a football team picture. No one noticed and it was published in the yearbook. The response is to hit this kid with dozens of criminal counts in a matter that would have previously been dealt with a suspension or inner school sanction.
Police in Oregon have been seeking a landlord named Brooke Skoda-Kempton, 39, who stole a black 4-year-old whippet named Isis from her former tenant Kate Taylor, 30. After a public call for the whereabouts of Kempton, she turned herself in by pulling up to the police station in a stretch limo. Not exactly the entrance that most defense lawyers would suggest.
Just when you thought that Turkey could not get more frightening under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamic parties, you get a story like this one. Turkish lawmakers were debating Erdogan’s effort to adopt an Islamic constitution and further increase his authoritarian powers. A member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) sought to quote Oscar Wilde when members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) objected that they had no idea who Wilde is and thought he was quoting from the Oscar movie awards. When the meaning was made clear, these Erdogan drones objected that it was a reference from a Western source. Of course, as Wilde noted, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”
In an example of how religious fervor can overwhelm basic judgment, the residents of a remote Indonesia village called Kalupapi recently discovered what they believed to be an “angel” on a beach. They described a being of “shining white, (with) round eyes with red eyebrows” that was naked, crying and only clothed in a white cloth after descending from the heavens. Police seized what they said was far from angelic: a sex toy that was tossed over the side of a boat.
We have been following the increasing lines at security checkpoints in our airports due to budget cuts and TSA incompetence while airlines pile on extra charges for passengers while reducing both room and comfort to the level of cattle cars. As passengers are treated with level more regard than cattle by TSA and the airlines, the airlines themselves are racking up huge profits. Indeed, the most recent report shows that U.S. airlines had a combined $25.6 billion in net earnings last year. Yet, the airlines successfully lobbied to kill a bill in Congress that would have required such things as the publication of leg room on seats.
There is a deeply disturbing controversy out of one of South Africa. Ntokozo Qwabe is an Oxford student who has received incredible privileges as a Rhodes Scholar and looking at virtually limitless opportunities. However, when he and a friend went to eat recently, they refused to leave a tip for a waitress because she was white and instead left a note that reduced Ashleigh Schultz, 24, in tears. Qwabe, who has led a campaign to remove a Cecil Rhodes statue at Oxford, displayed not only his own racism but lack of humanity in the treatment of Schultz, particularly in posting a gleeful account of who he made Schultz cry “typical white tears.” He celebrated on line that he and his friend were “unable to stop smiling because something so black and wonderful had happened.”
We have previously discussed the increasing appearance of graffiti in our national and state parks. As is well known on his blog, hiking is my passion and there is nothing more crushing than to see juvenile carvings and writings on trees and rocks in parks. One of the most disturbing are the carvings in the iconic and ancient rock formations at the Arches National Park in Utah. Some disgraceful individuals decided to deface the rock face that millions have enjoyed for decades. That damage is now viewed as likely irreparable.