Blown Out of Proportion

I’m hoping … hoping … that his is an example of a dim bulb prosecutor bringing big stupid charges to get some publicity before he pleads down to something more sensible. I’m hoping that because the alternative is that Phil Caviness is a power-crazed moron who has been given way too much authority:

[18 year old high school senior Tyell] Morton was arrested Tuesday after school surveillance cameras captured a picture of a man dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and wearing latex gloves, concealing a package and leaving without it. Believing it contained explosives, the school was evacuated and the Indiana State Police bomb squad was called in. It turns out that the package contained a blow-up doll placed in the girls’ restroom. Police say that Morton admitted putting it there as a prank.

He’s now charged with felony criminal mischief for a hoax that the teen’s family says doesn’t rise to the level of criminal charges.

He’s facing eight years in prison — five more than he’d be facing if he’d brought a gun to school. The school’s defense is that their massive over-reaction to a package cost them $8000. The prosecutor’s?

“In this post-Columbine world, that’s what you get when these kinds of things happen,” said Rush County Prosecutor Phil Caviness.

So placing a blow-up doll in a bathroom warrants a reaction similar to how we might react to the cold-blooded murders of 15 children. Nicely done, Phil Caviness. Nice sense of proportion.

I suppose Mr. Morton — who was incidentally set to graduate and has never been in trouble with the law — should feel lucky. In the world envisioned by school administrators and prosecutors swollen with their own sense of power, he’s lucky they didn’t shoot him right there in the hallway.

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  1. Rann

    So basically other peoples’ reaction to your actions are now the measure by which you are judged, rather than your actions themselves.

    I guess this is part of what we get from developing into a culture that caters to the offended. It doesn’t matter what you meant, or even what you actually said, what matters is what others heard in it and how they reacted to it. What matters is that they were offended, not that you meant to offend, or even if the statement was actually offensive by any reasonable measure.

    So. Just take it a little further. People freaked out and treated it like a bomb scare. So instead of charging him with some slap-on-the-wrist crime just to say “You’ve done wrong”, they go ahead and charge him with planting a bomb, because it matters more that they thought there was a bomb than that there was one.

    Frankly, his actions were stupid. He should have known that in a world where you can get expelled from school for bringing a toy gun the size of your thumbnail, putting a suspicious object somewhere could turn bad. Of course, the ridiculous zero tolerance paranoia is more at fault than he is.

    And at the end of the day, the worst thing is that none of this will do one fucking thing to make kids safer. It certainly isn’t going to stop the problems and issues that cause these incidents in the first place. In fact, the cynical part of me that still bears the scars of the public school system has to wonder if any of these people give half a shit about saving a single kid’s life and are just trying to avoid the publicity and lawsuits that would result of becoming the next Columbine. “Fuck the kids, they’re just inventory, do you know how much a lawsuit costs?” But eh. Whatever. The public school system is worthless and broken, but there’s no point in even trying to suggest something better because besides it being a huge undertaking to replace it with something better, the public school’s administrators and teachers have become such a political power unto themselves that they would never allow anything to happen to it. They’re like… alien lampreys, constantly injecting just enough lifegiving chemicals into the host to keep it alive, long after its lost all actual function.

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  2. Kimpost

    He shouldn’t be charged at all, nor should he be fined, or even have to pay for actual costs. The school should have a meeting with him, his parents and possibly someone from the police. They could all then explain how and why they reacted as they did. That would be warning enough for him to get the message.

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  3. Hal_10000 *

    Agreed, Kim. I don’t think he should just be let go — it might have been something dangerous. But ruining the kids life is an absurd over-reaction.

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  4. Kimpost

    I’m not saying that he shouldn’t be taught a lesson, but there are other ways of doing things than to threaten people with jail. Sometimes a good talk is enough. This is not just an American phenomena either, even if I haven’t seen anything quite as extreme in Sweden – yet. We do however go the same tough route of “teaching people hard lessons”. I think that it’s both lazy and lacking of insight.

    Sure, the kid did wrong, but with some intellectual honesty around the school in question, this would also be a time to reflect over how far we have let our culture of fear take us.

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