You Can’t Outlaw Stupid

Though we seem determined to try.

Does a tactless and rude comment and action merit a felony rap sheet along with potentially seven years of prison time and over $25,000 in fines?  That’s what one man faces for acting like a jerk.  He intentionally coughed on another person at a grocery store and claimed to have COVID-19.

What he did was unkind, rude, and dumb, without a doubt.  But to charge him with terrorism?  This is one of the ugly side-effects of Homeland Security changes implemented nearly 20 years ago after the 9/11 attacks.  Now all  sorts of other crimes – with pre-existing definitions and sentencing structures – can also be deemed terroristic in nature.

Some people are scared, and they are making their fear very well-known as they venture out into public spaces to obtain the necessities of life.  Some of these folks are undoubtedly excessive and none-too-kind themselves in how they warn people to stay away from them.  And some people are going to respond equally unkindly.  Paranoia does strange things to people.  A certain modicum of grace seems wisest under these circumstances, a grace that hopefully people will pick up on and emulate.

But even if they don’t,  a charge of domestic terrorism seems grossly out of proportion in responding to this kind of behavior.

2 Responses to “You Can’t Outlaw Stupid”

  1. Lois Says:

    I WAS agreeing heartily, then I happened to think, “just because this man didn’t have symptoms of COVID-19 doesn’t mean he didn’t actually have the virus. His stupid action could actually endanger, not just frighten the other person. That said, an assault charge seems more reasonable than terrorism. But, to quote Spock, “who said the human race was reasonable?”

    • mrpaulnelson Says:

      I agree. There are certainly crimes he could be reasonably accused of, in the realm of threat of bodily harm, etc. But what he’s facing seems very much overkill. Pun slightly intended.

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