Saturday, September 20, 2014

A concrete box

Laws that aim to protect people's sensibilities from events that have nothing to do with them make me insane.  Recently in Pennsylvania a young man was arrested for taking a picture of himself with a statue of Jesus such that it appeared as though Jesus was giving the man oral sex (the man was clothed in the picture, we should note).  Unsurprisingly the picture ended up distributed on Facebook and now the man in question is under lock and key and could potentially face two years in prison for 'desecration of a venerated object'.

I can't figure out what the hell the standard of proof would be for desecration.  The statue is undamaged.  Nobody even knew the act had taken place until the picture came to light.  How would you go about proving that desecration had or had not happened?  Ask random people who weren't there how they feel about the situation?  Attach an offended-o-meter to some folks and see if it pings when they see the photo?  Maybe we should ask Miss Manners to let us know what constitutes sufficient outrage to warrant spending a couple hundred thousand dollars to put a person in a concrete box for a few years.

Certainly the man in question was being a jackass.  Mind you he is being my kind of jackass but even if he was being the kind of jackass I hate I would still advocate for the law to remain completely uninvolved in this case.  These sorts of things are exactly where the marketplace of ideas can deal with any consequences quite handily.  If enough people think this jackassery warrants shunning or disapproval then the behaviour will be punished on its own.  Bringing in state agents with weapons to violently attack the jackass in question is lunacy.  The appropriate punishment in this case is that some people glare with disapproval, some give big high fives, and most people just don't care.

Here's hoping sense prevails and he doesn't go to jail for this nonsense.


  1. Actually, the marketplace of ideas *has* already decided - desecrating a venerated object is punishable by the state. If government is codification of the people's will, then the issue here is the people.

    As for the definition of "desecration", luckily we have a jury of his peers. Well, maybe *his* peers, but someone's peers.

  2. "maybe *not*" as opposed to "maybe".

    And slightly tongue in cheek. Slightly.

  3. I have noticed the tongue in cheek trend in your comments...