I’m beginning to believe that South Carolina is becoming the doofus capital of the free world.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve never had a problem with the state, outside the fact that it happened to surround Parris Island — a place that caused me a great deal of discomfort in boot camp. But I never really considered the base part of a state, as much as I saw it as a standalone location created to tear people down, and build them back up, without watchful eyes intruding on the process.
Regardless, South Carolina kind of caught my attention recently when Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott began making noise about possibly charging Olympic hero Michael Phelps following a much-publicized photo of Phelps smoking what appeared to be marijuana. There was an investigation launched by his office, a few arrests made at the college campus where the photo was shot and public contemplation of filing charges against Phelps.
Ridiculous, I thought to myself. If police had come into the room at the time Phelps was committing the act, then I’d be all for busting him — regardless of his status. But to follow up months later on evidence that is hardly conclusive, quite old and, to be honest, not all that compelling ... well, I figured that was just a bunch of jabberwocky and hardly worth the expense to the taxpayers.
And then I read an Associated Press story about a gun trade-in program led by law enforcement agencies in the state. Police in Columbia and Sumter mounted a program where people could come in and exchange guns for a free rose and a Best Buy gift card. Police collected 191 weapons in Columbia, and 32 in Sumter.
There was no amnesty offered for the guns. Police checked the weapons to see if they were stolen, took down names and addresses and are conducting ballistic tests to see if the guns were used in a crime.
I would bet a lifetime’s supply of tortilla soup that not one weapon was dropped off that’s currently in circulation by bad guys. There were no arrests made at the events.
I know. Any weapon can be dangerous if it gets into the wrong hands. But this smells of a public relations event where they can brag about how many guns were taken “off the streets” — as opposed to something that could have made a real difference.
But South Carolina is not the only place making headlines that cause me to scratch my rather large head.
Another AP story this week relayed the tale of a Pennsylvania dog groomer who was facing charges of animal cruelty for selling “gothic kittens” with ear, neck and tail piercings.
Look, I know people who absolutely love their cats. Yes, I’m a dog guy, but I get the attraction, and fully understand that people view their pets as members of their family. But do you see me buying bald dogs with beer bellies and poker addictions on the Internet because I want one that reflects my personality?
Yeah. Not happening.
So, imagine this: You’re driving down a lonely road in Iowa when a car passes you, the driver pulls the car over to the side of the road and exposes his nether regions to you.
Happy Valentine’s Day, huh?
An AP story said that numerous motorists have complained to police about the man, and his roadside traveling show. Police have not released a description of the man or vehicle, and have not said if they have a suspect. I’m praying they catch someone, and there’s a line-up in front of a field of corn. And I dearly hope Mark Hardt has an alibi. I mean, he’s from Iowa. He loves to share ...
But I digress.
In yet another AP story, a 9-year-old boy in Wisconsin wrote a school essay about an incident with his father, that resulted in the teacher turning said essay over to authorities.
The official criminal complaint said that the father shot the son in the buttocks with a BB gun after the boy didn’t move fast enough from blocking the television.
“I knew right away it was a stupid thing I did,” said the father. “... I was very, I was not under the influence of anything. It was a very stupid decision.”
No, a stupid decision is using a 4-iron from the fringe when you don’t have that shot. A stupid decision is buying discount ketchup. Shooting your son in the rear with a BB gun because he didn’t get out of the way when you’re watching television is criminal and obtuse.
It’s a shame they don’t have a program where he could have turned in his BB gun for a flower.