Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Punishment by Public Sign Shaming

CLEVELAND - A woman caught on camera driving on a sidewalk to pass a Cleveland school bus that was unloading children stood in the cold at an intersection holding a sign warning people about idiots.  A Cleveland Municipal Court judge ordered 32-year-old Shena Hardin to serve this highly public sentence for one hour Tuesday and Wednesday. She arrived bundled up against the 34-degree cold, puffing a cigarette, wearing head phones and avoiding comment as passing vehicles honked.  Satellite TV trucks were on hand to stream the event live near downtown Cleveland.  Her sign read: "Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus."  Hardin's license was suspended for 30 days and she was ordered to pay $250 in court costs.  Hardin's case is just the latest example of creative, and sometimes controversial, sentences handed out by judges to publicly shame offenders. Some other examples from around the country:

HOUSTON - Daniel and Eloise Mireles were convicted of stealing more than $265,000 from the crime victims fund in Harris County, Texas.  In addition to restitution and jail time, the Houston couple was sentenced in July 2010, to stand in front of the local mall for five hours every weekend for six years with a sign reading, "I am a thief."  A sign was also posted outside their house stating they were convicted thieves.

PENNSYLVANIA - Evelyn Border and her daughter, Tina Griekspoor, 35, were caught stealing a gift card from a child inside a Wal-Mart.  In November 2009, the Bedford County district attorney said he would recommend probation instead of jail time because the women stood in front of the courthouse for 4 1/2 hours holding signs reading, "I stole from a 9-year-old on her birthday! Don't steal or this could happen to you!"

WISCONSIN - A man who crashed his car into the gates at a Wisconsin waste water treatment plant spent eight hours holding a sign saying, "I was stupid."  Shane McQuillan decided he would rather do that than spend 20 days in jail on a charge of criminal damage to property.  McQuillan had a blood alcohol level of 0.238 percent, nearly three times the legal limit for driving, at the time of the 2008 accident in Eau Claire.

OHIO - An Ohio judge ordered a man and woman who vandalized a baby Jesus statue in a church's outdoor nativity to march through town with a donkey to apologize.  Jessica Lange and Brian Patrick admitted to defacing the statue at St. Anthony Roman Catholic Church on Christmas Eve 2003. They led a donkey provided by a petting zoo through the streets of Fairport Harbor carrying a sign that said, "Sorry for the jackass offense."  After the 30-minute march, the pair was taken to serve a 45-day sentence that included drug and alcohol treatment. They also were ordered to replace the statue.

First thought is damn, I missed my calling.  I should have been a judge.  Those guys have all the fun.  Second thought is this sign thing is a great idea.  Why limit it to moronic criminals?  Perhaps we should make celebrities carry around signs for their blasphemous assaults on humanity.  Here’s a few ideas to get things kicked off.  Let’s hope it sticks.

 Sign slogan: It should be illegal to love yourself this much.

 Sign slogan: Scientology – just another word for crazy.

Sign slogan: It’s a good thing I look like this because man do I suck at acting.

 Sign slogan: What he said (have you seen “The Vow”?).

Sign slogan: I don’t get it either, and I’m married to him.

Sign slogan: My back fat tells me what to do.

Sign slogan: I’m hoping this ridiculous hair distracts from my severe lack of talent.

Sign slogan: Your wives think about me when you’re doing it.

Sign slogan: I like big sluts and I cannot lie… (wait, never mind)

Sign slogan: I can't even spell fiscal responsibility.

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