When is teasing a jailing offense?

Students in a mock jail cell at Frontier Fiesta, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, don’t get me wrong – I am completely against bullying and teasing.  Pretty obvious to anyone who knows me or has read my blog.  But…when is it time to send someone to jail over it?

In Ohio, a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy was “mocked” by a 43-year-old man, William Bailey, who was recorded with a cellphone camera imitating the limp the girl had.  He denied that it was directed at the girl, but did apologize to the girl in a statement after pleading no contest and being sentenced to one month in jail on charges of disorderly conduct and aggravated menacing. 

Was he wrong in what he did?

Well, yeah, duh.  We all know that.

But why go to jail over it?  Can’t we all just agree he’s a douche bag?  Can’t we just use him as an example of what’s wrong with the world?  Can’t we just shake our heads and point to him and tell our children that he’s obviously the one with the handicap?

Why do we have to legislate common manners and decency?

And why do it when the guy is already in his forties?  We ignore the problem in schools, we ignore the problems in life, but once someone has kids of his own, we suddenly realize that it’s a problem?

Maybe we need to do something about it sooner.  Maybe we should have handled this guy’s urge to make fun of other people back when he was in school himself, instead of waiting and tossing him in jail.  Although, I have to admit, there’s something to be said for the thought of a guy serving a sentence for bullying…what will he have to claim to avoid getting beaten up?

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