Sometimes, we hear of behavior that is so weird and senseless that we think it must be a joke, but find out that, no, it’s not a joke: Someone, or some group actually did it.
Here are two examples of such behavior.
Item 1 - A 14-year-old New Jersey girl has been charged with child pornography after posting a number of explicit nude pictures of herself on MySpace.com. The girl was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography. She was released to her mother's custody.
If convicted of the distribution charge, she would be forced to register with the state as a sex offender under Megan's Law, said state Attorney General Anne Milgram. She also could face up to 17 years in jail, though such a stiff sentence is unlikely.
The case comes as prosecutors nationwide pursue child pornography cases resulting from kids sending nude photos to one another over cell phones and e-mail.
Some observers — among them the New Jersey mother behind the creation of Megan's Law — oppose prosecuting teens who text sexual messages or post nude photos of themselves. Here in America, the home of the free, wouldn’t one’s pictures of himself or herself be their property, and wouldn’t they be able to do pretty much what they please with their own property?
Child pornography, sexual abuse, rape and other such crimes are serious problems in our society and worldwide, and the perpetrators of these crimes should be harshly punished and removed from society. However, misapplying laws designed to address real crimes to things like this is just goofy and tends to make the crimes they were created to fight seem less important.
What this young girl did was stupid, maybe even monumentally stupid, but it wasn’t criminal. Surely, the prosecutor in this misapplication of the law could have thought of some other charge for this girl that would not make a mockery of a law aimed at real and serious crimes.
Item 2 - East Shore Middle School in Milford, Connecticut has laid down the law: No touching among and between students. Period. The new policy means no high-fives, hugs, shaking hands, friendly pats, or horseplay of any kind. And if you break the rule, you will be punished, perhaps expelled. No joke.
A violent incident that put one student in the hospital has officials at the school implementing the no-touching policy, according to a letter written by the school's principal, Catherine Williams, who sent out the letter telling parents that recent behavior has seriously impacted the safety and learning at the school.
"Observed behaviors of concern recently exhibited include kicking others in the groin area, grabbing and touching of others in personal areas, hugging and horseplay.
Physical contact is prohibited to keep all students safe in the learning environment," her letter said.
Here, again, we have a situation where common sense and balance are missing. If some children are misbehaving, apply appropriate discipline to those youngsters, but don’t punish everyone in the school for the actions of a few, and don’t impose goofy rules because you won’t address the real problem.