Saturday, March 6, 2010

Flaw and Order

Recently, here in the fine, fine state of California, some asshat Senator (said asshat being California Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez) introduced a bill that would, according to a story at Fox News (and they're fair and balanced, don't you know?), "...establish a registry of names -- similar to widely used sex offender databases -- to track and make public the identities of people convicted of felony animal abuse." Now, really, how I feel about that isn't exactly what this post is about, but I'm going to tell you what I think anyway.

And what I think is that if they're going to do this, someone is going to have to tell me where it's going to end. What I mean is that I think that sex offender databases are a good thing. I like to know where the perverts are. (Have you blue-dotted your neighborhood today?) But I'm thinking I'd also like to know where all of the folks convicted of assault are at. Add to that the folks convicted of theft, vandalism, burglary, or armed anything. All I'm saying is that it's going to have to stop somewhere and I think it needs to be contained to sex offenders. Otherwise, I think we run the risk of becoming a little too Big Brother-ish for my comfort level.

But I digress. The point here is that the folks in California (at least one of them, anyway) think that animal abuse is such a horrific crime (and it is) that those who perpetrate it and are convicted of it should be entered into some sort of statewide database. That view seems to be radically different from at least one judge in West Virginia. The judge in mention would be a one Kanawha Circuit Judge James Stucky. Let's learn more about him, shall we?

Judge Stucky presided over the sentencing of a one 18-year old (and old enough to know better) Charles Wiant. Mr. Wiant was being sentenced after pleading guilty for killing his neighbor's German shepherd with a bow and arrow. Clearly, Mr. Wiant is an asshat. That much seems cut and dried. What's not so clear is what is wrong with Judge Stucky.

Judge Stucky sentenced Mr. Wiant to spend four weekends in jail and "...serve 50 volunteer hours at the Kanawha-Charleston Animal Shelter, pay $1,000 to the dog's owners and spend a year on unsupervised probation." Hmmm. Now, the article in the Charleston Daily Mail says that the Judge " ...imposed a sentence that was suggested by the victims and recommended by prosecutors in exchange for a guilty plea." Now, while I don't know what the sentencing parameters for something like shooting a German shepherd with a bow and arrow, I know that it doesn't seem unreasonable at all. I don't know that it seems like one would need to make any concessions to such a sentence. I, however, am not Judge Stucky. And Judge Stucky "...agreed to a sentencing arrangement that will allow him to attend the Hank Williams Jr. concert at the Charleston Civic Center on April 2. Wiant's lawyer, Bill Forbes, explained that Wiant's girlfriend already has spent a lot of money on the tickets." Wait. What?

Correct. This convicted and, apparently, admitted (he pled guilty) dog murderer whose weapon of choice was a bow and arrow, will be allowed to go to a Hank Williams Jr. concert because his girlfriend already spent a lot of money on the tickets. Are you freaking kidding me?!

I think that crimes against animals are in some ways more reprehensible than crimes against humans. Regardless though, it's hard for me to be really objective on this one when I'm an animal lover. I definitely do not think that four weekends in jail is any sort of a just sentence. But it is what it is. And it's a sentence. And I don't think that it needs to be altered. And animal lover or not, I certainly don't give a fat rat's ass how much money the convicted's girlfriend spent on concert tickets. Too bad. Maybe she should have chosen a better boyfriend. Perhaps one who wouldn't get his ass thrown in jail for shooting a German shepherd with a bow and arrow and killing it? THAT might be the kind of boyfriend to have. You know, one who doesn't do stuff like that!

Just remember, kids! If you're going to be sentenced to jail in Judge Stucky's courtroom and think that you may be needing a break from the doldrums of prison life once you're in there, make sure that you purchase some pricey concert tickets ahead of time so that the Judge will let you attend! Make it a country music concert just to be on the safe side. Plan ahead!

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