Background: California Occupier anti-bank fetishist got into a pissing match with one of Bank of America’s corporate security honchos; the latter had the former arranged for vandalism after the former kept supplementing his anti-BoA rants with chalk slogans on the sidewalk. This is nettle versus wasp territory, here: the Occupier acts incredibly entitled and the security guy seems a little too happy to use his connections to fuel the Occupier’s persecution complex. Anyway, the Occupier’s now facing jail time and fines and is not very happy that the judge won’t let him turn the whole thing into a free-speech debate.
I’m trying to find the right balance, here.
- On the one hand, vandalism charges are there for a reason. The idea is to inculcate a respect for public and private property by creating punishments for people who deface either (whether temporarily, or permanently). The First Amendment doesn’t actually give somebody the right to write rude things about me on my own wall. Or even nice things about me.
- On the other hand, thirteen years of jail time is a steep potential penalty for writing slogans on the sidewalk in water-soluble chalk*.
- On the gripping hand, this is California and an Occupier is fighting with a Bank of America corporate drone and there’s not a damn thing about any of this that has anything to do with me and mine** and Tea Partiers in the same situation would have gotten permission from the relevant individuals before breaking out the chalk and frankly there are about three thousand Occupiers who are infinitely more deserving of a good, solid vandalism charge or two. Or six. Or twenty.
Ah, Blue states: heavy-handed, but with horrible aim.
Via Instapundit – who is quite right, by the way: the Occupier’s major tactical mistake was to protest during the Obama administration. If he had merely waited until 2017 then he’d be perfectly safe to draw chalk slogans on the sidewalk.
*I’m guessing that vandalism in this jurisdiction has a maximum penalty is $1,000 and/or a year in jail for each charge. I am going to guess that the court is not going to jail the guy, but will be happy to fine him. But the judge could jail the Occupier, if the Occupier is stupid and mouthy. Judges have carefully designed the system that way, to cut down on stupid and mouthy defendants. The Occupier Has Been Warned.
**In case it isn’t clear, I respect property rights (see point one). I don’t feel particularly apologetic about that, either.