>>> Bang for Your Buck
By staff writer David Nelson

August 6, 2007

Essential New Word of the Week: mandate (definition hint: yeah, I like baseball, too!)

The American judicial system has become a runaway freight train of insanity. I imagine trials were once boring, procedural events, where old men in powdered wigs took turns lecturing juries about jurisprudence, and other long words. Now, it’s as though Lady Justice’s skirt has been pulled over her head while America slaps her ass with a dead fish. And that’s just what I’ve been able to conclude from watching Playboy TV’s Sex Court.

Who’s to blame for the circus that law has become? Let’s start with the media. By all rights, I shouldn’t care if a millionaire heiress throws her purse-dog into oncoming traffic or if a Hollywood actor gets busted wearing a KKK outfit. Yet the mainstream media will provide unending coverage of any story that has even a whiff of celebrity downfall.

We, the public, are also responsible. The courts are clogged with so many frivolous lawsuits, it’s a wonder the judicial system can spare any judges for Hawaiian Tropic Bikini Contests. People use litigation as a get-rich-quick scheme. So, if you’re too fat to fit in an airline seat or too drunk to read “Danger: High Voltage,” then congratulations. Today’s lawsuit economy will cater to your lazy ass.

“I say, it’s about time the judicial system was conducted more like a Survivor immunity challenge.”

Lawyers are also to blame, since these greedy citizens clearly aren’t qualified to take on Wal-Mart by themselves. There are lawyers who specialize in getting you fast cash settlements for your retard injuries and/or hurt feelings. Every redneck who slips and falls in a puddle of his own tobacco juice is a potential lottery ticket for these shysters.

But the guiltiest parties, so to speak, are the judges. Ultimately, they’re the ones deciding that the lap full of hot coffee you spilled is worth millions of dollars in fabulous cash and prizes. However, there are a few judges who more than make up for the ones that reward society’s village idiots. I’m talking about the few, the brave judges who dish out those creative sentences.

The eighth amendment is supposed to protect citizens against cruel and unusual punishments. And I’m all for preventing needless cruelty. But today, I want to salute those learned men who’ve decided to take a stand about the “unusual” part. The kind of judge who would make a criminal carry a sign advertising his crime, so that onlookers can laugh at his dumb-enough-to-get-caught ass.

Why creative sentencing? Prisons are overcrowded, and expensive to taxpayers. If it’s the kind of prison where criminals get a mandatory colonoscopy with the dirty end of a mop handle, then I’m all for the cost. But if it’s the liberal kind of institute where inmates are given private bathrooms and art therapy, then I say no. As a law-abiding supermodel fighter pilot, I have to pay for my art therapy with hard-earned dollars.

I don’t want to donate part of my paycheck in a misguided attempt to reform some drugged-out car thief. Unless they’ve been captured by Dog the Bounty Hunter personally, I don’t believe that criminals can reform anyway. That’s why unusual sentences are so brilliantly elegant. The perpetrator is punished, no money is wasted, and I get a good laugh at some poor schlub’s humiliation.

I’ll list a few of the more notable sentences my research has uncovered. Each one will be ranked on how hilarious the punishment was, and how well it fit the crime. You might not see the point of this, but bear with me. Ranking things is fun, and besides, when the government is overthrown by a shadowy league of supervillains, these rankings will serve as the new penal code.

The Ranch Dressing

Mere days ago, there was a fabulous example of creative sentencing which involved three random guys, an undercover hooker, and a bright yellow chicken suit. For some of you, this is a typical Saturday night, but I digress. After the three pleaded guilty to solicitation, the judge ordered them to take turns wearing the costume while carrying a sign reading “No Chicken Ranch in Painesville.”

Obviously, the sign is meant to refer to the “Chicken Ranch” brothel in Nevada, where prostitution is legal, and, if you can afford it, awesome. After the sentence was read, local fried chicken restaurants were said to be outraged. “We pay some immigrant two bucks an hour to stand outside in a Clucky costume,” said Mel Nurgitz, owner of The Clucky Drumstick Shanty, “and I’ll be damned if Miguel is going to be mistaken for a pervert.”

Nurgitz added, “Try our all-white meat Cajun Buffalo Tenders! They’re Cluckalicious!”

Apart from being humiliating, this sentence strikes me as somewhat unhygienic. I’m glad the judge didn’t spring for three separate chicken costumes. It would have made for a better photo opportunity, but at least it was more unpleasant for the criminals. From what The Phillie Phanatic tells me, those mascot costumes are hot and sticky at the best of times. Would you really want to share one with two convicted johns?

Hilarity Rating: 9/10

Some things are just intrinsically funny. Things like fart noises, pies in the face, and of course, chicken suits. Science can’t explain it, and neither can I. The judge that gave this sentence scored a point for both justice and comedy that day. Well done, sir.

Appropriateness Rating: 3/10

It seems humiliating enough, but anyone passing by might mistake the criminals for protesters. And in that situation, I would imagine it’s comforting to have your face obscured by a mask. Then again, it’s not like soliciting sex is a horrible crime… unless you’re Amish or unable to recognize transsexuals. I’m looking at you, Eddie Murphy.

Revenge of the Kittens

In 2005, an Ohio woman abandoned 35 kittens in a park, where they were found by rangers, and later traced back to her via identification collars which she neglected to remove. So, it’s safe to say that this woman was probably not a fan of CSI. If nothing else, she deserved to be punished for her lack of vision. If you have 35 expendable cats, why not train them as your private army, or at the very least, sell them to a Vietnamese restaurant?

Abandoning 3 dozen adorable kitties is a slap in the face of everything cute and cuddly. At least, that’s how the cat-loving judge saw it when he handed down a sentence that forced the woman to spend a night alone in the woods. I like to think the judge then called the bailiff “Fluffy,” and gave the prosecutor a ball of yarn to play with.

According to the terms of the sentence, the woman is to be dropped off at a remote location with no food, reading material, or entertainment devices. That includes novelty electronic pets, no doubt. Due to plunging temperatures, the judge said he might amend his orders and allow her to make a fire. I say, it’s about time the judicial system was conducted more like a Survivor immunity challenge.

Hilarity Rating: 4/10

The judge tried to play it up, asking: “How would you like to be dumped off at a metro park late at night, spend the night listening to the coyotes … not knowing when you are going to be rescued?” But leading comedy experts agree: forcing a woman to go camping is not that funny. The edict regarding fire, though, is brilliant. I want you to experience the loneliness and despair of solitude, but bring a sweater or you’ll catch cold.

Fairness Rating: 5/10

I’m not really a cat person, so I can’t claim to be too outraged. Nevertheless, kittens are adored by fruitcakes and lonely spinsters everywhere. Quite frankly, I would have expected a more severe punishment. Homeless people have to live like that every day, and they probably kill only 6 or 7 cats per year, tops.

Now That's a Stretch

A Texas man accused of slapping his wife had an unusual rider tacked on to his sentence. He was forced to attend a yoga class once a week for a year. In an interview with CNN, the judge said “Why did I impose yoga? I imposed it because people that I know that are really into it, it appears to help them.” This logic might make legal purists gnash their teeth, but according to the sacred principles of karma, he had it coming.

Here’s everything I know about yoga: 90% of it is a bunch of new-wave posers trying to look hip by sitting in weird poses and pretending to meditate. The other 10% is actual Indians, for whom it is a genuine spiritual practice. I’m sure these Indians are nice people, but chances are they smell like curry and grope women on the subway. And if I’m wrong, may I be reincarnated as Janet Reno’s tampon.

This judge’s brave stand against spousal abuse should be admired, but I have concerns. When taken seriously, yoga has the potential to increase strength and coordination. Are we not, then, helping him to become a better wife-slapper? If this guy reads the Forbidden Text of Upanishad and learns how to slap his wife from across the room using only his mind, that judge is going to look so stupid.

Hilarity rating: 6/10

The idea of this abusive creep doing the downward dog in his beer-stained undershirt is thought-provoking, to say the least. But I still can’t help but feel the judge was trying to help, rather than humiliate, the husband. I had to deduct marks for that. If it had been ballet or synchronized swimming, on the other hand…

Fairness Rating: 6/10

Consider this: a single guy who, say, lifts weights will probably get 5 times as much sex as a guy who does pilates. And let’s not insult numbers by trying to determine how rarely a random, creepy yoga guy gets laid. In light of this, the punishment seems apt. This jerk better not hit his wife anymore, because if she leaves, it’s just him and a yoga mat with a strategic hole cut out of it.

Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Donkey

One dark Christmas, a teenage couple with a bit too much angst (but thankfully, no access to guns) decided to teach their community a lesson by defacing the baby Jesus in a local nativity scene. Specifically, they stabbed the little tyke repeatedly, and painted “666” all over him. And I think grown-up Jesus would agree, that’s not cool. I wouldn’t like it if someone defaced my baby pictures.

Short of using the flag to set fire to a bus full of crippled orphans, it’s hard to imagine a crime that would piss off a judge any more than Jesus-vandalism. So, in a citation designed for maximum humiliation and, possibly, salvation, the judge in question ordered the pair of no-goodniks to lead a donkey through the streets with a sign reading “Sorry for the offense.”

Apparently there is some kind of religious significance to leading a donkey. To me, it sounds more like the first act of a Mexican porno. In any case, the donkey in question was provided by the local petting zoo. I would hate to be the one who had to call that petting zoo and explain why the court was temporarily commandeering their star attraction.

Hilarity rating: 8/10

From the plethora of available “ass” puns to wisecracking animated sidekicks, donkeys are a form of pure comedy on four legs. Here, the judge did a good job of making the punishment seem meaningful for religious types, and batshit insane for everyone else. I can’t speak to the disposition of the donkey in question, but I like to think he added to the hilarity by being as stubborn and flatulent as possible.

Fairness rating: 7/10

I respect Jesus in the same way I respect John McClane. I don’t really think about him/Him until he/He saves me from German terrorists. But in spite of this, I still think it’s pretty stupid of some bored teens to stab him. Not for religious reasons, but those Jesuses cost a lot of money (unless you know a Jew who can get them wholesale). Accordingly, it seems reasonable to make these suburban Satanists trudge through the snow towing a donkey.

So the next time you might be tempted to commit a misdemeanor, better think twice. You never know when you might find yourself in front of a judge who thinks that the only way for you to learn your lesson is to subject you to abject humiliation, often in the company of barnyard animals. And lord knows, that’s a chapter of your life you probably won’t want to repeat, unless you’re drunk and/or filming the hottest new video for YouTube.

Essential New Word of the Week:

mandate [‘mændayt] n

This, of course, already exists as a word with the definition: “a command or authorization to act in a particular way on a public issue given by the electorate to its representative.” But that’s not what I’m getting at.

Guys who have girlfriends tend to socialize less than their single friends, for obvious reasons. And that’s a shame, but a night of beers with guys often seems a fair price to pay for continued sex privileges. Sometimes, when girlfriends get together, they realize this, and so in a misguidedattempt to make up for it, they arrange little play dates between their boyfriends.

It’s humiliating and stupid, but god bless ‘em, these women think they’re doing us a favor. Meanwhile, we’re forced to sit and make awkward conversation with a stranger. Trying to find common ground with another dude only makes you realize what a shallow person you really are. Chris Rock touches on this phenomenon in one of his routines, but now it has an appropriate name. And if I ever become president, I’ll issue a mandate, forbidding all mandates. That’s a promise.