School’s out, summer’s here and pranks are a lot different than when I graduated…
At least they’re sure treated differently in the zero tolerance world we live in. If you have kids in public school, as do I, you can see firsthand how this rule works at times and not at others.
Kids can be suspended for using a finger as a play gun yet only given a “hard talk” after sending sexually violent, threatening messages on Facebook or by text. Because, according to the Johnson County District Attorney’s office, “If it happens on Facebook or the Internet we treat it differently, it’s kind of like fantasy land, people say things they don’t really mean.”
I wonder if the DA’s office wishes Columbine had been treated differently because, hey, the kid was just ranting on Facebook and the Internet, he didn’t really mean anything.
With that as the backdrop, we come to the latest examples in our local news.
I give you 18 year old recent Blue Valley North grad Eric Kaplan, making an 11 p.m. trip to Price Chopper in crime-free Leawood. Obviously with loving on his mind. Allegedly.
A 30-something soccer mom is leaving the store for her car as she passes said suspect – she was walking out as he was walking in – there’s a country song in here somewhere.
Her female instincts kicked in and something didn’t seem right.
That soon proved true as she noticed that he had turned and gone back to his car. She starts to drive home; he’s following her, so she dials 911. Instead of going down her street, she drives down a Cul-de-sac and as she makes a u turn at the end, a side glance out her window finds him wearing the latest in black, fashionable ski masks.
911 dispatch tells her to drive by the police station where officers are waiting in their cars and promptly pull him over. What do they find in his car but said black ski mask, some rope, lube, gloves, a knife, some weed and “paraphernalia”. This seemed troubling to the police but confused Kaplan who thought it was nothing more than a first date, “get to know ya” kit.
Now he’s charged with reckless stalking and two misdemeanor drug charges. Released? Of course. Bail? You betcha – all $1,500.00 dollars of it.
Give this some thought, $1,500.00 bail for stalking with a rape kit in his car. If he’s got $150 on his Abercrombie card, he walks away free. There has to be more to this story than we are seeing and I’m all over it.
With that as our judicial baseline, let’s look at high school student Katilyn Booth, from Columbia, Missouri, arrested on suspicion of felony property damage after she allegedly changed a classmate’s last name from “Mastain” to “Masturbate” in some 720 Hickman Crescent yearbooks.
The school had the choice of turning the yearbooks into pulp and coughing up $41,000 to replace them, or spending 12 hours licking 720 stickers to go over the student’s name. They chose the stickers.
Raigan Mastain, the “victim” in this “crime”, told the Columbia Tribune she was “kind of annoyed” at Kaitlyn, but “wasn’t that upset.” She said they worked together on the yearbook staff, weren’t really friends but weren’t really enemies either – she just didn’t know why she did it.
Booth was arrested and now faces a felony destruction of property charge in criminal court. Mastain said, “What she did wasn’t right, but I don’t think it should affect her for the rest of her life.” This prank, if carried out in court the way it appears they want it to go, would leave Booth unable to get a decent job, vote, own a gun and having to check that little box on a job applications – all over a harmless and now repaired prank.
Granted, it was more than stupid, but not even Mastain’s truly that upset.
Let’s compare and contrast; $1,500 bail for trying to get a kidnapping first date in Leawood or a felony for pranking someone’s name in a high school yearbook.
Justice in the injustice system?