'Balloon boy' parents: Good riddance

December 23, 2009

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I like this sentence. It sends a message that desperately needs to be sent. That message is: You can't yell fire in a crowded theater. As if you needed to be told that.

In this fame-obsessed, mentally bankrupt culture we live in today, apparently so.

As someone who is frankly tired of the constant one-upmanship of brain-dead idiots in the pursuit of the most moronic — and fleeting — personal fame possible, I say bravo to the judge. We need a deterrent from this sort of stunt garbage.

The Heenes, in perpetrating their hoax, wasted the time and resources of a lot of people. The cable news organizations should be ashamed of themselves for their hyperbolic over-coverage of the initial incident, but that's beside the point. The point is, these people faked the endangerment of a child, they wasted the time and resources of legitimate rescue personnel, and that's unacceptable. The notion that they hoped they would later profit by way of this decade's most detestable form of self-promotion — a Z-list reality show — makes me want to puke. It's appalling.

What if a rescue worker had been injured during this episode, or the resources were needed elsewhere and led to someone else's death or misfortune because they weren't available? What kind of consolation are unwitting people affected by this hoax supposed to take out of the fact that their efforts are being used in the service of a pathetic scheme to market some fool's witless need to be on TV?

I particularly like the probation condition stating that the Heenes are not allowed to profit from this incident for four years (by which point they'll hopefully be long forgotten by the media at large). A message needed to be sent, and it was. This is an appropriate punishment that's not over the top, and I hope it deters future yahoos from similar attempts of self-promotion at the public's expense.

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8 comments on this post

    Totally agree. This was a disgusting hoax, and these people need to be kicked in the...er...gently reprimanded so that other such yahoos might be dissuaded from engaging in similar behavior.

    And this is exactly the sort of thing that trash like the X-Factor, Britain's Got Talent and My Super Sweet Sixteen (which I truly believe is responsible for a large majority of acts of terrorism) is celebrating

    "The Heenes are not allowed to profit from this incident for four years." Sounds like a good punishment. But the lawyer in me makes me wonder how the Heenes (or is it Heine's) will find a way to weasel-word their way out of this. A layperson would think (and I guess the judge had in mind) that the word "profit" means to profit monetarily. To prohibit these clowns from monetarily profiting off the exploitation of their own child is quite sensible. There are other ways one can "profit" from a situation, unfortunately. What if another Z-grade "reality" TV show decides to put these people in starring roles - in a program having nothing to do with child hoaxes or anything of the sort - because of the producers' (publicly unstated, and one would hope, quite secret) admiration for the Heene's "creativity"? (More sickening things have happened). Certainly, these people, by appearing on and getting paid for being on such a program, would be, in effect, "profiting" from what they have done, as would the producers (a single viewer of the program would give them something akin to a monetary profit). If I were the judge, unmoored by concerns about the right of individuals to make a living (believe me, this is a real, and serious issue: in the 1990s, the Son of Sam, David Berkowitz, sought to have an autobiography detailing his killing spree published. The government sought to enjoin him from doing this, arguing that, yes, his being allowed to profit from his crimes would offend public policy. The Supreme Court stated that this injunction violated his free speech rights), I might have added another restriction: that the Heenes be barred from associating with anyone for the purpose of either party profiting - in the broadest possible definition of the term that the law permits to be employed - from what has happened.

    But the First Amendment concern is a nagging one. The government denying the Heenes the right to speak about this matter on a TV show, or to have a book published, would seem to work the same infringement on their First Amendment rights as the injunction against David Berkowitz' book publication would.

    Life can be very complicated sometimes.

    In case any reader wishes to read more about the David Berkowitz First Amendment affair, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_Sam_law
    is some pretty good reading.

    Oops... Got one detail wrong. The Supreme Court case did not involve Berkowitz himself, but rather the constitutionality of a law New York passed known as the "Son of Sam" law, which was passed to prohibit the possibility of Berkowitz and others like him from profiting off their crimes.

    As Wikipedia notes, "In 1987, lawyers for publishing giant Simon & Schuster sued the New York authorities to prevent enforcement of the Son of Sam law with respect to a book they were about to publish called Wiseguy, written by Nicholas Pileggi. The book was about ex-mobster Henry Hill and was used as the basis for the film Goodfellas. The case reached the Supreme Court in 1991. In an 8-0 ruling, the court ruled the law unconstitutional. Simon & Schuster v. Crime Victims Board 502 U.S. 105 (1991). The majority opinion was that the law was overinclusive, and would have prevented the publication of such works as The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Thoreau's Civil Disobedience, and even The Confessions of Saint Augustine."

    Did you guys see when the kid confessed on CNN? Its on youtube. Utterly hilarious and very unconfortable to watch when the kid says, "you said we did it for the show"

    What a bunch of tools

    I ||||LOVED|||| their punishment. "Richard" (can you hear the intense, hateful sneer of disgust in that word?) is sentenced to 90 days in jail (I dunno if he's still there but if he is WOOP! He's STILL being punished!) and "Mayumi" to 20 days weekend jail. They are also expected to pay $42,000 in fines. I don't know if that's a lot considering I don't know too much about their stunt -- is it said they have their own show? If so I personally half a million dollars would be better -- but it is sufficient to me at least. But I think Falcone (the kid) should be removed from their custoy. Doing that to a child is ammorally detestable. Oh well. You can't get everything. But it's a START.

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