Florida Pilot

A compendium of random thoughts from a former Washington Beltway insider who is now having a lot more fun flying small airplanes in Central Florida.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

thought police in Florida

"Two boys, ages 9 and 10, were charged with felonies and taken away from school in handcuffs, accused of making violent drawings of stick figures."

Elementary school children in Ocala need to start being careful to control their imaginative drawings lest they lead to felony charges.

"When an adult or even myself look at the picture looked at it at first I was thinking there is really not much to the picture or I would not be that scared by the picture those children drew," Ocala police spokesman Russ Kearn said. "However, we have to put ourselves in his mind and that's the bottom line here. It is his well-being and the way he perceived that picture to be. It actually put him in extreme fear and he was in fear for his life."

I am not legal expert but it was always my understanding that threats that rose to the level of crimes need to be specific and credible. In this case, the investigating officers needed to rely on the imaginations of other children to interpret these drawings -- certainly the one published on the news stations web site doesn't seem that bad. As far as the "threat" being credible, well maybe that isn't required in Florida.

Perhaps the two 10 year olds will even be tried as adults. Perhaps the Ocala authorities, apparently folks with plent of time on their hands will implement a zero-tolerance policy regarding threatening drawings. I would expect them to establish an expert panel of 3rd and 4th graders to assist with the interpretion of other school children's drawing to make sure that they are all non-threatenting.


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