Guilty of Being a Dumbshit Redneck

Bloggified by Jake on Wednesday, December 29, 2010

His words carried so much desperation in them. I don't know that I've ever heard anyone so pushed beyond the limits his mind could endure. Everyone turned to hear his scream across the mixed first-through-third grade classroom, and every heart dropped into the listener's stomach.

"Jason!" Adam shrieked insanely. "I'm gonna take you to The People's Court!"

It's really impossible for someone watching TV today to understand the impact "The People's Court" had when it debuted back in 1981. Before there were 200 channels all filling airtime with cheap-to-produce reality shows where the participants know the best way to get facetime is by being obnoxious, Judge Wapner's daily trials were a chance to see something unique. Real people would come on the TV and talk about their problems and disputes, and it was fascinating.

Unfortunately, Judge Wapner's court wasn't an actual court and while he tried to follow legal precedent as best he could, the more important thing--as is always the case in reality TV--was to make sure it felt like the story got told and had a nice resolution. And the success of "The People's Court" led to a bevy of imitators, each more loose with the definition of "justice" than the next. Turn on the TV between 8AM and 5PM anywhere in America and you can find at least one asshole in a judge's robe talking down to someone.

Courtroom shows are about as much about court proceedings as reality TV shows are about reality, but that doesn't mean they don't color the perceptions of a large number of Americans... especially of the dumbshit redneck variety.

Laws are written to make clear what is and is not legal. Laws are not subject to opinion. In fact, there are many, many legal things that might offend some people. Breastfeeding mothers, swear words, gay pride parades and more are all perfectly legal despite the capacity to offend.

But the dumbshit redneck is likely to confuse "offense" and legality. He wants Judge Judy to step in and scream at the gun control protester who stands outside an NRA rally reminding everyone how much more likely you are to shoot a family member than a burglar if you own a gun. "Sit down, you idiot!" the legal maven would howl. "Second Amendment and Jesus and the bible!"

Fortunately, the real law works differently, but it doesn't stop dumbshit rednecks from assuming a trip to court will be like a visit to Judge Joe Brown (though hopefully without any black guys if they have their druthers).

Visit Wewahitchka and try to discuss legal issues and you'll be amazed at the justifications you'll hear for crimes. Wives are asking for a smack. Black guys should know better than to date white girls. You can't kidnap a child if your his mother--the court knows no mom is going to leave her child.

I've spoken here before about Byron, a dumbshit redneck who accused me of slander for posing the question on Twitter of how many times I would have to tweet that he was a pedophile before it would be the top Google item if you searched his name. I calmly explained that he was technically accusing me of libel and not slander--and that the statement wasn't libelous for a number of reasons--but he insisted, "I work in the law, son! I know what slander is!" Sadly, being a correctional officer who hits meth heads with a stick for a living and doesn't even know the dictionary definition of "slander" doesn't carry much weight in a courtroom.

Byron's problem was that he knew what he thought was right. He felt I should not be able to make a joke implying that he was a pedophile, and anyone can understand how that could upset him. But that offense alone doesn't make it illegal to make the joke. There are many factors to consider including the fact that I was posing a question about Google's ranking of search items, that I was speaking to a small audience, and that I didn't actually say he was a pedophile.

Had I flat out said he was--which I didn't--he might have had a case, because I wouldn't have had any source to indicate it was true. On the other hand, if I had a source and sited it, I could safely make a statement such as:

When my ex went back to visit Wewahitchka earlier this month, Byron was very upset that she wouldn't have sex with him. He'd been under the impression they were going to have sex, but she told him she wouldn't as long as he was still married. So, Byron has turned his attention to another woman to cheat on his wife with, though my ex wouldn't tell me her name.

In this case, because I am relating the information given to me by a reliable source, I am in no danger of committing libel. Of course, Byron might find this statement upsetting, but there is nothing illegal about making it.

2 sarcastic replies:

danny said...

jake must have hated himself to death

Jake said...

Pretty close. I have a half dozen posts about Silver Age Lois Lane and World's Finest Comics on deck but can't seem to find the time to actually write them.

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