August 03, 2010

D-Bag O' the Day (v. 1.13)—
No Free Lunch in Wisconsin

Sometimes, there's just too much stupid.

It was certainly the case last March in the Milwaukee suburb of Shorewood, when a 15 year-old student was arrested and charged with theft for ... wait for it ... sharing his lunch!

According to local Fox TV news report:

Adam [Hernandez] was accused of stealing chicken nuggets from a $2.60 meal.  Those are the nuggets his friend, Gakaree Garner, gave to him.  Garner says, "Although that month I was fasting so I couldn't eat meat, and we had chicken nuggets that day."

Garner gave the nuggets to Adam, who got in the lunch line to get some sauce for them. According to Garner and the police report the cafeteria cashier told the Assistant Principal Adam stole the chicken nuggets.  The Assistant Principal then told the police officer in the school, who called a squad car.  Garner says, "They actually put him in handcuffs, and actually tried to force him into the car."
The charge of misdemeanor theft carried a possible $170 fine for sharing a $2.60 meal.  Thankfully, the theft charges were later dismissed prior to trial, probably because of adverse publicity over the case.

So, here's a fine cast of characters competing for the coveted D-Bag O' the Day nod:
  • The school cafeteria cashier who reported the "theft".
  • The assistant high school principal who called the police.
  • The police officer who arrested Hernandez, wrote the citation, and apparently at least tried to take him into custody.
  • The district attorney, for not dismissing the charges as soon as s/he saw the police report.
  • The USDA bureaucrats for writing federal anti-fraud regulations so vague or overbroad they could be read to prohibit kids from sharing or trading food at lunch.
Seriously, anyone in this chain could have used some common sense and prevented the escalating series of harebrained decisions.  Instead, a schoolkid got trapped in what reads like a weird Ray Bradbury-esque satire on bureaucratic stupidity

At least the federal government hasn't sued Hernandez for its $2.60, plus penalties and attorney fees.  Yet.

A felony on a plate.

(Hat tip to Neatorama for story; image from Grub Street).


  1. Let me see...

    You take a bunch of liberal arts majors or worse -- that wouldd be ed. majors that couldn't hack the harder discipline. OK, throw in insecurity coupled to a union that says they are underpaid saints. Now take those that couldn't quite get such lofty credentials and make them government bureaucrats or cops. Anything unexpected? Nope!

    At least the kid got cited by good old common law and not some departmental finding that really warps the world. The salvation was that he's in a moderately sane state as liberal ones go.

    I imagine you've followed this. Seems a new one crops up every week. Have you made a whole state into d-bags before?

  2. @ KenP: Yeah, I've been following the cases where people get arrested for "wiretapping" or similar privacy-based crimes, solely because they have videotaped police in public. These folks won't get a D-Bag award, though, because that sort of thing crosses the line from mere pompous stupidity (the hallmark of d-baggery)into something more sinister.

    Reason magazine regularly reports on these kinds of cases. What bothers me the most is not so much the cops and prosecutors overreaching--that's what they do--but the courts who let them get away with such a broad application of the law. There's really no good reason in this age of cellphone cameras for any police officer to reasonably expect that his public actions are somehow immune from recording. In fact, they should welcome camera recording to prevent bogus claims of police misconduct, and to help weed out the few bad eggs on the force who do act unprofessionally. Instead, in some states, these laws end up being a tool of repression.

    OK, off my high horse. Here's one recent Reason article, and they link to several others.

    No matter your politics (and mine certainly don't line up perfectly with the Reason worldview), it is still a very well-written magazine, and I follow their Hit & Run blog.

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