Saturday, May 8, 2010 | 2:06 a.m.
Common sense, as the saying goes, isn’t all that common. In fact, it can be something of a precious commodity if you look at some recent new stories:
• Stephanie Tavares recently reported in the Las Vegas Sun about federal efforts to clean up desert areas in Southern Nevada because people are dumping their junk there. A handful of agencies formed Don’t Trash Nevada, which is trying to teach people a lesson they should have learned in kindergarten: Don’t litter!
Of course, this is not just simply littering. It’s dumping appliances, tires and anything else on public land. We would think that people would have the sense to realize that’s wrong, but officials say they’re seeing the trash pile up and are trying to get a basic message out.
“We have to convince them that it is their land they’re trashing,” said Beth Barrie, the project director.
Dumping trash in the desert sounds like a lot more work than putting it at the curb or going to the dump or a trash collection center, but some people say they dump in the desert because it’s cheaper than going to the dump. Really? We wonder if those are the same people who complain about the use of public money, which goes for things like ... desert cleanups.
• Last month a Tennessee man named Walter Fitzpatrick decided to take the law into his own hands. He had “citizens’ arrest warrants” for two dozen local, state and federal officials, and marched down to the county courthouse to take the foreman of the grand jury into custody. The grand jury had refused his request to investigate the “legitimacy” of President Barack Obama’s election. Fitzpatrick’s plan backfired. He ended up in jail, accused of disorderly conduct, inciting a riot and resisting arrest.
That’s the way the law works, but Fitzpatrick’s comrades didn’t understand that.
Darren Huff of Georgia went to Tennessee to free Fitzgerald, armed with a Colt .45 and an AK-47. He was stopped by police for traffic violations. He allegedly told police that he was rallying militia members and said if he had enough armed men with him, he would “take over” the county courthouse. He added that he was willing to die for his beliefs.
Imagine his surprise when the FBI came calling soon after. Federal investigators took Huff’s words, including an Internet broadcast in which he bragged about his actions, for what they were — a terrorist threat. Huff is now facing federal charges accusing him of traveling across state lines to incite a riot.
Makes sense. This is, as we’d like to remind the extremists, a nation of laws.
• A 17-year-old Philadelphia Phillies fan called his father during a recent game and asked for his permission to run onto the field. His father told him he didn’t think that was a good idea.
That was an understatement.
The teenager did it anyway. After taking several security guards on a chase through the outfield, a police officer shot him with a Taser gun. The teenager was unharmed and found himself quickly back on his feet, under arrest. He now faces charges of defiant trespass, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Some people — like the boy’s father and the governor of Pennsylvania — have questioned the police officer’s use of the Taser. Players, however, said they are concerned about their safety. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, whose team was playing the Phillies, put it this way: “If you don’t want to get Tased, don’t go on the field.”
The boy lives with his mother and stepfather, who just happened to be watching the game on TV. The stepfather wondered, “Who is that idiot out there?” He found out soon enough.
“He’s a clown,” his stepfather told the Philadelphia Daily News, “but he’s got enough common sense to not do something so completely stupid.”
The boy just didn’t use it. And that’s the problem for some people: They know better.
Or at least they ought to.
CORRECTION: In this editorial, it was originally reported that Walter Fitzpatrick, who sought a grand jury to investigate the legitimacy of President Barack Obama’s election, was a member of a right-wing extremist group. He says he is not. | (May 11, 2010)