To Jail a Mockingbird

ABC News published an AP story Wednesday with the headline "Ohio Man Gets Jail for Mocking Disabled Girl."  Then it ran an expanded version of the story with the similar headline "Man Sentenced to Jail After Mocking Disabled Girl." No doubt the initial reaction by most readers was "What a cruel, ignorant buffoon."  And earlier, there reportedly was an outcry for legal action after the girl's mother posted a video of the incident on Facebook and YouTube.  But the story also raises the question: if mockery is a crime, then why is sarcastic entertainer Bill Maher not on death row? UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh explains that the headlines are misleading.  In fact, "[t]he sentence stems from two incidents": The teasing at a school bus stop, which is said to be "disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. A disorderly conduct is a minor misdemeanor and carries no jail time." Menacing, a more serious charge that stemmed from a...(Read Full Post)