The PJ Tatler

The Law is an ass

From Hypervocal via Mediaite:

Evan Emory’s cunning attempt at musical comedy turned very serious, very quickly. The 21-year-old Michigan man won’t be laughing as he spends the next two months in the Muskegon County Jail.

The whole nightmare for Emory began when he posted a video of himself on YouTube singing a sexually explicit song to elementary school students. But before you take the side of law enforcement and the county, it’s not as raunchy and inappropriate as it sounds. The video was only edited to make it appear as if young children were in the classroom, even though they weren’t. Emory posted two disclaimers on the video that elementary school students were not exposed to the explicit lyrics.

The footage of the children was recorded in January when Emory performed a clean song for the class. It was only later that Emory returned to the empty classroom to record a vulgar song, which he edited with clips of the children and posted to YouTube in mid-February.

On Tuesday, Judge William C. Marietti of the Muskegon County 14th Circuit Court sentenced Emory under a previously arranged plea deal to 60 days in jail, two years probation, 200 hours of community service, mandatory counseling and fines and costs. And when he emerges from jail, Emory can’t be within 500 feet of children under the age of 17. All for a comedy attempt gone awry

Got that?  Two months in jail, two years probation, 200 hours of community service … for appearing to sing a dirty song to kids.

It’s frightening to think was my friends and I could have gotten when we were 13 — we had a whole bunch of dirty songs and ditties we sang to one another.  And God help my parents after they let me listen to Rusty Warren records in the 60’s.

I’m willing to guess what happened: the local prosecutor was under pressure from parents (the stories mention one guy screaming at the guy as if he had been singing the song to his kids, being apparently somewhat impaired in his understanding of the difference between TV and real life). As Hypervocal describes it:

Emory in March pleaded no contest to the reduced charge of “unlawful posting of an Internet message with aggravating circumstances.” He had been charged with “manufacturing child pornography,” a charge that comes with a potential 20-year prison sentence. [Emphasis mine.]

Now, I don’t think — I certainly hope — there’s no way that charge would stand up, since there were no children present at any time. (On the other hand, as I understand it, people have been successfully tried for animations of child porn, in which there were no real people present whatsoever.) But this is some guy trying to make a living as a comedian in Fruitport, Michigan — which means, no doubt, that his primary employment includes a lot of repetition of the phrase “fries with that”. How was he going to defend himself? The plea deal meant he’s just impoverished, but at least he can change his name, move out of state, and hope to make a new life. Otherwise, he was facing 20 years and lifetime registration as a sex offender.

Frankly, this looks like one of those times the ACLU should be involved.