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That sense of entitlement

As I have noted before, lotteries are a cruel tax on the stupid. That said, 44 states sponsor one, figuring it’s best way to make poor people pay their share of taxes. One of the older and more successful state lotteries is in Pennsylvania, where an interesting case has come to light.

A woman named Towanda A. Shields faces 53 criminal charges, including harassment, stalking and terroristic threats. Police told The Washington Post that Ms. Shields’ threats started as a “nuisance” and escalated into a “relentless” stream of hostile and threatening statements to Pennsylvania Lottery officials in Lower Swatara Township.

Here’s the money quote, from a police detective: “Most people know when they play the lottery, they’re not going to win. She seemed like she had a sense of entitlement – that she was supposed to win the lottery.”

Ms. Shields, 47 and a resident of Philadelphia, apparently is a fan of scratch-off tickets, where the odds are as poor as you’ll find anywhere in the world of gambling. She used burner phones to call the lottery office, thinking police couldn’t trace them. When a detective called her back, trying to de-escalate the situation, she told him she was exercising her right of free speech.

On Halloween, she allegedly told lottery employees that “somebody’s going to die.” Another time she said she had hired “her boys” to kill them. Police said they had no choice but to take the threats seriously. Now her picture is all over the TV news in Philly; she’ll be ratted out soon.

But consider this: To the best of my knowledge, no charges have been filed against any of the leftist loons who threatened all 20 Electoral College members from Pennsylvania. Despite ridiculous harassment and death threats, all cast their votes for Donald Trump, though they were not legally bound to. Give credit to the state police for escorting them to the voting ceremony in Harrisburg.

At least some of the well-documented death threats to Trump electors across the country should have been followed up on by police and prosecutors. None were, proving that some terroristic threats are more equal than others. A crazy lady threatening state lottery officials will get jail time. A loony college professor threatening electors is admired by the media as an “activist.”

There should have been prosecutions for the worst Electoral College threats, and everybody knows it.

Creepy clowns are everywhere

Three weeks hence is Halloween, and reports of evil clown sightings are popping up. The first was in August, from South Carolina, where clowns supposedly offered children money to accompany them to their house deep in the woods. Then came alleged sightings in other states, a handful of arrests (two people in Georgia were charged for filing a false report to 9-1-1) and a barrage of warnings from “authorities.”

Maybe it’s mass hysteria. Maybe it’s a marketing campaign for a soon-to-be-announced movie or cable TV series. Maybe practical jokers actually are scaring kids and their suffocating parents. But it certainly is nothing new, as Matthew Dessem of Slate.com documents, starting with a sighting in the Boston suburb of Brookline in 1981:

“America’s decades of clown sorrow begin at Lawrence Elementary when children report two clowns driving a black van offering them candy. School principals are warned about the clown threat, leading to a rash of reported sightings across Boston. No clowns are ever found.”

Also from 1981: “Reports of ‘menacing clowns’ begin in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh police are the first to draw a connection between the clown sightings — which occurred in black neighborhoods in Pittsburgh and Kansas City — and the Atlanta child murders the summer before, which also targeted black children. However, the Boston-area clowns were sighted mostly in white neighborhoods.”

Fast forward to Erie, Pennsylvania, a decade later: “More than 40 children (and some of their parents) report a clown prowling area back yards and looking through windows. A local bank is robbed by a man in a clown suit, but police dismiss him as ‘a copycat clown’ once he is apprehended. The original clown gets away clean.”

There was this howler from Rock Hill, South Carolina, the next year: “A wave of clown sightings comes to an end when four teenage boys are arrested for dressing as clowns and terrorizing local children. The boys aren’t charged, as authorities cannot find a law they broke.”

That could not happen now, because a prosecutor would find a law to charge them under, even if it had to be invented on the spot.

America’s clown crisis went political in the District of Columbia in 1994: “Police receive multiple reports of a clown trying to lure children into his van. They decline to investigate. By November, the lack of police attention to this case – as well as the disappearance of a small boy in the neighborhood – is held up by local activists as examples of police ignoring or disbelieving crimes reported by black citizens.”

The big losers in all this hysteria would seem to be kindly clowns who offer their services for kids’ birthday parties. There seem to be no winners, but keep this in mind: Next year, New Line Cinema will distribute “It,” a film adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 novel. The main character will be Pennywise the Dancing Clown. I’m just sayin’ …

It’s long-form Friday

With journalism all but dead, stories of substance often don’t come from established outlets. When I run across them, I will pass them along. This one deals with police departments collecting DNA from people not charged with crimes. It’s a gray area of the law, and ProPublica has some interesting details at this link.

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