A few months ago I was speaking with a chap at the dog park. This fellow has two dogs of a breed I have never heard and although I’ve asked what they are several times, for some reason, I’m totally unable to retain the information. It’s some sort of extremely unpronounceable Dutch name – and I’m usually pretty good about picking up foreign words.
Well, Jeff, the dog’s companion person, is a nice chap – although I wouldn’t call him the sharpest tool in the shed. He would never make it as a politician since he is brutally honest – especially when it comes to past indiscretions for which he has been responsible in his 28 year old life. I make a point of not asking people personal questions (at or away from the dog park), so I was surprised when I asked Jeff what was new and he explained he was about to go to court for a DUI. He was quite familiar with the procedure since apparently this was the second time in two years that he was apprehended for the same offense.
In theory and as it appears on the books, DUI is a serious offense here in Las Vegas. But apparently for around $3000 you can hire legal representation and somehow it all goes away – until the next time you’re caught. I’ve often wondered if there were some split between the defense attorney and the court system – something that I would never have considered about ten years ago. But with the general decline in morality and honesty, I suspect that might prove to be how the “system” actually works. But that’s just a guess.
In previous conversations with Jeff I remember that he had been working part time in one of the clubs doing private security. Considering his fondness for booze, it’s a good thing that Jeff does not carry a weapon while he is on duty. In fact, he has expressed a blatant distaste for guns because we all know that “guns kill people.” (I pointed out that people who drive cars while intoxicated kill about 15,000 per year in the U. S). Jeff wasn’t overly impressed with that statement – or at least I surmised that to be the case.
I asked him if he was getting his defense fund from his folks. (He lives at home with Mom and Dad). He said that he had put up a page on GoFundMe.com to raise the money. I was unaware of any such site and did not know what it was, so Jeff willingly informed me. I thought the concept of soliciting donations from total strangers using the internet was incredibly interesting. So naturally I went home and logged into the site to see what was there. By the way, in a week, Jeff had raised over $800 towards his goal of $4,000. You might remember that the actual cost was $3,000. The extra grand was for “spending money,” although that was not stated in Jeff’s post.
I looked through quite a few of the posts on the website. Some of them seemed a bit frivolous – but others were heart wrenching. And I thought to myself, what a wonderful way for people to show their generosity to total strangers. But when I thought about Jeff’s page and the fact that he was hoping to pocket a thousand dollars beyond the cost of his actual defense, I wondered how many of these appeals were legitimate and how many were merely a scam. It’s terrible to feel so cynical but the more I look at people, the harder it is to have a great feeling about us as a species.
Well, I had forgotten all about the site until today. I read a post by Jonathan Turley in which he denounced GoFundMe.com for taking down a page that was attempting to raise $600,000 as a defense fund for the six Baltimore police who have been charged with a multitude of offenses in the death of Freddie Gray. The site was up for a little less than an hour and had raised just over $1,100 before it was “delisted.” Apparently the reason for that was that GoFundMe does not allow posts in which the individual is charged with serious, felonious conduct. I suspect that the logic is that the accused are not entitled to receive a good defense. I think I read that line of reasoning somewhere in a KKK manual.
But I thought to myself, DUI is a serious crime. Isn’t it a felony? So naturally I looked it up. As it turns out, a first or second DUI offense within a seven year period is normally charged as a misdemeanor in this state – unless there is death involved in one of the incidents in which case the felony charge will be filed. So I guess that Jeff meets the terms of service of the site this time. He’s only been caught drunk twice in the allowed time period and he has yet to kill anyone while driving intoxicated. But I wonder what he will do the next time around. And more importantly, I wonder if the juries who try these six cops subscribe to the GoFundMe.com philosophy of what is justice, how long they will be incarcerated, with or without the benefit of counsel.