Massive props to to Cynthia Roldan, of the Palm Beach Post, for her courageous stoicism in the face of hilarity. Today, she straight-facedly reported the sad story of Rita Sharon Counts, a Wellington woman arrested Tuesday for assaulting her husband.
Wait -- is that not funny? No? Well, howzzabout this: Rita Sharon Counts assaulted her husband... with a remote control!
Actually, that doesn't sound very funny either. What, then, explains the atmosphere of jubilation over at the Sun Sentinel's reposting of the piece? "Maybe she was trying to turn him on," reads one reader's comment. "What an idiot he was to give up the remote," reads another. I wonder if anybody would think to crack a joke if this story's gender roles were reversed. (The Post, perhaps wisely, has declined to accept readers' comments for the story.)
This story's sole funny element -- and it's only funny in a dark and horrible way -- is that Rita Sharon Counts is being charged with "battery with a deadly weapon."
Have you been to Wellington? I have. And as I recall, the houses there are not appreciably smaller than houses elsewhere, and there is no reason to doubt that most of them, Mrs. Counts' included, contain the usual complement of rooms. One of these rooms is almost certainly a kitchen, and within that kitchen there are almost certainly knives. Unless the Counts have a special penchant for very soft foods, some of those knives are bound to be sharp. A sharp knife is a deadly weapon. If you want to kill someone, you might use one of those.
That Rita Sharon Counts didn't use a big, sharp knife suggests she probably didn't mean to kill her husband. Indeed, it seems reasonable to assume that Mrs. Counts' choice of weapon was partially dictated by the fact that remote controls do not kill people. So far as I know, no one has ever been killed by a remote control. I cannot make a similar claim about knives, guns, poker irons, table legs, hammers, wrenches, lamps, chairs, bricks, boxes, television sets, scissors, or cast iron cooking pans, to name just a few of the weapons that were probably at Mrs. Counts' disposal.
No matter how hard I think, I cannot think of a less lethal item with which to beat a husband than a remote control. Pillows, sure, but that's not assault -- that's a righteous bedroom romp and in some households qualifies as foreplay. Fists? Nope. Plenty of people are killed with fists.
So in what sense is hitting someone with a remote control "battery with a deadly weapon"? The answer: It's not. If Floridian readers needed further evidence that our justice system is arbitrarily punitive, look no further. Rita Sharon Counts has just been charged with a crime she didn't mean to commit and didn't.
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