Bluff The Listener
Our panelists tell three stories about creative justice for criminals.
BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis, filling in for Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Amy Dickinson, Charlie Pierce and Tom Bodett. Here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Bill.
SAGAL: Thank you all. Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. I'm excited too. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our games on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!
KAT SUMMERS: Hi, this is Kat from Pearland, Texas.
SAGAL: Hey, Kat.
SUMMERS: Hey. I'm so excited.
SAGAL: No. You sound excited. No, it's nice to talk to the excited people in life. That's great. And where are you calling from, Kat?
SUMMERS: Pearland, Texas.
SAGAL: Pearland, Texas. And whereabouts is that?
SUMMERS: It's right below Houston.
SAGAL: Right below Houston. Sort of like three of four levels below ground?
SAGAL: Near Houston.
SAGAL: And what do you do there?
SUMMERS: I'm a teacher.
SAGAL: You are? What do you teach?
SUMMERS: I teach chemistry and math.
SAGAL: To whom?
SUMMERS: To whoever is willing.
SAGAL: I understand.
SAGAL: I meant what grade actually.
SUMMERS: Oh, high school.
SAGAL: High school. You're a high school math and science teacher. That is tough work. You are doing God's work and I appreciate it.
SUMMERS: Well, you're - thank you.
SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Kat. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. What is the topic, Bill?
KURTIS: I sentence you to six month of - huh?
SAGAL: For certain offenders, six months of community service or a short stint in jail just doesn't seem fitting. Our panelists are going to read you three stories of justice being served in creative ways. Sadly, I guess, only one of them is true. Guess the real one; you'll win Carl's voice on your home voicemail. Are you ready to play?
SUMMERS: Oh, yes. My kids and I are right here. We're ready.
SAGAL: Oh, wait a minute. You've got kids there with you?
SUMMERS: Yes. We listen to it on Saturdays going for donuts and coffee. That's when we listen to you all.
SAGAL: OK, so we got the whole family there.
SAGAL: Could you hold up the phone and have them yell hello?
(SOUNDBITE OF YELLING)
SAGAL: Hey, guys.
AMY DICKINSON: They're just like their mom.
SAGAL: That's awesome. Everybody's excited.
SUMMERS: They're very excited.
SAGAL: All right, here we go. Let's hear first from Charlie Pierce, a story of fitting punishment.
CHARLIE PIERCE: Last month, Monmouth High New Jersey high school senior Fredrick West celebrated the end of the basketball season by getting roaring drunk at a breakup party held at a teammate's house.
Late that night, West was walking home when he wandered into a colonial era cemetery and proceeded to throw rolling shoulder blocks on several of the old tombstones that stood there. He had just knocked over the fourth one of them when two Princeton police officers caught him in the spotlight and arrested him. West was convicted of aggravated vandalism, a low-level felony at his trial.
Judge Mel Joyce told West that he didn't want to send the young man to the six months in jail that his offense ordinarily carried. Instead, he sentenced West to spend the months of April to October portraying the character of Revolutionary War heroine Molly Pitcher.
PIERCE: In the daily reenactments of the Battle of Monmouth that take place on the actual battlefield. West will have to dress as a colonial farmer's wife of the period, including billowy skirts and a discretely scooped bodice. Moreover, West will have to dress at home, walk to work and present himself to Joyce's clerk every morning for a kind of inspection.
"Every day you spend in a dress is a day you can think about the sacrilege you committed that night," Joyce told West. He also said that he would personally arrange for a group tour for West's teammates on the park's opening day in April.
SAGAL: Sentenced to play Molly Pitcher at the Monmouth battlefield. Your next story of the gentle hand of justice comes from Amy Dickinson.
DICKINSON: Gabby Watkins really wanted a new iPhone, but her parents didn't agree, so the tenth grader boosted one from her local Best Buy. She didn't make it out the door. Her case landed in the courtroom of Judge Gwendolyn Gallagher, who sentenced the youth to six months of hard labor, teaching old people how to use the internet at a local nursing home.
DICKINSON: Twice a week, Watkins mentors the senior citizens in all things tech. "Some of them know about email, but all they know how to do is forward scams."
DICKINSON: "I got a bunch of the old people on Facebook, but then I had to teach them about over sharing on their grandkids' walls. They also seem to compulsively like everything."
DICKINSON: After a group of elderly women started posting "Murder, She Wrote" fan fiction, Watkins knew she had succeeded. "I'm so proud of what they accomplished, but there are things I don't want to imagine Angela Lansbury doing."
SAGAL: A tenth grader sentenced to teach senior citizens how to use the internet. And your last story of punishment fitting the crime comes from Tom Bodett.
TOM BODETT: If you walked up to Austyn Whaley of Covington, Kentucky and said "Hey, you're Austyn Whaley of Covington, Kentucky, aren't you," he would not say bingo. He might like to say bingo, but he is forbidden by law to do it.
You see, the bingo players of Covington, Kentucky are not to be fooled with and when Whaley stuck his head in the door of a bingo parlor and yelled "bingo," he crossed into that realm of jackassery apparently not protected by the constitution.
BODETT: "Just like you can't run into a theater and yell fire when it's not on fire, you can't run into a crowded bingo hall and yell bingo when there isn't one," said Police Sergeant Richard Webster, the officer who cited Whaley. Webster said the crowd of mostly elderly women did not take kindly to being alarmed.
BODETT: Hauled before Judge Grouthouse of the Canton District Court, the youth appeared remorseful. He could have faced 90 days in jail and a $250 fine, but instead the judge ordered Whaley, do not say the word "bingo" for six months.
It was explained to him you can't yell fire in a theater or people will get hurt. You can't yell out in a ballpark, because people could stop the game. You can't yell, "You lie" at the President or - well, actually, you can do that but...
BODETT: As you see, you quickly run out of example of things you can't yell that are as bad as yelling bingo when you don't have a bingo.
SAGAL: I guess, Kat, I'll address you and your kids, the whole family.
SUMMERS: Okie dokie.
SAGAL: So was it from Charlie Pierce, a young man sentenced to play, in a dress, Molly Pitcher, Revolutionary War hero - heroine I should say - or maybe hero now, at a Monmouth battlefield in New Jersey?
From Amy, a tenth grader sentenced to six months of teaching seniors how to use the internet? Or from Tom Bodett, another young man forbidden from saying the word "bingo" for six months because he yelled it at an inopportune time in a bingo parlor? Which of these is the real story of poetic justice?
SUMMERS: Well, we have conferred and we're going with number two.
SAGAL: I want to hear everybody say it. So your choice is?
(SOUNDBITE OF YELLING)
SAGAL: All right, so Kat and her kids pick number two. Well, to find out the correct answer, we actually spoke to the culprit involved in the true story.
AUSTYN WHALEY: I try to say it backwards, like obing. Kids out there don't say bingo in a bingo hall.
SAGAL: That was Austyn Whaley of Covington, trying hard to abide by his sentence of not saying bingo for six months.
SAGAL: You were fooled by the...
SUMMERS: I was.
SAGAL: ...folksiness of Tom Bodett. You say that can't be true, but it was true. I'm sorry to you and your kids. You didn't win our prize, but you did earn a point for Amy.
DICKINSON: You got a point for me. Yay.
DICKINSON: Thanks guys.
SAGAL: Thank all of you so much for playing.
SUMMERS: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.