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July 16, 2003 8:04 AM   Subscribe

Man sentenced to read "To Kill A Mockingbird." For spitting at a cop and disorderly conduct, a PA man is jailed and required to read and write a report on Harper Lee's classic. What other books might be fit punishment for certain crimes? (via Obscurestore)
posted by serafinapekkala (52 comments total)

 
The Great Gatsby. I hated having to read this so called classic. ;-)
posted by woil at 8:09 AM on July 16, 2003


My memory may be a bit rusty on this, but isn't a large part of the plot taken up with the story of a black man being railroaded by authorities into a trial for something he didn't commit?
posted by clevershark at 8:09 AM on July 16, 2003


For frivolous lawsuits: read Guide of the Perplexed by Maimonides and provide a concise summary thereof.
posted by aramaic at 8:10 AM on July 16, 2003


The Judge considered Douglas Coupland, but that would have been considered 'cruel and unusual'.
posted by clevershark at 8:10 AM on July 16, 2003


"American Psycho", by Bret Easton Ellis?
posted by spazzm at 8:11 AM on July 16, 2003


Painful Irony du Jour -- the judge in this case had to specially deliver a copy of the book to the inmate, because the jail prohibits any books coming in because of potential contraband. sigh. i would suggest, say, "Lord of the Rings" for telemarketers who violate the national No Calls List? :P
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:12 AM on July 16, 2003


Kafka's "The Trial", for all attorneys, judges, and clerks.
posted by trharlan at 8:13 AM on July 16, 2003


Douglas Coupland, but that would have been considered 'cruel and unusual'.

ouch! thinking back to eighth grade, i believe "Ethan Frome," "Silas Marner," and "The Return of the Native" would make a fine torture trifecta...
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:16 AM on July 16, 2003


that depends on whether you pertain to either the punitive or rehabilitative school of thought regarding incarceration. If rehabilitative, then anything by Dostoevesky would work, if punitive, then I would suggest Finnegan's Wake.
posted by psmealey at 8:16 AM on July 16, 2003


Do prisoners' rights include Cliff's Notes?
posted by holycola at 8:18 AM on July 16, 2003


The connection between the guy's crime and the book seems like a bit of a stretch. A more appropriate book for spitting on a cop would be Never Tease a Weasel.

I recently finished Bill Lee's Little Red (Sox) Book and to sentence the accused to that would be a violation of 8th Amendment rights.

(on preview: clevershark beat me to it)
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:19 AM on July 16, 2003


1) If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
2) McTeague
3) Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance
4) Language in Thought and Action
5) How to Win Friends and Influence People
Miss Manners' Guide to Domestic Tranquility: The Authoritative Manual for Every Civilized Household, However Harried
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:21 AM on July 16, 2003


What other books might be fit punishment for certain crimes?

Infinite Jest, with a very detailed plot summary and report.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:24 AM on July 16, 2003


Arson - Jack London, To Build A Fire
Perjury - Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Fishing without a license - Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
Public use of profanity - J.D. Salinger, The Catcher In the Rye
Jaywalking - Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
posted by eamondaly at 8:28 AM on July 16, 2003


dear god, Atlas Shrugged.
posted by mcsweetie at 8:28 AM on July 16, 2003


As an English teacher, this thread makes me cry. Stop it, all of you, just stop! *hammers little fists on computer screen* *sobs*
posted by jokeefe at 8:33 AM on July 16, 2003


sorry jokeefe...maybe i should hold off on my I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings joke?
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:36 AM on July 16, 2003


Infinite Jest, with a very detailed plot summary and report.

Funny; Wallace works out at the same gym I do. My girlfriend had him for a few classes here. Very . . . interesting guy.
posted by tr33hggr at 8:36 AM on July 16, 2003


Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth. But only for capital offenses.
posted by clever sheep at 8:38 AM on July 16, 2003


He got 4 to 12 months for disorderly conduct? That seems a bit harsh.
posted by witchstone at 8:39 AM on July 16, 2003


*Changes mind, rolls up sleeves* I'd sentence Dubya to read the following:

The New Testament (the whole thing, for real, and the Sermon on the Mount twice).

Sebald's Austerlitz.

Gravity's Rainbow. (Har har har. And submit a 10,000 word essay about the coprophagic Brigadier.)

And for lots of legalized sodomy goodness, Alan Hollinghurst's The Swimming Pool Library.
posted by jokeefe at 8:40 AM on July 16, 2003


Anything by James Joyce. And he should have to post the book report on the web for criticism.

If he ever finishes, that is.
posted by tommasz at 8:41 AM on July 16, 2003


Heealth code violations: Green Eggs and Ham
posted by mss at 8:43 AM on July 16, 2003


For idjits who drive too slowly on two-lane roads without passing lanes, causing a traffic backup behind them: A Brief History of Time
posted by Holden at 8:48 AM on July 16, 2003


The collected works of Flannery O'Connor with in-depth character analysis of the Misfit and plot summaries of each story with a final essay on what O'Connor is trying to say about the human condition.

That ought to scare him straight.
posted by insomnyuk at 8:51 AM on July 16, 2003


"Lolitta" by Nabokov
posted by stbalbach at 8:52 AM on July 16, 2003


Funny; Wallace works out at the same gym I do. My girlfriend had him for a few classes here. Very . . . interesting guy.

Yeah, I would imagine. I wonder if he's ever seen this?
posted by SweetJesus at 8:54 AM on July 16, 2003


As an English teacher, this thread makes me cry

School and prison same diffrence.
posted by stbalbach at 8:56 AM on July 16, 2003


Perhaps Silas Marner for Skilling and his crowd? Edifying and torturous.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:56 AM on July 16, 2003


For arson I was more thinking Fahrenheit 451.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:12 AM on July 16, 2003


He spit on a cop? And he didn't get Life in prison? :)
posted by danisaacs at 10:01 AM on July 16, 2003


Yes, we all hate reading those big, boring books with no pictures in them. But, back to the actual story:

A telling scene in the novel occurs when a disgraced character confronts Finch and spits in his face. Finch, memorialized in the movie by Gregory Peck, defiantly steps forward, wipes away the spittle with a handkerchief, and walks away.

It seems to me that the arresting (presumably spat-upon) officer would be the one who benefited most from the reading, not the guy sitting in jail.
posted by majcher at 10:05 AM on July 16, 2003


The Complete Volumes of Metatalk with forward written by Miguel Cardoso would seem just punishment.
posted by G_Ask at 10:13 AM on July 16, 2003


jokeefe- Now come on. As an English teacher myself, I know that I have readsome real doozies.
Give him Lord Jim.
posted by oflinkey at 10:22 AM on July 16, 2003


Hey, oflinkey, I quickly recovered and added some helpful rehabilitation literature for the President. See above.

Should I be wont to torture anyone, I would make them read Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, or Stranger in a Strange Land. Actually, this would be torture for me, I can't guarantee anyone else's reactions...
posted by jokeefe at 10:59 AM on July 16, 2003


For deadbeat Dad's I would assign Helen DeWitt's The Last Samurai
posted by vito90 at 11:03 AM on July 16, 2003


Oh well, for some people out there reading any book whatsoever would be punishment enough. Reading is progressively becoming a minority hobby again as it originally was; most of those who do read as a duty either don't really like doing so or don't get what the book is about. Trying to educate the masses has limits; we're still living under an equalitarian illusion according to which every single person everywhere in the world is equally apt to understand Molly Bloom's motivations an so on. Of course this judge is sending out the wrong message when he includes book reading as part of Fowlkes' punishment, but that's how it works in real life.
On the other hand, I do appreciate the DA's wry description of the sentence ("a novel approach").
posted by 111 at 11:07 AM on July 16, 2003


Lolita as punishment? Anyone who has read it knows that Lolita is a treat. One of the funniest books I've ever read.
posted by Holden at 11:07 AM on July 16, 2003


Steal This Book. Don't reform, just learn the rules.

Assistant District Attorney Peter Hobart termed the sentence a "novel approach."

There's your real criminal.
posted by tyro urge at 11:08 AM on July 16, 2003


Just give him some nasty Dickens.

Bleak House would be my pick.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:18 AM on July 16, 2003


Things are tougher elsewhere...
posted by kodas at 11:29 AM on July 16, 2003


Ovid's Metamorphoses and Hamilton's Mythology for anyone who purposefully posts the Ten Commandments in a school or government building. And for anyone who has a bible-verse cross stitch. Pillow or framed.
posted by UncleFes at 11:34 AM on July 16, 2003


I actually know this judge, as my mom (in days long past) used to work with him in the public defender's office. He's a pretty reasonable guy. Co-coached my brother's baseball team. Apparently, doesn't have a large repertoire of book knowledge or might have selected something more appropriate.

Nonetheless, I think that many of our criminals who are sentenced for lesser crimes could probably benefit by being made to read specific books, not for length, but for the value of a different perspective.
posted by ringmaster at 11:49 AM on July 16, 2003


And just to answer the FPP's question, Hermann Broch's "The Death of Virgil" (not entirely bad, but too saturnine) and anything whatsoever by french marxists/structuralists (Gilles Deleuze et caterva) seem like cruel punishment to me.
posted by 111 at 11:55 AM on July 16, 2003


Dickens. Lots and lots of Dickens. I'd suggest anything by Ayn Rand, but that'd be cruel and unusual punishment. Melville's Moby Dick's a great novel to use for torture, and I might throw in Pride and Prejudice and some of Jane Austen's other novels. Chaucer and Shakespeare in their original, not-edited-for-modern eyes forms are also enough to make a student beg for mercy.
posted by Veritron at 12:21 PM on July 16, 2003


Lolitta, eh? Then you'll probably enjoy Nickerless Nicholby, by Charles Dikkens.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:02 PM on July 16, 2003


I'd think any LISP manual would be torturous enough..
posted by shadow45 at 3:11 PM on July 16, 2003


The idea of reading something being a punishment is pretty foreign to me. I've always found some way to not read anything I didn't want to, even for school. Herman Melville was the only thing I really couldn't stand that I got assigned in school.
posted by namespan at 5:00 PM on July 16, 2003


L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield: Earth is probably one of the worst books I've ever read. Truly, I couldn't contemplate a reading experience more terrible. Even Bulwer-Lytton has his moments when stacked against to this rambling, badly plotted and terribly long travesty.

And you folks are completely ignoring the full range of literary horrors known as "celebrity bios." Some has-been celebrity hires a ghost writer, markets a hardback that doesn't sell very well, and six months later, you see a paperback in the bargain bin.

But I'm not sure if punishment should involve severe retribution. To Kill a Mockingbird seems a pretty solid book for potential reform.
posted by ed at 5:11 PM on July 16, 2003


I think the 10 book 'epic' mission earth by l ron hubbard would be apt punishment
posted by MrLint at 6:59 PM on July 16, 2003


Moby Dick, definitely. I had to read that book in high school and I don't think I got past page 20, if that.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:30 PM on July 16, 2003


Should I be wont to torture anyone, I would make them read Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, or Stranger in a Strange Land. Actually, this would be torture for me, I can't guarantee anyone else's reactions...

Well, I liked both of 'em. But maybe I'm weird like that.
posted by callmejay at 11:35 AM on July 17, 2003


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