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February 5, 2004 9:43 PM   Subscribe

Man short on funds, mails himself home. Judge not amused, fines him $1,500. More background info here. Robbed of the Darwin Award.
posted by Civil_Disobedient (28 comments total)

 
Are you sure his name wasn't "Waldo Jeffers"?
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:48 PM on February 5, 2004


The $1,500 is more expensive than many airlines charge for a first class ticket from New York to Dallas.

so, he takes the leap from "first class" to crate? i think he could have found a round trip fare for about $300.
posted by centrs at 10:16 PM on February 5, 2004


I heard stories about this a few months ago. I guess the sentencing or something happened recently. What exactly is the charge, anyway? He's not endangering anyone but himself.

Dallas area D.A. Bill Hill says, "He violated the law of stupidity if nothing else."
What does the law of stupidity say? "Stupidity is bad?" <g>
posted by abcde at 10:24 PM on February 5, 2004


oh, duh. he was fined $1500. i thought that was how much he paid to ship himself home.
posted by centrs at 10:34 PM on February 5, 2004


Good lord. Does this judge fine people who cut their fingers preparing food, too?

Just because the guy was stupid doesn't mean he can be fined. He damaged nothing, and bothered nobody. Why the fine? I didn't even think it was legal to fine people unless you can prove they endangered somebody ELSE in some way!

Yikes. This goes under the same categoy as "Seatbelt laws" and "Bike Helmets". Let the stupid be stupid. Then they can die out and the smarts can have the earth to themselves.

"I don't like what you did. It was wrong and very stupid," he said.

??? That's just not a reason to fine someone! I can tell you right now there's a first appearances prosecutor saying "I don't like that you rear-ended someone. It was wrong and very stupid." but guess what... I still didn't have to pay the fine!

Good lord this roils my blood.
posted by shepd at 11:45 PM on February 5, 2004


I would think worldwide humiliation stemming from both his actions and the broadcasting of his financial situation to the whole world would be punishment enough. No, lets give him a fine too.
posted by banished at 12:12 AM on February 6, 2004


i was under the impression (correct me if i'm wrong) that it is illegal to ship humans in one of these containers? hence the fine and house arrest.

he was actually charged with "stowing away on a cargo jet". i guess all the implications of that is probably why he's been charged, rather than over his negligence towards his own life.

anyway, here's the guardian report on it, just to add another view.
posted by triv at 12:12 AM on February 6, 2004


shepd: People who attack on laws that condemn self-endangerment don't have much of a case IMO if they're gonna say "let them be stupid, they can die if they want to." It is the law's job, at least to some degree, to help protect people against themselves when they're mentally ill, inebriated, or otherwise not at full judgement.

IMO, there's no reason to treat someone ill-advised enough to not wear a seatbelt as being at full judgement - there's no other explanation (in normal cases, not counting things like short drives and the need for mobility in the car, which can I assume be used as a defense in court). Any pointless self-endangerment has some justification to be ruled illegal. Of course you've got to draw the line, but I think seatbelts and probably helmets are neatly within the line.

The fines do encourage people to put their seatbelts on (personally, the "Violaters will be charged $50" sign for me serves as a jarring reminder if nothing else) - and the real threat of money being taken away even reminds those who in principle prefer seatbelts, but are easily distracted. The fine saves lives, even in those who prefer seatbelts. Given the choice to make a Utilitarianist decision between affording what doesn't even qualify as a human right or saving thousands of lives, I vote for the latter.
posted by abcde at 12:44 AM on February 6, 2004


The fine is justified, if anything, on the grounds of theft and trespassing. Stealing more than $500 is considered a felony, and the price of a cross-country flight hovers around that figure. Also, I've probably paid close to $1500 in tickets over the last seven years, just for cumulated stupid, harmless shit like not getting to the meter in time, so its not like I can feel he's going through some unbearable, unprecedented amount of punishment.
posted by dgaicun at 1:27 AM on February 6, 2004


What exactly is the charge, anyway? He's not endangering anyone but himself.

He faked a shipping manifest. Smuggling anything aboard an airplane is illegal in the United States.
posted by Uncle Ira at 3:20 AM on February 6, 2004


This all thread seems to beg a question: if a man can ship himself and reach destination , how hard is to ship something much smaller as a bomb ?
posted by elpapacito at 3:40 AM on February 6, 2004


He faked a shipping manifest.

If I recall correctly, he actually used his employer to pay for the shipping, (most likely without their knowledge) and a friend helped him get packed in the crate.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:57 AM on February 6, 2004


I swear that we talked about this on MeFi, but I can't find the threat. I thought that someone had mentioned that the man could have gotten a plane ticket on Southwest or some other airline for less than what he paid to ship himself.
posted by jennak at 5:58 AM on February 6, 2004


"It is the law's job, at least to some degree, to help protect people against themselves when they're mentally ill, inebriated, or otherwise not at full judgement." - Assuming that it wasn't a rational decision.

If they sign waivers - why shouldn't people be allowed to ship themselves in crates ? Frankly, I don't think it's much more perilious than skydiving or, for that matter, driving an SUV around an off-ramp on a snowy day.

People should be allowed to pack themselves - like produce - into air freight crates if they so desire.

But I'd bet this one was a publicity stunt.
posted by troutfishing at 6:49 AM on February 6, 2004


I don't think it's much more perilious than skydiving or, for that matter, driving an SUV around an off-ramp on a snowy day.

The stowaway death rate is about 20%. The most common forms of death are frostbite from the low high-altitude temperatures and asphyxiation from the thin air. The chances increase with longer flights (like say from Newark to Dallas). And no, Trout, if you try to make this legal, Ralph Nader will beat your ass.
posted by dgaicun at 7:40 AM on February 6, 2004


And to think people scoffed at my go-go-gadget helicopter.
posted by johnnyboy at 7:57 AM on February 6, 2004


How much more than $500 could it have cost to by a ticket from NYC to Texas? Seems a little silly to me if he paid 500 to ship himself as the article suggests.
posted by mtstover at 8:02 AM on February 6, 2004


Darwin award! HA! That never gets old! </snark>
posted by jpoulos at 8:04 AM on February 6, 2004


jennak, Yeah, this was definitely on mefi before, like 4 months ago or so. We discussed it in terms of "Homeland Security". Same photo was used. Weird, I can't find the link either.
posted by dobbs at 8:24 AM on February 6, 2004


Darwin award! HA! That never gets old!
Add, these comments are reminding me the first time this was posted last year, why it may have not have been found.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:28 AM on February 6, 2004


What the 'spike said. I looked through the entire September archive and finally concluded marginal newsfilter + stoopid discussion = Matt's Axe. Do I feel its chill shadow descending even as I type?
posted by languagehat at 10:44 AM on February 6, 2004


It is the law's job, at least to some degree, to help protect people against themselves when they're mentally ill, inebriated, or otherwise not at full judgement.

Well, he wasn't drunk, he certainly doesn't appear to be mentally ill (otherwise a good judge would have required he get himself mental help), and his judgement was perfectly sound. He safely arrived, and he acheived his goal: Cheapest airfare possible.

IMO, there's no reason to treat someone ill-advised enough to not wear a seatbelt as being at full judgement - there's no other explanation (in normal cases, not counting things like short drives and the need for mobility in the car, which can I assume be used as a defense in court).

Okay, explain this (without being insulting to my favourite party).

Given the choice to make a Utilitarianist decision between affording what doesn't even qualify as a human right or saving thousands of lives, I vote for the latter.

A lot disagree on that. There is a strong argument to be made that humans should have a right to do anything that doesn't endanger/harm others, and that anything which encroaches upon that is doing harm to the rights of mankind.

The stowaway death rate is about 20%.

Wow. That's a LOT less than smoking.

Which brings me to that old saw -- why is it right for a government to allow people to smoke themselves to an early death, but wrong for the government to allow people to choose wether they want to wear a seatbelt or not?
posted by shepd at 2:25 PM on February 6, 2004


From dgaicun's linked article:

The wheel-well survival rate since 1947 is 20.3 percent.

It would appear that the death rate is closer to 80% than to 20% for this sort of thing. You're better off with the Pall Malls.
posted by speedo at 3:01 PM on February 6, 2004


Fuck! Good call, Speedo. I hang my shitty reading comprehension head in shame.
posted by dgaicun at 7:30 PM on February 6, 2004


Uh, speedo and dgaicun, the wheel-well survival rate is for people who stow away in the wheel wells of aircraft. That's a hell of a lot more dangerous than traveling in a crate securely stowed in the cargo compartment.

As I pointed out the previous time this item was posted to MeFi, the cargo compartment is typically pressurized these days. (For structural reasons, I expect; it's easier to build a fully pressurized cylinder than a pressurized half-cylinder.) The airlines even have advice on shipping pets and other animals in the cargo areas. You don't get pretzels or access to a bathroom, but it's not something you'd expect to die from. For aircraft which are 100% cargo, some are unheated and unpressurized, but many are heated and pressurized simply because it allows them to ship a wider variety of cargo.
posted by hattifattener at 1:37 PM on February 7, 2004


Fair enough Mr. h...r. I didn't know they were pressurizing/heating the carriage these days, but I knew they didn't use to, so it seemed to me the conditions could reliably be compared to the wheel-well.
posted by dgaicun at 2:00 PM on February 7, 2004


I was arguing the seatbelts point, I haven't really thought about this guy.

A lot disagree on that. There is a strong argument to be made that humans should have a right to do anything that doesn't endanger/harm others, and that anything which encroaches upon that is doing harm to the rights of mankind. - yes, you filthy libertarian ;)
posted by abcde at 8:14 PM on February 7, 2004


dgaicun - To be fair, I was arguing in ignorance of this as well (I assumed pressurization) - but I think my point still stands. People should be able to select their own style of death - assuming they are mentally competent to do so. As for Ralph Nader, well....... I have great respect for his early work, but I question his recent priorities.
posted by troutfishing at 11:37 PM on February 7, 2004


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