A Prank Unfit for “Jackass”

It’s amazing what passes for a joke in the minds of some poor individuals.

University Students Benjamin Nathan Moseley, Russell Lee DeBusk and Matthew Lee Cloyd have been arrested in connection with a string of arson attacks on churches throughout Alabama. In total, five churches were gutted while four more suffered serious damage. The attacks took place throughout February and caused mild panic among the religious community, who feared the possibility of a yet another politically-motivated arsonist.

Instead, the numerous conspiracy theories swirling around the next came to a halt when the upper-class, privately-educated suspects were apprehended and Moseley promptly dismissed the acts as a “joke that went too far”

Honestly, how can a joke like this go “too far”? Is there a maximum number of churches one can burn before the joke becomes too serious? What is the maximum number of parishioners that can be terrorized before the humor dissipates? Would the joke have been funnier or less funny if the Baptists had assumed their political enemies (Gay rights groups, pro-choice advocates) were behind the attacks and retaliated?

Had it been proven that black churches were specifically targeted, as originally feared, the feds were ready to press hate crime charges. Although that was not the case and there was no apparent demographic malice behind the acts (nearly as many white churches were attacked), the students should be charged with a hate crime regardless. The arsons were deliberate acts that could have easily caused the same kind of carnage caused by the 1963 fire-bombings at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Four girls died in the racially-motivated act of domestic terrorism that became a flashpoint for the Civil Rights movement. For this reason, many Alabama residents (among others) will find this “prank” to be in especially poor taste.

Deliberate acts of violence against any identifiable group must be treated swiftly and harshly. The Feds need to prosecute these aspiring actors the same way they would Eric Rudolph or any other domestic terrorist.

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