Reading by the light of your neighbour’s porch

I am astounded. No, not over Melinda Dolittle getting booted from American Idol (although the gods know that was a bizarre and irritating decision on the part of the great unwashed). I am astounded by things legal.

My first bout of astonishment is over the ongoing travesty of justice that is the Julie Amero case. Amero is a substitute teacher who was convicted in January of exposing a group of eighth graders to Internet porn and faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in jail. I won’t go into the whole background of the case but you can check out my original Backspin column and this Wikipedia entry ( for the details.

Amero’s sentencing, which was to be on May 18, was deferred for the fifth time. This is some weird kind of bureaucratic cruelty. The judge who heard the case and the district attorney who is prosecuting should be ashamed — you can find their details on Amero’s blog; drop them a note, I’m sure they would like to hear from you.

The other thing astounding me is history that keeps repeating itself. Remember the case of the Florida man who was prosecuted for a third-degree felony for using an unsecured Wi-Fi access point without permission? How about the Illinois man who was arrested for the same thing, which cost him a fine of US$250 and one year of court supervision? Or the man in Washington or the one in Alaska? All of these people were arrested and prosecuted for doing something that isn’t totally dissimilar from reading a book using the light that spills out of your neighbour’s front porch.

An almost identical case recently happened in Sparta, Mich. Sam Peterson II had apparently developed the habit of parking near the Reunion Street Caf

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