Ask Americans how they stand compared with their fellow countrymen, and in survey after survey, the vast majority rank themselves "above average" in such areas as driving skill, sexual prowess and general honesty. A recent study of English prisoners, published in the British Journal of Social Psychology, revealed that they, too, rate themselves above average (whether compared with Britons in prison or in society at large) in compassion, generosity, dependability, trustworthiness and honesty. The only trait on which the criminals failed to rank themselves as better than the typical Brit was "law-abidingness." They rated themselves merely as "average."
Robert Bourque, 55, was convicted of drunken driving in Sarnia, Ontario, in October, but continued to deny the charge. He admitted he had four beers on the day of the traffic stop but said the Breathalyzer result was misleading because he had recently poured alcohol into his ears to test his theory about how Jesus healed the sick. (Bourque was acting as his own lawyer.)
The mother and other relatives of William Medina, 24, said they felt hurt by the public's comments suggesting that Medina and his partner in the November Reading, Pa., armed robbery were "thugs." William was a "family man," his mother said. The two robbers, armed and wearing masks, were fatally shot by a Krick's Korner customer who said he feared the worst when he saw the robbers leading a store employee at gunpoint into a back room. A Medina cousin said he deplored people's taking the law into their own hands.
Officials in Taiji, Japan, announced in October they would build a tourist attraction to publicize a nearby annual dolphin cull in which thousands are killed. Park planners hope to attract visitors to swim and cavort in pools among the lovable, captured dolphins — and also to dine on dolphin meat (and rare whale meat). Conservationists are, of course, disgusted by the project.
Fine points of the law
A December federal court decision, by Judge William Pauley, dismissing a challenge to the National Security Agency's phone surveillance program, suggested that even if a citizen might prove that his constitutional right to privacy was being violated, that person could never know it in the first place and thus never challenge, because Congress purposely made the NSA program secret. In fact, wrote Pauley, the alleged constitutional violation that created the current lawsuit only came to light because of the unauthorized leaks by Edward Snowden. Therefore, if Congress never amends its secret laws, citizens will never get to find out whether their rights are being violated.
Least competent criminals
According to a police report, Tevin Monroe, 31, walked into a McDonald's in Norfolk, Va., in December to inquire about a job, asked a manager for an application, and was told that the form was available online. A dissatisfied Monroe lifted his shirt to show the manager the gun in his waistband. The manager quickly located a paper application for Monroe (but also discreetly summoned police, who arrived and arrested Monroe while he was still filling out the form).
University of Alabama football fan Adrian Briskey, 28, was charged in December with the fatal shooting of a 36-year-old woman (also a Bama fan) at a postgame gathering in Hoover, Ala., to commiserate over the team's last-second loss to arch-rival Auburn. According to the victim's sister, Briskey was angry at the woman because she was insufficiently distraught about the loss.
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