Short story even shorter: honor student keeps up with her AP work, gets straight As, is in the running for graduating at the top of her class, but misses more than the maximum ten days' unexcused absence thanks to the demands of working two jobs to help feed her family and ends up truant. Judge Lanny Moriarty (can't wait till Ryan North hears of this) throws her in the slammer overnight to teach her a lesson in practical civics.
- Diane Tran is a genuine menace to the order and safety of Texas educational institutions and must be jailed to help ensure the domestic tranquility.
- Judge Moriarty (seriously, I can't get over that ha ha) is a thug in a black robe who likes to pick on little kids. He's nicely insulated from his bullying thanks to the unwarranted reputation of the juvenile courts as society's fount of celerious wisdom and swift justice.
- Judge Moriarty (oh God, my sides. I think I'm gonna be sick over here you guys) rightly recognizes that the law as she is written is an ass in desperate need of kicking.
- It was an honest mistake. "Oops, sorry guys. I got this honor student mixed up with the local crank kingpin. My bad."
If I'm reading the quotes from the news articles right, and if the hermeneutical interpretation of the editorial choice to run the story is on point, interpretation #2 is what most folks reach for. But consider the possibility that #3 is really what's going on. Despite cockamamie stereotypes, judges, even podunk Texas judges (Houston is not podunk, btw) are no fools. Sitting judges with good consciences can expose febrile imbecility in the legislative code simply by enforcing statutes exactly as written.
It's bad enough that the US has such widespread provision of primary education. It's far worse that legislatures so sanguinely seek to bedevil, torment, niggle, beleaguer and harass educators and parents with tittling patchwork legislation passed to indulge clamorous constituents. Sometimes it takes the courage of a judge to hike up his big girl panties, point to a draconian criminal code and holler "look upon thy works and weep, ye impenitant." Consider the possibility that that's exactly what Judge (snicker) Moriarty has done with young Ms. Tran.
Perhaps the public outcry against this bovine injustice will urge voters to storm the legislature and demand repeal of asinine truancy codes. I won't hold out much hope that they'll attack the source of the problem rather than just one petty symptom though. I'm an optimist, but not that much of an optimist.
Constituents trade the use of force in society with the state that we might live harmoniously. Sometimes it takes a special sort of person to take a highlighter to the fine print in the contract governing this exchange. This dismal task is why everyone hates lawyers and economists.
Yes, I totally made up the word "celerious." Well, not totally as in totally totally. It's from the Latin for "fast." We get the word "celerity" (and maybe "celebrity?") from the same root. I wanted an adjective though, so there you have it. If you must employ it, employ it responsibly.