20 November 2011
Crime and punishment
Your Honor, she is not a criminal. Annick Richardson may be many things, but the Ohio woman is not a criminal. The London Daily Mail, which has been following her case, describes her in its headline as a "Compulsive Squirrel Feeder." The somewhat less imaginative press here in the United States, simply refers to her as "nuts," careful to adorn the adjective with quotes, lest the media themselves end up in court themselves on defamation charges.
And now, the Ohio animal-lover has had her day in Kettering Municipal Court, facing as much as 60 days in jail and considerable fines, for blanketing her suburban Ohio neighbohood with peanuts, squirrel feeding stations and dishes of water. The neighbors claim that her Johnny Appleseed-like actions (Joanie Squirrelseed, perhaps?) have spurred a sudden and rapid increase in the local squirrel population.
Please, folks: Richardson is merely feeding the squirrels, not copulating with them.
Besides, peanuts are not fertility drugs - we would have a less truncated elephant population if that were so. Peanuts are simple legumes. (Frankly, if Richardson should be faulted for anything, it is for not feeding a more natural food such as walnuts or pecans, since legumes are not nuts and, as such, are not "real" squirrel food. But that is beside the point. Or perhaps she is also guilty of spreading America's obesity crisis to its native rodents by super-sizing them.)
Her Ohio neighbors are weary of finding spent shells - the kind fired by double-barreled squirrels - and tired of the lawns being dug up (which, by the way, many suburbanites pay a hefty fee to have done by professional landscapers each spring. But again, that is beside the point here too.)
A confident Richardson has assured the press she is not a villain nor is she a monster. A pre-trial hearing has been set for December to pursue her case yet further.
Ah, but perhaps we squirrel-lovers shall all ultimately be jailed for our presumed sin. We have gotten the local squirrels hooked on the Nut Drug, then made regular drug drops in our neighborhoods to keep the addicts in line.
Your Honor, if she is guilty then we all are too. Shackle us all and lead us away. But provided our county jails still allow visitors, as most surely do, we should not despair:
Even in the toughest holding cell, the space between the bars is wide enough to permit entry by the very small. And I suspect that one swift, fur-bearing, bushy-tailed visitor will not forsake us in our incarcerated state.
In one paw, no doubt, will be carrying a small gift for us, the wrongly imprisoned: Neatly sandwiched between two shelled pecans, a jailer's key.