What a cheek !

I’m sure that we’ve all heard of instances of good citizens who have confronted people who were littering only to be met with verbal abuse, sometimes with physical violence which, in some extreme cases, has led to murder. In fact I have written about such cases before – which made my ears prick up when I heard the following story from Florida.

Apparently, Smathers Beach in Key West has always suffered from plentiful littering of beer cans and other rubbish, especially in the spring break when intoxicated college students tend to muster there.

Now to introduce the protagonist of the story – the 20-year-old Cassi Lyn Clayton, a young lady who was labelled as a bit of a “spitfire” (a strange Americanism which hardly shows respect to the famous WWII fighter plane) – I wonder with what term we would have branded Cassi. Apparently, she had already been arrested in February for attacking a police officer and causing damage to property.

Anyway, one evening in early March, Madison Pelfrey (a 21-year-old female student) was seen dropping litter on the beach. The sight of this seemed to get Cassi’s goat and she approached Madison and started screaming at her.

The argument then began to escalate and eventually became physical. It culminated in Cassi biting into Madison’s right cheek.

Unsurprisingly, Cassi was subsequently arrested and charged with “misdemeanor battery” (another glorious transatlantic expression) and then released from custody. The story ends with the wise admonition that “if you happen to be on your spring break in Key West over the next two months, please make sure to properly dispose of your garbage….”.

This episode reminded me of the uncomfortable ethical dilemma posed by “Death Wish”, the Michael Winner film starring Charles Bronson. Bronson’s daughter was raped and his wife murdered by muggers and Bronson then patrolled the streets and the subway of New York inviting muggers to attack him and, when they did, shooting them. Given the deterrent to street violence that this generated, Bronson’s actions were greeted with approval by the public who were happy that someone was doing something about this serious issue and the police felt understandably ambivalent about how to deal with the situation.

Perhaps the Key West police felt the same way about Cassi – “don’t drop litter or you’ll get your right cheek bitten into” would be a reasonable deterrent to most litterers, I suspect, if a little extreme.

I am not suggesting that the government or local authorities add personal violence to their armoury of litter deterrents, but it did make me wonder if any of you have heard of any anti-litter measures that come even remotely close to this. If you have, please leave a comment below…….

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