This story is from the beginning of May, but when I read it, I knew I had to bring it to everyone’s attention. We have all heard the message, either canned or read very fast by a flight attendant, that it is illegal to not comply with crewmember instructions. But illegal to the tune of twenty years in a Federal prison?

Carl William Persing could be sentenced up to 20 years, for making out in an overt fashion with his girlfriend on an airline flight and threatening (not sure in what manner) a flight attendant.

AP News item as seen on MSNBC.COM : Man convicted for mile-high makeout

Clearly he exercised poor judgment. If his behavior was making others uncomfortable, a gentleman would have just stopped. However, who gets to define uncomfortable. That aside, what possible “make-out behavior” – on an airliner could possible cause enough discomfort to warrant a trial, let alone a prison sentence of up to 20 years. He could get less, but even so, this just seems like a poor use of FBI time (they met he and his girlfriend upon landing at their final destination), extremely poor use of a Federal prosecutors time and talent, and a waste of court time. All of which, the US tax payers have footed the bill for. Furthermore, I shutter to calculate the actual costs of keeping him in a Federal prison for any length of time. I am sure the total would be in the millions.

It seems to me we have heard much rhetoric from Congress in the past about tort reform and frivolous lawsuits, but this seems to fall into the frivolous category. Not hardly worth the ink, but it highlights some very strange legal reasoning.

Make no mistake; I think Federal Law should protect airline crews. Flight Attendants have a tough job and there is some personal risk involved, but it seems to me that holding a Flight Attendant at knife point or in a choke hold should warrant a certain penalty – being obnoxious and verbally threatening another. Kissing your girlfriend and maybe letting hands wonder a bit too much – well, at a minimum you should forfeit some frequent flyer miles.

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