Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hedgehog Diplomacy

Sometimes things happen in this world that are zany.  Just off the wall.  Someone somewhere makes a decision, and it's usually a bad one, and the next thing you know you are a feature on news sites from Astana to Zanzibar.  And that is never good.  And so it went for Mr. William Singalargh of Whakatane on New Zealand's North Island.  Sometime in the early hours of February 9 he decided that he would pick up a hedgehog and throw it at a local teen.  I did not make that up.
This article is about his sentencing; I've unfortunately lost the article about the original crime.  Eureka!  I have found it and you can read it here.  If you don't like to read then...well, if you don't like to read what are you doing here?  This is all words unless I stick in a picture or two.  But anyway, if you don't want to read about it I will tell you.  They never tell exactly why out buddy Billy chooses to chuck the hedgehog at a 15-year-old boy, but he managed to hit his mark, leaving "a large, red welt and several puncture marks" according to Senior [Police] Sgt. Bruce Jenkins.  Singalargh was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, and could have faced up to five years in prison.  In the end he was convicted merely of assault and offensive behaviour (I have to add the 'u', this is New Zealand after all) and fined $NZ 700 which is about $US 545, of which the majority went to the victim.  It was unclear if the hedgehog was alive or dead when utilized, and as such they charge of cruelty to animals could not be applied.  The hedgehog, however, was deceased when the local police collected it as evidence.
I am guessing that when Billy boy picked up the nearest object he could find and threw it at that bratty kid, he never realized the trouble he would cause.  And I am guessing that when the victim got into his altercation with Billy that he would be the victim of a vicious hedgehog attack.  But that's how it turned out.  Now Billy is out $NZ 700 and there is a 15-year-old with a sweet scar and a hell of the story for his buddies back in the math club.  Honestly though, it's always those little decisions that we make that balloon into something huge that get us in trouble because we fail to see the potential consequences.  Decide to pass that slow moving camper out on the gravel road and then BAM! you run head on into an Olympic equestrian hopeful on her horse.  Now you are in jail.  Use your credit card at the shady Szuchuan restaurant instead of the 20 in your pocket and now your identity is stolen and someone is enjoying a Lamborghini that you are stuck paying for.  Small decisions with major results.  Pass a camper.  Swipe a card.  Chuck a hedgehog.  Now an Olympic hopeful is dead; you are no longer you; you are bouncing around in the courts; you are in trouble up to your neck and sinking fast.  Who would have thought? 
I sure do hope that our boy William was drunk when he threw the hedgehog.  He had to have been.  No one sober or in their right mind would throw an animal, dead or alive, at someone else.  If it had been me on the misty New Zealand night, I would have reached down, picked up the furry implement of death and just started laughing.  Confrontation over.  The kid doesn't have a welt, I am not in jail, everyone goes home happy.  And I hope that the hedgehog was dead when he threw it.  Because, let's be honest, no wild animal is going to just sit idly by and allow you to throw it at someone.  First of all if it were alive that hedgehog would have been hiding from Billy and the Teenager.  He wouldn't have been sitting on the side of the road, eating popcorn, and taking bets on who would win the fist fight.  Secondly, if the hedgehog HAD been there chilling and realized that Singalargh was coming for him, he would have run.  So Singalargh would have had to chase him God knows where to get a hold of him before throwing him.  I can just picture a drunken New Zealander, probably wearing a rugby shirt, stumbling around chasing a freaked out hedgehog in an attempt to catch it so he could throw it.  No, scratch that.  I think it's even more hilarious if William is sober, making a concerted, coherent effort to chase and trap the animal to use as a projectile.  And why the hell is the Teenager standing there while this is happening?  I would be running for my young life.  Or hiding behind a parked Holden or something other than just standing there wondering what the hell is going on.  Save that for once you are at a safe distance.  Thirdly, most wild animals that I have met don't really take kindly to being held by people.  Just ask The Crocodile Hunter if that stingray wanted to be held on to. (Too soon?) Or any of the other animals that he came across.  Try to catch and hold a wild deer.  It doesn't work.  If on the odd chance the hedgehog wasn't hiding, and on the even more remote chance that Billy boy caught the damn thing, the hedgehog would have been scratching and biting and otherwise mauling Singalargh in every way, shape, or form possible.  It had to have been.  It would have been like a whirling tornado of hair and teeth and ears, biting and scratching and sticking quills in places that I don't even want to think about.  Don't you think?  Or am I way off base here?  I don't think so.  I've been outside, and I have Animal Planet on my cable system, and I've seen an awful lot of episodes of America's Funniest Home Videos so I know about how animals react to stuff.  And I know that they don't just lie there complacently while people pick them up and throw them.  If you think that they do you are stupid and obviously have trouble telling the difference between an animal and a baseball.  That probably answers your questions about why that animal in your yard won't eat the cat food you keep putting out for it.
So where do we go from here?  I am not exactly sure.  Mr. Sigalargh has presumably paid his fine and is now square in the eyes of the law.  The Teenager's leg has presumably healed; perhaps there is a scar there to document the incident for posterity.  The hedgehog was probably buried or thrown into a landfill, thus ending it's saga and assuring that it will never serve a stint as a bird again.  And the world moves on.  In another month or so someone will do something stupid again and Billy and his hedgehog will be forgotten.  Some airhead mother in Philadelphia will drive two blocks with her baby in a car seat on top of her car, or a hiker in South Africa will accidentally urinate on an electric fence surrounding a diamond mine and we will all forget about just how stupid William Singalargh, the Teenager, and their incident with the hedgehog really was.  Until someone else who is awfully stupid tries to pack a hedgehog as a weapon and go through airport security we can rehash this whole episode again.  I can't wait.

1 comment:

KingBobb said...

It's not that I don't wholeheartedly support the idea, and the mental images that accompany it, of a frustrated Kiwi bumbling around after a hedgehog. But, I'm pretty sure that the little bugger was probably a pet, perhaps in a cage where he couldn't escape. Though, I suppose that it's possible it was a wild one, as in the middle of this post, I have taken the time to learn that they were introduced to New Zealand. That being said, you've just taken the time and trouble to read this post with the result of learning nothing new.