Wednesday, September 11, 2013

On What Charge?

I'm somewhat confused (and a bit irate) at this piece from AP news:
Polk County sheriff's deputies arrested Pastor Terry Jones, 61, and his associate pastor, Marvin Sapp Jr., 34, on felony charges as he drove a pickup truck towing a large barbecue-style grill filled with Qurans soaked in kerosene. He had said he was heading to a nearby park to burn 2,998 Qurans — one for every victim of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Sheriff's officials said they would hold a news conference later Wednesday to discuss specific charges.
So, what is he being charged with?
Jones planned to burn the books at the county-owned Loyce E. Harpe Park in Mulberry, but was denied a permit, with officials saying he filed his request too late and that he does not have permission for an event of that magnitude. 
...Polk deputies took Jones and Sapp into custody. The Lakeland Ledger reports the men are facing traffic-related offenses for driving with kerosene in the grill. 
The Polk County Sheriff's Office has not publicly said what charges the two men face, but they will be felonies.
Really? I can't see how driving with a trailer with kerosene in it is a felony. Kerosene, like diesel fuel and unlike gasoline is not considered a flammable fuel. According to Wikipedia kerosene has a class II flammability rating, which means it must be moderately heated or exposed to relatively high ambient temperatures before it will ignite.

So I really don't see the problem. Stupid, yes, but a felony? Nor is failure to get a permit to exercise one's first amendment rights a felony.

Now I don't agree with Pastor Jones, or condone what he was about to do, but this is supposed to be America. The articles mentioned describe how his actions could spark Muslim violence in the Middle East. Although I doubt his actions would be that important, and there already seems to be violence in the Middle East without his help, even if it did, this is America, not the Middle East.

[Update: the charges have been disclosed:
Jones was charged with unlawfully conveying fuel, a felony, and openly carrying a firearm, a misdemeanor. Sapp was charged with invalid registration for his trailer that hauled the grill and the felony of unlawful conveyance of fuel.
So apparently in Florida it is a felony to carry kerosene this way, although I read several articles about its use in sprayers to kill vegetation - I wonder how they get around the law for that?

Well, my already low opinion of Pastor Jones' intelligence has taken a dip. He supposedly knew this was illegal but wanted to flout the law. Or at least that's what's being reported. We'll see what happens at the trial. I bet they throw the book at him (pun intended).]


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