Perhaps I’m just bitter that global warming has enveloped my home in a cold snap, but I welcome the news that an intrepid Ohio prosecutor has filed a criminal indictment against folklore’s weirdest character, Punxsutawney Phil. Oh, and the prosecutor is seeking the death penalty, showing a seriousness of purpose that is all too unfamiliar these days.
According to legend, when a particular groundhog emerges from his burrow in a particular part of Pennsylvania, on a specific date, we can determine whether or not Spring weather arrives earlier than normal. This is all based on whether or not the groundhog “sees” his shadow. Not only do I not understand the physics or meteorology behind this, I don’t understand any theory of either that would account for this.
The indictment filed by Butler County prosecutor Michael Gmoser reads, in part:
On or about February 02,2013, at Gobbler’s Knob, Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that Spring would come early. Contrary to the Groundhog day report, a snowstorm and record low temperatures have been and are predicted to continue in the near future, which constitutes the offense of MISREPRESENTATION OF EARLY SPRING, a Unclassified Felony, and against the peace and dignity of the State Of Ohio.
Now, I’m usually one of the first people to criticize prosecutorial abuse, but this strikes me as exactly right. First, we can’t be too serious in pursuing the kind of tongue-in-check practical joke at the heart of the indictment. Second, Punxsutawney Phil has to be about the stupidest “folklore legend” that still has a grip on the public. He simply needs to go away.
I’m most hopeful, though, that Gmoser’s historic indictment could set a real precedent. How about an indictment against the Weather Channel, for regularly whipping public anxiety and panic over “possible” storm “events?” Better still, how about an indictment against Paul Ehrlich, Michael Mann or other apocalyptic doom-merchants who peddle faulty data to convince the public that we are doomed unless we do exactly what they prescribe?
Punxsutawney Phil may just be the fall-guy, after all. He probably just bought into all that “global warming” hype.