Archive for Monday, January 4, 2010


January 4, 2010


That cheer you might be hearing in the background could be coming from the Americans who are delighted that the parents who carried out the “balloon boy” hoax have been sentenced to jail time. They also face strict probation restrictions that forbid them from earning any money from the spectacle for at least four years. Most of us wish it could be longer.

Richard Heene was sentenced to 90 days in jail, including 60 days of work release that will let him pursue his job as a construction contractor while serving his time. His wife, Mayumi, got 20 days in jail. It’s reasonable to let the man work to feed his family, but not via sham.

Heene, a noted attention-seeker, played it to the hilt by choking back tears while telling a judge he was sorry, particularly for the rescue workers who chased down the false reports that his 6-year-old son had floated away on a homemade balloon on Oct. 15. It soon was revealed that the stunt was designed to gain attention and possibly a reality television show for the family.

Now how about the enormous cost of the needless rescue effort? Chief Deputy District Attorney Andrew Lewis in Fort Collins, Colo., has asked for full restitution to authorities for the cost of investigating the hoax. That figure is due to top $50,000, and Heene should be forced to repay every penny of it. The same penalty should apply to risk-takers who court disaster with storms, avalanches and high seas when they are warned that such conditions exist.

Considering all the attention the Heenes got, international in scope, there is always the danger that others will be encouraged to try for the same kind of notoriety with other stunts. This comment by entertainer Jay Leno capsulized that: “This is a copycat game. People will copycat this event and need to go to jail so people don’t do that.”

We can hope that jail time for the Heenes and the order to cover the debt they incurred with their project will discourage new foolishness of this nature.


anon1958 8 years, 4 months ago

Kind of slow commenting on this. That would not be the cheer that is being heard but a long receded echo of the cheer from two weeks ago. Ma and Pa Heene may be idiots but that does not make them too dumb for their own TV show.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 4 months ago

The really bad thing about this is that they fooled so many people for so long. There were people all over the world watching and terrified for this little boy. Law enforcement worked very hard as did a lot of others who tracked that balloon. The sheriff, I think it was, said that the house had been searched for the boy and he had not been found. Was there a hidden space in the attic that had been prepared for this with no way out because that is a long time for a boy that age to stay still and quiet.

job4mike6 8 years, 4 months ago

There are so many more important issues deserving editorial attention than these sad wannabes. Suggest the editors resolve not to waste editorial page space on Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen, Tonya Harding, other celebrity misadventures, or Bo, the First Dog. I would like the editors to offer views on job creation strategies, the lack of change (or not) between Bush-era and Obama-era fiscal profligacy, sensible ways and places to cut state and local government, priorities in education on fields that create better economic circumstances, health care availability in rural areas, and scientists' responsibility to present all data faithfully in public policy debates.

anon1958 8 years, 4 months ago

"There are so many more important issues deserving editorial attention than these sad wannabes. "

No doubt, though I hope you were not expecting any home grown sophisticated analysis on any important subject.

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