Can someone explain to me why this isn’t asinine?

Radley Balko finds a headline-of-the-day contender:

WATERLOO, Iowa — A Waterloo teenager accused of setting fire to some bags of beef jerky at a Walgreen’s store faces a first-degree arson charge.

Police say a clerk found the smoking packages on the shelves Tuesday afternoon and put out the fire by blowing on it. The fire didn’t spread and there was no damage to the store.

Of all the things you can light on fire in a Walgreen’s, beef jerky seems like the least likely to actually catch.  It’s not like they make it with FOOF or something.  But leaving aside the deficiencies in our little pyromaniac’s education — first degree arson?  Really?  Read that second paragraph again.

Now, my first thought was that Iowa, out of an entertainingly gruesome sense of metaphor, might classify arson the same way as burns: from first degree as a subclinical ouchie to third- and fourth-degree as devastating structural damage.  But a quick google search uncovers a few other cases of first-degree arson charges in Waterloo, all of which are of the “burn your house down for the insurance money” level of severity.  Compare and contrast.

Srsly, Waterloo?


5 Responses to “Can someone explain to me why this isn’t asinine?”

  1. March 16, 2012 at 11:43

    It’s probably technically correct as the law is written, but really it should just be a vandalism charge (and will probably get plea bargained to that).

  2. 3 kbiel
    March 16, 2012 at 14:44

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the beef jerky were really pemmican given the quality of reporting we get from the media these days.

    “Pimma…what? Look you said it was on the beef jerky display, right? That’s what I’m writing.”

  3. 4 TMI
    March 16, 2012 at 16:44

    Off-topic, sorry, but read this and thought I’d bring it to your attention:


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