Monday, February 29, 2016

There's A Lesson Here

Do you remember Michael Fay?  He was the American teenager who committed vandalism and theft in Singapore and was sentenced to caning back in 1994.  To put it bluntly, he got his butt whipped with a stick.  While many in America viewed the punishment as harsh, it was a lesson that some countries actually enforce their laws and your excuses and prevarications will not protect you there.

Fast forward to today, where an American university student is under arrest in North Korea for theft:
North Korea presented a detained American student before the media on Monday in Pyongyang, where he tearfully apologized for attempting to steal a political banner -- at the behest, he said, of a member of a church back home who wanted it as a "trophy" -- from a staff-only section of the hotel where he had been staying.

North Korea announced in late January it had arrested Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student. It said that after entering the country as a tourist he committed an anti-state crime with "the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation."

No details of what kind of charges or punishment Warmbier faces were immediately released.

According to Warmbier's statement Monday, he wanted the banner with a political slogan on it as a trophy for the church member, who was the mother of a friend...

He was arrested while visiting the country with Young Pioneer Tours, an agency specializing in travel to the North, which is strongly discouraged by the U.S. State Department.
He is not a "hostage", contrary to the Fox News video at the link.  He is a thief.

Of course I think that criminal penalties in some countries are unnecessarily harsh.  On the other hand, if you go to other countries, you must obey their laws.  The fact that we don't enforce our laws in this country (illegal immigration, for starters) doesn't mean that other countries don't enforce theirs.  You don't have the right to "freedom of speech" or "trial by your peers" or any other such rights if those countries don't allow them.  And you don't have the right not to suffer corporal punishment a la Michael Fay, or the "right" not to be sentenced to hard labor for theft of a banner a la Otto Warmbier, when you go to other countries.

I have two quotes to offer.  "Stupid should hurt."  "The stupid is strong with this one."  I hope he's learning his lesson after spending several weeks in a North Korean jail cell.  I also hope he'll be released soon.

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