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Humor | September 28, 2012

Lost in translation


The unintended consequences of communication problems

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fieldsa question during a press conference in New York after addressing the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

A high-speed chase took place in the town of Bunnell, about 60 miles south of Jacksonville, Fla. this week. But I'll bet you haven't heard of a police chase like this since about well, 1900. A police officer responding to a report of "an intoxicated male riding a horse" had to turn on his emergency lights to stop traffic as Charles Larkin Cowart, 29, rode across the street, according to police reports. Cowart said he was on his way to his grandmother's house in nearby Flagler Beach, but he refused officers' orders to dismount. And "in an aggressive manner reared the horse back" and started galloping through town.

Officers did not immediately give chase, fearing for the safety of the public and the horse. Cowart continued to ride through town, forcing a train to slow down as he crossed over a set of railroad tracks. Police kept their emergency lights on, but did not use their sirens to prevent the horse from being frightened and "potentially making the situation worse."

Cowart ignored several verbal commands to get off the horse, which after more than half an hour, became exhausted. Cowart eventually jumped off and took off running. Police caught up with him a short time later. The horse returned to Cowart's family and is doing fine, police said. Cowart was booked into the Flagler County Jail on charges that included disorderly conduct, resisting arrest without violence and cruelty to animals. Perhaps they also will charge him with an RUI-riding while under the influence. Good thing he didn't have a stagecoach or a wagon too.

Cowart is on his way to jail and Linda Joyce Lakes isn't getting out anytime soon, even though she was supposed to be released last Friday. The reason? She mailed a threatening stick figure drawing to a relative. FBI agent Kyle Wright, who investigated the case, described the drawing in a court document.

"One stick figure appeared to be lying down with his face smashed. The baseball bat was lying nearby with damage that appeared to be consistent with its use on the first stick figure. The second stick figure appeared to be walking away with a smile," Wright wrote.

Prosecutors say that in 2010, Lakes mailed the drawing that apparently depicted a battered stick figure alongside threatening phrases such as "No tears," ''No hiding," and "No more you." Lake was released from state prison and immediately taken into federal custody. So, take note. Violent drawings, no matter how poorly executed, are still a bad idea. And perhaps Lakes should consider working on her communication skills.

And finally, Lakes isn't the only one having communication problems. One Iranian news agency took a joke by satirical newspaper, The Onion, a little too seriously this week. The news agency picked up a story from the paper about a supposed survey showing a majority of white Americans would rather vote for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than President Barack Obama. Too bad that isn't exactly correct, like everything else in the spoof newspaper.

The English-language service of Iran's semiofficial Fars news agency republished the story Friday, several days after it appeared in The Onion. The Iranian version is copied word-for-word from the original story, minus The Onion's description of Ahmadinejad as "a man who has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and has had numerous political prisoners executed." Huh. Talk about media spin.