Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Unthinkable

There's an unavoidable crassness in the tale I'm about to impart. I'll avoid any anatomical descriptors that may render the post PG, but you'll get the idea. Warning: this one falls somewhere between humorous and disturbing. I'm on the fence honestly. You be the judge.
According to a story on MSNBC, a man claimed a rodent bit him on his...  let's just call it his "distinction" for etiquette's sake... while he was locked up in a New York correctional facility. He's filing a civil rights lawsuit on the grounds that the facility did not maintain acceptable living conditions. I'd agree with him there. Everyone should have the right to sleep soundly knowing without a doubt  that their private parts will not be bitten by vermin. Again, no arguments from me. The real question lies in the validity of his claim doesn't it.

The former prisoner, Peter Solomon, says a rat crawled out of  his mattress and took a chunk out him while he was sleeping. Here's where the claim gets dubious: If he was asleep, how did he know  the rat "crawled out of a hole in his mattress?"  There are a few more red flags that make me doubt the account: He's a Vietnam vet with documented PTSD; he was in jail for "menacing" his wife; and well... that'll do, right?

Solomon claims the reported incident caused him emotional distress and has rendered his "distinction" useless. Again, pretty weird. Must've been some bite. That being said, there is record of Solomon receiving treatment for the bite in the jail's clinic, which included a rabies shot.

True or not, the claim does expose a practice common in federal and state prisons where administrators  ignore complaints about rat control and general lack of cleanliness. The county wants the suit dismissed of course, but Solomon's lawyers intend to seek an unspecified reward. Which brings up another question: how does one monetize shame?

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