All Fools Day is upon us. It's a day spent plastering an absent co-worker's office with thousands of Post-It notes, forwarding spoof emails or, conversely, writing tirades in opposition to emails that you didn't realize were spoofs and discovering all too late that your car door handle has been coated in Vaseline.
My favorite April Fool's tradition involves listening to National Public Radio. Each year NPR delivers a spoof story. Once there was a review of a new CD box set of NPR funding credits ("NPR programs are supported by Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. Watching over your investments so you don't have to." )
Another year, there was a segment on the decline in maple syrup consumption, triggered by the low-carb craze, which supposedly was causing maple trees to explode. There was also the story on the growing use of performance-enhancing drugs (steroids) in the world of classical music. Not to mention the threat of extinction facing the Vince Lombardi Fondue Springs, the "last surviving spring of natural fondue cheese in the United States," located in the scenic fondue country of northern Wisconsin.
Almost as much fun is listening to reader's letters that come in a few days later. Not everyone gets the joke. Like the time NPR reported that then-President Bush was pushing for universal pet health care.
So when is a prank, April Fool's or otherwise, not a prank? When it's cruel, mean-spirited and callous, that's when. The poster boy for this sort of activity is Andrew Scott Haley.
He's the North Hall man who thought it'd be a peachy idea to film YouTube videos claiming to be a serial killer, the "catchmekiller," who was responsible for 16 deaths. He gave "clues" indicating that he was responsible for the deaths of two actual missing women, Jennifer Keese of Florida and Tara Grinstead of Ocilla. Har-de-har-har.
And the fun just kept coming. A link to the videos was sent to Keese's family who notified law enforcement. Following a lengthy, costly investigation, Haley was tracked down and arrested. At trial he was convicted of tampering with evidence and making false statements. Family members of the two missing women gave heart- wrenching testimony of the toll this "game" took on their already devastated families.
Judge Andrew Fuller sentenced Haley to two years in a work-release program followed by probation. Now Haley has appealed, claiming his free speech rights were violated. He has asked the Georgia State Supreme Court to overturn the conviction.
So let me see if I have this straight. This miscreant developed an elaborate game, one requiring no telling how many hours devoted to channeling a serial killer persona and filming videos disguising his face and voice. That alone is well past a 10 on the Glazer Creepy-meter. Next he broadcast the videos to the world, claiming to know the fates of actual missing, possibly murdered, women. Then, when caught, he didn't understand why no one could take a joke.
I'll tell you why, buster. I'm the mother of a young woman who is about the same age as Jennifer Keese and Tara Grinstead were when they went missing. There's no hell deeper or darker than the one I'd be plunged into if my daughter disappeared. I can only imagine how horrible it must be to wake up morning after morning to the realization that my child is ... where? Dead? Being tortured? I cannot fathom how these families cope with that ghastly uncertainty.
And then to have some jerk poke at their hearts with a stick, pretending to be their daughters' killer. It's unconscionable.
"Catchmekiller," I think your sentence was a gift. Count your blessings. You're not in jail. It could have been far worse. I could have chosen law as a profession. And if the Hon. Teressa Glazer had been on the bench, you'd be picking up trash along a South Georgia highway for several summers yet to come.
I can't predict how Haley's appeal will turn out. Who knows, he may actually prevail. Either way, in my book, he's a bona fide fool and that's just for starters. Not only on April 1 but every other day as well.
Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman whose columns appear biweekly on Fridays and on gainesvilletimes.com.