Friday, May 20, 2016

His interest is flagging

The eyes of the world are on Virginia Beach, VA today, following the case of John Parmele, Jr.  Parmele is a retired sailor who bought a house in a development down there years ago and immediately set about being the neighborhood hobby cop.

If you put your trash out by the curb before 5 PM the night before the trash collectors come, he's on you like white on rice.

If the kids go to play ball on the nine-house cul-de-sac where eight other families try to live with this man, he's the one who's out there barking at them, telling them when and how they can play. 

“If there’s a rule, there’s a reason for it,” Parmele, 73, says.

"Who died and left you boss?" his neighbors say.

It has gotten to the point down there that one neighbor chased Parmele away with a 2 x 4. The other families have parties to discuss the Parmele Problem, and no, he is not invited.  He's the chief topic discussed over hot dogs and cold ones.

I guess a psychologist could tell us why a guy who served his country all those years becomes so unhinged in retirement.  Is it because he was never the guy in charge in the Navy, and he wants to be The Man now?  Or something else?

But when he messed with Mike Anderson from up the street, he went up against someone who wasn't ready to be bullied.

Anderson likes to fly an American flag on a stick attached to his mailbox.  He leaves it posted 24-7, which is a violation of the US Flag Code, which requires that a flag flying after dark must be illuminated. 

There are no unphotographed crimes anymore.
The Flag Code is not a federal law that can be enforced; the FBI is not coming to your door over these matters.  But that didn't stop Parmele from swiping Anderson's flag while Parmele thought Anderson was away. Anderson took the picture you see here the second time this happened, and went to the cops and prosecutors - the wise choice, as opposed to a 2x4.

Since it was hard for Parmele to deny the photograph, he was found guilty, and got a (suspended) 90-day jail sentence and was ordered to reimburse Anderson $99.98 for the stolen flags. The judge also ordered Parmele to stay off his neighbor’s property and to remain on good behavior for two years.

“You get to a point where you just can’t take it anymore. ... He
flies it knowing it’s disrespectful to our country,” Parmele said by way of justifying his crime of Theft Due To Patriotism. 

District Court Judge Teresa Hammons that was no excuse for criminal behavior. “Even if what you say is correct, it does not give you the right to trespass” and steal flags, she said.

Lighter by $150 for court costs, and freshly fingerprinted, Parmele said his wife was "mad as heck" at him, and that he does not expect to run afoul of the neighbors or the law again. 

He said he has bone marrow cancer and has been told by his doctor that he has a year to live. 

“I’m just going to leave well enough alone,” he said. “Let bygones be bygones and keep to myself.

Maybe - just maybe - reaching out and establishing kind relationships with neighbors and others might be the path to take. Without telling anyone what to do with their trash or their basketball or their flag.

No comments: