ASCII by Jason Scott

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The Melee —

For nearly a week, I’ve had a window open on a news story. I’m mostly writing this because if I don’t do it, this window will stick around forever, begging me to do something with it.

The news story is a basic one. I’m pasting it here and here’s a link to it.

Father and son try to cut to front of line, go to jail
JANUARY 13, 2009

MUNCIE — City police said a Frankfort man picked the wrong time to cut in line at the north Walmart store on Sunday, setting the stage for events that landed both him and his father in the Delaware County jail.

Edward R. Pluhar Jr., 26, was preliminarily charged with battery on police officer Chris Kirby, while his father, 61-year-old Edward R. Pluhar Sr., was preliminarily charged with criminal recklessness with a vehicle and intimidation.

According to police reports, officer Kirby was off duty as he waited in Walmart’s customer service line with his wife and daughter Sunday afternoon, and watched the younger Pluhar walk past him and directly to the service desk.

The police officer told Pluhar Jr. he needed to wait his turn, but the Frankfort man purportedly refused.

The elder Pluhar then allegedly approached the off-duty officer, told him to mind his own business and asked whether Kirby wanted to take the dispute outside.

When Kirby asked Pluhar Sr. what his intentions were, the Frankfort man purportedly said he would kick Kirby’s posterior and also suggested he might shoot him.

Kirby then informed the father and son that he was a police officer and called emergency dispatchers to send an on-duty officer to the scene.

The Pluhars then left the store, at 4801 W. Clara Lane, with Kirby following them to the parking lot and then standing behind their van as they attempted to leave.

The van, driven by the elder Pluhar, allegedly hit the officer’s leg. Kirby and the younger Pluhar then fought, reports said.

Patrol officers Kevin Durbin and Jess Neal then arrived and arrested the father and son without incident.

Edward Pluhar Sr. was released from the county jail Sunday after posting a $5,000 bond, while his son was released on a $2,500 bond.

Now, you read this little story, and assuming you don’t know any named folks or lived in the town, this article is of a specific relevance to you. If, however, you either know the people or lived in the town, it has another.

What fascinated me was that this news story has a comment section, and it started to go a little bonkers. Unfortunately, believing everyone is telling the truth, is who they are, or is remembering/describing things accurately requires a bit of a suspension of disbelief. To save you some time, here’s some relevant postings on there.

The Pluhars are Assholes

I have had dealings with both of these guys and it’s been a long time coming for them. In fact I’m kind of suprised this hasn’t happened to them sooner.

The Cop is an Asshole

I know from experience,that this police officer has and still does misuse his authority. he doesn’t need a uniform or a badge to think he is “The Punisher”. those just enhance his ego and makes him feel like he untouchable…I wonder if it is available to the public of ALL the complaints that have been filed against this police officer?

I have to say knowing Kirby this doesnt surprise me. If this had been any other officer there would not have been an issue. In this case A**es have a problem dealing with other A**es.

To bad that kriby didnt get his butt kicked. He is a thug in a police uniform. I have seen the way him and his dad treated the kids at wilson middle school, before they got the boot. haha

Too bad officer Kirby’s dad wasn’t there. Father & son, against father & son. Too bad for the Pluhars!! LOL

lol humm kirby most likely started it lmfao and is there such a law on the books u cant cut inline lol and kirby should have never got behide there van i see this as a case that want go to trial hick town muncie

Fuck Muncie, Fuck Frankfort

I am curious what a father and son from Frankfort was doing at the Muncie Store. Makes you wonder if they have something going with returning items. Hummm. Maybe Walmart and Police need to check into this. Kirby’s child must have been scared to death, how dare these thugs.

I am in Indy, Noblesville, Marion, Anderson or Kokomo on a daily basis. I did not know that I’m not allowed to shop at any of the stores there. I’m glad that you pointed out the fact that it is illegal. I hope your post serves to educate others and keep them out of trouble as well. Wait, just maybe it is not illegal to be in a store just because you don’t live in that city. I will call a lawyer and check. Hummm.

Kirby is a hot head. I bet a whole lot more went on outside the store then what he is stating. I’m sure he provoked them into something. Muncie police have a few hotheads and bad seeds. Until they fix these problems how can you trust any of them. They do lie and protect one another.

“Kirby is a hot head.” That is a flat out LIE! I personally know Kirby and his dad (Bill was an MPD legend) Chris is the most laid back guy I know, but not going to be pushed around either! Good job Chris I am proud of you!

Why does this stuff always happen at the Southside Wal-Mart. lol

I Have Absolutely No Additoional Facts But Don’t Let That Stop Me

It’s probably just a coincidence that they both have on black tee-shirts. i would be soooo wrong to assume that they are stereotypical bullies who wear Harley Davidson black shirts 24/7 365, and strut around with a chip on their shoulder like emotional 6 year olds trying to intimidate everyone with their ‘bad assedness”. So i won’t do that.

Good Job Officer Kirby!! I’m soooo glad to see someone standing up the a$$holes in this city. You put this white trash right were they belonged!!……What makes them think they are any better than anyone else? They should have waited in line like everyone else!!!!! I hope the judge really sticks it to them!!!!

His head is shaped more like a Pumpkin with all it’s innards scraped out and a “What, Me worry” (Alfred E Newman / G Bush) look on his face. Seriously. Those two fools need jail time with Bubba to get the crystal meth fight fuel out of their system and go on back to their Frankton lab…. 

I don’t live in your area, I found the link on the internet and read the story so I have no bias toward anyone involved in the incident.

From the tone of this story, it seems to me the officer escalated a situation that did not need to be turned into an incident. Sure, the guy was being a jerk but that’s not against the law. Cutting in line at Wal*Mart is not against the law. 

Based solely on the article, it appears we have an officer who likes the power of being able to arrest and control other people. At the very least, he went well over the top and contributed to an incident being escalated. 

If the men did what this story says then the law should treat them as such. However, this officer is not innocent and blameless in the situation and I hope the police chief will discipline the man for unnecessarily escalating a situation and acting in an unprofessional manner.

When the father allegedly walked up to the officer and told him to mind his own business and would he like to step outside (and this news article looks like it’s taken from the police report so it would be the officer’s version of events) the officer could have simply said no and defused the situation. Instead, it appears the officer wanted to provoke a confrontation. 

Standing behind the van to block it? That’s just immature and unprofessional. If the man used a credit card to pay, you can track the name. There are video cameras in Wal*Mart. There are ways to find out who the men were without blocking their vehicle and putting yourself in unnecessary danger.

There’s more, of course. Feel free to read them all via the clunky interface over at the page.

What interests me are the various meta-issues surrounding the article. I’ll list them off quickly:

  • The comments interface is a little dodgy, and can probably be improved.
  • The permalink structure is horrible, and points to some sort of insanity under the hood that will probably make it harder and harder to reference this article as time goes on. I hope they didn’t pay too much for it.
  • There’s heady discussion about what the rights of cops, of citizens, and of passerby are. Interesting, but the cramped comment box is one where you have to fight uphill to say things.
  • The original news story is terribly short. While it might not be expected that a line-jumping report would be the result of deep investigative reporting, I wonder whether this reporter would then take the suggestions of the commenters and go track down the two suspects and ask them for their side, and perhaps speak to the Wal-Mart to check out the tape of the incident. Obviously, the interest is there.
  • People will comment on anything, even with such a scant amount of information from a single source (it is obvious this article is from the police report and nothing else).

I’m hoping the standards for message base software improve, because it’s quite indicative from this article that there’s a lot of potential good/interest/knowledge to come from opening stories to the readers. If nothing else, you discover the relative literacy capability of the audience and work accordingly, but also see a new priority in what your audience wants to talk about. I wonder if any of this has come up around the Star Press.

Categorised as: jason his own self

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  1. John says:

    Things like that article make me so incredibly happy that I don’t live in a small town.

  2. anonymous says:

    This post is all messed up. You’ve got some weird formatting and typos. Also, you have some of the comments organized questionably. Why is the following filed under “The Cop Is an Asshole?”

    Too bad officer Kirby’s dad wasn’t there. Father & son, against father & son. Too bad for the Pluhars!! LOL