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1 February 2014 - If You Say It, Then Sign It

There is no doubt in my mind that the internet has brought us many positive benefits. But it has also brought some negatives. To me, one of the biggest is the fact that anybody can say anything about anything or anybody and someone will believe it. How brave and how nasty people can be when they don’t have to identify themselves.

That was brought front and center a couple of weeks ago when a judge in Colorado announced his decision in the case of brothers, Eric & Ryan Jensen. Let me refresh your memory.

These two young brothers are farmers in eastern Colorado and their farm became the site of a listeria contamination back in May of 2011 that killed 33 people in 28 states.

They started using the same system that they used to wash their potatoes, to clean their cantaloupes, but they neglected to use a chlorine spray that could reduce the bacteria, and of course, they were criminally charged. The case has been in a Colorado court until a couple of weeks ago when the judge announced there would be no prison time. He sentenced the two brothers, in their 30's, to five years of probation, six months house arrest and $150,000 each in restitution.

Reaction was instant and nasty. I read many of the e-mails condemning the judge and the brothers in the most violent language. And of course, none of the writers identified themselves and I’m sure few, if any, read the trial transcript used by the judge to make his decision. I will share two of the e-mails with you because they are free of four-letter words....

“33 people and NO prison time? Just because they let them cut a deal that lets them off the hook? They were aware that the cantaloupes could be contaminated if not washed. Yet, they didn’t do it. I think this federal judge should be shown the unemployment line. If we can’t have judges that make common-sense decisions, then what good are they?”

The kindest one I found . . . “Not to condone how their products were handled that resulted in 33 deaths nationwide, but I’m glad these good folks didn’t have to serve time. They didn’t intentionally try to harm anybody. Farmers work really hard to feed the nation for cents on the dollar. It’s a very tough job which most city slickers and lawyers don’t understand. Plus, you don’t get to see the young generation like these folks are, get into farming. It’s always the old folks and as they get phased out, who’s gonna be feeding the country? China? Well, go for it. You asked for it!”

But, oh my, the things people say on the internet when they don’t have to sign their name. Watch your language!

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.