Friday, September 17, 2010

For Your Penance, I Mean, Your Sentence...

What price would you expect to pay for conviction on a public disorder charge?

A fine wouldn't be out of line. A public apology to the person you insulted, absolutely. Community service seems appropriate.

How about a penance to atone for your sins?

Joseph McElwee had a few pints too many one night and decided to spew venom at a garda standing outside the pub that had over-served him.

There was no reason to curse and swear at the officer of the law, but a man under the influence is capable of great feats of stupidity. Needless to say, Mr. McElwee was promptly arrested and then had to explain himself to Judge Seamus Hughes.

He was drunk, the solicitor for the defendant said. Not much of a defense, but it was the truth. In addition, the defendant had apologized personally to the garda, but once a man's been charged with certain crimes, an apology isn't enough.

Judge Hughes sentenced Mr. McElwee, not to jail, but to a pilgrimage.

In a month's time, the chastised gentleman is to climb Croagh Patrick and do the four stations. He must say some prayers and think about his actions on the night he drank himself stupid. Having berated the garda who hailed from Mayo, Mr. McElwee is to go to Mayo and atone for his sins.

How will anyone know that the penance has been made?

How did the nuns know you'd studied your catechism? Yes, it will be question and answer time in the dock come 11 October, when Mr. McElwee will be quizzed by the judge.

Already, he may be preparing for the ordeal that he hasn't experienced since his First Communion preparation.

All together now: Who made the world? God made the world.

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