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Student gets 8 years for SUV vandalism

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
An aspiring physicist was sentenced Monday to more than eight years in prison and ordered to pay $3.5 million for his role in a spree of arson and vandalism that targeted gas-guzzling Hummers and other sports utility vehicles.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7550964/
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http://www.latimes.com/features/prin...ck=1&cset=true
I agree with the Judge who said "What a talent to have wasted" as he was a doctoral candidate in physics at CalTech. And before that he was awarded the top math and physics honors at University of Chicago. And in 6th grade his fascination with Physics led him to submit an essay on Quantum mechanics but his teacher could not believe it and accused him of plagiarism.
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But compared to the charges brought he could have been sent to prison for more than 30 years.
post #2 of 29
The second link has to be subscribed too~

Anyway, I completely agree with the sentence that man has recieved.
Not only did he go after the living of a man who was to sell the Hummers and SUVs, he IMO, scared the general population with his actions.

He is entitled to his own beliefs but to take them to the point he did is wrong. Any less of a sentence would signify to others that what he has done is acceptable.... which it is absolutely not~

More jail time is my vote, IMO.
post #3 of 29
I think he should have gotten more jail time as well. Regardless of his personal beliefs there is no reason to go around terrorizing people. It would complete freak me out if someone set fire to my car and left angry graffiti on it. And I don't believe for a minute that he didn't know what his friends were up for. He's just sorry he got caught.
post #4 of 29
I voted that he got just the right amount of time....he should no doubt be punished for what he did and I feel horrible for anyone who felt terrorized (as I would as well). However....I am not sad that there are a few less Hummers in this world now!!! I am just mad that he will give those of us who are environmentally concerned a bad name
post #5 of 29
There are better ways for someone to go about "protesting" whatever it is they don't like. Personally, I think there are very few people who own an SUV that actually USE an SUV or have any need for it other than image. (My family has always owned what has now become SUVs, i.e. 4-wheel drive, large vehicle like an International Scout in the 1970s. But we/my parents also USE it, going in the mountains, going on back-country roads to camp and hunt and fish, and hauling campers, boats, etc.) But to do it like this is wrong, period. I don't care what his message was. Guess what? Insurance paid for the SUVs & Hummers he destroyed and they made more of them! He didn't have any impact. None. Just on his own life.

If he wanted to make a difference, he should have been using his love of physics to come up with an alternative fuel source or something like that (yeah, I know that's more chemistry, but he could have used his intelligence for something constructive...).

As for the sentence. Probably just about right. Regardless of time served, he will have a felony on his record, and trust me....he's destroyed his future with that hanging over his head.
post #6 of 29
I've seen MURDERERS get out in less time! What is North American society coming to? It's all about the money.

No doubt the guy needs to punished accordingly, but if you read the article, most of the SUV's were sitting at DEALERSHIPS.
post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by vespacat
No doubt the guy needs to punished accordingly, but if you read the article, most of the SUV's were sitting at DEALERSHIPS.
It is OK to destroy property then if it is at a dealership ?
post #8 of 29
Did I state that it is OK?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Wolf
It is OK to destroy property then if it is at a dealership ?
post #9 of 29
I think he got what he deserved. I liken it to a "right-to lifer" bombing an abortion clinic. Like Valanhb said, there are better ways to protest.
post #10 of 29
Bumpy, you'd better start posting on these polls... I'm starting to think you're not a lawyer after all.
post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by vespacat
but if you read the article, most of the SUV's were sitting at DEALERSHIPS.
Use of the "but" makes it seem like this some sort of excusing/minimizing of the crime is going on. Does it matter whether these vehicles were at dealerships or private residences ? Destruction is destruction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vespacat
What is North American society coming to? It's all about the money.
This also seems to minimize/excuse the crime. I can't seem to find a problem with holding people accountable for their illegal actions.
post #12 of 29
So is first degree murder, but some people get less prison time for killing others than this guy got for destroying a few vehicles. That's messed up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Wolf
Use of the "but" makes it seem like this some sort of excusing/minimizing of the crime is going on. Does it matter whether these vehicles were at dealerships or private residences ? Destruction is destruction.


This also seems to minimize/excuse the crime. I can't seem to find a problem with holding people accountable for their illegal actions.
post #13 of 29
Except, we are not talking about murder here.

It's a "straw man" argument. If one feels that the penalties for murder, child molestation, rape etc. are too lenient, then one should work on increasing the sentences for those crimes.

Not decreasing the punishment for other crimes.

As for "destroying a few vehicles" - this "man" and his friends went on a firebomb spree with Molotov cocktails and destroyed/damaged 125 vehicles as well as vandalizing nearby homes. The fumes from the burning vehicles caused who knows how much more environmental pollution.

Now THAT is "messed up."
post #14 of 29
Actually, the article states nothing about "vandalizing nearby homes", so you might want to get the facts straight.

So, is it not permissible to illustrate a point? It is not a "straw man" argument. As I stated earlier, although I do agree that time needs to be served, I do NOT think it should be on par with murderers.

What about the damage SUV's are doing to the environment EVERY day. If you think that's excusable, then how can you be concerned about the environment?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Wolf
Except, we are not talking about murder here.

It's a "straw man" argument. If one feels that the penalties for murder, child molestation, rape etc. are too lenient, then one should work on increasing the sentences for those crimes.

Not decreasing the punishment for other crimes.

As for "destroying a few vehicles" - this "man" and his friends went on a firebomb spree with Molotov cocktails and destroyed/damaged 125 vehicles as well as vandalizing nearby homes. The fumes from the burning vehicles caused who knows how much more environmental pollution.

Now THAT is "messed up."
post #15 of 29
Two or more wrongs don't make a right. OK, SUVs are bad for the environment, but spray painting and firebombing them, whether on a dealer's lot or a driveway, isn't going to make the manufacturers stop making them or the public stop buying them. It doesn't make a difference, it only makes the news.

Sentencing laws are, for the most part, up to the state, and implementing those sentences is up to the individual judge. Maybe this judge is a hardliner for ALL of his sentencing, from murders down to shoplifting. Other judges are soft on everything. And the biggest problem with time being served, or lack of, is the whole prison system being overcrowded and under funded, but that's really a totally different thread.

But this guy getting the justice he deserves for the crimes he committed really has little to do with other criminals not getting harsh enough punishments, IMO.
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by vespacat
Actually, the article states nothing about "vandalizing nearby homes", so you might want to get the facts straight.
*Sigh* http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/...n_x.htm?csp=34
"Cottrell, 24, was convicted in November of conspiracy to commit arson and seven counts of arson for an August 2003 vandalism spree that damaged and destroyed about 125 SUVs at dealerships and homes in the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles."

Quote:
Originally Posted by vespacat
So, is it not permissible to illustrate a point? It is not a "straw man" argument. As I stated earlier, although I do agree that time needs to be served, I do NOT think it should be on par with murderers.
Of course, it is permissible to illustrate a point, this is the IMO board. However, it is a straw man argument that is being used. He is serving approximately 23.5 days for each car that he helped torch, he got off easy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vespacat
What about the damage SUV's are doing to the environment EVERY day. If you think that's excusable, then how can you be concerned about the environment?
There is no question that SUV's consume far more gasoline and release more emissions than smaller cars. It is however a legal vehicle to purchase. My point is, this "man" and his two friends claim to be environmental supporters - however their actions do not bear this out.

If someone wants to protest or draw attention to their cause, then they need to do it in a legal fashion (or at least not whine when they or their supporters are caught and convicted).
post #17 of 29
I think judges need a bit of creativity... Yes he needs to be punished but I dont think 8 yrs will help teach him about his wrongs it will teach him how to become a true criminal
post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vespacat
Bumpy, you'd better start posting on these polls... I'm starting to think you're not a lawyer after all.
Neutrality is the best position, for it allows you to swing to which ever side when the situation requires without having a crisis of conscience

My position on issues such as this is that in a free and democratic society violence should not be the solution and that all call to violence or words that incite or would cause to incite violence should not be protected under any guise should be equally dealt without discrimination of the issues.
post #19 of 29
See my response below in red.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Wolf
*Sigh* http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/...n_x.htm?csp=34
"Cottrell, 24, was convicted in November of conspiracy to commit arson and seven counts of arson for an August 2003 vandalism spree that damaged and destroyed about 125 SUVs at dealerships and homes in the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles."

Yes, he destroyed 125 SUVs AT dealerships and homes. Please look at the statement I was referring to, as it was very misleading and this statement was taken out of context.

Of course, it is permissible to illustrate a point, this is the IMO board. However, it is a straw man argument that is being used. He is serving approximately 23.5 days for each car that he helped torch, he got off easy.

He didn't get off easy. Don't forget he has millions in dollars of fines to pay. And if you want a straw man argument, you provided one for us right there. Just because I don't side with the popular opinion, it doesn't make it a straw man. Bumpy left this open for our own interpretation and debate (and I imagine that's what he's after), and from what I am aware, did not put forth any particular view to defend.

There is no question that SUV's consume far more gasoline and release more emissions than smaller cars. It is however a legal vehicle to purchase. My point is, this "man" and his two friends claim to be environmental supporters - however their actions do not bear this out.

If someone wants to protest or draw attention to their cause, then they need to do it in a legal fashion (or at least not whine when they or their supporters are caught and convicted).
post #20 of 29
"He didn't get off easy. Don't forget he has millions in dollars of fines to pay."

You know what they say, "Can't do the time ? Don't do the crime" (or in this case the time and the fines)

I don't understand your point of view. Do you believe that firebombing SUV's is a good thing ? Are you upset that people are held accountable for their actions ?

I find it a shame that such a promising young man has his future dimmed because of his extremist (and dare I say - terrorist) actions.

have a nice day.
post #21 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Wolf
I find it a shame that such a promising young man has his future dimmed because of his extremist (and dare I say - terrorist) actions.
Hmm, that will depend on your definition of what is 'terrorist' actions.
post #22 of 29
I totally agree that this was one heck of a way to protest! Whatever happened to handing out pamphlets? Anyway I'm sure there will be an appeal on this case,but 8 years means he will probably be out in 3.
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by valanhb
Guess what? Insurance paid for the SUVs & Hummers he destroyed and they made more of them! He didn't have any impact. None. Just on his own life.
Unfortunately he did have an impact, this kind of action raises the cost of insurance for all of us. Just like fraud the insurance company will raise rates on vehicles in order to make up for the cost of paying for this damage. Which really roasts my rump.

At any rate, he definately need the jail time and I would say a lot more than he got. He and his friends destroyed thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, dollars in personal property that was not their own. I don't see how this is any different than setting fire to a building (as long as there is no one harmed in the fire) or tearing down playground equipment.
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrayKittenLove
Unfortunately he did have an impact, this kind of action raises the cost of insurance for all of us. Just like fraud the insurance company will raise rates on vehicles in order to make up for the cost of paying for this damage. Which really roasts my rump.
You're right Traci, there was an impact. Just not the impact that they wanted. It did nothing for the "cause" they were promoting.
post #25 of 29
Interesting how close the votes are.
post #26 of 29
I would have to know what the general amount time for this type of vandalism would be. Whatever it is, I don't think he deserves any more or less given the reasoning behind it.

I can't have any respect for people who use their beliefs as excuses for unlawful conduct. It just makes them look like hypocrites to me. Simply never buying an SUV wouldn't be enough for him? Handing out pamphlets, protesting, doing anything LAWFUL wouldn't be enough? What a shame that someone who seemingly is as intelligent as he is wasn't taught to respect the law and people's property. Maybe his self-righteousness led him to believe he was above the law. Pfft!

Go straight to jail! Do not pass go!

I agree it's sad that murderers and rapist spend less time behind bars than this guy probably will. It DOES seem to be all about the money.
post #27 of 29
While I agree with this man that Hummers should not be allowed to grace our roads..arson is, you know, a little extreme. There should be some sort of punishment, because, after all, he DID destroy something that didn't belong to him and there are other ways of discussing one's disgust with Hummers, trust me.

However, when the crime of torching Hummers gets a longer sentence than torching a kitten (the subject of a previous thread), I think it's pretty apparent that our society has its priorities in the wrong place. Maybe flip the two? Give this guy a year in jail and a fine and the kitten-torchers 8 years....
post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by lionessrampant

However, when the crime of torching Hummers gets a longer sentence than torching a kitten (the subject of a previous thread), I think it's pretty apparent that our society has its priorities in the wrong place. Maybe flip the two? Give this guy a year in jail and a fine and the kitten-torchers 8 years....
I like how you think!
post #29 of 29
I voted just nice, but after thinking about it for a bit, I actually think he deserved even more jail time - while still totally wrong and deserving of punishment, vandalism such as spray painting the SUVs would not warrant eight years in prison, in my opinion - but for me, the fact that he set the vehicles on fire puts this in an entirely different category - spray painting or other vandalism, as I said, is wrong, but it's not going to put anyone's safety or life at risk - but setting a fire? Fires are not easy to control! He could very easily have injured or killed someone had those fires spread, and so IMO his crime is a violent crime as opposed to just simple vandalism - that is why I think he deserves what he got and more.
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