EDITORIAL — Ice cream spectacle a public concern
If you want a wide variety of reader reactions, report on law enforcement’s response to a social media stunt that involves an attention-starved resident licking ice cream in a grocery store and filming himself placing the carton back in the display case.
Suspect D’Adrien Anderson turned himself in for just such an action last week, following a warrant for his arrest issued for Class A criminal mischief, which is punishable by up to two years in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Two years in jail seems highly unlikely for what Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham told The Port Arthur News seems like a ploy for social media fame.
“This guy is causing a lot of problems and the fact he loved the negative publicity concerns me,” Wortham said. “When they were interviewing him he had a grin from ear to ear. He was so excited he had 50,000 hits on his Facebook.”
As you can imagine, the response from our readers ran the gamut of emotions. We’ll use The News’ own Facebook page as a sounding board.
One reader said “Crazy people have poisoned whole groups of victims by tampering with food. Prosecute him as much as the law allows.”
Another said “50,000 hits is a milestone. I just hope this young man can figure out how to monetize this whole thing. I’d like first rights to a book deal. DM me D’Adrien.”
Another said “SICKO…….you know he wouldn’t like it if someone did that to his food. Jail time will help stop this nonsense.”
While another said “You are entirely to funny he just did a stupid prank. It was dumb but he ain’t kill nobody.”
Company officials and authorities stressed the unoriginal stunt (it has been done on social media and YouTube many times before) is no laughing matter.
We were told Blue Bell sent a crew to remove all of the ice cream, destroy it and replace it with more ice cream as a precaution, all at a cost of approximately $2,700.
A few responders even questioned the decision by The News, and other media outlets, to report on the story in the first place, suggesting we were feeding someone’s gross need for attention.
That’s a valid question.
From The News’ perspective, this was a development of significant public interest that produced law enforcement response. As the leading local media agency, The News took rumor and answered with facts about charge, age, bond and potential punishment. It was also far from the only thing we reported on this weekend.
In fact readers who logged onto panews.com made the story about the ice cream vandalism only the fifth-most clicked-on web page.
By a margin to 2.5-to-1, our web readers preferred reading about a veterinary expansion effort in Nederland as opposed to the ice cream story.
We don’t create the news, but we do follow it in whatever strange path it leads us.