Thursday, July 12, 2012

Is Being Creepy a Crime?

I thought it was normal for people in the Mid-West to be overly friendly. Isn't a hug a "Mid-Western Handshake?" In New York, you don't make eye contact. It's like animals in the wild-locking eyes on the subway is a threatening gesture. So I always assumed that once you got past the city lights and out towards the vast corn fields in middle America it was a magic land where everyone was friendly, smiling, and hugging freely.
But in Missouri, prosecutors are trying to decide if it's a criminal offense to allegedly go in for an unwanted hug. Keep in mind, we are not talking about someone charging their ex-boyfriend for going in for an awkward squeeze upon running into them in the frozen food aisle at the A&P. We are in fact talking about a dangerous suspect here. The serial hugger "Jack the Gripper." His M.O. according to ABC News is that he " approaches women while they are shopping by themselves, pretends to know them as a former neighbor, and then asks for a hug under the pretense that it is his birthday." Embarrassed at not remembering him, the women begrudgingly and awkwardly oblige to his advances, and this worm gets his squish. So far 36 women have come forward with accusations of being hugged.
As I see it, he's a creep not a criminal. Most likely a sad man who was turned down by as one of the few they just can't find a match for. He probably has cats. And he's just sick of hugging his cats .... and his blow up dolls.
There are people out there offering cuddling for the lonely. Like Jackie Samuel of NY who has started which is a place for busy individuals to "focus on the simple restorative pleasure of touch." The simple pleasure costs $60 an hour. That sounds suspiciously like prostitution to me (even though she says sex is not involved) and is definitely a future ripped from the headlines Law and Order SVU episode in the making.
But if fulfilling your cuddling needs by accosting strangers with a warm embrace is still more your bag-like "Jack the Gripper," then watch out, because apparently it can be considered assault. Des Peres Detective Marshall Broughton said of the serial hugger on the loose, "This thing has caused more of a stir than anything else going on in this town." Must be nice to live somewhere that the most to fear on the mean streets is a man just looking for a hug. Last week 16 people were murdered in NYC in five days. But by all means Missouri-look out! Stay safe and just say no to hugs.

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