Minding Civilization in Muncie

From Muncie, Indiana comes a delightfully satisfying tale of a father-son team of line-jumpers that is now, happy day, languishing in the slammer — all because the individual they tried to intimidate when he protested their unethical conduct happened to be an off-duty policeman.

According to police reports, officer Chris Kirby was off duty as he waited in Walmart's customer service line with his wife and daughter on a Sunday afternoon, and watched Pluhar the Younger, also known as “Edward the Boorish Line-jumper, Jr.,” walk past him and directly to the service desk.

Kirby told Pluhar Jr. that he needed to wait his turn, and the elder Edward Pluhar, who should answer to Father Jerk, then confronted the off-duty officer and told him to mind his own business. Police reports indicate that he also threatened to beat him up and possibly shoot him. Another fun Sunday at WalMart! It was at this point that Kirby — SURPRISE! — revealed his secret identity as a man in blue and called for back-up.

But the real moral of this story is that it shouldn’t require the police to oppose the small but obnoxious percentage of Americans who behave like Pluhar fils and pere, and refuse to obey the rules of civilized society because they figure they can bully and intimidate anyone who stands in their way. Who wants to get in a fight over a couple extra minutes in line, when it’s a weekend, your family is in tow and you have a bad back?

But jerks only behave like jerks because we let them get away with it far too often. Every time we do, their behavior is reinforced, and in their minds, validated. And, like the Dreadful Pluhars, they pass their abominable, selfish, anti-social ways along. Junior is a good bet to raise a whole brood of little line-jumpers, who will probably branch out smoking in elevators, playing their car radios at obscene levels on the public streets, and throwing McDonalds wrappers out of their car windows.

It isn’t the duty of police officers to confront line-jumpers, their ilk, and their baby ilk. It is everyone’s duty. Everyone in that line had an obligation to tell the Pluhars to get to the back where they belonged, and instruct the WalMart employee at the service desk that he shouldn’t be served. Pluhar Senior wasn’t going to beat up everyone in the store. These people have spent a lifetime threatening the civilized, and seldom, if ever, having anyone call their bluff.

Enforcing manners and cultural norms is everyone’s business; this was one more little detail that Daddy Line-jumper got wrong. When you confront a defiant rule-breaker, you are minding your business, and more important, minding the culture.

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