High School Senior Faces 8 years in Prison for Pulling a Silly Prank

Tyell Morton is an eighteen-year-old senior at the Consolidated High School in Rushville, Indiana. He's a typical teenage kid from what could be any small town in the Midwest. He is well-liked by his peers and is respectful of people.

At this hour, Tyell is being charged with crimial two counts against him:

1: Institutional criminal mischief (class "C" felony) and

2: disorderly conduct (class "B" misdemeanor)

He has been released from jail on 30,000 bond.

What did he do so horrible to deserve such treatment? As a school-boy prank, he placed a package containing a life-sized blow-up doll inside the girls room of his high school. The security cameras caught him entering with the package in hand, exiting without it - and they freaked out. They called the sherrif's office. The sherrif's summoned the bomb squad. It was a comic opera of overreaction. When he was identified as the perp, he was immediately arrested. He is now looking at eight years in prison.


Please excuse me while I take a deep breath. As a matter of fact, let's all take a deep breath...

When I first learned of this barely believable story before the sun came up this morning, I could not help but notice that Tyell Morton is an African American. Yeah, yeah. I notice those kinds of things. So sue me!

Now listen folks, I realize that the white power structure in this country has this perverted and insatiable need to incarcerate huge numbers of black people - but I'm not even taking issue with that here. Honest! It's something I can learn to live with (I'm white. It's easy). But what the heck, it would seem to me that this is taking matters to the....uh...."extreme" shall we say? Would we even be talking about this story at all if Tyell was named Rusty and was the red-headed, freckle-faced son of the mayor of Rushville? What the hell do you think the reaction would have been if that were the case?

"Ha! Ha! Hai! Well you know what they say! 'Boys will be boys!' Ha! Ha!"

To be perfectly honest with you, this whole stupid affair makes me kind of ashamed of my Indiana roots (My mother is a native of South Bend). It is not what Tyell did that he is being punished for. It is because everyone involved embarrassed themselves silly by overreacting to what he did - in such an insanely comical manner. They need to save their clueless, egg-covered faces by throwing the book at this kid. And remember: that is exactly what he is - a kid - a young adult at childhood's twilight. Let's get a grip here.

The trials and tribulations of Tyell Morton have me thinking back to some of the pranks Ipulled off as a precocious (and extremely lovable, I assure you) teenager. Truth be told, and with all due respect to him, as a prankster, Tyell is pretty low budget. The crowd I went around with took pranks to new plateaus never before dreamed of by the prankiest practitioners of pranksterism. Sticking an inflatable doll in the girls bathroom? HA! We used to do that sort of thing in our sleep!

There was this old, weathered bungalow on the outskirts of town where that old gang of mine used to gather at to hang out and party under the stars. Late one Autumn afternoon we decided to dismantle it. We literally just took the place apart, piece-by-piece. Why? Because we could. What the heck! No one was living there and it had been abandoned decades before. Besides, we probably saved the town the cost of removing it as they eventually would have had to do; a thought that never even entered our tender and twisted minds at the time - but one that does somewhat lessen the guilt all these decades later.

And how could I possibly leave out this memorable, late night frolic from the early winter of 1975, when me and my old partner-in-crime, Dan O'Brien, led the local police force on a high speed chase that went to the very edge of the village. They followed us straight onto a field that was covered with a foot of freshly-fallen snow. Because the vehicle Dan was driving had four-wheel drive, we were easily able to maneuver our way back to the road again. They got stuck. Hang your head in shame, Tyell Morton. You think you're so hot.

And then there was the day John Harragin, Kevin Swanwick and I blew up the local nursery school....I'm just kidding. We never did anything that weird, I promise.

"It was a senior prank. They're blowing it out of proportion. I didn't hurt anybody. I didn't intend to embarrass anybody. What did I do wrong?"

-Tyell Morton

What indeed. If Tyell Morton had a history of delinquent behavior, the severity of the reaction to his harmless prank would be bad enough, but this kid has never been in trouble a day in his life! Not only that, he's a good student with a great future. One of his persecutors told reporters that this sort of mischief can no longer be looked upon as a harmless, schoolboy prank; that we live in less innocent times, and that Tyell should have taken to heart the lessons of Columbine before he pulled off his wicked little stunt.

REALITY CHECK: The Columbine High School Massacre in Littleton. Colorado occurred on April 20, 1999 -twelve years ago. Tyell was six-years-old at the time. It is difficult to believe that he even remembers that tragedy let alone taken anything to heart from it.

When I heard about his plight, my immediate reaction was that he deserved to be suspended for two days - at best. Upon further reflection and two cups of extremely caffeinated coffee however, I came to the opinion that he didn't even deserve that. This is not justice, folks. This is crass hysteria.

Tyell, if you're reading this I have a message for you: In a twisted, convoluted sort of way, this horrible episode might very well turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you. Your life is a reality TV series waiting to happen, pal. You need to hire yourself an agent pronto. I'm available.

The friends of Tyell Morton have started a Facebook page in support of him. Go there and give him a pat on the back. He could use it. Here's a link: 


"Eight years". Honestly, can you believe these chuckleheads?

AlterNet / By Tom Degan

Posted at June 16, 2011, 8:43am

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