How many people read this New York Times article and thought, “Where am I? And in what century?”
Could this be happening in the U.S., in the 21st century? Yes. Although I admit I stuck Shakespeare’s pound of flesh in there to emphasize how crazy this business is.*
Amid efforts to generate revenue by imposing fines for minor offenses that have attracted attention in recent months, a judge in Alabama recently all but ordered offenders to give blood in lieu of payment, or face jail time.
* By the way, the film version of The Merchant of Venice–from which the pound of flesh has been symbolically extracted–starring Al Pacino as Shylock and shot somewhere that certainly resembled a moody dark, ripply Venice (it was shot in various Italian locations but I can’t pin down whether some of them were actual Venice), is excellent.
Excellent, even for those of us (and I’m one of the “us” here) who have problems listening to and comprehending 16th century English, maybe because the movie cut the scenario down considerably.
Re the above: By muttering about The Merchant of Venice, I realize I was diverting myself–as well as you–from the unpleasant news about one peculiar Alabama judge’s notions of justice.