“Fire in the hole” and YouTube apologies

Good Morning Silicon Valley reports that a judge ordered several Florida teens to post an apology video to YouTube after they “threw soda at a Taco Bell worker through a drive-through window and proudly posted their actions on YouTube.”  This sorry conduct is called “fire in the hole.”

According to The Today Show:

The “fire in the hole” prank is popular on YouTube, and even today it’s not hard to find plenty of examples there. But [victim Jessica] Ceponis didn’t know that then; she thought it was a personal attack on her. Then a co-worker told her that it was a video prank that was posted online, first on a prank site and then on YouTube.

Ceponis went from feeling victimized to being very angry. She viewed the video and tracked one of the boys to his MySpace site, where she befriended him. She eventually found out where he lived and called his mother, who gave her the name of the other boy.

Thanks to Ceponis’ detective work, both boys were charged with assault as juveniles and were ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, pay the Taco Bell restaurant where Ceponis worked for the costs of cleaning up the mess, and post an apology video on YouTube.

There’s no doubt that the instant notoriety of YouTube and other Web 2.0 sites can encourage those wanting their 15 minutes of fame.  But it also shows that victims might use those same sites to track down wrongdoers.

What about the shaming aspect of this case, i.e., the mandatory YouTube apology, found here?  I understand why the teens — as juveniles — weren’t ordered to show their names or faces.  But it’s hard to see how anonymous YouTube apologies serve much in the way of either specific or general deterrence.

Musings on the Shatman

I have to admit that I’m an unabashed Star Trek fan. (Not a surprise, I suppose.) I recently read William Shatner’s new book, Up Till Now: The Autobiography (co-written with David Fisher). I highly recommend it. It’s well-written, informative, and witty. Shatner alternates between self-effacing charm, unabashed pomposity, and a gleeful hawking of goods available through his website. At times, the book is poignant, such as when Shatner recounts early career disappointments, the break-ups of multiple marriages, and especially the tragic accidental death of his third wife, Nerine.

Among other things, the book details Shatner’s efforts at being a recording artist. In his records, Shatner doesn’t really sing; instead he speaks the words dramatically. His recent recording effort, Has Been, is actually very good and includes musical talents such as Joe Jackson, Adrian Belew, and Henry Rollins. It was well-received by reviewers. (Over 200 readers on Amazon.com gave it on average 4.5 stars out of 5.)

But as Shatner’s book recounts, his earlier musical efforts were not well-received, such as his infamous cover of Rocket Man at the 1978 Science Fiction Film Awards. Shatner also discusses his cover of The Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, which I do think is pretty darn awful.

Below is a wonderful YouTube parody mashing together Shatner’s cover of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds with images to gently mock Shatner, Star Trek, and The Beatles (as well as Lucy Ricardo and Lucy Van Pelt):