Punxsutawney Phil’s false prophecy and failed forecast have made him some powerful enemies.
Last week, Michael Gmoser, the prosecuting attorney of Butler County, Ohio, issued a tongue-in-cheek indictment against the Pennsylvania groundhog. Gmoser charged the rodent with “misrepresentation of early spring,” and sought the death penalty for the fibbing Phil.
“When he betrays us like this, something has to be done,” Gmoser told the Washington Post.
However, Phil also has friends in high places. The Nurick Law Group has filed a cease-and-desist notice against Grosner, reported the Washington Post. Execution of Phil would be cruel and unusual, since the punishment far exceeds the severity of the crime. Beyond that, Phil is believed to be less than 18 years of age, and so it would be unconstitutional to institute the death penalty. The Nurick Law Group cited Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005) as a precedent of this.
Frankly, beyond the legalese and death threats, I believe Americans feel let down by Phil. When a beloved public figure fails us, we want to lash out at them. Can we really put all the blame on Phil? As Homer Simpson once said, “It takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.”
Perhaps we were all fools to believe a rodent could properly prognosticate the weather. Perhaps Punxsutawney Phil didn’t mean to punk America. He may have simply made an error. That doesn’t mean he betrayed us.
On the other hand, it might be a good idea to see if Phil made any sudden purchases of stock in road salt and snow shovel companies after making his erroneous report of an early spring.
IMAGE: Famed weather prognosticating groundhog Punxsutawney Phil has only one eye open as he prepares to make his annual prediction on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on the 127th Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, 2013. An early spring was predicted as Phil did not see his shadow. (Jason Cohn, Corbis)