Practical jokes are slithery slope

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 8, 2010

Jumping on the furniture is great fun until someone gets hurt. That lesson from mom rings true with frightening clarity — decades after the fact.

The same can be said for practical jokes, too.

But when public employees are doing the jumping and the furniture is taxpayer-owned, the citizens are the ones who get hurt.

The April Fool’s Day prank pulled on Natchez Alderman James “Ricky” Gray was, quite simply, out of line and a bit childish.

No doubt the person (or persons) who placed a rubber snake in Gray’s mailbox did not mean serious harm to him, but then again, neither do the little children who revel in a quick round of couch trampoline, either.

The fact is that the workplace is no place for practical jokes. What one person may consider harmless fun can be terrifying and disturbing to others.

Gray overreacted by saying he planned to call the FBI. Obviously federal agents have better things to do than investigate a practical joke.

But Gray’s level of anger is understandable.

A friend is allowed to play a joke on another friend, provided they eventually fess up. But when an anonymous stranger plays a joke on you, it is a little creepy and certainly disrespectful.

Shenanigans at a private business are of no concern to the public, but games on taxpayer time are a different matter entirely. That it was happening at City Hall is just shameful.

Such childish acts perpetuate the public’s perception that the government is run by juveniles.

Taxpayers don’t want to see such a lack of respect among the people we’ve elected to lead us.