Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid

Todd Hartley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

One of the things I’ve always admired most about the dimwitted – a group that by no means precludes me, mind you – is the way one person’s stupidity frequently begets even more idiocy on the part of others. A perfect case in point is the brouhaha going on right now in England over the actions of one insignificant woman who did one very dumb thing.

The woman, Mary Bale, a 45-year-old bank worker from the town of Stoke, achieved infamy earlier this week when a video of her dropping a cat in a trash bin was posted on the Internet. That, clearly, was a moronic and malicious thing to do, but what’s really impressive about this story is the way people in England and around the globe have responded to it.

First, let me set the stage for those of you who haven’t seen the video. It starts with Ms. Bale standing next to a brick wall with a trash can at one end of it. The cat, a 4-year-old Tabby named Lola, comes walking along the top of the wall toward Ms. Bale, who reaches out and gives Lola a friendly pet. Pleasant enough so far, right?

But then, in a surprise ending one might more realistically expect from another crappy M. Night Shyamalan movie, Ms. Bale opens the lid of the trash can, picks up Lola by the scruff of the neck, drops her in the can, shuts the lid and walks quickly away.

Yes, it was cruel. Yes, it was stupid of her, but – and this is by no means a defense of Ms. Bale – you can almost sense her thought process as the video unfolds. The cat was there. The trash can was there. Lots of people would have had a similar idea for one perverse moment. Fortunately, everyone else on the planet immediately dismisses a thought like that and moves on.

Unfortunately for Ms. Bale, Lola’s owner, Darryl Mann, had a security camera outside his house that just happened to be pointed straight at the trash can. When he found Lola in the trash some 15 hours later, meowing plaintively but unharmed, he at first thought she was just the victim of an accident.

“I thought she might have got in herself,” he said. “She’s not the brightest cat.”

When he went back and checked the security video later, however, Mann saw what really happened, and he and his wife posted the video online looking for help finding the guilty woman, who was ultimately identified as Ms. Bale. The West Midland Police Force tracked her down, and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals launched an investigation, announcing that charges of animal cruelty might be forthcoming.

So that should have been the end of the story, right? The police had their perpetrator, who confessed to the deed and said she was “profoundly sorry” for her “split second of misjudgment,” and Lola the cat was safe at home and none the worse for wear.

Ah, but this is the Internet age, where everyone, emboldened by the anonymity the ‘Net affords, thinks it’s OK to be an asshole.

Within a day or two, someone had created a Facebook group called “Death to Mary Bale,” and hundreds of outraged animal lovers had posted angry messages, including some actual death threats. Large crowds – these people at least brave enough to show their faces – gathered outside Ms. Bale’s house, and the police had to escort the besieged woman away for her own safety.

Seriously? You jackasses think Ms. Bale should die for what she did? Let me remind you of her crime: She dropped a cat in a trash can. The cat was unharmed. She didn’t kill anyone or anything. She didn’t kidnap a child. She didn’t steal anything or break into someone’s house. She didn’t even threaten anyone, something a lot of you douche bags in the “Death to Mary Bale” user group can’t claim.

To its credit, Facebook quickly deleted the group, which it considered a “credible threat,” and the Manns, who along with Lola were the only actual victims of the crime, beseeched the outraged masses not to take matters into their own hands, saying they were “stunned” by the public reaction to the incident.

Look, folks, what Ms. Bale did was horrible, but the police and RSPCA are on the case and will dole out her punishment. What’s infinitely worse than dropping a cat in the trash is threatening to kill someone for doing it. Get over yourselves already.

Todd Hartley once found a giant rat in a trash can in Costa Rica. It might still be there. To read more or leave a comment, please visit