Patrick Gilman is an asshole
Gilman is the Scranton, Pennsylvania, police officer who used his police connections and knowledge of the law to abuse a neighbor who rubbed him the wrong way. That neighbor is Dawn Herb, of West Scranton, who loudly cursed her toilet when it backed up and overflowed on the floor. Gilman overheard Herb through her open bathroom window, and got into what the Scranton Times-Tribune describes as a "brief verbal altercation" with her about her choice of language. A report in the Philadelphia Weekly suggests he may have told her to "shut the fuck up."
Apparently she didn't shut the fuck up, or maybe she did, but gave him more lip than he liked in the process. Gilman then called his buddies at police headquarters to have disorderly conduct charges brought against Herb. She now faces 90 days in jail and a $300 fine. The ACLU has taken her case.
Disorderly conduct for cursing at an overflowing toilet? Hmmm. I'm sure this has nothing to to do with Gilman's connections and status as a police officer.
As Mary Catherine Roper, an ACLU attorney told the Times-Tribune "You can’t prosecute somebody for swearing at a cop or a toilet." It's just not illegal -- nor should it be. But power has its own logic. If ticking off a servant of the state isn't formally illegal ... well ... he and his friends will just find a charge among the dusty racks of general-purpose statutes that will stick, effectively criminalizing any behavior they don't like.
So Patrick Gilman is certainly an asshole, but he's not a standout, bad-egg asshole. Instead, he's the sort of banal abuser of authority that you can expect any institutionalized system of coercive force to vomit up on a regular basis. Undoubtedly, he thinks he's fully justified in finding a semi-clever way twist the law to penalize a neighbor who had the nerve to mouth-off to a police officer. His colleagues surely agree. The lot of them are likely scratching their heads and wondering what all the fuss is about.
I certainly hope that Ms. Herb emerges from this ordeal relatively unscathed -- and with a clear idea about the predatory way in which our supposed protectors view us common folk.
And the rest of us can just hope we don't live next door to any Patrick Gilmans.