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Do You Want Some Fries with that Gator?

by Kevin Saez

As a parent, you hope to protect your child as much as you possibly can. Yet, there is a point where a parent must understand when it is time for their children to face responsibility for their actions. Linda James, the mother of 23-year-old Joshua James, will have to learn this lesson the hard way.

On Monday, Feb. 8, Joshua James was arrested for allegedly tossing a live alligator through the drive-thru window of a Wendy’s restaurant in Loxahatchee, Florida. The young man committed the crime four months prior in early October and was only caught through a series of incriminating mistakes he made, such as using a bank card at a 7-Eleven gas station before going to the Wendy’s.

When caught, Joshua James cooperated with officers, confessed to the crime and apologized for his actions in an interview on Feb. 10 with WPTV NewsChannel 5. “I’m sorry for what I did,” he said. “Being stupid, not thinking. Obviously, I found out what the consequences were.” He has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, misdemeanor possession of an alligator and petit larceny.

While Joshua James has admitted his mistake and is now dealing with the consequences, his mother is not happy with how this situation has unfolded. When interviewed by WPTV, Linda James told the news station, “It was just a stupid prank that he did that is now turning into this. He’s a prankster. He does stuff like this because he thinks it’s funny.” In the interview, she appeared visibly annoyed and confused as to how her son could possibly be facing jail time for what he did.

When asked if the people at Wendy’s thought the incident was just a prank, Linda James responded by saying, “How could you not think something like that was a prank?”

Now, compare and contrast the statement that her son made to the statement his mother made. Whereas Joshua James was apologetic and understood that what he did was wrong, his mother was aware of his antics, but also tried to let him off the hook.

A prank is usually viewed as a mischievous but playful trick in which all participants get a good laugh out of the situation. The situation that Joshua James created through his poor decision making does not fit into this definition.

You do not even have to stop and think why it is a wrongheaded decision to abduct an alligator and throw it through a drive-thru window. In that situation, not only has the alligator been put in danger, but the people who work at the drive-thru window have been put in harm’s way as well.

Imagine if the alligator had lunged onto one of the employees and bitten one of them. That person would now have to go to the hospital and be treated for serious injuries because someone thought it would be a funny thing to do. That person would also have to deal with medical bills that come from having to receive medical treatment for their injuries. On top of that, the victim would have to deal with the emotional trauma that typically comes with being put in a terrifying and painful experience like having an alligator thrown at you while simply doing your job. Not one of those consequences is funny in the slightest and does not warrant that Joshua James be let off the hook.

Thankfully, nobody was hurt and the alligator was returned safely to the preserve that it was abducted from by this clown. When trying to blow off the whole incident as just a harmless prank, Linda James should have considered all of the people who could have been seriously affected by the reckless actions of her son.

Worst of all, Linda James tried to excuse her son’s behavior by saying that he was a fan of the late wildlife expert and conservationist Steve Irwin. The fatal flaw in Linda James’ argument is that Irwin was someone who went out of his way to protect and take care of animals, especially crocodiles, a relative to the alligator. Even on his TV show, Irwin never went out of his way to endanger an animal for the benefit of his own show. Joshua James, on the other hand, went out of his way to endanger the alligator and harm people doing their job because he thought it would be a funny thing to do.

Yet, as mentioned before, even Joshua James was capable of acknowledging that he made a mistake and now realizes that what he did was wrong. Linda James is probably scared that her son could face jail time, but she, like all parents, must understand that, when a child grows up, that child will have to face the consequences when he or she tries to add alligator to the Wendy’s menu.

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