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© St. Petersburg Times, published February 28, 2002
Like it or not, and I don't, but Bubba's probably going to walk.
On Wednesday, the defense in his animal cruelty trial called two experts. One was a Gainesville veterinarian. The other was a former state game official.
Both testified that the method used to kill that now celebrated pig on Bubba's radio show last year was routine and used regularly by hunters. The pig's throat was slit, after the animal was castrated.
But for the radio shock jock to be convicted, state law requires that the animal's death be cruel, or the result of the infliction of unnecessary pain. The experts saw nothing cruel or unnecessary about what happened.
The prosecutor, Darrell Dirks, failed to budge the experts. He produced no witnesses to contradict them.
The silence was loud and discouraging. For even if the means of killing the pig were routine, the death itself was needless.
Plenty of other means exist to boost radio ratings.
Who knows this better than the pathetic man himself?
Bubba testified Wednesday about other stunts he's pulled. He has one gig called Drink Your Pee, and another dedicated to men talking about their penis problems, and still another called Milk Challenge, in which people in his studio drink so much milk that they end up vomiting.
You could argue that these promotions, as Bubba calls them, are as awful, if not worse, than what happened to the pig. He said with all seriousness that these things are done to educate and inform the public. When Dirks asked what the educational objective was in killing the pig, Bubba answered that he wanted to show his listeners where their food came from.
"So," said Dirks with unconcealed sarcasm, "you're going to explain that pork comes from pigs?"
"Not necessarily," Bubba replied.
But he was not all bob-and-weave on the stand.
He acknowledged that the animal was castrated so that one of the other men participating in the stunt could eat the testicles raw.
That is not a misprint.
At the end of Bubba's testimony, the prosecutor asked him if he enjoyed the killing of the pig, which took place in the radio station parking lot while he was in his radio studio.
"I didn't do it," Bubba said. "I broadcast it. I really have no feelings either way."
That's no misprint either. He apparently believes he was not responsible for what happened to that animal.
The jurors are expected to deliberate today. I would hate to be one of them. It would be too frustrating.
The law has no room to take into account the outrage Bubba's conduct creates. It has no room to consider his motives, the drive for ratings and revenue, and the cynical -- that was the word he used -- way his show operates. His goal, he said, is to keep his audience "riveted," no matter what.
Lawyers would tell me never to guess at a verdict. Juries are unpredictable, except in this regard -- they take their job very seriously. I'm hanging what little hope I have on their seriousness of purpose.
Bubba and his three co-defendants are charged with felony animal cruelty, but the jury could reason its way into finding them guilty of misdemeanor animal cruelty instead. It bars the unnecessary death of an animal, and if ever there was such a case, this one is it.
I have heard from a lot of readers -- and Bubba listeners -- who call this prosecution a waste. I disagree now, and will continue to even if he is acquitted.
This hasn't just been a trial involving animal cruelty. It's a test of community standards, what we in Tampa Bay will tolerate, and what we will not.
-- You can reach Mary Jo Melone at firstname.lastname@example.org or 226-3402.