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Wanted: Dead or Alive
by Stormy on March 23, 2013

Punxsutawney Phil is now a groundhog on the lam. Public reception of poor weather forecasting maybe a message to all weathermen.

It is said that the Chinese have an old curse that they wish upon people they dislike -- may you live in interesting times. The implication of this curse is that the events of those times would be far more interesting to those who are observing you in them, rather than you yourself. Punxsutawney Phil is now a victim of such a curse. Over the last few weeks his prognostication has taken a severe beating in social media as the public revolted against his false prediction of an early spring. A multitude of images jeering and later threatening Punxsutawney Phil have flooded Facebook and many other social media sites, referring to his erroneous prediction on February 2, Groundhog Day, that there shall be an early spring this year.

Rebellion against soothsayers is not a new thing. In ancient times it was not uncommon to have a soothsayer executed for making a false prediction. Even the Bible, in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, bans divination and soothsaying. Fortunetellers are a common astrological or mystical phenomenon in modern society and are generally acknowledged as a form of entertainment, rather than a genuine window into the future. Still, some people deeply embrace the mysticism and wholeheartedly believe the ability of select individuals to foretell the future.

Needless to say, with Punxsutawney Phil's global notoriety, his blatantly erroneous prediction of an early spring resulted in severe backlash against the furry rodent. This morning multiple press agencies broke news on a Friday indictment against venerable Phil, filed by Butler County (Ohio) prosecutor Michael Gmoser. Gmoser's filing charges Phil with a felony “against the peace and dignity of the State of Ohio” for his “misrepresentation of early spring”. It states that “Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that spring would come early.” The indictment goes on to state that “the people further find and specify that due to the aggravating circumstances and misrepresentation to the people that the death penalty be implemented to the defendant, Punxsutawney Phil.”

Naturally Phil's supporters lashed back, but Gmoser defended the indictment, stating, “I know his defenders are going to say he is just a dumb groundhog but, as we know, ignorance is not a defense of the law.”

In an interview, Gmoser noted that “this is a ground-breaking indictment. There's a lot of people who want a piece of him. I know, because I'm getting recipes from around the country.”

Bill Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, said Phil will fight any extradition attempt by authorities. He went on to say that “Right next to where Phil stays is the police station. They've been notified, and they said they will keep watching their monitors,” presumably meaning that the police force of the town of Punxsutawney is monitoring the situation and will not allow Phil to be taken without formal extradition orders.

Members of Punxsutawney Phil's inner circle made a statement to the media that the prognosticator of prognosticators is “incapable of error”, but earlier studies by researchers at the National Climactic Data Center referred to Phil's forecasts as “on average, inaccurate” and indicated that “the groundhog has shown no talent for predicting the arrival of spring, especially in recent years.”

Punxsutawney Phil is not alone. Ohio's own Buckeye Chuck made a prediction for an early spring this year, but Gmoser made no mention of filing an indictment against the Marion, Ohio native.

The Chinese have another curse that is wished upon their enemies. May you come to the attention of those in authority. Punxsutawney Phil indeed lives in interesting times. He had no comment regarding the filed indictment.



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