Opinion » Shredder

A bail of a tale to tell ya, lads


Who’s got a weekly column, a wicked peppermint Schnapps and pickle juice hangover, about $35 spread across three checking accounts in two states, and a brilliant idea for capitalizing on climate change?

This Shred.

I’ve never really known what the saying “a rising tide floats all boats” means, but I saw it on my Cliché of the Day calendar, which has been stuck at Jan. 18 for several months now. Oddly, my Procrastination Tip of the Day calendar is up-to-date. I flip that one like clockwork. And seeing the two together on a recent lazy Sunday morning gave me a brilliant, bankable, guaranteed idea: “Stop fooling around and get rich already! Just something something boats, and you’re there.”


I know that nobody has really done much boat travel since the Titanic went down. Its sinking is why airplanes were invented, but flying doesn’t offer much leg room. We, as a planet, have been shackled to the skies literally for decades now, all because of giant icebergs bumping around the ocean like roving packs of wild dogs and gang members working together, and also sometimes giving shelter to otherwise homeless penguins.

But warm air and seawater are going to conspire like wild dogs and gang members of their own to muscle out the icebergs, melting them away to nothing. Luxury cruise liners will be making a comeback, mark my words, and I want in on the ground floor.

I’ve already started on my prototype ship, which I built in miniature and tested on some fleas I found at my neighbor’s house. Not mine. Everything was going fine, with the aristocratic fleas popping their little Champagne corks and the lower-class fleas dancing their little flea jigs below decks, when the Weetanic, as I called it, struck an ice cube floating in my mug of Arbor Mist. It was heartbreaking seeing them rush around, the brave little flea captain standing at the prow, the others hopping into life rafts and trying to paddle to safety. I didn’t spend as much time on building those, though, and they started to fill with pomegranate berry pinot noir while the occupants frantically waved their little legs and bailed as if their lives depended on it, which I guess they did.

The funniest—and by funniest, I mean saddest—part of all this was that it was happening while a guy named Thomas Nolan Yanaga was getting out on bail—and, if Kings County law enforcement agents are to be believed, someone’s life depended on it.

Yanaga was recently arrested on suspicion of murder here in San Luis Obispo County. After posting $1 million bail during his preliminary trial, he was then arrested in Kings County on suspicion of attempted murder.

Innocent until proven guilty is one thing, but getting arrested on murder-related suspicions in the midst of your own ongoing murder trial isn’t exactly the sort of thing that wins a jury over.

I know that the whole bail-setting process is a key part of our judicial system. A lot of thought goes into whether to set bail or not, and at how much. Short of denying bail altogether, I’d think that the number thrown out in Yanaga’s case was a judge’s way of saying, “Yeah, I’ll set bail, but at a million dollars. That’s a million dollars.” To me, saying “a million dollars” is like saying “a hundrety-jibbity dollars.” It’s unreal.

To get out and get arrested again, Yanaga had to put up (or convince someone to put up) $100,000. That’s serious cash. That’s like, first-class berth on the Weetanic kind of money.

I get the argument for bail, in that you’re innocent until proven guilty, though if I were writing the clichés for my calendar, I would say “innocent unless proven guilty.” The other way presumes that it’s just a matter of time until your lies are uncovered and you get the book thrown at you.

But either way, the concept of bail adds one more very American layer to the already American system. It’s saying this: Look, we know you may be innocent, so we’re not going to force you to stay locked up as if you’re not innocent. You’re free to go—if you’re rich. Or have rich family or friends.

It is, truly, buying freedom. And if you don’t care about the money, because you have plenty or it’s someone else’s or you just have no morals, you can use that paid-for freedom to do whatever you feel like doing. I don’t know what Yanaga’s motivation was, but I do know that he’s now facing the prospect of shuttling back and forth between two counties, where one side is accusing him of murder and the other side is accusing him of attempted murder.

And given the circumstances, nothing can bail him out now.

The Shredder believes in justice for the wealthy, but for the poor, too. For everybody, really. Send tips to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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