Bad Joke Lands Politician Behind Bars
By: Gerri L. Elder
In Kentucky, a politician with a notably poor sense of humor recently made a bad joke at a grocery store. Apparently, the joke was one of the best in his stable of jests and he’d said it many times without any repercussions. However, now may be a good time for him to consider evaluating his comedic abilities.
Otis “Bullman” Hensley was arrested and spent three days in Harlan, Kentucky, jail after allegedly spouting an old Appalachian quip at a woman and two girls while shopping at a supermarket. He meant no harm, but the woman took great offense at what he said and the family later obtained a warrant for Hensley’s arrest from the local prosecutor.
He was released from the Harlan County jail after his son arrived with $15,000 and posted bond for him.
Hensley was charged with a count of first-degree attempted unlawful transaction with a minor. The family claimed that the comment he made was intended to entice the girls, ages 11 and 13, into illegal sexual activity.
The Kentucky Herald-Leader reported that Hensley told the woman, who was shopping with her two nieces at Don’s Supersaver, that he would “trade a good fattening hog” for the girls.
Hensley could have faced up to 10 years behind bars if the charges had stuck, but the charges against him were dismissed. The prosecutor in the case asked the judge to dismiss the charges, saying that both sides just wished to put the matter behind them. The girls’ father accepted an apology from Hensley and shook his hand.
Hensley insists that his comment was meant as a joke. That may certainly be true, but he also says that he has said it “a million times” and that most people get a kick out of it. There is really no accounting for taste when it comes to humor.
Appalachian scholar Loyal Jones says that the comment Hensley made to the woman is a joke that has been around for generations and is generally meant as a compliment. He says there are many variations of the same joke and it is just “country humor”.
In the state of Kentucky, citizens can obtain arrest warrants by filing a complaint with local prosecutors. According to defense attorney Karen Davenport, police are not required to conduct an investigation before making an arrest when the charge involves an alleged sexual offense.
In Hensley’s case, clearly there was no sexual intent. He simply has an odd sense of humor and made a bad joke to the wrong woman.
Hensley is known for being quite an oddball. He has been in the gubernatorial race during the last two elections as a longshot candidate. During his campaigns, he traveled around Kentucky with a giant fiberglass bull. On the bull was a sign that said if he were elected, he would “chase the bull out of Frankfort.” In 2003, he had his best showing and received 3.3 percent of the vote.