The Criminalization of Borat


Evan Daniel Emory, 21, got permission from Beachnau Elementary School officials in Michigan to record himself singing the song "Lunch Lady Land" in front of a class of first graders, but under the false pretense that he wanted to use the video as part of his application to a school of education. Emory was actually planning a comedy bit. He later dubbed in sexually profane lyrics and posted the video to YouTube, making it look as if he had sang the dirty lyrics directly to the children.

And then all hell broke lose in Ravenna, Michigan.

Now, I can understand if Beachnau school officials and parents don't share Emory's sense of humor. I can understand a parent becoming rather irate upon learning that Emory had serenaded the kids with filthy lyrics. And even after learning that the dirty audio had been dubbed in, I can also understand a parent might still be ticked off that his kid's face appeared in the finished product. (The video is obviously offline now, but according to the article, it begins with Emory writing on a chalkboard, "Disclaimer: No children were exposed to the 'Graphic Content' of this video.") 

All of which is good reason to demand Emory take down the video. It might be good reason to sue him. And maybe you fine Emory for lying to school officials about his intentions. But some in Ravenna are predictably calling for his head.

So let's give due praise and kudos to Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague, who showed some rare perspective in all of this. Tague recently held a press conference in which he calmly explained to angry parents and a hysterical local media that we don't throw people in prison for having a bad sense of humor. Here's Tague:

"Look, I know a lot of people are upset. But the video has been taken down, and the actual damage done to the kids is minimal. They didn't actually hear the sexually suggestive lyrics. Any time you have a story about sex, children, and the Internet, there's going to be a tendency for some people to overreact. Mr. Emory showed incredibly poor judgment here, and I hope he has learned his lesson. But my job is to fairly apply the law, and I simply don't think it would be in the interest of justice to charge Mr. Emory with a crime just to register our moral outrage at his prank.

Oh, wait. That's what Tague should have said. Here's what he actually said:

"The bottom line in this case is that he walked into a classroom and took advantage and victimized every single child in that classroom," Tague said.

"This case is very disturbing to law enforcement officials. We have launched a full-fledged investigation with the sheriff."

Tague said Michigan law 'provides penalty' for those who actually manufacture child sexual abusive material "but also has a provision for those who make it appear that the children were actually abused."

Emory has been arrested. He's currently charged with a felony punishable by 20 years in prison.

NEXT: Behind the Scenes of Atlas Shrugged the Movie

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Owwww!!!!! My nuts hurt!!!!

    1. sick reveral by Balko. I felt hopeful about humanity for about 1 paragraph

      1. I know. Now he’s just trying to maximize the pain.

  2. Screw this emory asshole. Those kids could have spent that valuable time as political props when the NEA lobbied the state legislature for higher teacher salaries and benefis!

  3. Why does shit like this have to happen to hipster douchebags? It’s so much harder for me to get my justice system hate on when they are the victims.

  4. “””Oh, wait. That’s what Tague should have said. Here’s what he actually said:””

    Damn you Radley. Nut punching is one thing, but setting me up for max effect. That’s dirty pool mister!

    1. Oh man, that hurt. Damn you Balko. I was actually lulled into a sense that there were some reasonable people in America.

      1. As was I. My ovaries…

    2. Seriously, Radley you shouldnt do that. I was ready to foarwad and say “see, thats how its done” but them WHAM!!!

    3. Yep, I was about to feel good about humanity again until he pulled out this rug. Not fair Balko. I hope someone buys you a nasty tasting beer when you’re with Liberty on the Rocks for this!

    4. You tricked us just like that Emory kid tricked those people. I demand retribution!!!

      (I liiiiiike)

  5. Radley sets me up

    But my job is to fairly apply the law, and I just don’t think it would be in the interest of justice to charge Mr. Emory with a crime just to register our moral outrage at his prank.

    then knocks me down gives me a nut punch.

    Emory has been arrested. He’s currently charged with a felony punishable by 20 years in prison.

    1. What exactly is the felony? Did they just make one up? Tricking grade schoolers??? Is that the felony?

      1. Manufacturing material that makes it appear that children were sexually abused. I’m sure the statute’s definitions are very broad to include as much naughty content as possible.

        I’m totally against kiddie pron and all, but this is really just dumb.

        1. SCOTUS ruled laws of that kind unconstitutional in 2002, so I don’t know what the DA thinks he’s doing.

          1. You should know that the rule of law only counts when it serves the purposes of those who are authorized to enforce the law.

  6. “””but also has a provision for those who make it appear that the children were actually abused.”””

    Abused by lyric?


    1. Right. Except they weren’t abused by even the lyrics, because he dubbed those in.

      Are the parents so thin-skinned that they can’t just shrug this off? Because if they weren’t baying for blood, the prosecutor wouldn’t see much gain in this.

      1. What if he dubbed in Justin Bieber lyrics? would that be victimization?

        1. Absolutely, and in such a case I would accept only execution as the penalty.

          1. The exportation of Justin Bieber music is proof that Canadians have no qualms about committing crimes against humanity.

      2. “”Except they weren’t abused by even the lyrics, because he dubbed those in.””

        Right, that’s true. But I was looking at that from the prosecutors point of view, sort of, not the reality point of view.

  7. Over at The Agitator, Radley gives us the good news that Google has put a bunch of issues of Spy magazine online.

    That was only so we would let our guard down for this punch to the nuts.


    1. Let me help you with that….here’s how it’s done:



  9. Isn’t there a Supreme Court case on this very issue?

    1. Isn’t there a Supreme Court case on this very issue?

      I do believe there’s a document in our government which does cover the issue.

      1. I meant about the simulated image issue.

      1. Another case, by the way, of Clarence Thomas voting with the liberal wing on a civil rights case.

        1. That’s unpossible.

  10. American mothers of young children are the craziest fucking people on the planet. Nuttier than squirrel shit. Every last one of them, without exception.

    The jury tosses this in 20 minutes assuming it has no more than two mothers of young children on it.

    1. Soccer moms and helicopter moms have done their evil work well. More of the wimpifying of American chillun.

      I have little doubt that some, if not the majority, of these little angels have heard and told worse amongst themselves.

      1. It’s like when you’re in third grade and your teacher finds the Mad Libs. I’ll never forget having the guidance counselor ask me:

        “So, what is a cocksucker?”

        “Someone who sucks cocks.”

        “And what does that mean?”

        “Do you really need me to tell you?”


    2. I disagree. Most mothers of young children would find the video funny, but if only 1 in 10 is a drama queen you’ve still got a lot of outrage on your hands. Outrage that Tauge intends to cash in for votes.

    3. Not “Every last one of them.”

      My wife, for instance.

      She would totally agree that this guy is a douchebag for his inane jackassery, but that there’s no way it should be a crime, much less a felony.

  11. As the H&R commenters lay clutching their groin as if it was hit by a thousand freight trains, a baldheaded man took pride in his evil plan.

    1. You realize you just described Mini-Me.

      1. LOL, not what I was thinking at the time, but yeah.

  12. Kicked in the nuts twice in one day:

      1. Whoa! Back off!

    1. I liked the twist at the end.

  13. Evan Daniel Emory — stupid as stupid does. And, foreseeable consequences are not unintended consequences.

    Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague — a college-educated, grown-up that is suppose to know better. We need to find a way to make whoring out to the media a crime.

  14. i’d be pretty angry about my kid’s face being used in an R-rated video

    for free, I mean

    1. How much did Dave Chapelle pay the parents of the kids in his drug skit? Probably not much.

      1. I’M BURNING IN HELL!!!

        1. Here’s something. When I was a kid I was on Art Linkletter’s house party. Not one of those kids who sat on the stools and hilariously answered Art’s questions. I was just there with my mom in the audience and Art picked her to play one of the the games. She won a portable color TV. A few weeks later I got to watch myself on TV. You know, my mom died 20 years ago at 69. It seems to me Art was an old guy back in 1968 when my mom and me were on the show. It seemed like that guy was never going to die.

    2. I can kind of understand parents being upset about their snowflakes suddenly showing up on Youtube, but that’s what lawsuits are for. It’s not a crime.

      Folks in Meeshigan better be careful what they play on the stereo when Teh Children are around. Or if they could be dubbed in later. Or something.

  15. I don’t get the nut kick meme. I’ve never seen a bald man near my nuts (excluding Mr. Happy himself, of course).

    1. It’s a recurring theme with the H&R regulars. We’ve labeled this type of article a nut puncher, and Radley, the baldheaded man, is usually the one that writes them.

      Of course we are happy and sometimes greatful depending on the outcome, that Radley exposes what freedom loving people would consider abuses of power.

  16. Mr. Emory showed incredibly poor judgment here, and I hope he has learned his lesson. But my job is to fairly apply the law, and I simply don’t think it would be in the interest of justice to charge Mr. Emory with a crime just to register our moral outrage at his prank.

    It seems clear to me that Mr. Tague doesn’t have any ambitions for higher office.

    1. “”It seems clear to me that Mr. Tague doesn’t have any ambitions for higher office.””

      You would be correct if that’s really what Mr. Tague said.

      1. Yeah. Clearly Mr Tague does have ambitions for higher office. Fuck me with a fishfork.

  17. I just made the mistake of reading the comments section from that story. FUCK.

    1. They’re great.

      he did this “to help him gain admission to a Big Ten School of Education”

      instead, it will help him gain admission to a big ten inch c&ck; in prison. well done!

      I hope they throw this a-hole in the clink for a long time. Since when has making a youtube video become a valid excuse for harming others, especially children.

      OMG! I cannot believe how lightly some of you are taking this. Do none of you have children? Yes, I understand that no children were exposed to his lyrics; but, disclaimer or not, if his splicing is as good as I’ve heard it is, it is very easy to see how viewers of the video would believe that these children had been exposed to that sexually explicit song. Moreover, he lied to those involved and posted the faces of 20-30 innocent children on the internet for the world to see without any parental consent. For those of you who like to compare this to other productions out there, the consent (and perhaps compensation) issue is a major difference. And with so many sexual offenses against children these days, it’s truly no joking matter!

      This guy CLEARLY has perverted thoughts about children and needs to go to jail.

  18. He’s currently charged with a felony punishable by 20 years in prison.

    He’ll get a small fine and probation, which will go unreported here.

    1. @ I Predict

      No he won’t. If he’s convicted he’ll get more than that. He probably won’t be given the 20 years, but regardless of the time he spends in prison he’ll still have to register as a sex offender. That alone is terrible punishment. It’ll effectively destroy his entire future. No one wants to hire someone they think is a kiddie fiddler.

    2. It depends on how ballsy the guy is. If he fights the charges, he’s going to get convicted and sentenced to 20…but it’ll probably get overturned on appeal due to SCOTUS precedent ruling “virtual child abuse” laws unconstitutional. Of course this will also involve him getting fired from his job and never being able to be a teacher again.

      Or he could plea bargain to a misdemeanor, though I’m not sure if this prosecutor can really afford to do that after the publicity he’s drawn to the case.

  19. That’s exactly what the sneaky prosecutor is going to try to do: Plea Bargain.

    He’ll tell the poor, naive boy “hey look, just say you did it and we’ll only give you probation. Fight us and you’re risky 20 years.”

    And of course it sounds good, right? But not really because if he pleads guilty he’ll have to register as a sex offender. Most people don’t realize the implications of that. Most jobs won’t hire him, he won’t be able to live anywhere near a place where minors conjugate such as schools and parks, his face and picture will be put on the sex offender website and chances are he’ll be harassed by vigilante types, they may force him into therapy and he’ll get regular visits by the police. And once you’re put on the registry, it’s not easy to get off.

    He needs to fight this. The case is bogus. And everyone who cares about free speech will be hoping for the best. If he loses, we all lose.

    1. where minors conjugate


  20. Owwwwwwwwwwww…….

  21. Motherfucker.
    I linked this shit hours before Balko.
    It’s not as if I’m looking for a hat tip, but WTF?

  22. Seems to me this isn’t much different from something I saw recently in my doctor’s office. A magazine had what was probably a stock photo of a boy to illustrate an article on masturbation. FAIK that boy is now 30 YO but someone might recognize his photo. The photo being stock (probably), his association with masturbation comes only as a result of the juxtaposition in the magazine.

    BTW, the cover advertised it as an article on “the M word”. I assumed it was going to be about money!


    From YouTube user iamthemasterofmyfate


    Occupation:US army Light Infantry Division (thank god they don’t know i am an extremist).”

    YouTube has a stated policy that bans “hate speech”, content that promotes hatred against members of a race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status and sexual orientation/gender identity.
    Yet there are many hundreds of extremely obvious race-hate mongers (with names incorporating “Nazi”, and channel logos including swastikas and SS logos) on YT which the company does nothing about, even when complaints have been made.

    Any of these will have friends/subscribers that lead to many many more. I estimate more than 500 such users.
    I personally have complained to YT at least 9 times now over the course of the last month. I have neither received a reply nor seen any action taken against them.

  24. Direct quote from the news article:

    “The camera in the posted video scanned the audience of smiling children and every child’s face was recognizable.”

    This is why Mr. Emory’s in trouble with the law, as well as why people are so upset- because he abused children. It’d be one thing if he just showed the backs of a bunch of anonymous heads, but he didn’t- he exploited numerous children by compromising and tarnishing their identities for his own personal gain. I understand that excuses like “But, but…IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN!” are often inappropriately used to support draconian and liberty-sucking policies, but in this case, it’s a legit reason.

    I don’t personally believe that it’s right to make him a “sex offender”, seeing as there’s no real evidence that he made the video to provide sexual gratification for himself or others. But it makes perfect sense to throw the book at him.

    1. How does videotaping children in a school classroom constitute abuse?

  25. This is not a violation of any criminal law and anyone that thinks so is uninformed or just plain stupid. He is exercising his 1st Amendment rights to sing an Adam Sandler song on YoTube. I would do this myself if I thought I could get some press by being arrested. But since I don’t live in an area where the police are that backwards, I don’t think I’d be so lucky. I hope he goes to trial. Suppose the same video were made and a Christian message inserted, instead of a humorous song? Would these children have been any MORE abused in that case? How are they abused in the first place? Because their faces are identifiable? If that is the crime here, the parents need to be charged with child endangerment. Yall must be a bunch o’ rednecks to think otherwise. Well, God Bless America!

    1. To you and the “What?” user who responded to my previous comment: they are abused because their faces are identifiable in a very *explicit* video. Let’s not forget that the parents never consented to this.

    2. Oh, and you should read the article before making statements like “This is not a violation of any criminal law” and poisoning the well for anyone who disagrees with you.

  26. If it was your child in that classroom, even if it was dubbed over, you wouldn’t be screaming 1st Amendment. You would see this pot head behind bars.

  27. Ugh. That was a depressing bait-and-switch Balko.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.