The XX Factor

No Book Deals for the Balloon Boy Parents

Does anyone out there feel sorry for Richard and Mayumi Heene, who will do short jail stints for their Balloon Boy hoax ? It’s hard to squeeze out a drop of sympathy for these exploitative parents. But it does seems as if the judge decided to make an example of them by sending them to jail, and I wonder how the interests of their kids are served by these 30 and 20-day sentences behind bars. Far more fitting was the judge’s stipulation that “Mr. Heene is in fact prohibited from receiving any form of financial benefit - whether it be media, a book, an article he writes - anything of that kind that stems from this incident.” Mayumi Heene can’t sell her story for four years and she has to write a letter of apology. Those are the punishments that satisfy in a crazy, publicity-hounding case like this: zero profit plus a tablespoon of shame.

Photograph of Richard and Mayumi Heene by Chris Schneider/Getty Images.