I don’t remember the exact quote from King of the Hill (an animated series here in the US), but it went something like this.

Bobby: But how come you don’t want Luanne to go out with guys but you want me to date girls?

Dad: It’s called the double standard, Bobby. Don’t knock it – we got the long end of the stick on that one.

Alan Shimel clearly got the short end of the stick when his account was hacked. Heck, he got the short end of the nub, and so would pretty much all of us.

Odds are high you’ve heard that the college kid that hacked Palin’s account is being indicted and could face jail time. Twitter was all aflutter yesterday with concerns that the potential punishment exceeds the crime. Personally, I believe if you break the law, you face the consequences. I also harbor no illusions that our justice system is blind. It’s clear if you mess with a popular politician, they will frack you as hard as possible, in every way possible Then bury you. Then pee on your grave. Then pee on your dog before they bury it next to you. Your family and friends? You really don’t want to think about that. And when you mess with a maverick Republican? Well, let’s better hope they can’t track down anyone that ever bothered to smile in your general direction.

Had the perpetrator broke into a government account I would expect a different set of consequences. But a personal account should be treated the same as Joe Six Pack’s. Heck, Alan’s break in involved documented financial fraud, unlike Palin. Not that I think we should destroy the lives of every college kid that virtually shoplifts a virtual candy bar (punishment should suit the crime), but over-tolerance only breeds contempt.

Just call me a dreamer, but as a realist I know I’m just wasting my words on this particular topic.

Still, I’ve heard from businesses that unless credit cards or other hard financial losses are clearly involved it is essentially impossible to get law enforcement to take action; they just don’t have the resources. As such we need to focus on our own monitoring and incident response. If you can’t prove someone really stole your cash, you won’t get the attention of law enforcement. If you can’t give them a description, don’t expect the case to go very far. It’s really no different in the physical world.

A few years ago, when I moved to Phoenix, we screwed up and left the garage door open at night. One of those silly mistakes when you think the other person took care of it. Neighborhoods are routinely cruised out here, and when I woke up and noticed it was too late. There went my road bicycle, most of my climbing gear, and, worst of all, a small pack containing my original Star Wars figures I’d saved since I was a kid and some other very personal mementos. We filled out a police report but never expected any action (no, they won’t take fingerprints if someone steals your bike), and after our deductible it wasn’t even worth filing an insurance claim. I made the rounds of the local pawn shops, but no joy.

Society accepts a certain level of losses, since we don’t have the resources to continue otherwise. That doesn’t, of course, apply when something gets the press attention of the Palin hack. Sometimes it’s about the losses, and other times it’s about looking good in the press.