137,470 Arrested In Character Crackdown

January 23 (News Report) - In the largest crackdown yet on illegal text encoding, 137,470 people of all ages, including nearly the entire population of Hogbit County, Tennessee, were arrested Monday for font size violation. Chief Justice Nixon Highbits signed the arrest warrant, stating that the foiled attempt to create a font with more than 137,468 private-use characters was "clearly a violation of International Standard Code 10646."

Witnesses said the illegal operation started with innocent intentions. As an art project, each of the students in a third-grade class at Hogbit Elementary School had made a drawing of a flower. One student had the idea of making a computer font containing all the flower pictures. This idea caught on with other classes, and then spread to the junior and senior high schools, and even a kindergarten. Teachers are accused of plotting to create a single font containing one picture drawn by each student, to typeset decorations in their yearbooks. Infected by the insidious notion, the Hogbit Times newspaper allegedly solicited flower drawings from all the citizens of Hogbit County, to create a Hogbit County Flower Font. When the 137,469th citizen submitted a drawing, the conspiracy crossed the line between community fun and international crime.

School Board President Minnie Daisies, who leads the Hogbit Back To Basics Society, said "These kids won't stop with flowers. If we don't stop them now, next they'll be making fonts for molecular diagrams and everything. If you ask me, impressionable children shouldn't be exposed to hexadecimal, or even Arabic numbers. The so-called number zero has no value, and only encourages kids to start thinking about millions and billions, and getting into trouble. Give me those old Roman numerals. They were good enough for Caesar, and they're good enough for me."

An Unencode Consortium spokesperson said, "There will never be a legitimate use for more than sixty-five thousand --- I mean, for more than a hundred thirty-seven thousand private-use characters, and a million characters altogether. It's more than enough for us, and it's more than enough for Hogbit County."

The American Character Liberties Union has offered to defend the suspects. An ACLU spokesperson said, "At first we thought we could fight the charge on the basis of the right to privacy. The flower font was only supposed to use private-use code points, but there weren't enough. Unfortunately, as soon as someone tried to put a PDF file embedding the font on a website, they forfeited their claim to privacy. Instead, we're basing the defense on freedom of speech. Owing to the publicity surrounding this case, we anticipate that these flower pictures will become widely-used characters, and therefore eligible for encoding. It may take five to ten years for the standards organizations to assign the code points. By then, the statute of arbitrary limitations will have expired anyway. I just wish the kids didn't have to spend all that time in jail."

Never before have so many people been arrested simultaneously in Tennessee. State law-inforcement personnel are overwhelmed trying to fingerprint all the suspects. Sheriff John Q. Smallbits explained, "We have a computer system for storing fingerprints, but it can't handle so many all at once. We called in an expert from the Federal Bureau of Information. He advised us to make a font containing all the fingerprints. So, we had to arrest him too." The FBI agent, whose identity is being withheld, is the first suspect arrested in this case who is not a resident of Hogbit County.

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