What it is with people’s obsession with poo?
EAT your breakfast before reading this, unless you're a faecalpheliac, in which case you may find this column right up your, um, alley.
What it is with people's obsession with poo? We all have to expel it, but why do some feel compelled to overshare?
And what kind of debased world are we living in when dumping and smearing is considered payback, or simply more convenient than using a toilet?
Look at recent news reports and you could be forgiven for thinking that society is going down the dunny. No flushing necessary.
Forget zombies and creepy clowns, faecalpheliacs are on the march.
This week, a mother of two and an aspiring nurse - wouldn't like to be her patient ever - was spared a conviction by our wishy-washy legal system after she dumped a bag of faeces on a chemist shop counter. Oh, and she assaulted a security officer who asked her to pick it up.
The 29-year-old woman, Mackay Magistrates Court heard, was unhappy that earlier in the day staff had suggested she take her four-year-old child to the rest rooms at a fast-food outlet across the road because there were no public toilets at the pharmacy.
Imagine the indignation, the outrage, the injustice!
The woman returned later that night and, according to CCTV evidence, placed a bag of faeces on the cashier counter. She allegedly told staff, "here is your bag of shit".
The magistrate accepted her lawyer's defence that her conduct was an "aberration" and "uncharacteristic".
Seriously, though, who would know for sure?
Plenty of people seem to find poo an effective payback, and defecating in public no big deal.
Psychologists suggest all kind of links, from unchecked aggression to sexual fantasies.
Brisbane now has quite the international reputation for dumping on the run, thanks to the serial efforts of former business executive Andrew McIntosh, who fronted court last month after neighbours caught him in the act.
Dubbed the "poo jogger", the 64-year-old would bring toilet paper with him and let loose on the footpath of a Greenslopes apartment block, in the city's southeast.
A colleague who walks her dog around Grange, on the opposite side of town, says she often dodges excrement. It's easy to tell the difference between doggie doo, she insists, and her pooch has a preference for sniffing the human kind.
Whether people set out with good intentions of keeping fit but fail to anticipate the call of nature, I don't know, but using parks and footpaths as toilets is just not on.
Find a place to exercise that has a bona fide loo, or time your run around your bowel movements. How difficult can that be?
In other cringe-worthy cases, this time last year a woman walked into an RSL club in Cairns and defecated on the carpet.
In August 27, a female commuter pulled down her pants and "shat" on a Melbourne bus seat, prompting onlookers to cry out in disgust.
And in January a Cairns rental car dealership had one of its vehicles damaged by human excrement. The stuff was smeared all over the windscreen, the latest in a series of crimes targeting the business.
As the dismayed dealership owner said, "no one is scared of doing anything wrong anymore because they know that nothing is going to happen to them if they get caught".
Then there's this one: Bare-bummed backpacker caught on camera
This bare-bummed villain, a backpacker, was caught using a Gold Coast resident's front lawn as a toilet.
Currently, Queensland law doesn't specifically deal with grubs who defecate or "decorate" in public.
That other favourite pastime of urinating in public is officially named, but No. 2s fall under the category of "public nuisance".
I rather think it's a bit more than a nuisance, don't you?
Time to change the law and get serious about enforcing it.
The existing penalties - the maximum for a public nuisance offence is a $2945 fine or six months imprisonment - are useless if not applied in full.
The woman who fronted court this week for dumping the bag of poo on the chemist's counter was fined $1500 however no conviction was recorded.
What lesson does this teach her, or her child for that matter? That pooing can be costly but you can still dump wherever you like?
Some Courier-Mail readers questioned the actions of the chemist staff, saying it was poor form to deny a child use of a toilet.
Perhaps, but this is chemist not a cafe, and the appropriate response was given, despite the woman objecting to it, and retaliating in the foulest way imaginable.
Magistrate Mark Nolan admitted the woman's behaviour was out of line. "Having your child's faeces in a bag and placing it on the counter of the pharmacy … it's an awful thing to do," he said.
"Regardless of how frustrated you may have been … the staff there don't deserve to be treated that way."
Neither does anyone. Public places are to be shared and respected, not used as dumping grounds.
Kylie Lang is an associate editor of The Courier-Mail.