OK, I'm going to recommend that Richard Heene, part-time "scientist" and full-time twit, be horsewhipped. And I'd be happy to throw in a good spanking for little Falcon Heene, the foul-mouthed brat who might have benefited from an actual balloon ride straight to Camp Cut-Me-A-Switch, where children learn not to curse at grownups and otherwise waste the valuable time of their elders.
Corporal punishment may seem harsh, but remember that the balloon stunt wasn't the first of their transgressions. There's also the matter of their "Wife Swap" appearances, where they took the show's unvarying theme -- free-spirit vs. control freak -- and drained it of even marginal interest because viewers hated everyone involved. The Heene clan came across as precisely what they are: pre-adolescent narcissists who will do anything -- anything -- to get on TV. Richard is the dad only by virtue of his age; it can't have anything to do with maturity or judgment.
Was the balloon thing a hoax? Who cares? The man named his son Falcon, for crying out loud, and that's a crime right there. Besides, anybody who calls the NBC affiliate before calling 911, as Heene did, clearly has bigger fish to fry than securing the safety of his son.
But this is what a decade of reality shows has brought us: A national stage for every quirky buffoon willing to up the ante in outrageous behavior. One of these days somebody's going to get hurt. Let's just hope they get it on tape.