Last week we explained the bizarre case of the stockbroker who threw a hedge fund manager into a wall because the hedgie was being overly boisterous and obnoxious during a spin class.

The case was brought to court for charges of misdemeanor assault. Both sides’ attorneys surmised this decision would decide whether it was justified to assault an annoying jerk for acting like one. So did it?

The New York Times ran an interesting piece on the widespread reaction to this trial. According to the NYT, many favored Mr. Carter (the assaulter, pictured) over the loudmouth, Mr. Sugarman (the assaulted):

“Don’t know Chris Carter, but can we give him a medal?” an anonymous commenter wrote to Dealbreaker.com, an attitude-laden blog about Wall Street goings-on. Another commenter described Mr. Sugarman as someone who “shoots off his mouth, ignores requests, then tattles like a little girl when he gets thumped.”

A writer named Curt Schleier sent us an e-mail message making a similar point. “Go to jail?” he said. “I think Carter deserves a medal.”

Mr. Carter, he said, had a “Network” moment: “This was just Carter’s way of sticking his head out the window and yelling, ‘I’m not going to take it anymore.’ ”

Mr. Schleier had an interesting angle on this sorry episode, which he called “a small part of a much larger issue.”

“Many Americans have an increasing sense of entitlement,” he said. “That is, what they want to do is more important than anyone else.”

Our own WSF readers agreed as well. Commenter ‘Bluedog’ said: “Great article. I vote Not Guilty. There’s nothing worse than a loud baffoon in the gym. I wish more would regulate like the stockbroker did.”

While one ‘anonymous’ commenter pointed out: “Just heard on the news that when Sugarman was asked to be quiet, he responded: “MAKE ME!” This guy is awesome!”

The New York Times wants to make these actions significant of a vast cultural phenomenon, by saying:

EXAMPLES of the phenomenon abound. An outsize sense of entitlement — coupled with an indifference to others — helps explain the drivers who barrel through crosswalks with no regard for the pedestrians with the right of way.

It helps explain ballpark loudmouths who couldn’t care less if those around them may be offended by their drunken swearing. It helps explain people who push their way into crowded subway cars before riders already in the cars can exit. It helps explain those who answer cellphones during a movie, or who take infants to the theater and then don’t leave when the babies start crying. It helps explain dog walkers who block sidewalks with their long-stretched leashes.

But isn’t this really a case of two arrogant jerks butting heads? This kind of thing is bound to happen in an environment as hostile and high-pressed as New York City. In addition, these guys were both working on Wall Street during a major collapse in the market. Tempers were certainly high, so maybe you should be able to get away with more in that kind of situation? A little violent confrontation during spin class can be just swept under the rug.

Looks like the court saw things the same way we do. After six jurors deliberated for 2 days, Carter was declared Not Guilty yesterday.

New York Times: When Guys and Grunts Get Tangly, June 3, 2008

Wall Street Journal: The Gym Grunter’s Confronter Walks!, June 3, 2008