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Tennessee Cops Arrest Man For Posting Photoshopped Picture of Men Urinating on Dead Officer's Grave

https://reason.com/2021/01/25/tennessee-cops-arrest-man-for-posting-photoshopped-picture-of-men-urinating-on-dead-officers-grave/

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Tennessee law enforcement arrested a man last week for posting a photoshopped picture of two men urinating on a dead police officer's grave.

The Dickson County Sheriff's Office, following an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), arrested and charged Joshua Garton with harassment after Garton posted a picture to Facebook that appeared to show two men desecrating the tombstone of Sgt. Daniel Baker, who was shot and killed on duty in 2018. Garton was held on a $76,000 bond.

"Agents subsequently visited Baker's gravesite this morning and determined the photograph was digitally manufactured," a TBI press release says. The agency launched the investigation at the request of 23rd District Attorney General Ray Crouch.

While the picture was in poor taste, constitutional experts say law enforcement violated Garton's First Amendment rights by arresting him for the image.

"The First Amendment clearly and unmistakably protects this man's right to post an offensive photo about a police officer," says Daniel Horwitz, a Nashville civil rights attorney. "The only people who broke the law here were the police officers and TBI agents who participated in this flagrantly unconstitutional arrest."

The picture Garton posted is in fact a doctored photo of the cover of "Pissing on Your Grave," a single by The Rites, which originally depicted two people urinating on the tombstone of punk legend GG Allin.

This is the photo that our constitutionally illiterate law enforcement officers think is a crime to share. pic.twitter.com/jOBJZBaeGF

— Daniel A. Horwitz (@Scot_Blog) January 23, 2021

It's unclear how a dead person can be criminally harassed under Tennessee law, which requires that the subject be "frightened, intimidated or emotionally distressed." Rather, Garton committed the unwritten crime of hurting a police officer's feelings, also known as "contempt of cop."

For example, in 2019 an Iowa man won a lawsuit after he was charged with third-degree harassment for saying online that a sheriff's deputy was a "stupid sum bitch" and "butthurt." (In hindsight, the latter seems undeniably true.)

Then there's the San Diego Police Department, which issued more than 80 tickets over the last decade for "seditious language" under an unconstitutional World War I–era law. The Voice of San Diego reported that the majority of the tickets were issued to minorities for allegedly using vulgarities.

Another Tennessee resident was arrested in 2017 after he wrote "Erin's police chief is a bitch" in white paint on the back of his car.

There's a wide body of case law upholding the right to flip off police officers, but despite this, arrests and tickets are still meted out to people who hurt cops' feelings by giving them the finger. Just this month, the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals denied qualified immunity to a Minnesota police officer who pulled over and arrested a man for flipping her off.

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation directed a request for comment to Crouch's office.

Agreed.  In very poor taste, but not a crime.

 

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  • Muda69 pinned this topic
2 hours ago, Muda69 said:

Tennessee Cops Arrest Man For Posting Photoshopped Picture of Men Urinating on Dead Officer's Grave

https://reason.com/2021/01/25/tennessee-cops-arrest-man-for-posting-photoshopped-picture-of-men-urinating-on-dead-officers-grave/

Agreed.  In very poor taste, but not a crime.

 

This says a lot about LEOs. 

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22 minutes ago, Goose Liver said:

Do you know how many times I have said I would piss on some ones grave, but changed my mind when I realized how long the line would be ?

It's not worth the potential arrest for public exposure. 

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3 hours ago, DanteEstonia said:

Could you be more specific?

It seems so obviously unconstitutional. We’ll all be in trouble if simply being a jackass becomes a crime.

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6 hours ago, Bobref said:

It seems so obviously unconstitutional. We’ll all be in trouble if simply being a jackass becomes a crime.

Snowflake LEOs care only about their own. 

Edited by DanteEstonia
I added an adjective
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May public schools punish students for off-campus social media posts?

https://reason.com/2021/01/28/the-supreme-courts-next-big-free-speech-showdown/

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In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), the U.S. Supreme Court forbade public school officials from punishing students for exercising their First Amendment rights on school grounds unless the speech at issue "would materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline and in the operation of the school." In the coming months, the Court will hear arguments in a new case that asks whether that rule should be interpreted to allow school officials to punish students for certain off-campus social media posts.

The case of Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. originated in 2017 when a then-high school freshman and junior varsity cheerleading team member took to the social media site Snapchat in order to complain about her failure to make the varsity cheerleading squad. The student—known by the initials B.L. in court filings because she is a minor—posted a picture of herself and one of her friends with their middle fingers raised. The post went up on a Saturday. Its accompanying text read "fuck school fuck softball fuck cheer fuck everything."

That post soon came to the attention of a cheerleading coach, which led to B.L.'s suspension from the team. The question before the Supreme Court is whether the school may discipline her for such speech without running afoul of the First Amendment.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled that the school was prohibited from dishing out such punishment for such constitutionally protected speech. "Tinker does not apply to off-campus speech—that is, speech that is outside school-owned, -operated, or -supervised channels and that is not reasonably interpreted as bearing the school's imprimatur," the appeals court held.

The Mahanoy Area School District wants SCOTUS to reverse that ruling. Social media and related new technology act "as a megaphone for off-campus speech, ensuring that it reverberates throughout the classroom and commands the school's attention," the school and its lawyers told the justices. But thanks to the 3rd Circuit, school officials have been left with no authority "to discipline students for off-campus speech, no matter how obvious it is that the speech is directed at the school and will significantly disrupt the school environment."

B.L. and her lawyers counter that the case is a matter-and-shut application of the First Amendment. "In a weekend comment in an evanescent Snapchat message," they told the justices, "B.L. swore in expressing her disappointment at not making the varsity team to her friends. The notion that a school can discipline a student for that kind of spontaneous, non-threatening, non-harassing expression is contrary to our First Amendment tradition, and finds no support in this Court's student speech cases."

Oral arguments in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. have not yet been scheduled.

Seems like an open and shut case to me.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Lawmakers to Cable Providers: Why Are You Letting News Channels Say These Things?

https://reason.com/2021/02/22/eshoo-mcnerney-letter-fox-news-newsmax-oann-comcast-misinformation/

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Today two Democratic members of Congress sent letters to the presidents of Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Dish, and other cable and satellite companies implying that they should either stop carrying Fox News, One America News Network, and Newsmax or pressure them to change their coverage. According to the lawmakers, these conservative channels are responsible for promoting misinformation and political violence.

"To our knowledge, the cable, satellite, and over-the-top companies that disseminate these media outlets to American viewers have done nothing in response to the misinformation aired by these outlets," wrote Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, both of California.

Released in advance of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Wednesday hearing on "Disinformation and Extremism in the Media," the letter makes clear that some lawmakers do not want television providers to let their customers watch conservative news channels. (Disclaimer: I am interviewed regularly on Fox News and Newsmax.) Eshoo and McNerney ask the companies to explain the "moral and ethical principles" that undergird their decisionmaking with respect to which channels are carried, how many viewers tuned in to these channels during the four weeks before the the Capitol riots on January 6, 2020, and what steps were taken to "monitor, respond to, and reduce the spread of disinformation."

"The committee members also sent the letter to Roku, Amazon, Apple, Google and Hulu, digital companies that distribute cable programming," reports The New York Times.

False claims do appear with some frequency on conservative news channels, streaming services, and social media. But they also appear in The New York Times, on CNN, and in other mainstream information outlets. The traditional remedy to misinformation is to file a defamation lawsuit. The federal government does not need to involve itself.

On the contrary, the First Amendment prohibits Congress from infringing on free speech—and that includes the freedom of provide companies to decide what kind of speech appears on their platforms. Politicians are not in charge of setting the parameters for acceptable speech on the internet and television. That responsibility devolves to individual companies and individual viewers.

Make no mistake: The letter to television providers was an act of intimidation. This behavior is equally unacceptable when Republicans do it: Calls to regulate tech companies because Facebook, Twitter, and Google make moderation decisions that irritate conservatives are also threats to free speech. Members of both political parties are intent on wielding their power to curb the speech of their adversaries, which is precisely why the government does not—and should not—have the power to compel or censor speech.

"As the most watched cable news channel throughout 2020, Fox News Media provided millions of Americans with in-depth reporting, breaking news coverage and clear opinion," said a spokesperson for Fox News in a statement.* "For individual members of Congress to highlight political speech they do not like and demand cable distributors engage in viewpoint discrimination sets a terrible precedent."

Comcast, not Congress, gets to decide whether to carry Newsmax. Mark Zuckerberg, not Congress, gets to decide whether Facebook will deplatform a COVID-19 denialist. Jack Dorsey, not Congress, gets to decide whether Twitter will ban Alex Jones. That's the plain meaning of the First Amendment.

As the words "misinformation" and "disinformation" come to refer not to just clear falsehoods but to information that is contentious, disputed, or highly partisan but nevertheless true, it is important to reject the idea that there is a "fake news" exception to the First Amendment. If a statement is libelous, then an outlet can be sued for printing it. If it contains a call to violence, platforms may have some legal responsibility to take action against it. But the First Amendment's protections are extremely robust, and the government may not criminalize the dissemination of information that is merely wrong or uninformed. Such a move would imperil not just right-wing news channels, but all speech that criticizes the government.

Uni-party.

 

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