Oh Look, Police Can Investigate A Satirical Online Comment About Mythical Violence And Not Overreact

from the if-only-others-did-so-as-well dept

We've recently covered two separate stories of guys who made (perhaps in poor taste) jokes online about a violent activity they were considering (one a joke about blowing up an airport, and another taking a line from Fight Club and applying it to an Apple Store). In both cases (one in the UK and one in the US), police came to investigate. I have no problem with that part of it. If someone legitimately feels threatened, it's good that the police will go investigate. The problem was that even after they realized that the person was just making an offhand joking statement online, they still pressed charges. The guy in the US eventually got off, but the guy in the UK did not and is still appealing his case higher.

However, it's nice to know that sometimes the police recognize a silly online comment for being a silly online comment. Romenesko points us to a recent story of a blogger who writes (somewhat satirically) about the giant NYC apartment complex Stuy Town, who recently had a post entitled Tenant to Children: STFU, complaining about kids making a lot of noise early on Saturday morning, and telling parents to keep their kids quiet however possible. It also illustrated the post with "a crying child in a rifle scope's crosshairs," -- an image that was changed after people complained. Either way, all of this got some residents to call the police, worried that someone was "targeting" their children, and so the police actually stopped by the blogger's apartment to make sure he wasn't really planning to shoot children:
Detectives from the 13th Precinct stopped by today to check on my lucidity and be sure there were no guns in my apartment after some tenants complained that I was inciting violence by posting an email sent to me for the "Tenant to Children: STFU!" post. They were really nice and understood the Lux Living post in question was satire but they had a job to do. After a tour of my apartment and some light conversation about my art collection and antique furniture it was clear to them that I am just a writer with a dark sense of humor and not a threat to society.
While one assumes that this should be the standard way that police respond to such complaints, just the fact that we've seen a few stories that went in the other direction made me realize we might as well highlight when things go the right way also.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    Laurel L. Russwurm (profile), 27 Dec 2010 @ 11:19pm

    We have the opposite problem

    My problem goes the other way... in Canada we are stuck with Political Science Professor Tom Flanagan, a man who was a mentor/campaign manager/chief of staff to the current Prime Minister of Canada. In his role of regular "star commentator" on a news magazine show on the CBC television network, Flanagan called upon your President to assassinate WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange.

    If you watch the clip, it is pretty clear he didn't understand that this wasn't appropriate:

    Flanagan clearly broke the law in counseling a felony, and followed it up with a threatening email to a woman who complained about it. Although most Canadians are appalled neither the RCMP (our federal police) or local police forces will even bring charges against this man.

    Even worse, although the school community is up in arms, the University of Calgary won't even discipline Flanagan, let alone fire him.

    Please sign the petition asking for: Dr. Tom Flanaganís immediate expulsion from the University of Calgary.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.