Breaking News: The Supreme Court just essentially ruled that anyone can offhandedly threaten to kidnap, kill, rape, mutilate, and murder anyone they want, as often and as perniciously as they want, as long as they do it online on Facebook and as long as, afterward, they claim they “didn’t really mean it.”
You can’t make this shit up, folks.
In the case they are trying, they let a guy off the hook after he went on Facebook and threatened every sort of violence toward his ex-wife and any cops or authorities that dared try to defend her. They tossed it out, because they said posting that shit didn’t mean anything if it “lacked intent.” But the SCOTUS then left the definition of “intent” purposely subjective, and its definition open to the interpretation of the lower courts.
WTF, SCOTUS? Y U NO ISSUE A DEFINITIVE RULING? Y U GOTTA DODGE RESPONSIBILITY AND KICK IT DOWN THE ROAD?
Seriously— not only does this current batch of Supreme Court Judges keep dropping the ball, but they are abnegating their responsibility by letting the ball hit the ground without even trying to catch it. They are refusing even to play. They are the highest court in the country. Where does the proverbial buck stop, if not with them?
So Cyber Threats are now, apparently, legal. Meanwhile in North Carolina, I’m aware of a case in which a teenage honor student has been kicked out of school and is facing police charges because a few years ago he and some of his doofus teenage buddies had a Skype chat in which they joked about “going postal” on some teachers they dislike. Despite a full retraction almost immediately afterward, years of perfect behavior since then, and sworn statements that none of it had been serious, the punishment continues.
Or, how about that kindergartner who was expelled from school for pointing a crayon at another kid and going “pew pew”? That one actually happened, too.
So, “zero tolerance” for children and “complete tolerance” for internet stalkers. Is that the new dichotemy?
The whole “anti-bullying” campaign is about as effective as “the war on drugs”— and by that I mean, “not effective at all.”
Bullies go right on bullying, they just get sneakier about how they do it. If the victim defends himself, it’s his fault. If the victim reports it, the schools try to squash it or pretend it never happened because they are so fearful of parental lawsuits. Their efforts usually consist merely of printing off flyers no one ever reads and organizing school-wide assemblies and programs that make adults feel better, one supposes, but which get roundly ignored by the actual bullies themselves.
Meanwhile the cops are hamstrung by both litigious offenders and victims, all of whom demand that no preventative action be taken lest it trample their civil rights, and after the fact they sue because no one stepped in to prevent anything. Meanwhile every time a bad cop (or a particularly dumb cop, or even just a frustrated cop having an ugly string of bad luck— they ARE human beings, you know, folks) screws up and hurts someone, the entire country loses its collective mind and tars everyone involved with the same brush.
It has almost reached the point where a citizen can legally carry a loaded firearm in public, walk up to another citizen, point the barrel of that firearm directly at someone else’s head, and then stop. And until that trigger is pulled, nothing can be done to protect the other citizen. We’re ALMOST THERE. That’s cutting it too damn close. I guess if the trigger happens to get pulled, it’s the fault of the police for not… I dunno, “magically making the bullet vanish in a puff a smoke” before it hurts someone.
A white citizen, that is. Different rules for different-colored people. I forgot that whole “brown skin + visible firearm = immediate authorization to use deadly force.” Sorry, my bad.
It’s the weird double standards that piss me off. Which is it, SCOTUS? Zero tolerance, or Full tolerance? When is a threat suddenly a “legitimate” threat? Or does it depend on social class, ethnic background, or whether or not our society is scared shitless of school shooters and is so desperate to find some solution to that problem that they’ll try anything as long as it doesn’t involve actually giving a shit about the mentally ill who wind up shooting up schools BEFORE they do it?
And yeah, ever since Reagan emptied the mental hospitals in the 1980’s and created America’s homeless epidemic, it has certainly been true that we Americans don’t seem to want to be bothered by having to care what happens to the mentally ill in our midst. Until they start making mail bombs and shooting up the neighborhood McDonalds, that is.
Every action has a reaction. It’s Newton’s Third Law of Motion, yet it applies almost equally well to our behavior, and how it effects the world we live in. If you sow the lightning, you’ll reap the whirlwind. There are always consequences.
Except apparently you can threaten people on Facebook… as long as you claim afterward that you didn’t really mean it.
Thanks for the Magic Beans, SCOTUS!