Bust Results From Anti-DEA Facebook Rant (Or, Shades of Brandon Raub)

Yet another arrest has resulted from intemperate, but not specifically threatening, anti-authoritarian scribblings on Facebook. In a case evoking the brief detention of former marine Brandon Raub, who was later released by a quite annoyed judge, Matthew Michael, of Indiana, faces charges of transmitting threats in interstate comments for fiery Facebook posts that "were directed at natural persons, namely DEA agents, law enforcement officers, and government personnel."

According to CNet's excellent Declan McCullagh:

Michael is accused of writing a series of posts in August 2011 (and creating a "statewide" Facebook event scheduled for November 2011) containing vague but angry and violent statements regarding DEA agents. One alleged post: "War is near..anarchy and justice will be sought...I'll kill whoever I deem to be in the way of harmony to the human race...BE WARNED IF U PULL ME OVER!!"

Eloquent, that is not. But is there enough here to support U.S. District Judge William Lawrence's dismissive treatment of Michael's motion for a not-guilty verdict?:

It would be inappropriate for the court to enter a verdict of not guilty based solely on the face of the indictment unless the court could imagine no facts that would render Michael's posts unprotected. That is not the situation here.

The standard in such cases is generally taken to be Brandenburg v. Ohio, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled:

[T]he constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.

Matthew Michael's social-media steam-venting wouldn't seem to rise to Brandenburg's level of gun-brandishing Klansmen rallying to bluster violence against that broad swathe of the population of which they disapproved,  Neither, by any means, did Brandon Raub's broad condemnation of the establishment and the government. You'd think, then, that Michael would enjoy protection for his speech. Then again, the Klansmen threatened mere civilians, not federal officials.

It's obvious that officialdom is paying attention to what appears on Facebook, Twitter and other means of very rapid communications with a great many other people. Soap boxes and audiences have moved online, and the powers-that-be are testing the limits of what they have to tolerate in the new town square.

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  • Paul.||

    ...I'll kill whoever I deem to be in the way of harmony to the human race...BE WARNED IF U PULL ME OVER!!"

    This seems pretty straightforward. Something has clearly upset Michael. Shouldn't the president be on TV condemning whatever it was that upset Michael?

  • Rich||

    But "The future must not belong to those who upset Michael" seems somewhat threatening in itself.

  • Paul.||

    Now you're gettin' the point.

    Imagine you upload a video to youtube, and the next day the president is saying that "the future does not belong to you..." and then heads into a drone meeting.

  • Rich||

    Nuke YouTube from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    This close to the election there could be a bong summit to shore up the base.

  • Paul.||

    It's obvious that officialdom is paying attention to what appears on Facebook, Twitter and other means of very rapid communications

    Not necessarily. It's likely that some regular citizen became upset with what he read there, and turned it over to officials.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I would concur with this interpretation. It fits with the state's utter lack of comprehension regarding hyperbole and context on the internet.

  • ||

    Yep. I completely believe Dunphy when he says that he fields calls regularly from concerned citizens wanting him to arrest so-and-so for saying something they found offensive, or wanting him to come check out their neighborhood because an "urban youth" was seen walking down the sidewalk, and there aren't any of those types who live in this decent part of town.

    It accords with what my relatives in law enforcement have told me. I'm closely related to a police chief in a small Illinois town, and he told me years ago you would be amazed at the number of calls he got that essentially just boil down to, "That person threatened me, arrest him!" and "There are darkies in my neighborhood! Arrest them!"

  • Paul.||

    "urban youth" was seen walking down the sidewalk

    If Lenny Kravitz were to walk down the street, it would be a half-urban youth...

  • Hugh Akston||

    When people are calling 911 about their Burger King drive-thru order, there is no bottom in terms of idiocy.

  • General Butt Naked||

    That operator has the patience of a saint. Gawd I'd freak.

    I've done a lot of time in bars and restaurants and have had a few 86'd drunks threaten to call the police because we didn't refund their check upon said 86ing.

    One guy spit on the floor when he made the threat. In a restaurant in front of nice people dining. I am in no way, shape, or form a tough guy, but I said (stealing a line form the Blues Brothers) you're gonna look real funny calling the police with NO FUCKING TEETH!

    I was half joking, just trying to defuse the situation, but the dude ran away, tripping in the door way on his way out. I was worried something else might happen cause now people are looking at me like I'm Johnny Fucking Rambo, and I'd have to back that shit up. But he never came back.

  • Fluffy||

    The call about the Burger King order actually has some merit, compared to the others mentioned here.

  • ||

    This is what customer service lines are like. That includes the calls for police assistance, too. When I was doing tech support, one guy threatened to report us to the Better Business Bureau if we didn't refund all the money charged to his iTunes account. He didn't want to go through the credit card company to get it done.

  • Robert S||

    When I quit smoking a couple of years ago I used the Nicotrol patch. They had a customer service number on the side of the box. Worst job ever, I'm sure.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    I didn't realize Illinois was that homogenous and static. Sounds just like the Cook/Will county border area in the 1970s.

  • Brett L||

    Pearlz clutched tightly!

  • General Butt Naked||

    Sooo, that's where Episiarch has been.

    Huh.

  • ||

    I'll kill whoever I deem to be in the way of harmony to the human race

    Clearly not. The Facebook post I got arrested for said the exact opposite.

  • General Butt Naked||

    I thought they questioned you about your "Jared Lee Loughner Ammo Fund" page?

  • ||

    I took that down a while ago. But thanks for the donation, dude.

  • General Butt Naked||

    No problemo.

    I still need a receipt though. You know, for tax purposes.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    You will not kill whoever you do not deem to not be out of the way of cacophony from the human race.

  • ||

    That's exactly what I wrote. How did you know? Are we Facebook friends?

  • Killazontherun||

    Oh, okay. I just got that. The first time through I thought it was an Indy Jones quote.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    It is still traumatic for me when people bring up Indiana Jones after what happened in Peru.

  • Killazontherun||

    'Those who contribute to the harmony of the human race, prepare to meet your doom!'?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "Fire Roasted" frozen corn is just burnt corn frozen in a microwavable bag. I need hella hot sauce and black pepper to make it edible.

  • johnl||

    Butter might help.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Oh, yeah, and...

    "I'M WARNING YOU COCKSUCKERS. PLEASE DON'T BUST DOWN MY DOOR WHILE I'M HAVING MY DINNER."

  • General Butt Naked||

    t...I'll kill whoever I deem to be in the way of harmony to the human race...

    Sooo, if you take that message as threatening aren't you implicitly admitting that you stand in the way of harmony to the human race.

    That's some pretty serious shit. Like Hitler shit, and stuff. Don't know if we need those types walking the streets.

    Fight on Mikey!

  • Rich||

    I kind of wonder if TPTB aren't just taking exception to the appropriation of their word "deem".

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Has he tried teaching the world to sing? Or at least buying it some coke?

  • General Butt Naked||

    He has and he has, that's why he hates the DEA.

  • ||

    He should have just bought the world some weed, instead.

  • Acosmist||

    He moved for a directed verdict, right? (that seems to be what you're saying). Brandenburg doesn't come into it, and the judge wasn't dismissive at all. In fact, he's just reciting the standard for a directed verdict.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Its because judges at the trial level almost never make rulings criticizing the basis for which an individual is being charged. They are more comfortable if the trial proceeds or the defendant pleads out, so that someone else can make the hard decisions.

  • Acosmist||

    Nope, it's because the standard for a directed verdict was not met.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    What standard does there need to be other than that the basis for the charge is ridiculous and unconstitutional? Does it seem likely that the prosecution intends to introduce any evidence besides that some internet comments were made?

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Ridiculous and unconstitutional are not standards recognized in this century.

  • ||

    article is wrong.

    the issue is NOT brandenburg standard. that covers INCITEMENT. the issue here is the TRUE THREATS standard, which as prof. volokh mentions...

    http://www2.law.ucla.edu/volokh/rothman.htm

    is most clearly referenced under US v. Watts

    Somebody please contact the author. The entire premise of the article is wrong, since it concentrates on incitement (Brandenburg) and NOT a true threats.

    Read what the defendant wrote: "War is near..anarchy and justice will be sought...I'll kill whoever I deem to be in the way of harmony to the human race...BE WARNED IF U PULL ME OVER!!"

    e.g. "I'll kill" "BE WARNED IF U PULL ME OVER"

    I readily admit my legal analysis could be wrong, and I stand ready to be corrected, but as I read this case, and specifically the quoted THREAT, this is a "true threats' case NOT a incitement case, thus the issue is the law of "true threats"

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    No matter what precedent "applies", the charges should be dismissed.

  • Acosmist||

    Dismissed? Hey, that's different from a directed verdict!

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Doesn't really fucking matter. He should not be charged or convicted, and he should be compensated for the inconvenience.

  • ||

    the author is the one making the brandenberg argument. it's his argument that (i believe) is wrong, and again i READILY admit i could be wrong. but as i read it, the article analysis is wrong since it concentrates on incitement (brandenburg) not true threats.

    fwiw, i've testified in scores of true threats cases, but never a brandenburg (incitement) case.

    a typical dv threat for example fall under true threats not incitement.

    as does a witness intimidation case like the kinds i've taken

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Any civilian in proximity to Dunphy right now, run for your life. Hearing about the facebook post 3rd hand makes him fear for his life and you know what cops do when they're afeared fur der life.

  • ||

    fwiw, i am NOT saying the defendant's threat in this case DOES meet the true threats standard. i am saying, as a matter of law, the article does its analysis wrong, since it is testing it against the "incitement" metric, when the proper metric is the "true threats metric".

    example: you threaten your girlfriend. true threats applies

    you make a post on facebook exhorting your comrades to firebomb the IRS building. brandenburg applies

    here, he used a public forum which makes people THINK brandenburg, but his threat is ultimately just that - a threat, not an incitement

    it's similar to case in seattle where a kid threatened his principle VIA facebook to a beatdown. the issue would be "true threats"

    regardless, VG, i get threatened by BGD's and crips and shit on occasion when i arrest them. and i've never charged one with any sort of threats crime. that's basically pussy as hell. iow, if you are a cop, you are going to get threatened. man the fuck up

  • Fluffy||

    You don't have a named individual.

    You may think generic anti-cop comments qualify, but they don't.

  • ||

    that's a good point. the fact that he references no individuals , as far as i know, works against the true threats standard.

    i missed that my bad

    fwiw, i don;t think generic anticop comments qualify, i am simply saying when you threaten individuals, the true threat metric applies

    i TOTALLY missed that his threats are pretty vague in reference to who he is referencing

    again, i said i may be wrong
    and i may be :)

  • ||

    i reread it again. i'm taking away the "may" be. i AM wrong

    won 't be the last time

  • jdtuccille||

    My understanding of "true threat" is that it requires specificity toward both target and act. That is, I'm going after DEA agents in X city on X date. Most of Michael's posts were rants (incitements) and they all lacked specificity. Saying that you'll take action against vaguely defined parties IF Y circumstances occur shouldn't invoke the true threat standard.

  • ||

    yes, i am seeing that now that i reread that. my bad

    :(

    i didn't see how vaguely defined the parties were. when you're wrong, you're wrong.

    and i think i was wrong :)

    again, my bad.

  • ||

    in brief, i didn't see how vague the target was he referenced. no named persons, etc.

  • ||

    OT, but relevant to conversations in earlier threads:

    "Clinton: 'I take responsibility' for security ahead of Benghazi attack"

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/15/.....google_cnn

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Hilldog, taking one for the team.

  • ||

    I can't fathom why. What's in it for her?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    SHE'S A TEAM PLAYER. Something you libertarians wouldn't know anything about. [spit]

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Bama's got dirt on her and threatened to release it.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Either that or she just feels that people around her have about had it with her shit and she needed to do something helpful (to the TEAM) for once.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Hillary not acting like a sociopath? That's not believable.

  • Art Vandelay||

    A drone strike to Ruprecht Biden's house and an open VP slot for the Hill Dog?

  • A Serious Man||

    I think the assumption is that this won't matter after November either way. If Obama loses, she's out as Sec of State, if Obama wins, the Benghazi story dies and the media will continue to worship Obama. So really, there's no downside that I can see.

  • ||

    I seem to recall HillDawg indicating that she would not be serving as SoS under The Zero should he be (very likely, IMO) elected to a second term.

    So, I suppose this would work either way, and should she have 2016 aspirations, better to get it out of the way now and let the public forget about this debacle.

    Shrewd. Callous, and quite frankly, evil. But shrewd.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    She has also said she's never running for office again.

  • tarran||

    Someone has pictures of her scissoring Mrs. Weiner?

  • ||

    Is that what he's calling himself now?

  • JW||

    Ugh. In spite of my loathing of Sec. Pantsuit and Mrs. Weiner's unfortunate choice of douchebag husband, that woman is drop dead gorgeous and you have sullied her with that imagery.

    [shivers] Make it stop!

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    As we've seen before, Hillary's idea of "taking responsibility" is not the rest of the world's understanding of the phrase. Compare her "taking responsibility" for voting for the Iraq War, and then acting as if taking responsibility meant no one could ever ask her about it again.

  • johnl||

    Remember Reno gained stature for "taking responsibility" for Waco.

  • JW||

    In Washington parlance, "taking responsibility" is finding an underling to stick with holding the bag and never again thinking, even once, about what you said.

  • Brett L||

    "While Obama was shirking responsibility and LOSING, I was the responsible adult in the room."
    Hillary's 2016 primary commercial writes itself.

  • ||

    Sharpton's vitriol gets him a MSNBC show and this poor slub gets busted for this?

  • YinxDoo||

    Sounds like a pretty cool plan to me dude. Wow.
    www.us-Privacy.tk

  • wakeup||

    The Mitt Romney presidential campaign and the CIA Mormon Mafia have embarrassing questions to answer about the September 11 deaths of US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stephens and three members of his staff in Benghazi, Libya, new information confirms.

  • johnl||

    B+.

  • ||

    Anyone who uses Facebook for anything but stalking sluts is a complete moron.

  • ||

    Is that some sort of code term for "genius" in your world? Because I certainly qualify. I'm not sure about all the OTHER Facebook users, though. You should be more specific. That way everyone will know I'm much, much better than them.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    It pains me to thumbs up Warty, but sometimes it is necessary.

  • widget||

    Eh, Warty=Warty. My two late-teen girls use Facebook for friendly gossip and to share photos. I credit their mom for their good behavior. This might be surprising, but most kids today actually grok social media and go light and easy on what they post there.

  • General Butt Naked||

    This might be surprising, but most kids today actually grok social media and go light and easy on what they post there

    Those are the pics they let you see, the other pics are "warty pics".

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    what picture does Warty use to actually convince a female to "friend" him?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    You don't need to friend them if they lower their security settings to the minimum. Not that I would know.

  • ||

    So, to take a theoretical example ... if I were to post here that someone reading this should kill the serial killer in the White House, to prevent said mass murderer from killing any more people via drone strikes without due process, could I be arrested and charged the way the subject of this post was charged?

    Would I not be subject to being so charged if I were to pose a possibly preferred act as a theoretical example, like this:

    "War is near..anarchy and justice will be sought... if, theoretically, I'd kill whoever I deem to be in the way of harmony to the human race...WOULD THEY BE WARNED IF THEY PULL ME OVER?!!"

  • ||

    start here :)

    fwiw, despite the fact that *i* completely fucked up my analysis OF this case, i'll give props to this article as giving a relatively clear explanation of a relatively complex subject.

    also, the wikipedia entry for brandenburg aint half bad.

  • ||

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Oh, look at the double standard. If it were a civilian who confused SCOTUS cases you would have rhetorically tased them.

  • ||

    hey, mea culpa and shit.

    totally missed that there was no particularized target of the threat. maybe i can blame post surgery meds, or lack of oxygen in the womb?

  • General Butt Naked||

    Dang dude, the one time yer all, "HEY I AM WRONG!!!" and people are givin' you shit. Sheeeeeit, man.

  • ||

    been wrong before. heck, even admitted it on a few occasions :)

    the bitchen thing about realizing you are wrong, is you replace an incorrect believe with a correct one. it's a double win. vs. just learning something new, which is a single win.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    One day I may have such a wonderful experience.

  • ||

    the bitchen thing about realizing you are wrong, is you replace an incorrect believe with a correct one. it's a double win. vs. just learning something new, which is a single win.

    I know, right? I tell this to people ALL THE TIME, yet they still don't agree with me on everything. It's weird.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Today, I refused to let this girl on the bus use my cellphone today out of fear.

    She seemed in distress, but all I could think of was my buddy who caught a conspiracy charge (fucking federal) for one, yes one, non-drug related voicemail on the wrong person's phone. I looked her straight in the eye and said, "Sorry, no."

    After I exited the bus and was walking to my truck I thought of when I arrived in Washington to see my girlfriend this summer and she forgot her cell phone. I had no idea where I was and she was so worried running around with tears in her eyes trying to borrow people's cell phones only to be met with those cold, "Sorry, no"s.

    As I thought of this I nearly broke down. What the fuck?

    No more, I can't deal with that feeling.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Maybe there's something wrong with me, but I would enjoy it. Like the sign in my office says, "Lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part." I bet that girl won't forget her cell again.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Well, yer a big tough guy that speaks in cliches.

    I'm not.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Stick with me, kid. I'll teach you how to roll.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Your borderline sociopathy is unsurprising considering most people with personality disorders chose occupations in education. They do it for the same reason cops do, it's a position of unquestioned authority.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Hey...hey....HEY!

    What the fuck, bro?

  • Brett L||

    You know what? I'd rather go to prison than feel like that. Not saying that to be superior, more out of empathy. A "fuck that, I'm not quitting on being decent because the Feds are fucks."

    I will also slap my phone right out of your goddamned hand if you use it for more than 2 minutes.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Oh hell yes, man.

    That fear is what lets them operate unimpeded.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • General Butt Naked||

    Jesus.

  • Brett L||

    Riding a fucking dinosaur!

  • JeremyR||

    There was a case of that in my town, a local anti-government guy would put out a bulletin criticizing local officials. Finally they had enough and saying he was making "threats" and issued a police warrant. When he went to turn himself in, they said he went for a gun and shot him.

    Did he go for his gun? I dunno. But it was the police and government that escalated the incident.

  • JeremyR||

    And here was his website, not updated, obviously

    http://bulletinman.com/

  • Paul.||

    Is Hillary falling on her sword to save the election?

    http://seattletimes.com/html/n.....libya.html

    Pushing back against Republican criticism of the Obama administration for its handling of the situation, Clinton said Monday in Lima, Peru, that security at all of America's diplomatic missions abroad is her job, not that of the White House. She made the comments in several television interviews.
  • DemosTheKnees||

    The Klan's wardrobe has improved significantly since the white-sheet days.

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