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San Diego County Sheriff Sued by Ares Armor CEO Over Censorship on Department's Facebook Page

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Dimitrios Karras, who runs a weapon kit firm called Ares Armor, yesterday sued William Gore, sheriff of San Diego County, the county itself, and unnamed administrators of the department's Facebook page in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Ares' dedicated website about the suit.

Sheriff Gore was, in his previous career with the FBI, one of the principals on the scene during the Ruby Ridge standoff in 1993, which ended with the murder by the FBI of an unarmed woman, Vicki Weaver, who was at the time holding an infant child. (See Reason's 1993 feature story by Alan Bock, "Ambush at Ruby Ridge.") Gore's role in Ruby Ridge has made him a target for many still outraged by the government's behavior during the incident

According to Karras' own suit, the S.D. Sheriff's Facebook page used to have this statement on it:

We are not opposed to dissenting opinions on topics we post, but we ask that our social conversations remain civil, respectful and on-topic. Many of our postings concern matters of employee and volunteer successes. We believe it is the height of incivility to use those opportunities to vent about unrelated topics or offer unrelated insults. We are respectful of the right we all have to free speech. We invite any users with opinions on any topic to post anything they want on their social media accounts. We simply ask for a degree of civility when making comments on our pages. Any user would likelyexpect the same of those posting made by others to their pages.

Karras tells me tonight that that statement disappeared from the site today.

Karras had comments of his deleted from the Sheriff department's Facebook page, and then was eventually barred from posting on the page entirely. One of the comments he had deleted, according to his suit, filed under an alias, was:

Sheriff Gore: Do you plead the 5th about your involvement in the MURDER of an unarmed woman who was holding her baby? REMEMBER RUBY RIDGE.

Karras believes that the department's reserving the right, as stated above, to keep away "unrelated topics or…unrelated insults" is in fact government censorship of political commentary, and actionable under the First Amendment. In his complaint Karras alleges:

Plaintiff lost valuable time investigating Defendants' First Amendment violations and notifying Defendants of its First Amendment Violations. Accordingly, Plaintiff has suffered unnecessary damages in lost productivity. Plaintiff suffered irritation, shame, and humiliation of being denied the same access to a public forum, as any citizen of the United States should enjoy. Defendants, by denying Plaintiff's political speech, caused Plaintiff to lose a critical opportunity to communicate on topics of importance to society….

Plaintiff alleges that no reasonable police officer, knowing that the First Amendment right to engage in political discourse in a designated public forum is "clearly established," would so wrongly and arbitrarily regulate political discourse in the same manner as Defendants. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants, even after being placed on notice of First Amendment violations, ratified its previous wrongful behavior, and continues its wrongful custom or practice to censor the public debate.

The suit further argues that the manner in which the comments were deleted, with no chance of discussion or recourse, violated his rights to due process. He further claims violations of California state constitutional free speech guarantees. Karras is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. The Sheriff's department said it cannot comment on ongoing suits and referred me to the County Counsel's office, who have not yet responded to a request for comment; will update if they do.

In an emailed statement, Karras got to the nub of his complaint in less legalistic language:

A government entity that uses tax dollars to set up and maintain a Facebook page as a designated public forum cannot use more tax dollars to then violate the 1st amendment rights of speakers in that designated public forum through arbitrary censorship.

Imagine if you were told that because the government owned a sidewalk, you were forbidden from criticizing them while walking down it. Then further imagine that they use tax dollars to hire a security guard to ensure that you may never walk down the sidewalk again because they previously found the words you spoke to be "uncivil".

Ares is partnered with Cody Wilson in his "ghost gunner" project of making untraceable lower receivers for AR-15s.

Ares was also raided by the ATF back in March, in search of consumer records and questioning whether his plastic lower receivers themselves constituted firearms. This was the subject of this March Reason TV video:

Among the comments in a thread about Hallowe'en safety on the Sheriff's department Facebook page that I found about 90 minutes ago, as yet undeleted:

Ryan Minch Will you be shooting children as well or just their mothers this weekend?

2 hours ago · Like · 24

Joshua Tremblay Don't forget to check your brownies for foreign substances and ensure that you and your loved ones don't get murdered on the orders of rogue government agents.

2 hours ago · Like · 18

Tim Costa Pretty sure shooting a child's mother while she is holding him isn't very safe for them.

2 hours ago · Like · 16

Joshua Tremblay Taking comments down won't bring innocent people back from the dead, either.

2 hours ago · Like · 11

Brian Hansen I would like to know why my comment was deleted no bad language was used just truth? I figured since this page is administered by a person on the payroll of San Diego SO it would be considered free speech

about an hour ago · Like · 13

Gunner Bakke Try not to shoot any mothers on the 31st

about an hour ago · Like · 7

Matt Harrell I love America. It's a country where you can be in charge of an operation that got a mother and a child murdered by the very people SWORN to protect them. Then a few years later be elected as a sheriff of one of the premier counties in the country. What a country.

about an hour ago · Like · 9

Michael Taylor Sometimes the truth hurts. I wonder how he sleeps at night, knowing he willingly murdered a woman holding a baby?

about an hour ago · Like · 6

Tim Costa If you mention v i c k i e w e a v e r your post gets flagged.

about an hour ago · Like · 8

Sean Michael Štimac Kids do love candy, they also love it when rogue feds don't shoot their mothers in the head.

Mike Sherman You sleep well at night sheriff? Or do you hear the voices of the Americans blood that are on your hands

NEXT: Tonight on The Independents: Millennials Abandon Dems, Suderman-Computerman on Obamacare, President John eBolton on "chickenshit," Julian Sanchez on the White House Cyber Attack, and a New Enemy of Freedom That Rhymes With "Yost off 'is"

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  1. Nothing he doesn’t deserve.

    1. To be clear: Nothing the SHERIFF doesn’t deserve.

  2. Ah I see we have another 4 star warlord. How many divisions does it take to protect the San Diego Fiefdom?

  3. NY Man marries his sort-of niece.

    The state’s highest court has toppled a cultural taboo ? legalizing a degree of incest, at least between an uncle and niece ? in a unanimous ruling.
    While the laws against “parent-child and brother-sister marriages .?.?. are grounded in the almost universal horror with which such marriages are viewed .?.?. there is no comparably strong objection to uncle-niece marriages,” Tuesday’s ruling reads.

    1. Judge Robert Smith of the Court of Appeals wrote that such unions were lawful in New York until 1893 and Rhode Island allows them.
      The decision stems from a case brought by Vietnamese citizen Huyen Nguyen, 34, a woman who had appealed a ruling by an immigration judge.
      The judge had tried to boot her from the United States after declaring that her 2000 marriage in Rochester to her mother’s half-brother was invalid.
      Nguyen and her husband, Vu Truong, 38, appealed and won.
      “I’m very happy for my clients,” said their lawyer, Michael Marszalkowski.
      “They’ve been married 14 years now, but unfortunately, for half the time, there has been this concern over their heads about whether [the immigration issue] could be resolved. Thankfully, now it has been,” Marszalkowski said.
      Marszalkowski said he won the case by zeroing in on the language of the state’s domestic-relations law.
      The statute reads that “a marriage is incestuous and void whether the relatives are legitimate or illegitimate between either: 1. An ancestor and a descendant; 2. A brother and sister of either the whole or half blood; 3. An uncle and niece or an aunt and nephew.”
      Incest is a crime punishable by a $50 to $100 fine and up to six months in jail.

      Bryan Fisher is freaking out about how this is a result of “same-sex marriage”.

      1. Alan Dershowitz after the sunny Von bulowcase remarked that Rhode Island had about the weirdest caselaw of any state he was aware of

        Word

        Remember until recently prosecution was perfectly legal in Rhode Island as long as certain conditions were met

        If Spitzer had been smart(ER) he would have structured his trysts to comply

        1. Look at his nose!

          http://25.media.tumblr.com/tum…..o1_500.png

      2. You seriously are saying it’s not? Or at least, court decisions regarding it.

        Once you change the rules of marriage by court decree once, everything is now open to be changed…

        It was just a matter of which was first, incest or polygamy, though it’s going to be a close race.

        Gay marriage should be legal, but it should have been done by popular consent, and by changing the laws through voting (or by legislature), not by judicial fiat.

        Now it’s only a matter of time before we see a Dolphin-human marriage…10 year, 15?

        1. Gay marriage should be legal, but it should have been done by popular consent, and by changing the laws through voting (or by legislature), not by judicial fiat.

          Why? Would you say the same thing about anti-miscegenation laws?

          1. I would.

        2. Now it’s only a matter of time before we see a Dolphin-human marriage…10 year, 15?

          Bullshit. A dolphins cannot demonstrate consent in the legal sense.

          1. Well, increasingly neither can coeds.

  4. , one of the principals on the scene during the Ruby Ridge standoff in 1993, which ended with the murder by the FBI of an unarmed woman, Vicki Weaver, who was at the time holding an infant child

    Well fuck him sideways then.

  5. Very interesting case

    I’d love to hear prof Volokh’s take on it. Just emailed him

    It sounds like a good case based on what little I know about it thus far.

    PD’s have run into a lot of problems due to an unsophisticated approach to social media and have failed to do the background BEFORE they start tweeting or making a Facebook page etc.

    Just as I correctly pointed out in my post in the other thread about how when it comes to government agencies such as Police Department’s content-based restrictions on speech are almost always unlawful

    Yes it was unconstitutional for them to have disciplined and humiliated that officer for wearing A pro death penalty shirt despite the (of course the reasonoids naturally took the ANTI free speech side of the issue in that discussion . How do you get an alleged libertarian reasonoid to automatically take an anti first amendment stance? Present a case where the wronged party is a police officer. In fact the one nearly perfect way to ensure a reasonoid cobbles together some sort of bizarre, contrary to libertarianism contrary to case law and contrary to civil rights perspective is to present a case where the person deprived of rights is a cop. It almost never fails. ) hoopla here

    1. It also sounds unconstitutional for the government actor here to engage in this kind of content discrimination.. Same concept. You can’t explicitly or inplicitly allow for the forum (explicit here) and then selectively cull the stuff you don’t like

      EXACT
      SAME
      CONCEPT

      and no, it did not matter that the officer was on duty the department set up a forum of sorts by allowing them to wear message T-shirts to the in-house training classes and then can’t get selectively outraged because they disagree with a political message

      My question is did people get the Rubyridge message out before the sheriff was elected?

      I assume San Diego Elects their sheriffs like almost all jurisdictions do

      Frankly I don’t think I’ve ever discussed Rubyridge with any cop that came down to any conclusion except for the one that it was clearly murder

      Cold blooded and officially sanctioned

      1. Fuck off slaver

      2. What are you oinking about this time? I didn’t know that I opposed the 1st Am in some case I never heard of.

  6. Attention Washington state residents

    As the advertising campaigns for i-591 and anti I-594 prominently display, real cops iow WACOPS, overwhelmingly support 591 and oppose 594

    Keep Washington state strongly libertarian and protective of the right to keep and bear arms and support 591 and oppose 594

    http://voteno.594badlaw.com/ac…..no-on-594/

    http://www.examiner.com/articl…..back-i-591

    Be on the side of the Angels, your proudly serving WA Peace Officers!!!

    1. Dunphy – you know its extremely inappropriate (and actually probably illegal – it certainly is for those in the military) to use your status as a police officer when pushing for a particular voting result.

      If nothing else, its an ethics violation – remember: If it looks like an ethics violation, it is.

      1. No, it’s not

        I’ve written an editorial for a newspaper fwiw stating I am a police officer and expressing political viewpoint

        It is never a legal and as far as my department is on weekends department policy if identify myself as representing my agency etc. and in my case I just entered that if I myself as a police officer in the state of Washington but did not identify my specific agency which put me in line with department policy

        It most definitely is not an epic 🙂 Jean and I’m trying to be as nice as possible here but you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about

        I certainly cannot while on duty or in uniform make a political statements to people etc. sign petitions are anything like that

        Not only are we allowed to make political statements but we are allowed to make political statements in order to run for office and I have a few police officer friends withheld political positions such as mayor etc.

        I know a cop who is a mayor in one town and since he does not work in the same town as a police officer it is perfectly appropriate you can be damn sure he makes plenty of political statements and his status as a police officer is obviously not a question

        Police officers can and do make political statements, advocate etc

        1. Sorry for some of the mistranslations I didn’t proof after I did voice to text but in brief you are simply wrong on the law

          There are laws regarding military but we are not military we are civilian and we have the same rights to politically advocate on our own time as any other private citizen and we most definitely can identify as police officers as long as we do not try to make it look like our position is the official position of our agency or that we are speaking as a representative of same

          1. Kermit the Frog is achin’
            Beggin for a piece of the bacon
            Kermit don’t want you unless your tail is curlicue
            But I gotta be real, he’s gonna make you squeal

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isMFxOLbiro

            1. Normally G.D.C I would say that anyone who posts rap to help make their argument loses immediately, but I must admit that was good.

      2. That’s a rather insane post.

  7. desperate for love

    truncheon wielding fist of state

    bleats truth to power

  8. This is a complex issue. Facebook pages are not public property, they are the property of Facebook. Facebook has the right, as a private company, to dictate the rules that govern its property, including allowing page administrators to censor posts to their page.

    Is it that the page administrators were agents of the government that they must not act to limit speech? In my opinion, the authority granted to the page administrator to censor the page comes from Facebook, and not from their position as an agent of the government, ergo it is not a 1st amendment issue.

    It is really splitting hairs though, I could see it going either way. Perhaps we could look at it like this. If it was the page of the Fraternal Order of Police, a private group, but all the posts and activities were the same, and the administrator was an active duty police officer, it wouldn’t be an issue at all.

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  10. On one hand, an accessory to murder deserves to be hounded out of public life. On the other hand, the suit smells petty and petulant.

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