Freedom of Speech

Settlement Victory Over San Diego Sheriff’s Facebook Page Censorship

Dimitrios Kassas of Ares Armor Accepts a $20 Settlement Plus Legal Fees.

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In October I wrote about Ares Armor (a weapon kit seller) owner Dimitrios Karras suing San Diego over its sheriff's department censorship. From my original reporting:

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….

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. 

As Karras wrote in an email to me, stating his complaint in layman's terms:

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".

Last week, Karras accepted a $20 settlement, plus around $23,000 in legal fees, in the case. The Facebook page in question has been gone for months and seems likely to stay gone. Karras says he wasn't eager to financially harm his home county; he just wanted to strike a blow against government censorship.

Karras tells me that "I demanded at the very beginning of the settlement talks that I only want to be paid $20 for myself. I did not want the message to be muddled with financial gain." He thinks the attempt to censor discussion of Gore's role in Ruby Ridge is "one of those things where they are so afraid of actual truth" that attempting to hide it just got more people talking about it. Karras thinks it likely their censorship attempts on Facebook did more to spread that information than merely letting the comments sit on the page would have.

San Diego Union Tribune reported on the settlement, with this interesting comment from sheriff's spokeswoman Janet Caldwell:

"I am a strong believer in First Amendment rights," Caldwell said. "I never said that the ugly things he said couldn't be said, I just said not on our website, not on our page."

With that page legitimately seen as a space created by a government agency, that's exactly the point at issue: can the government create/manage a space where the First Amendment doesn't apply? And it was clearly a point the sheriff's department was not confident it could win on.

As Karras said this morning, killing the Facebook page rather than letting comments they didn't like remain is like cancelling city-sponsored Town Hall meetings because they don't like what citizens choose to say at them and resist being selectively censored.

ReasonTV interviewed Karras last year about some of his other legal troubles with ATF raids on his business, seeking information about his customers:

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42 responses to “Settlement Victory Over San Diego Sheriff’s Facebook Page Censorship

  1. Crazy asshole goes on rampage in Czech Repubic. interesting that the article says the CR has strict gun control. I had heard their gun laws were not that bad relative to to the rest of Europe. Not that that would have mattered in this case. Just that I had read that somewhere.

    http://www.theguardian.com/wor…..s-reported

    1. The guy bought the guns legally, so of course they’re talking about even more gun control.

      See, when the Copenhagen shooter and the Charlie Hebdo shooters got automatic weapons and an RPG on the black market, that didn’t prove the stupidity of gun control laws at all. On the other hand, when a legal gun owner kills people, that’s proof that we need far stricter laws.

      No matter what, the answer is always more government control.

      1. Not terrible but you do have to throw the relatively speaking caveat in there.

        http://www.gunsandammo.com/net…..un-owners/

        1. Even better on drugs.

          http://www.thefix.com/content/…..-laws90487

          1. I was very surprised by Peru on that list. I didn’t have any idea that they had that liberal of drug laws.

            USA being #1, I dunno. We’ve spawned this drug war thing, we’re the originator and we’ve spread it all over the world. And you can still get a draconian life ruining verdict here over even trivial amounts of most drugs.

            Although Brazil has draconian drugs laws, they learned it from us, you can stand on a street corner there and smoke pot right in plain view of the cops and they won’t bother you. I’ve seen this countless times. Same with prostitution. It’s pretty much right out in the open and no one thinks anything about it.

            1. Yeah that’s why the US was the number one on the best and also the worst list. Can say that about a lot of things I suppose.

              1. I could go for some Peruvian.

                1. Lomo saltado, yo. With extra aji on the side

              2. Well, I think we are certainly leading the charge in cannabis legalization.

                It is legal in Uruguay, but I haven’t kept up at all about how that’s working out there. I think the government has an exclusive monopoly on legal cultivation and sales.

                And I’ve always heard that Netherlands cannabis laws are sort of gray area, and looks like it’s becoming more with the ban on foreigners partaking. How fucking stupid are they to try to kill off most of their tourism?

                Peru is the shocker there for me, I had no idea.

                I knew that Portugal has very liberal drug laws, but I don’t think it’s outright legalization, but just pretty wide decriminalization.

                Cannabis prohibition is pretty much over, that cat cannot be put back into the bag. Sure it will stay illegal in oppressive regimes like China and Islamic countries, but all westernized countries will see it legal soon.

                1. Well its legal to smoke in the Netherlands its never been legal to sell. It’s simply been an official policy of non-enforcement. Also, pretty sure the whole tourist thing fell apart. I think Amsterdam in particular told the national government to fuck off on that.

                2. I wrote a paper on the Uruguayan legalization last year for a prof that was surprisingly like the “i dont trust the man” hippies of old rather than the foaming progs that I was used to. It’s heavily regulated, with a state monopoly on everything. Many Uruguayans interviewed about legalization said that if the government made it too expensive to buy with all their taxes or went full retard on its regulation, they would simply continue to buy from the dealer.

                  Color me surprised.

                  1. Uruguay sounds a lot like WA.

            2. Peru is bizarre. They go after people exporting drugs. Probably because Uncle Sam makes them.

              1. Yeah, its WOD money.

            3. So can you light up at Machu Picchu while drinking a cold beer? I haven’t smoked weed in like 25 years, but if I had my choice of where I would want to sample it again, that might be the place.

              Oddly enough, the 2nd place would be on the national mall…

              1. If only I could speak Czech

  2. This lawsuit seems completely petty and absurd. A Facebook page is not public property and it seems to me that a Sheriff’s Department should have the right to delete comments on its own Facebook page.

    Making porn is my First Amendment right. That doesn’t mean I can post porn on my county Sheriff’s Facebook page and expect them not to delete it. I don’t think it qualifies as censorship for the police to delete comments on a Facebook page operated by the police anymore than it’s censorship for a police academy to require speakers at its graduation ceremony to have their speeches vetted first.

    This guy basically stole tax payer money (since, guess what, that settlement doesn’t come from a magic police department money jar) and did so through a frivolous lawsuit. Isn’t that the sort of harassing, overly-litigious lawsuit that libertarians generally oppose?

    1. so it was the sheriffs personal facebook page like to see what his kids are up to or was it a department thing? Cause if its the latter it is a public page.

  3. Sounds like they’re not gonna have a Facebook page anymore.

      1. “Share this comment”

  4. Ron Paul: Black lawmakers oppose war because they want the money for food stamps

    http://www.salon.com/2015/02/2…..od_stamps/

    1. Well, its *something*.

      And if push came to shove, I’d be willing to shell out for the foodstamps if it meant we didn’t spend money bombing random hajis.

      1. I’ll take foodstamps over bombing wedding parties and childcare centers any day, but fuck all of this bureaucracy.

        If we’re going to give poor people stuff, just dissolve all of the bureaucracies and give everyone a guaranteed minimum income. If you want more, you work for it, period. And a flat consumption tax. Dissolve the IRS.

        Democrats and bureaucrats would run screaming from the room if they heard that proposal.

    2. Pretty weak tea. Does anybody care what he has to say anymore though?

      1. I think that Ron is so straight up honest that he doesn’t have a filter. You know what I mean? He’s not a very good politician. But he might start to think about his son running for POTUS?

    3. That explains the sound I heard. It was Rachel Maddow cumming.

      1. Gross

    4. Lol

      while i think Ron Paul is often his own worst enemy, his actual quote is in context of discussing why “Sanctions” policies always pass regardless of how unbelievably useless they are.

      His point was that the people he normally could count on as an “anti war” caucus would never oppose sanctions…

      …because they’re not really “anti war” as much as they are mainly concerned with Increasing Domestic Spending

      And his comment was about the entire “anti war” group = not just the ‘blacks’.

      Which is entirely true. and Salon is in perfect, intellectually-dishonest form trying to pretend its a ‘race’ issue.

      Ron Paul was criticizing the anti-war people for being wimps about Sanctions. Which is entirely true. Where’s salon’s fulminating against the Iraq War v3.0?

      1. That’s pretty much what I was saying above. I understand what he meant, but he don’t have a filter, he’s a poor politician. Rand might have to lock him in the basement for a couple of years.

      2. You mean shriek was being a dishonest shit weasel? Say it aint so!

        1. I didn’t say anything, you moron. I just posted a link. I know Ron Paul is a demi-god here.

  5. Damn, you were doing SO well until the last sentence:

    Where’s salon’s fulminating against the Iraq War v3.0?

    Yes, we have 200,000 troops back in Iraq JUST LIKE in 2004! EXACTLY THE SAME!!

    1. I love how Bush was so the worst for his illegal wars in the middle east, but whenn you mention the Obama wars in the middle east, the defense is “LOWER SCALE@!!! NOT THE SAME!!! MORAL SUPERIOR TEAM BLUE FTW!!”!

    2. Basically, you seem to want a Peace Prize for being “mildly less shitty” than a massive failed invasion.

      its one thing to be an idiot … and there are plenty around to help you feel comfortable… but the fact you consider yourself informed and rational is the sign on long-term degradation of your brain from cocaine abuse.

      1. Of course, the invasion itself was not a failure. It was the ensuing occupation, which was by far the most costly aspect of the war, that failed.

        1. Whatever. You’re trying to split one part out and pretend that by itself it was significant of anything. The entire point of the invasion was “regime change” which was going to necessitate some kind of ability to stabilize things once saddam was deposed, and establishing conditions for a replacement to take over. it failed. It was fucking dumb and even though we waded through the Iraqi army like they were toilet paper, the ‘success’ of the technical conventional-warfare components are meaningless if the purpose of military conflict is to achieve politically-determined ends.

          I also think its a mistake to call it an ‘occupation’ as that was never actually an intended role – in fact, traditional “occupiers” with experience like the Israelis were advising military planners that we’d need X number of troops *per block* in urban areas to maintain order… and they were told, “that’s not what we’re there for”.

          i.e. it wasn’t an ‘occupation’ because they make the enormous mistake of thinking it wouldn’t ‘need’ to be.

          1. Of course it was an occupation. we built a giant embassy in Iraq and had every intention of staying for many decades. It was classic nation-building.

            1. “Palin’s Buttplug|2.24.15 @ 9:29PM|#

              Of course it was an occupation.”

              Shut up you ignorant tool. Read a fucking book. the plan was to *leave* in 2004. whatever it became afterwards was mostly an attempt to tamp down the brewing civil war long enough to leave. the whole “surge” in 2006 was a very very belated attempt to actually put enough troops in to ‘keep peace’.

              You can call it whatever you want if it makes you fucking feel more morally-superior but you just reveal your own appalling ignorance about a topic that you endlessly posture over.

          2. I don’t think we’re in disagreement here, GILMORE. I think there were two distinct phases of the war, one executed more or less fairly well and the other executed horribly. Both phases were necessary to achieve the politicians’ objectives, but nobody was willing to say “either we follow through on fulfilling those objectives or else we make limit our objectives to what we are actually willing to accomplish”.

            1. We’re probably not much in disagreement, ultimately.

              i just have a bone to pick with people that sometimes try and separate the ‘military objectives’ of ‘go here, blow that up, capture this bridge, take that town, etc’ from the actual ‘mission objectives’.

              The fact is that the way the military phase was conducted (“Light footprint”) very much contributed to the reasons that ‘phase II’ – stabilization and reconstituting the govt – failed. so what if we crushed the Republican Guard? we didn’t secure things like “gigantic munitions caches” until a year or more afterward… or have people in place to turn the power back on… because we planned to GTFO ASAP and leave it up to the Iraqis

              Its the same sort of thinking that sort of pretends that the “iraq problem” began in 2003 rather than the entire Iraq war being simply “Act III” of a conflict that had been a regional problem since the 1980s.

              John Keegan – probably the best military historian in the world – rushed out a book about “The Iraq War” in late 2003..and i think the publishers saw that, after the Bremer decrees to disband the army and impose ‘debaathification’, that the whole thing was going to go to shit and turn into a ‘guerrilla conflict’….so they basically said, “WE WON! Here’s the book” and pretended that the rest was all so much ‘mopping up’. its bad history, and fails to accurately identify where the flaws in the conception began.

  6. Forget a troll sucking up air, this is a righteous video.

    RIGHTEOUS!

    I mean that. I have nothing more to say.

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