Coronavirus

Texas Teen Booked on Terror Charge for COVID-19 Snapchat Video

She posted on social media about deliberately spreading the disease, but she's not actually sick.

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A Snapchat video about spreading COVID-19 landed a Texas teenager in jail on terrorism charges, even though there's no evidence 18-year-old Lorraine Maradiaga actually had or spread the illness.

On April 5, the Carrollton, Texas, police posted screenshots from Maradiaga's Snapchat to the department's Facebook account, announcing that they had "identified the woman seen on social media claiming to be COVID-19 positive and willfully spreading it." They added that they were "charging her with Terroristic Threat," a third-degree felony.

The Carrollton police had not yet located Maradiaga, and they had "no confirmation Maradiaga is actually a threat to public health," the post said. "We are, however, taking her social media actions very seriously."

In one Snapchat video, Maradiaga allegedly tells the camera that she is awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. A subsequent post is captioned "yo wtf she saying I actually gotit," according to local news station WFAA. In a followup video, Maradiaga reportedly claims to be at Walmart and declares she's about "to infest" people "because if I'm going down, all y'all…going down."

Maradiaga was not actually shown coughing on or trying "to infest" anyone, per police and media accounts of the video.

The department announced on April 7 that police had taken Maradiaga into custody that morning. "Maradiaga has stated that she is COVID-19 negative, and we currently have no proof that Maradiaga has tested positive," the announcement said.

Maradiaga was booked for making a "terroristic threat" and released on a $20,000 bond, a condition of which is that she must self-quarantine for 21 days.

We don't know whether Maradiaga intended to cause panic, intended her posts as  humor, thought she had COVID-19 but turned out not to, or had some other reason to do what she did. Maybe she's a troubled young woman seeking attention. Maybe she just has poor taste and bad judgment in pranks.

I think most people would agree that it's dumb to lie about having COVID-19, irresponsible to joke about spreading it, and cruel and stupid to do this in a social media post. But joking and pretending are things young people are known to do online. Maradiaga isn't the first or last teenager who will err on the wrong side. That does not make her a terrorist.

So this isn't a story about someone spreading COVID-19. It's a story about a person being prosecuted for speech with a debatable meaning, and about authorities using a terrorism-related law to throw the book at someone when another solution would suffice.

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  1. With everyone in quarantine, nails are hard to come by.

  2. Point an airsoft gun at someone, and don’t be surprised when you get charged with assault. That she actually doesn’t have the virus is irrelevant.

    Felony charge seems a bit much though for an ugly, teenage dumbass cursed with social media and no idea what to do with it.

    1. Agreed, the ‘not actually being sick’ is irrelevant here. Overcharging… if charging at all certainly is relevant.

    2. Point an airsoft gun at someone, and don’t be surprised when you get charged with assault. That she actually doesn’t have the virus is irrelevant.

      Except that, if she had an airsoft gun, she only pointed at her phone.

      Your analogy is terrible on several other levels (if diseases were as effective as bullets, we’d use them instead of bullets), but the idea that it’s illegal to tweet or snapchat ‘fire’ in a crowded theater is a pretty ill-conceived and fucked up notion.

      1. I don’t see the problem here. She wanted to cause a ruckus and so she caught one. Her message wasn’t an accident or the result of negligence. She intended to scare people. Sounds like she did.

        A felony is insane. Make it disorderly conduct/disturbing the peace, sentencing her in lieu of a fine to, I dunno, emptying bedpans in a Covid ward for a week or two, and I’ll count it as a win/win. She might even learn something and Karen can feel smug about the outcome.

        1. A felony is insane. Make it disorderly conduct/disturbing the peace, sentencing her in lieu of a fine to, I dunno, emptying bedpans in a Covid ward for a week or two, and I’ll count it as a win/win. She might even learn something and Karen can feel smug about the outcome.
          I disagree. You are advocating a punishment for essentially saying things on social media. Note that social media is not the same as MSM. The MSM is clearly trying to get everyone very fucking worked up about coronavirus, and they have been quite successful. The MSM wanted to scare people by republishing this young woman’s stupid, vain social media posts. All she wanted was attention, which she got in spades.

          The rational and merciful thing to do now is move on, let this undoubtedly gifted and bright young lady get on with her life instead of needlessly burdening her with criminal charges. No one was hurt; she never intended to hurt anyone, all she wanted was eyes, and provocation will get you that.

        2. Make it disorderly conduct/disturbing the peace, sentencing her in lieu of a fine to, I dunno, emptying bedpans in a Covid ward for a week or two, and I’ll count it as a win/win

          “As punishment for starting a not-panic about COVID, I recommend putting her in a position where she could actually contract and/or spread it.”

          Did somebody she coughed on go out and get a COVID test and discover they were negative and that she’d lied? She might be on the hook for the cost of the test in civil court.

          Otherwise, every bout of “If I go down, I’m taking all you fuckers with me!” across the internet, regardless of context, is a criminal act. Objective dissenter/conscientious objector not making physical threats but trying to convince people to follow morality/the law (c.e.)? Too bad! There’s a chance that someone might’ve died as the result of your statement about action you refused to take and causing a marginally increased risk of death is a crime.

      2. Diseases were used in Roman Empire times, usually by tossing cadavers down wells. Infected wraps also date back millennia as weapons, to say nothing of their use against native Americans. So “we” used to use them instead of bullets, but weapons that make conscription difficult or backfire on politicians have serious command and control issues. But different cultures may view those differently.

        1. Diseases were used in Roman Empire times, usually by tossing cadavers down wells.

          OK and how many arrows were tossed down wells in order to kill people?

          So “we” used to use them instead of bullets, but weapons that make conscription difficult or backfire on politicians have serious command and control issues. But different cultures may view those differently.

          Especially if you slew motives and a couple eons of medical history together as though it were just yesterday that everyone fell off the turnip truck.

  3. Maradiaga was … released on a $20,000 bond, a condition of which is that she must self-quarantine for 21 days.

    Emphasis added. Now, that has real potential.

    1. The 20k bond part is funny too. Both because I thought we were all about non-excessive bail these days, and hell, you can’t get that bond for a car thief now.

  4. You can’t yell fire in a crowded internet app.

    1. You can’t FALSELY yell fire in a crowded theater.
      Seems to fit a bit better now, doesn’t it?

      1. You can’t speculate as to the unknown status of fires which may or may not be impending in a crowded internet app.

        The real question is why haven’t the Carrollton Police booked major executives, writers, and hosts for CNN, MSNBC, WaPo, HuffPo, etc.?

      2. At this point, ‘Terroristic Threat’ = ‘Practicing Journalism Without a license’.

        1. It’s worth remembering here that the legal term “terroristic threat” predates the current understanding of what is meant by “terrorism”. So this really isn’t a “terrorism charge” at all. You’d think that some state legislatures would have the sense to change the name of the charge to something less misleading, but I don’t think any have done so.

  5. Well, having been arrested and booked, she probably does have it now – – – – – –

    1. to be fair, if she was wearing a turban and had a beard she would look exactly like Al Qaeda.

      1. woops squirrels.

        1. She looks like she might have eaten Al Qaeda.

  6. Her failing was omitting the fact that she contracted COVID as the result of a rape.

  7. In one Snapchat video, Maradiaga allegedly tells the camera that she is awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. A subsequent post is captioned “yo wtf she saying I actually gotit,” according to local news station WFAA. In a followup video, Maradiaga reportedly claims to be at Walmart and declares she’s about “to infest” people “because if I’m going down, all y’all…going down.”

    She seems like a very intelligent and well adjusted young woman. I foresee a bright future for her. /sarc

    1. Says the guy identifying as “Formely” Cynical Asshole.

      1. I’ve been wondering what curbed his cynicism.

        1. I assumed he was claiming he’s no longer an asshole.

          1. Then what’s he doing here? I thought we all were?

            1. I many assholes we got in these comments anyway?

              1. *How many*

                WTF?

                1. I’m surrounded by Assholes!

                  1. Then that makes you crap.

                2. That’s what you get asshole.

          2. figured today he’s an optimist

          3. I assumed he was claiming he’s no longer an asshole.

            I assumed he was an asshole in a Barbery suit.

      2. Maybe he’s identifying as “Formerly Cynical” Asshole?

  8. ENB: “That does not make her a terrorist”

    They did not say she was a terrorist. They said she made a terroristic threat, which is a criminal statute in Texas. You do not have to be a terrorist, or part of a terror cell, or whatever to get charged with making threats intended to cause fear.

    ENB: “It’s a story about a person being prosecuted for speech with a debatable meaning…”

    She has not been prosecuted, she was charged. You don’t need intent to cause harm but you need intent to terrorize others. By posting it she made it plain that she wanted to cause fear even if it was false. Just being false does not absolve oneself.

    This is a perfect example of using emotion to write an article quickly without applying any thought process.

    1. The government regularly makes terroristic threats, I don’t see anyone hauling them before a judge.

      Why is mercy in such short supply in comments sections?

      1. Why is mercy in such short supply in comments sections?

        No mercy, only stupidity.

        Kid points bb gun at passerby who proceeds to chastise both child and parents? Dude’s a criminal and should be locked up for abusing children who unequivocally, if only accidentally, initiated aggression.

        Girl makes empty threat, no immediate victims who were directly psychologically and physically threatened, to internet criticizing COVID hysteria? Chick is a criminal and deserves to be in a cell, the only question is how long and at what cost to the taxpayer.

        Sad that at a libertarian magazine, authoritarians are unavoidable and libertarians are virtually nonexistent among the staff and are sparse on the ground in the comments section.

    2. They said she made a terroristic threat, which is a criminal statute in Texas. You do not have to be a terrorist, or part of a terror cell, or whatever to get charged with making threats intended to cause fear.

      Or it was a criticism of the fear that others have generated and having to live under it. Since her physical victims and her psychological victims weren’t the same people or the same group in actuality or intent, it’s not clear that it was a threat. If she’d said she were going to every walmart or going to walmart first and your people at home’s house next, it might constitute a threat with intent to induce terror. Walking into a gun store saying you’ve got to protect yourself from the Jews while broadcasting to a non-Jewish audience isn’t a threat to the patrons of the gun shop or the audience.

      I understand the case law for ‘terroristic threat’ disagrees with me technically, that doesn’t make the law sensible/logical or moral.

      1. Mmmm… thinks for a minute… hmmm… ok, I didn’t look at that angle when I made my post below.

  9. The felony charge may be leverage to get a plea, for all I know.

    If that’s the case, I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but the behavior alleged against her, if she did it, doesn’t sound legal.

  10. “Maybe she just has poor taste and bad judgment in pranks.” Based on her age and literacy level, she’s retarded.

    1. In her defense, she didn’t subject the public to 5 seasons of Empire.

  11. when another solution would suffice

    & what would that be?

  12. Maradiaga allegedly tells the camera that she is awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. A subsequent post is captioned “yo wtf she saying I actually gotit,” according to local news station WFAA. In a followup video, Maradiaga reportedly claims to be at Walmart and declares she’s about “to infest” people “because if I’m going down, all y’all…going down.”

    Seems like a threat to me. Terrorism seems as good a way as any to describe the motive.

  13. These boots are made for stomping
    And that’s just what they’ll do
    One of these days these boots are gonna stomp all over you

  14. This is the perfect analogy of yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. Whether the stupid bitch has the virus or not, she is clearly trying to spread fear and panic.

  15. The very least they should have charged her with is destruction of property. I assume the store had to destroy the items she coughed on and disinfect and clean the area she was in. Everyone thinks stores are just rolling in dough, forgetting that they have to pay employees, pay utilities, pay taxes, etc. Plus, with all store employees busting their butts to keep the stores stocked while stressed to the max, she just added to it. I’d be pissed as heck! And, yes! They should have charged her! If someone playing t-ball at the park with their 6 year old can be detained/arrested, then this little b can pay the price for terrorizing the employees and other customers in the store.

  16. “We don’t know whether Maradiaga intended to cause panic, intended her posts as humor, thought she had COVID-19 but turned out not to, or had some other reason to do what she did. Maybe she’s a troubled young woman seeking attention. Maybe she just has poor taste and bad judgment in pranks.”

    Or maybe she was just exercising her First Amendment right.

    1. Maybe she’s a troubled young woman seeking attention.

      Aren’t we all troubled?

      #alonetogether

      1. Good reason to lock her away.

  17. It is difficult to determine a motive from someone who is barely literate.

    1. Unless you had some sort of rule or underlying fundamental principle wrt the presumption of innocence and/or were choosing to flagrantly disregard that rule because, well, some people are just deplorable.

    2. Which is what makes trying to parse anything ‘reason’ says so problematic.

  18. You don’t need a bomb to make a terroristic bomb threat.

  19. My god what else are they going to call a terroristic threat.

  20. Terrific news nowadays kids are using social media platforms in the wrong way.

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