Free Speech

Sheriff Violated First Amendment by Ordering Teen to Take Down Post Saying She Had COVID

“Defendants may have preferred to keep Marquette County residents ignorant to the possibility of COVID-19 in their community for a while longer, so they could avoid having to field calls from concerned citizens, but that preference did not give them authority to hunt down and eradicate inconvenient Instagram posts.”

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From Judge Brett Ludwig's decision yesterday in Cohoon v. Konrath (E.D. Wisc.); generally quite correct, I think (though there might be room for punishing people who—unlike the plaintiff here—deliberately publicly lied about having a communicable disease, as there may be for punishing people who put out hoaxes about having committed crimes):

The SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 have had a tremendous impact on American society. But, as this case makes clear, that impact has its limits and, more specifically, does not extend to overriding the protections of the First Amendment…. [Defendants Sheriff Joseph Konrath and Patrol Sergeant Cameron Klump] violated [Amyiah Cohoon's] free-speech rights by demanding that she take down her social media posts or face criminal citation or arrest….

In March 2020, Amyiah, then a sophomore at Westfield Area High School, traveled with her school band on a spring break trip to Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida. During that trip, various states, including Florida and Wisconsin, declared public health emergencies in response to the then just-emerging COVID-19 pandemic. Four days after returning home from Florida, Amyiah began feeling ill. Her symptoms included a fever and dry cough. Two days later, she began having trouble breathing, so her mother took her to the emergency room at Divine Savior Hospital in Portage, Wisconsin.

The doctors at Divine Savior evaluated Amyiah and diagnosed her with an "acute upper respiratory infection." They informed her that her symptoms were consistent with COVID- 19 but said they could not test her for the virus due to the testing criteria in effect at the time. They then discharged her with an inhaler and instructions to strictly self-quarantine for 14 days and return if her condition worsened. They also instructed her parents to self-quarantine for 14 days, consistent with the COVID-19 protocols in place at the time. After returning home, Amyiah posted about her experience on Instagram, captioning a photo of herself from the spring break trip with: "Hey guys… sorry I've been on a long break.. I won[']t be back for a while longer due to me no[w] having the COVID-19 virus… I don't want the attention it[']s just the truth… I am now in self quarantine and am not allow[e]d to leave my room and have an inhaler since they said to go home… best of wishes. love you guys."

Three days later, on March 25, 2020, Amyiah's symptoms worsened. Her mother promptly took her back to Divine Savior, which then redirected her via ambulance to University of Wisconsin Children's Hospital in Madison. Once admitted to UW Children's, Amyiah was finally tested for COVID-19. Her test came back negative the following morning, but the doctors told the Cohoons that she may still have had COVID-19 and simply missed the window for testing positive. To that end, they released her with orders to continue her 14-day quarantine.

After arriving home from the hospital, Amyiah again took to Instagram. She posted a photo of herself with an oxygen mask on her face, captioned: "I am finally home after being hospitalized for a day and a half. I am still o[n] breathing treatment but have beaten the corona virus. Stay home and be safe[.]" At the time of this post, Marquette County, Wisconsin had yet to register even a single confirmed positive COVID case. In response to Amyiah's post, the County Health Department and the Westfield School District received numerous phone calls from concerned citizens.

In hopes of convincing Amyiah to voluntarily remove the post, the County Health Department referred the matter to County Sheriff Konrath. Sheriff Konrath relayed the necessary information to Sergeant Klump, who was on duty at the time. The content of this conversation was later summarized in Sergeant Klump's Detail Incident Report, which Sheriff Konrath reviewed and approved. The Report states: "Sheriff Konrath advised he wished for me to respond to the residence and have [Amyiah's] post removed from her social media … When I advised [Mr. Cohoon] that I was there to have [Amyiah] remove the post, he became upset …."

On the evening of March 27, 2020, Sergeant Klump arrived at the Cohoons' home. A microphone and dash-cam captured the audio and video of the ensuing interaction. Sergeant Klump spoke for some time with Mr. Cohoon before Mrs. Cohoon and Amyiah joined them outside the house. Upon exiting the house, Amyiah heard Sergeant Klump explain: "All I'm here for is to figure out what this post is about, seeing she tested negative …. And we need to get it taken down." Amyiah then agreed to go inside and take the post down. While she was inside, Sergeant Klump threatened Mr. Cohoon: "If [the post] doesn't come down, the Sheriff has directed me to issue disorderly conduct citations, if not start taking people to jail."

After removing the post, Amyiah exited the house again and showed Sergeant Klump her Instagram page. While outside, Amyiah heard her father twice repeat Sergeant Klump's earlier threat: "[Y]ou guys want to threaten somebody with going to jail over it and add insult to injury?," and "[I]t doesn't do any good when you can't warn [people] when you got a Sheriff's department threatening to throw people in jail over it." Sergeant Klump did not correct Mr. Cohoon's recitation of the threat, instead saying, "I'm just doing what we can do as a Sheriff's Office. Okay?"

After Sergeant Klump departed, Amyiah also deleted her March 22 Instagram post about her first trip to Divine Savior. Later that evening, the Cohoons discovered that Westfield School District Superintendent Robert Meicher had sent a news update to families in the district that included a statement about Amyiah's posts. The update read: "It was brought to my attention today that there was a rumor floating out there that one of our students contracted Covid-19 while on the band trip to Florida two weeks ago. Let me assure you there is NO truth to this. This was a foolish means to get attention and the source of the rumor has been addressed." Amyiah has not posted about her experience with COVID-19 on social media since….

Plaintiff's Instagram Post Was Unquestionably Protected Speech Under the First Amendment.

Even if short and often grammatically scurrilous, social media posts do not fall outside the ambit of the First Amendment. To the contrary, they are exactly what the First Amendment seeks to protect. In the eyes of the law, when Amyiah Cohoon took to Instagram, she was no different than John F. Tinker wearing his black armband in the halls of the Des Moines public schools, or Paul Robert Cohen donning his "Fuck the Draft" jacket in the corridors of the Los Angeles County Courthouse, and her speech deserved the same degree of protection.

But Defendants disagree. In their view, Amyiah forfeited her constitutional protection when she published a post that caused concern in the community and led to an influx of phone calls to the Westfield School District and Marquette County Health Department. According to Sheriff Konrath, this was akin to "screaming fire in a crowded movie theater." Even setting aside that the popular movie theater analogy actually referred to "falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic," Schenck v. United States (1919) (emphasis added), Defendants' argument still fails. While content-based speech restrictions are permissible in limited circumstances (incitement, obscenity, defamation, fighting words, child pornography, etc.), the Supreme Court "has rejected as 'startling and dangerous' a 'free-floating test for First Amendment coverage … based on an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits.'"

Labeling censorship societally beneficial does not render it lawful. If it did, nearly all censorship would evade First Amendment scrutiny. Defendants may have preferred to keep  Marquette County residents ignorant to the possibility of COVID-19 in their community for a while longer, so they could avoid having to field calls from concerned citizens, but that preference did not give them authority to hunt down and eradicate inconvenient Instagram posts. Amyiah's post is not captured by any of the categorical exceptions to the First Amendment, so this Court will not balance the social utility of curtailing it against its government-assigned value.

But Defendants persist. They cast Amyiah's characterization of her illness as a lie, insisting that because she ultimately tested negative, she was prohibited from publicly proclaiming that she had beaten COVID-19. But the very doctors who tested her also informed her that she may have had COVID-19 in spite of the negative test.

Her Instagram posts were, therefore, at worst, incomplete. The notion that the long arm of the government—redaction pen in hand—can extend to this sort of incomplete speech is plainly wrong. The Marquette County Sheriff had no more ability to silence Amyiah's posts than it would to silence the many talking heads on cable news, who routinely pronounce one-sided hot takes on the issues of the day, purposefully ignoring any inconvenient facts that might disrupt their preferred narratives. Indeed, even if Amyiah's posts had been untruthful, no court has ever suggested that noncommercial false speech is exempt from First Amendment scrutiny. See United States v. Alvarez (2012). The Supreme Court has emphasized: "[t]he remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true. This is the ordinary course in a free society." The government here had every opportunity to counter Amyiah's speech, but it opted instead to engage in the objectionable practice of censorship.

{Defendants insist that, based on his knowledge at the time of the encounter, Sergeant Klump had probable cause to arrest Amyiah under the Wisconsin and Marquette County Disorderly Conduct provisions. In relevant part, these provisions punish "[w]hoever, in a public or private place, engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance[.]"

Defendants appear to recognize that none of the statute's specific enumerations even remotely apply to Amyiah's Instagram post and thus focus on the "otherwise disorderly conduct" language. Wisconsin courts have interpreted this phrase to encompass acts that corrupt public morals or outrage the sense of public decency. Defendants argue that, even if his belief was ultimately mistaken, Sergeant Klump had a reasonable basis to believe there was probable cause to arrest Amyiah under the catchall disorderly conduct language because he had been informed that her Instagram post was causing significant disturbance, anxiety, fear, concern, and even panic among other citizens.

Defendants' probable-cause argument dramatically understates the probable-cause analysis for disorderly conduct. If accepted, Defendants' position would largely gut the First Amendment's protection for free speech, allowing police officers a free hand to wrongfully arrest anyone engaging in protected speech so long as the offending officer could point to a possible disturbance or perceived anxiety among those who opposed the speech. Accordingly, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has held that speech that "falls within the protection of the First Amendment … may not be punished as disorderly conduct." Defendants offer no answer to this precedent, which removes any basis for probable cause. Because Amyiah's social media posts were protected speech, Sergeant Klump could not have reasonably believed he had probable cause to arrest her or her family. Defendants' probable-cause defense fails as a matter of law.} …

Defendants Took Adverse Action Against Plaintiff.

The audiovisual recording of the police encounter at the Cohoon home captured Sergeant Klump threatening Mr. Cohoon: "If [the post] doesn't come down, the Sheriff has directed me to issue disorderly conduct citations, if not start taking people to jail." According to Defendants, though, because Sergeant Klump never made this threat to Amyiah directly—instead uttering the threat when only her father was present—she could not have personally experienced any threat of adverse action. This superficial analysis fails for a number of reasons.

First, the record makes clear that Sergeant Klump's intention throughout his 30-minute visit was to get Amyiah to remove her social media posts through the use of threats against her and perhaps her parents. That he expressed this intent only during his discussions with Amyiah's father, after Amyiah had retreated into the house to comply with the police officer's demand, does not mean that she was not the realistic subject of threatened police action. Indeed, it appears that Amyiah made the logical 'hop' necessary to infer the sergeant had threatened her arrest because, in her sworn declaration, she recalled, "After [Sergeant Klump] left, I was afraid that he would find my first post and come back for that one, so I deleted that post too." Moreover, she stated, "I would also like to post further about my scare with COVID-19 on social media, and to repost the posts I removed, but I am afraid that another officer will come to my home and cite or arrest my parents or me." So not only was Sergeant Klump's threat of arrest likely to deter a person of ordinary firmness from engaging in protected conduct, in this case it did just that….

Analogizing to a citizen's ability to consent to a warrantless police search of their property, Defendants argue that Amyiah's decision to acquiesce in deleting her Instagram post rendered her action voluntary and, therefore, outside the scope of First Amendment protection. Defendants correctly allude to the important "difference between government expression and … intimidation—the first permitted by the First Amendment, the latter forbidden by it." In the First Amendment retaliation context, "'[w]hat matters is the distinction between attempts to convince and attempts to coerce.'"

Defendants ask the Court to lump Sergeant Klump's efforts into the "attempts to convince" basket. Amyiah agreed to delete her Instagram post prior to learning of Sergeant Klump's threats. How then, Defendants ask, can she possibly claim coercion? This argument ignores the inherently chilling and coercive nature of a uniformed police officer showing up at a teenager's home and demanding that she cease otherwise protected speech.

Sergeant Klump's dash-cam footage shows that it was not his persuasive rhetoric that led Amyiah to delete her social media post, but rather his demand made under the auspices of the Sheriff's Department: "[W]e need to get it taken down." That was coercion by any metric. The state cannot dispatch a law enforcement officer to the home of a teenager to demand that she remove an Instagram post that government officials disagree with and then claim the officials were only engaging in the Socratic method.

It is possible that a Westfield administrator or Marquette County Health Department employee could have engaged in a mutually-respectful discussion with Amyiah to try to convince her to retract her post voluntarily, but that is not the method they chose. They elected, instead, to rely on the coercive power of the Sheriff's Department, and any attempt to obfuscate that fact by casting Sergeant Klump as an earnest public relations expert must fail.

Conclusion

The First Amendment is not a game setting for the government to toggle off and on. It applies in times of tranquility and times of strife. While Defendants in this case may have believed their actions served the greater good, that belief cannot insulate them. Demanding a 16-year-old remove protected speech from her Instagram account is a First Amendment violation. Declaratory judgment {establishing that Defendants violated her First Amendment rights} is granted….

Congratulations to Luke Berg and Rick Esenberg of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, who represented Cohoon.

NEXT: Short Circuit: A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions

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  1. Hard to imagine anyone being coercively forced to remove inconvenient social media posts in this day. I am sure it does not occur every day, LOL. But I think the key here is that law enforcement is the mechanism, in this instance, of enforcing censorship.

    But why cheer companies on for doing the same thing? Why is it good for them but bad if government does the same thing? Yes, the social media platform CAN do exactly what the state is prohibited from doing. But should people champion that action under the guise of protecting others from “misinformation” or whatever euphemism is used? Is it really in the interest of society to allow corporate entities to be arbiters of the truth? Should that not be left to the individual, which is the very spirit of the 1st Amendment?

    1. What you see here is the mindset that permeates many small-town sheriffs offices. They will routinely assign themselves authority they don’t have and will often get away with it.

      If you have ever seen South Park’s “respec mah authoratah” skits that is what it is all about.

      1. That is a great episode of South Park.

        1. Which one? Cartman’s “respec mah authoratah” was a running joke in about 10 episodes, as I recall. Which one in particular are you talking about?

      2. “What you see here is the mindset that permeates many small-town sheriffs offices. They will routinely assign themselves authority they don’t have and will often get away with it.”

        Wow!

        You mean, like tech companies deciding what’s “misinformation”, and banning it from every place they can bully into compliance?

    2. I’m afraid you’re positing a strict separation between private social-media companies and the government when it comes to censorship.

      Even from the information which has gone public so far – even based on the boasting of Biden’s own press secretary – we know that there is at least *some* coordination between the corporations and the government. How deep this particular rabbit-hole goes probably won’t be revealed (if at all) until we have the equivalent of Church Committee hearings at some point in the future.

      1. The coordination question is interesting to be sure. I too wonder how deep it goes.

    3. ” But why cheer companies on for doing the same thing? Why is it good for them but bad if government does the same thing? ”

      What is your opinion of the Volokh Conspiracy’s repeated, viewpoint-driven, partisan censorship?

      1. Well, Reverend, before people can express an opinion on it, you’ll have to provide some evidence that it exists.

        1. It has been provided, in detail, many times, you half-educated, obsolete racist.

          Do some research. Get an education. Try to become an adequate person before your replacement occurs.

          1. Actually, you’ve just asserted it over and over, with zero evidence. The fact that you’re still allowed here, despite the fact that you provide zero intelligent content and solely troll, refutes your claim.

            1. You are demonstrably wrong, Mr. Nieporent, as the archived record of this blog confirms. I have recounted the relevant events a number of times. Here’s another account, repeated to determine whether you are man enough to admit when you are wrong, Mr. Nieporent (or, instead, that you are just another ankle-biting, character-deprived right-winger who throws anything that might stick and just moves along when it doesn’t).

              I was censored by Prof. Volokh during October 2010, when Artie Ray Lee Wayne Jim-Bob Kirkland, who made fun of conservatives using parody, was banned. The precise reason provided in writing for the ban, on October 6, 2010, was that Artie Ray’s comments were ‘mostly noise with no signal.’

              (Messages related to the Academy Awards, Arthur Kirkland of . . . And Justice For All, and Frank Galvin of The Verdict had been removed from the Volokh Conspiracy in April 2011; Prof. Volokh indicated neither he nor the blog’s filters had censored them and suggested I contact the author of the relevant post to check whether the author had removed them. I continue to believe with confidence that Prof. Volokh did not censor those messages.)

              I was censored by Prof. Volokh during February and March 2014, when several comments using the term “c_p succ_r” or “c_p succ_rs” (referring to persons who reflexively defended abusive policing, which offended my libertarian sensibilities) vanished from the Volokh Conspiracy. Prof. Volokh confirmed that the censorship was intentional — and not subject to appeal or discussion — in writing on March 2, 2014.

              Prof. Volokh instructed me, in writing on April 26, 2019, to stop using ‘sl_ck-jaw_d’ to describe conservatives at the Volokh Conspiracy. I opined in response that this request to comply with Volokh Conspiracy ‘civility standards’ seemed odd in the context of exchanges that included evocations of liberals being tossed ‘face-down and lifeless into landfills’ or ‘lined up and shot.’ Prof. Volokh did not respond.

              As always, I would welcome any correction or clarification Prof. Volokh might wish to offer with respect to my recounting of repeated. partisan, hypocritical, viewpoint-driven censorship by the Volokh Conspiracy.

              May the better ideas win. Of course, that’s easy for me to say . . . when not being censored.

              Are you man enough to acknowledge your error, Mr. Nieporent? I make it a 50-50 proposition. I hope you are.

              1. Um, here’s what I wrote: “you’ve just asserted it over and over, with zero evidence.”

                And in trying to claim I was “wrong,” you… asserted it again, with zero evidence.

                1. You consider that “zero evidence?”

                  That would explain how you became a conservative.

                  What would constitute evidence, in your judgment?

                  You appear to be just another disaffected right-wing loser, divorced from modern America and the reality-based world, jousting against your betters “just because.”

                  With your sycophantic nose planted between Prof. Volokh’s “libertarian” cheeks.

                  Why?

            1. I have the future.

              It is right-wing culture war casualties who have nothing — well, except for their disaffectedness, their delusion, their deplorability, and their defeat at the hands of better Americans.

          2. Don’t worry, idiot, moron, or imbecile, you can’t be held responsible for what you spout.

      2. Interesting that instead of arguing against the actions of private censorship you invoke whataboutism to apparently justify it? I am unsure what the point of your comment really is.

  2. The lawyers who pressed this claim work for a stridently right-wing employer. The judge is a Trump nominee.

    They deserve great credit for vindicating the rights of a less-than-powerful citizen victimized by a backwater, red America school district and a rural Republican sheriff.

    1. If what you say is true (always a big “if”), then it means that the right-wing clingers are holding their own people accountable.

      Maybe that’s why you want them stomped into submission – because they have integrity and principles.

      1. This is a pronounced against-the-grain story. I wouldn’t expect a bigoted, superstitious rube to apprehend that point.

        1. Oh, I know what you’re claiming, but because of your lack of credibility, you need to furnish independent proof of your assertions.

          1. You believe childish fairy tales are true, yet require “independent proof” in other contexts?

            Leave the debates to competent adults.

            1. Heh, the swine with “Rev.” in his name talks about “childish fairy tales.”

              Take that as a “Jesus Saves, rebound to Ovi…HE SCORES” comment or an indictment on RAKs love of fairy children.

              1. I am a congregant of the Congregation Of Exalted Reason.

                No superstition.

                No faith-healing.

                No sacred ignorance.

                No dogmatic intolerance.

                No misogyny.

                No silly dietary rules.

                No childish make-believe.

                No antisocial separatism.

                No child abuse (or bodily mutilation).

                No suppression of science.

                No goofy outfits or comical hats.

                No billion-dollar real estate portfolios.

                No fairy tales.

                No pining for illusory ‘good old days.’

                No nonsense-teaching schools.

                It (reason) is not for everyone.

  3. “Let me assure you there is NO truth to this.”
    The super’s “NO” comment is certainly a falsehood. His/her statement that there are “rumors” are also false. The attestation of the sick person is not a rumor.
    PRC test are faulty. The young women appears to have presented all the symptoms. From the report here suggests that she had a single test.

    A sad series of events all around and a violation of Amyiah’s rights.

    1. “PRC test”: Typo (for PCR, obviously), Freudian slip, or Kinsley gaffe?

      1. Thanks for catching the typo Michael

  4. Hell, I can see how she actually believed she had Covid, even after the negative test. Back then (and still today?) the tests weren’t that reliable. And the doctors didn’t seem sure whether or not she had it – not only by their words but also ordering her and her family to quarantine as if they’d been exposed.

    I don’t see horrible behavior on her part, and I can see why her father would be pissed at the threat. The whole family had lived an extended time under the stress of wondering if they had a horrible disease that was the subject of massive scary media coverage.

    The County Health Department were a bunch of dicks for referring this to the cops. As has been the case through the pandemic, the health folks acted as if they knew more than they actually knew.

    Just another example of law enforcement bullying and abusing their authority.

  5. And if Dad tells Barney Fife to go eff himself, he gets arrested. They should have gone straight to Instagram and reported the whole fiasco as soon as it happened. THEN tell Barney to eff himself – at a distance.

    1. They went to court, not to Instagram – suing is the American way, especially for an egregious misuse of govt. power such as this.

  6. “Congratulations to Luke Berg and Rick Esenberg?”

    What about Amyiah Cohoon and her family?

    Sure, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty won a declaratory judgment for her. But the judge pointedly refused to grant Amyiah any sort of injunctive relief. He even acknowledged that the Sheriff should “cite, arrest, or jail Amyiah or her parents for future social media posts,” based on the virtually impossibility that her future social media posts “might not be entitled to First Amendment protection.”

    It gets even worse. Since Berg and Esenberg didn’t ask for damages, no one at any level of Wisconsin’s government paid any price for threatening Amyiah or for censoring her speech. And they probably never will. If Amyiah does sue for damages, this judge (or some other judge) will very likely find some way to invoke qualified immunity.

    But the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty will use this opinion to brag about how it vindicated some innocent citizen’s rights—and to seek more contributions.

    1. If you read this, Amyiah Cohoon, I am rooting for you to depart the can’t-keep-up backwaters of rural Wisconsin on the day of your high school graduation. Never go back. Your parents, if they stay behind, can visit you at college or at your new home.

      Pursue opportunity, education, and modernity on the campus of a strong, liberal-libertarian (perhaps public) university, in a modern, successful, and educated community, or perhaps both. Society provides a lifeline — guidance counselors, good teachers, financial aid, a chance to work while studying, school resources for refugees from downscale America — to those wish to escape places like Westfield and become reasoning, educated, skilled, decent, modern, accomplished citizens.

      There is much more to the world than the shit-on-white-bread sandwich of rural Wisconsin, and you could benefit from and contribute to that better world. Good luck!

      1. What do you have against Wisconsin? You think this couldn’t just as easily happened anywhere in the US? Are big-city police departments famous for their lack of abuse?

  7. Look, I hate the police as much as anyone, but if Facebook and Instagram won’t take down dangerous misinformation then it’s up to the police and sheriffs and school officials of this country to step up and take action to prevent people from abusing the so called right to free speech.

    Instagram is as crowded as any theater, and she was yelling ‘fire’.

    1. Where’s the abuse? Her doctors weren’t sure whether she had it or not. Even post test the doctors still had her quarantine. Because they didn’t know.

      In that time frame given what was known and what she was told having the symptoms and the stress of having her whole family have to quarantine, I can see a high school sophomore posting something like that.

      And even if it was “misinformation”, where’s the harm in this case that you have to send an armed agent of the state to threaten her and her family?

    2. If you *must* use that stupid analogy, then she was yelling “fire” BECAUSE SHE THOUGHT THERE WAS A FIRE. She had a fever, a dry cough, and trouble breathing. The doctors told her to quarantine, so there *certainly* wasn’t proof beyond a reasonable doubt that she didn’t have covid.

      And it turns out that there was, in fact, a fire! According to the NYT, the county had positive cases just *days* after the police visit (visit was on a Friday and there were positive cases Monday) which almost certainly means someone already had it when that visit was made. The NYT reports 1,891 cases so far in the county, which only has a population of about 15,585. That’s like 1 in 8. Maybe their health department shouldn’t have been wasting its time worrying about what people were posting on Instagram.

      1. Well done. Went right by me.

  8. Self-evidently, “I hate the police” is “misinformation.” It might even be “dangerous misinformation,” because “it’s up to the police… of this country to step up and take action to prevent people from abusing the so called right to free speech.”

    Surely Kazinski will delete his comment. If not, then he surely expects The Volokh Conspiracy to censor his “dangerous misinformation.”

    And as a self-evident proponent of law and order, Kazinski will no doubt present himself to the police so that his abuse can be punished. And if the police take exception to his derogation of the institution they represent, he surely won’t seek any redress against them, in court or in any other forum.

    Of course, Kazinski’s statement could simply be the ill-considered opinion of a duplicitous hack. Fortunately, at least in America, he has that right to publish his opinions—just as Amyiah Cohoon does, too.

    1. Well actually I appreciate the police doing a very difficult job that no one else really wants to do, and trying to keep up safe.

      But of course I do know there is a significant minority that are either just stupid, venal, power hungry, but thankfully rarely corrupt.

      Back in the 70’s I was choked unconscious, when being booked for a minor offense that was later dropped, for refusing to sign or affix my thumbprint to a document that they wouldn’t let me read, so I do know that they like to throw their authority around. Just last year I was told I was lucky I wasn’t being arrested for the crime of going 40 in a 25 late night in a speed trap, by a frustrated cop who couldn’t give me a ticket because his internet was down.

      However I can’t think of any of a better way to do the job they need to do without having at least some component of being a tough asshole in their temperament, because not everyone is as harmless and law abiding as I am.

  9. Having a negative test does not mean you do not have the Communist Chinese Virus.
    From the data presented, the post was most likely true. I guarantee that the hospital would have claimed the ‘bonus bucks’ if she had died.

    1. Once again: viruses have neither ethnicities nor political beliefs.

      1. No, but they do have points of origin and they are generally named as such.

        1. I like the use of passive voice. “Are generally named as such.” Who do you think is doing this general naming?

          In the past, no organization had announced any policies on naming, and, therefore, yes, the media often described a new virus by its geographic origin. (Or perceived origin; the Spanish flu did not originate in Spain.) That is not the case — several years ago, WHO did announce such a policy. And this virus has an actual formal name.

          And of course “Chinese Communist virus” was never its name, formal or informal, at any point.

          1. Can we all agree to call it the Trump virus, to honor the man who, with his minimization, false information, and anti-science and anti-governmental-intrusion rhetoric allowed 500,000 Americans to die (we’ll subtract the 000,015 Americans he originally thought might die from the running half-million+ total)?

            Or would that be seen as politicizing the whole sorry matter?

      2. The phrases generally accepted in the medical literature are “wild strain” and “wild Wuhan strain.”

  10. I’ve exercised the “mute user” option for one regular commenter on this site, and it greatly improves the experience. I recommend that others give it a try (even if you choose to mute me!). Why waste time reading — much less responding to — comments you know will be idiotic?

    1. Stupid right-wing clinger, I will stomp you into submission, mwahahaha!

      You obsolete, fairy-tale-believing, censorship-shackled, downscale, white birther person, you will be crushed like a bug under the wheels of advancing progress.

      Sorry, I don’t know what *possessed* me to say that.

      1. Thanks Cal: It’s nice to be recognized and acknowledged.

    2. You should probably mute Prof. Somin, too.

      If there is anything the Volokh Conspiracy’s carefully cultivated class of conservative commenters can’t stand, it is some genuinely libertarian content interfering with the stream of right-wing fever dreams.

  11. As often with law cases, one wants to hear the rest of the story. Was anything done about the school superintendent’s message, which was false and defamatory and should at least have been retracted?

  12. In hopes of convincing Amyiah to voluntarily remove the post, the County Health Department referred the matter to County Sheriff Konrath.

    That’s a definition of “voluntarily” I’ve never before run across

  13. I find it entertaining that the Sheriff wanted to rely on him having a reasonable belief that he had the authority to arrest her even if he was ultimately mistaken, but he wanted to arrest a teenager for posting about a reasonable belief that she had Covid even if she might have been ultimately mistaken.

  14. Is there no AUSA with balls in Wisconsin? It looks to me like all the elements of a conspiracy to deprive under color exists here.

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