Tag Archives: First Amendment

DHS “Media Monitoring Services” to Compile Database of Journalists

Washington, D.C. – A recently revealed plan to conduct surveillance of journalists, bloggers and other “media influencers,” by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has raised red flags among civil libertarians.

The program— known as “Media Monitoring Services”— is designed to give a contractor company “24/7 access to a password protected, media influencer database, including journalists, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc.” The solicitation for a suitable contractor was posted on April 3 on FedBizOps.gov for interested parties to apply. The listing says the deadline for contractor applicants is April 13 and that only companies “capable of performing the requirements of the attached Statement of Work (SOW) would be considered.

Forbes reported that “details of the attached Statement of Work, however, outline a plan to gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and influencers and are enough to cause nightmares of constitutional proportions, particularly as the freedom of the press is under attack worldwide.”

The Media Monitoring Services program, advertised on April 3, states:

1.1 Background

NPPD’s mission is to lead the national effort to protect and enhance the resilience of the nation’s physical and cyber infrastructure. NPPD includes the Office of the Under Secretary (OUS) and five sub-components: the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C), the Office of infrastructure Protection (IP), the Federal Protective Service (FPS), the Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM) and the Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis (OCIA), which are headquartered with the National Capital Region (NCR). Along with NPPD/OUS, Public Affairs is responsible for media communication.


The contractor shall provide NPPD/OUS with traditional and social media monitoring and communications solutions.


Services shall enable NPPD/OUS to monitor traditional news sources as well as social media, identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event. Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers.

NPPD/OUS has a critical need to incorporate these functions into their programs in order to better reach Federal, state, local, tribal and private partners.

As Forbes has noted, it’s apparent that the “Media Monitoring Services” program is not about “media communication, but about media surveillance. The “monitor[ing] traditional news sources as well as social media” or “identify[ing] any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event” is not about communication, as purported by DHS, but rather, about monitoring media— specifically journalists and “media influencers.”

Revealing the broad scope of the DHS-sponsored surveillance under the heading “Specific Requirements/Tasks,” the SOW lists “Task One: Online & Social Media Monitoring,” which involves the ability to “track global online sources for coverage relevant to Washington” and lists bullet points:

  • Ability to track > 290,000 global news sources
  • Ability to track online, print, broadcast, cable, radio, trade and industry publications, local sources, national/international outlets, traditional news sources, and social media
  • Ability to track media coverage in > 100 languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Russian. Translation function to instantly translate these articles to English
  • Ability to create up to 20 searches with each unlimited keywords
  • Unlimited coverage per search (no cap on coverage)
  • Ability to change the searches at keywords at any given time
  • Ability to create unlimited data tracking, statistical breakdown, and graphical analyses on any coverage on an ad-hoc basis

Forbes revealed the ominous and pervasive nature of the media monitoring program:

Any and all media coverage,” as you might imagine, is quite broad and includes “online, print, broadcast, cable, radio, trade and industry publications, local sources, national/international outlets, traditional news sources, and social media.”

The database will be browsable by “location, beat and type of influencer,” and for each influencer, the chosen contractor should “present contact details and any other information that could be relevant, including publications this influencer writes for, and an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer.”

One aspect of the media coverage to be gathered is its “sentiment.

The New American reported that DHS planning “a long-term game is made clear in the ‘Period of Performance’ section. The options include “(1) 12-month, and four (4) 12-month option periods.”

After the listing saw public news coverage, DHS spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton tweeted:

While DHS claimed that this is “standard practice,” Bloomberg’s Big Law Business noted that “the request comes amid heightened concern about accuracy in media and the potential for foreigners to influence U.S. elections and policy through ‘fake news.'”


Fla. Cop Fired for In-Uniform Cameo with Death Metal Band

Sanford, Fla. Police Chief Cecil B. Smith announced Wednesday morning that Officer Andrew Ricks has been fired from the department after video, seen above, emerged of the officer joining the death metal band Vital Remains on stage for a brief cameo at a November 13 concert at West End Trading Co.

In the clip, Officer Ricks can be seen on-stage with the band displaying the horns-up heavy metal hand gesture and delivering the opening line to the band’s song “Let the Killing Begin.

Chief Smith said according to WFTV, “An incident of this nature erodes the thin fibers of trust which already exist between the community and the police, and it will not be tolerated within the Sanford Police Department.

[RELATED: Officers Involved In Samuel DuBose Coverup Will Not Face Charges]

He (the chief) wanted to make sure the citizens didn’t have an issue with what was being said,” commented Sanford police spokesperson Ronny Neal, noting that the department primarily took issue with the officer’s in-uniform singing of the band’s controversial lyrics.

LEX 18 notes that in July of this year, a Lexington, Ky. police officer’s spontaneous on-duty performance of the lyrically-tame Poison ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” was met with praise by the Lexington Police Department, who shared video of the incident on social media to improve community relations.

Ricks told reporters that he did not want to comment on the matter.

[RELATED: Fired Denver Officer In Excessive Force Case Moves Toward Reclaiming Job]

Officer Ricks, who has no prior disciplinary record in his six years at the Sanford Police Department, was fired two days before he was scheduled to voluntarily resign. He had announced his plan to resign on October 30, prior to the incident. Officer Ricks was fired within 24 hours of Sanford police officials’ November 17 discovery of video of the concert cameo.

Vital Remains vocalist Brian Werner told the music news site Metal Injection, “This is exactly what’s wrong with the world today.

Virginia Police Accused Of Forcing BBC Reporters To Delete Crash Footage Of Shooting Suspect

Two BBC reporters covering the manhunt of Vester Flanagan, the suspect in the shooting death of WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward, were reportedly ordered by Virginia police to delete their footage or surrender their cameras.

Parker, 24, and Ward, 27, were shot and killed during a live TV report for WDBJ7 on Wednesday morning while interviewing Vicki Gardner, the executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, at a shopping mall in Monetta, Virginia. Gardner was also shot, and is in stable condition.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Journalists murdered on live TV during interview, suspect identified]

State police claimed that shooting suspect Vester Flanagan, a former reporter for WDBJ7, died hours after the shooting from a self-inflicted gun wound after he was chased by police.

Franz Strasser and Tara McKelvey, reporters covering the manhunt for BBC, claimed they were on the scene when Flanagan’s car veered off the road and crashed.

Following the crash, state police said that they found Flanagan in his car “suffering from a gunshot wound.” He was then “transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries,” where he died.

[RELATED: Suspect Accused Of Killing Virginia Journalists Dies In Hospital]

While reporting from the scene of the crash, Strasser posted on his Twitter account that he was approached by Virginia state police and ordered to delete his footage of the crash or else he would have his camera confiscated.

Strasser added that while he was “too far away to get any good footage,” one officer threatened to take his camera and tow his car.

While Strasser initially Tweeted that McKelvey filmed the encounter with her iPhone, he then came back and said that the footage was “unstable.”

Corinne Geller, the statewide public relations manager for the Virginia State Police, responded to Strasser’s Tweet and said that they have acknowledged that the officer’s actions “violate VSP policy” and that are are “looking into the incident.”

In a letter to the Virginia State Police, Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel of the National Press Photographers Association, wrote that the forcible deletion of evidence was unlawful and requested an investigation into the incident.

“The NPPA is extremely troubled by what appears to be an attempt to prevent them from covering the story or documenting police activity,” Osterreicher wrote. “For us this is the worst example of a prior restraint of free speech and of the press. While I understand tensions were high this misguided and illegal action was an abridgment of the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment.”

[RELATED: Will Virginia Shooting Be Classified As a Hate Crime?]

Following the shooting, several politicians were quick to blame guns and to use the tragedy to call for more gun control. During a recent segment of Reality Check, investigative journalist Ben Swann questioned why when mass shootings occur, the discussion always turns to the need for gun control while the “national debate on mind-altering drugs and anti-depressants is nonexistent.”


Missouri Gov. Signs Law Banning ‘Free Speech Zones’ On College Campuses

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed the Campus Free Expression Act (CAFE Act) into law on Tuesday, making Missouri the second state to prohibit public universities from limiting student speech to a designated “free speech zone.”

Senate Bill 93, which was created to “protect free expression on the campuses of public institutions of higher education,” designates that all outdoor areas of the campuses of public universities will be recognized as traditional public forums.”

The CAFE Act states that any individual may freely engage in “noncommercial expressive activity” as long as the individual’s conduct is “not unlawful and does not materially and substantially disrupt the institution’s functioning.”

The act, which was sponsored by Republican state Sen. Ed Emery, also notes that universities “may maintain and enforce reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions in service of a significant institutional interest” at times when such restrictions “employ clear, published, content and viewpoint-neutral criteria, and provide for ample alternative means of expression.”

“This act may be enforced in a court of competent jurisdiction by the attorney general or any person whose expressive rights were violated under this act,” Emery wrote. “A person may recover compensatory damages, reasonable court costs, and attorney fees.”

If a court finds an institution in violation of the new law, the CAFE Act states that it must award no less than $500 for the initial violation, and $50 for each day the violation continues.

Joe Cohn, the Legislative and Policy Director for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), said that while “one in six public colleges in the United States use free speech zones to restrict student speech,” the CAFE Act lets Missouri “statutorily ensure that its public colleges and universities will no longer be among them.”

FIRE noted that the CAFE Act received “overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate,” and was passed by a unanimous 34-0 vote before being passed in the House of Representatives.

Virginia became the first state to ban “free speech zones” on college campuses, when it enacted House Bill 258 in April 2014, which prohibits public universities from “imposing restrictions on the time, place, and manner of student speech that occurs in the outdoor areas of the institution’s campus and is protected by the First Amendment.”

“The fact of the matter remains that universities have a track record at silencing free speech, especially in cases that they disagree with,” said Republican state Rep. Rick Brattin, who handled the bill in the House.

Brattin told the Missouri Times that the CAFE Act became necessary when lawmakers discovered that the West Plains campus of Missouri State University designated a basketball court near the student rec center as its only free speech zone.

“Free speech is not a right or left issue,” Brattin said. “It’s an individual liberty and freedom we all hold dear to our heart. It’s sad that it comes to this point that we have to pass legislation to uphold these First Amendment rights.”

Julie Borowski: That’s NOT Freedom of Speech!

Video by Julie Borowski; text by Annabelle Bamforth

In her latest video, Julie Borowski discusses freedom of speech and the different ways that Americans interpret its meaning. People sometimes perceive the subject incorrectly, says Borowski.

The government cannot punish a person for their speech, says Borowski, but many individuals assume that negative reactions to a person’s speech are equal to violating free speech. With commentary on Facebook pages being used as a prime example,  Borowski argues that “freedom of speech” does not mean that Facebook page owners are required to give every person a “platform”.


CNN Anchor: Hate Speech NOT Protected by Constitution “Read It”

Washington D.C.-  In what has to be one of the more embarrassing moments of his career, CNN New Day anchor Chris Cuomo recently took to Twitter to school his audience on the language of the U.S. Constitution.  The only problem: clearly it was Cuomo who needed the refresher.

Jumping into an argument about hate speech, Cuomo said this: “hate speech is excluded from protection. dont just say you love the constitution…read it”






So, let’s do just that.  The exact text from the very first amendment in the Bill of Rights cover freedom of speech (that didn’t take long).  It says… “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Nope, nothing in there about hate speech.  Obviously the text of the U.S. Constitution does not include any carved-out exception, which is why after being called out for his egregious mistake, Cuomo fell back on a little known court case from 1941 called the Chaplinsky case.


A brief history of the Chaplinsky case:

In late November 1941, Walter Chaplinsky, a Jehovah’s Witness, was using the public sidewalk as a pulpit in downtown Rochester, passing out pamphlets and calling organized religion a “racket.” After a large crowd had begun blocking the roads and generally causing a scene, a police officer removed Chaplinsky to take him to police headquarters. Upon seeing the town marshal (who had returned to the scene after warning Chaplinsky earlier to keep it down and avoid causing a commotion), Chaplinsky attacked the marshal verbally. He was then arrested. The complaint against Chaplinsky stated that he shouted: “You are a God-damned racketeer” and “a damned Fascist”. Chaplinsky admitted that he said the words charged in the complaint, with the exception of the name of the deity.

For this, he was charged and convicted under a New Hampshire statute preventing intentionally offensive speech being directed at others in a public place. Under New Hampshire’s Offensive Conduct law (chap. 378, para. 2 of the NH. Public Laws) it is illegal for anyone to address “any offensive, derisive or annoying word to anyone who is lawfully in any street or public place … or to call him by an offensive or derisive name.”

Chaplinsky appealed the fine he was assessed, claiming that the law was “vague” and that it infringed upon his First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free speech.

The court ruled against him and out of this case came the “fighting words” exception.  According to Hotair.com “Over time federal courts have narrowed that ruling to make clear that it only applies, in Ken White’s words, to ‘face-to-face insults that would provoke an immediate violent reaction from a reasonable person.’ In other words, says Instapundit, a ‘personal invitation to brawl.’ All true, but it’s painfully easy to move from that standard to a standard in which ‘hateful’ speech qualifies as ‘fighting words’ whether or not it’s uttered face to face, whether or not the violent reaction is immediate, and whether or not a reasonable person from the ‘majority’ might object to it.”

Furthermore, the Supreme Court of the United States has also already ruled on this subject.  In the Supreme Court case R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, Scalia (writing for the Court) made explicitly clear that the “Fighting Words Doctrine” could not be used to impose special prohibition on specific disfavored topics, such as, e.g., “hate speech.” As Scalia put it, “the reason why fighting words are categorically excluded from the protection of the First Amendment is not that their content communicates any particular idea, but that their content embodies a particularly intolerable (and socially unnecessary) mode of expressing whatever idea the speaker wishes to convey. St. Paul . . . has proscribed fighting words of whatever manner that communicate messages of racial, gender, or religious intolerance[,] creat[ing] the possibility that the city is seeking to handicap the expression of particular ideas. That possibility would alone be enough to render the ordinance presumptively invalid[.]”

In the end, Cuomo is wrong… both in his initial claim and also in his follow-up in order to save face.

Albuquerque Officials Block Journalists Filming Public Hearing For Former Cop

Albuquerque, NM- A public personnel meeting for fired Albuquerque police officer Jeremy Dear was scheduled for Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed because hearing officer Patrick Bingham and city deputy attorney Kathy Levy opposed to being filmed on camera by local media.

Dear was fired last December for “insubordination and untruthfulness” as it was revealed that there were multiple occasions where Dear had failed to keep his body camera turned on while on duty. Dear has been under scrutiny for months due to the fact that he shot and killed 19-year-old Mary Hawkes during a foot chase in April 2014 and his assigned body camera failed to document the incident.

Dear believes he was wrongly terminated and appealed his termination. The former officer was set to explain to the personnel board why he should get his job back when Bingham objected to the presence of video recording and said that audio recording and note-taking were the only acceptable means of documenting the meeting.

“First of all, I don’t want to be depicted. I don’t think it’s anybody’s business what I look like or who I am. I’ve been doing this for a long period of time, there’s plenty of people who are probably upset with what I’ve done in the past. There’s probably people that are happy. I don’t want to be in that kind of position,” Bingham said.

City deputy attorney Kathy Levy said that “it’s been our position that city witnesses do not wish to be depicted on camera. And I do not wish to for the reasons [Bingham] stated.”

Bingham also expressed concern that video would cause inaccurate testimony from witnesses. According to the Albuquerque Journal, all of the witnesses are police officers. Bingham said,

“The problem with videotaping that I have is if witnesses are videotaped there’s a possibility that their testimony might be influenced one way or another.”

Both Dear and his attorney, Tom Grover, supported video recording of the hearing.

“I think other people would probably say it’s pure hypocrisy,” Grover told local news station KRQE. “If you’re being up front and you’re being truthful, and transparent, you shouldn’t be afraid of any sunlight or camera recording about what’s going on.”

Paul Sigurdson, a journalist for local news station KOB, told Bingham that  “You’re in violation of my First Amendment rights.”

The meeting has been postponed until the city can determine if video recording will be allowed.

All Mainstream Media Must Publish the Hebdo Cartoons

To all those media outlets who have convinced themselves that they don’t need to publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Mohammed in reporting the recent events in Paris: you are profoundly wrong.

Your raison d’etre is to present news. The Hebdo cartoons are a natural part of the story of the murders in Paris. To assert that a description of an image is anything like the image, itself, is a rationalization of cowardice. The only reason to “describe images” without publishing them is fear of the consequences of publishing.

charlie hebdo1

The official reason offered by many Western media outlets for not showing us the images that have at least in part provided the excuse for three fanatics to murder is “so as not to cause offense”.

First, you can’t cause offense. Offense is always taken, never given. Western society depends on that – on responsibility for one’s emotions, and if not for one’s emotions, then for what one does with one’s emotions. Many of us get offended on a weekly basis. The “right” not to be offended is not a right at all. Rather it can only ever be, by definition, a claim made to limit the rights of others.

Some people and organizations do indeed get-off on causing offense for attention or for its own sake. I have little time for such behavior. Indeed, all my political work is geared to mutual respect and finding common ground.

But that is not at issue here. Any sane person can see that the presentation of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Mohammed in stories about the murders in Paris is a very natural and legitimate part of telling the story of those murders – a purpose that is entirely and necessarily consistent with the much greater and deeply necessary purpose of the media in a civilized society.

charlie hebdo2

This is all very basic stuff. Murders have been committed because (among other reasons) the murderers dislike the way their victims exercised their freedom of expression. Some media organizations whose existence depends on that freedom, and that have the greatest responsibility to defend it (because they exercise that right every day), are giving it up without a fight. That responsibility to defend it is a responsibility to self-interest, let alone to the free society that allows them to operate, and to the people from whom they gain their revenues.

If these mainstream media outlets have adopted “not causing offense” as a new standard for editorializing, then I hereby inform them that I – and millions like me – choose (because it is always a choice) to be deeply offended by much of the mainstream media’s credulous reporting of our own government’s actions – especially in foreign policy, military and civil rights matters – since 9/11.

I don’t expect them to be very bothered by that, of course, because it’s not the causing of offense that concerns them – and all editors know as much from a moment’s introspection. They’re not concerned by my taking offense because I, being a civilized human being whose mind has not been ossified by religious orthodoxy and fundamentalism, am not going to use my offense as an excuse for violence against them.

Everyone who’s working at these media outlets realizes that one goal of the attacks in Paris is to render the Western press unfree, or to punish it for exercising its freedom (which is exactly the same thing). Now, by definition, only the media, and those who work in the media, can decide whether to give the attackers what they are demanding – a veto by one group on everyone else’s freedom of expression.

A media executive might protest that his job is not to take political, cultural or religions sides … that the presentation of information doesn’t entail direct engagement in such controversy. And that is correct … and that is why the editors should do their job without fear or favor, which is to tell the story in full. It’s by not publishing those cartoons, therefore, that media outlets are acting politically and morally – and they are doing it for the wrong side.

When George Bush famously said, “either you are with us or you’re with the terrorists”, he was profoundly wrong. At that time, the media collectively failed us miserably by promoting the fear-driven propaganda that resulted in the deaths of many American servicemen, many more innocent foreigners, and the take-down by our government of the very rights that the terrorists in Paris would also like to see taken down as they establish their silly caliphate.

But now if you’re in the media, there is a clear sense in which “either you are for freedom of the press, or you are with the terrorists” – because you can’t be for freedom of the press if you would prefer not to do the proper job of the press so as to avoid the possible consequences of defending press freedom by exercising it.

Think about that. If you’re an editor who’s not publishing those cartoons today, you’re not just failing to defend press freedom, you’re acting against a free press because you’re giving up your job to tell the whole story at the very time when the story is about the freedom on which your job depends.

That is not a neutral position.

As Sartre said, “What is not possible is not to choose”.

This is not about multiculturalism or cultural sensitivity. It is not about imposing images of a prophet on people who don’t want to see them. My deep sensitivity and respect for the values and lives of Muslims around the world, many whose lives have been destroyed by Western policies that I oppose, in no way requires me to engage in a wholesale suppression and denial of my own values – which include media that tell the truth without knowing distortion by either falsity or omission.

Ironically, perhaps, in the next few days, the media’s actions will speak louder than their words. And to turn to another idiom, a picture is worth a thousand of those. Right now, then, one cartoon is worth even more than that – but, crucially, no cartoon is worth an order of magnitude more.

Much of the American media, in particular, spent many years rather uncritically providing platforms for people who have asserted that defense of our freedom requires killing innocent Muslims abroad – while legislatively compromising away those very values that we were purportedly defending… without any of the sensitivity to Muslim sensibilities (let alone lives) that they have found over a few images.

The events in Paris have shed light on something that has always been true: that the fight to maintain our liberties can ultimately only be won or lost in the minds of the people whose liberties they are. They are won or lost whenever people choose to preserve those liberties by exercising them even when doing so feels risky, or when, alternatively, people decide not to exercise them because they are less important than avoiding discomfort.

So media, are you with us, the People, and our freedom of speech – which is also yours, or are you with the terrorists? Because if you will not do your job at this time when your freedom even to be the media is attacked – then what the heck are you for?

And please don’t come back with the tired trope about protecting your employees. If they don’t like the fact that their organization is choosing to do the right thing, rather than fall into gross hypocrisy, then they can exercise another beautiful freedom … the freedom to get a job that suits them better.

Councilman Kirby Delauter apologizes for threatening to sue reporter

After much online ridicule was thrown his way, Frederick County, Md. Councilman Kirby Delauter has apologized to the Frederick News-Post for threatening to sue the publication for publishing his name.

In an article published by the Frederick News-Post on Saturday, Delauter was mentioned briefly in relation to asking for more parking spots for council members. Once this article was published, Delauter took to social media to chastise the Frederick News-Post as well as the author of the article, Bethany Rodgers.

The social media post, made to Facebook, reads, “Shame on Bethany Rodgers for an unauthorized use of my name and my reference in her article today…” Delauter admitted Rodgers attempted to contact him by phone, but he did not return her calls.

Delauter's Facebook post.
Delauter’s Facebook post.

Rodgers responded to the post by writing, “there is no requirement to get a person’s authorization in order to mention them in the paper…” Delauter then went on the offensive by writing, “you’ll be paying for an Attorney,” if his name is ever used again without his consent. Then, he felt the need to write, “Your rights stop where mine start.”

Terry Headlee, the managing editor for the News-Post, said, “Kirby Delauter can certainly decline to comment on any story… But to threaten to sue a reporter for publishing his name is so ridiculously stupid that I’m speechless.”

Now, after nationwide coverage of the incident, Delauter has issued an apology saying his statements made online were “wrong” and “inappropriate.”

The apology, which was posted by the News-Post, reads, “The first amendment is alive and well in Frederick County… Of course, as I am an elected official, the Frederick News-Post has the right to use my name in any article related to the running of the county.”

Delauter continued by saying he felt “misrepresented and misinterpreted” in past news articles about him. However, Headlee said, according to the AP, that he and his staff of editors found no factual errors in the article which sparked Delauter’s online outburst.

Nashville Police Chief Defends Decision Not to Crack Down on Police Brutality Protesters

Following the highly-publicized and controversial officer-involved deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, protests erupted nationwide. In many cities, police responded to demonstrations with overwhelming force and military hardware, and rioters reacted by setting fire to storefronts and looting local businesses. However, Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson took a dramatically different approach, instead treating the anti police brutality rallies as a type of parade or community event. Consequently, no violence or property damage took place.

At one point, protesters took over I-24 and engaged in a technically-illegal die-in, inconveniencing Nashville drivers. Recognizing that arresting all of the protesters and clearing them from the roadway would elevate hostilities and take several hours to complete, Chief Anderson, channeling the Music City’s culture of politeness, blocked I-24 to protect the protesters and drivers. The demonstrators made their point and exited the roadway within around 20 minutes. However, detractors, who would have rather seen Nashville’s top cop unleash maximum force on demonstrators, complained about the Chief’s soft response. The Tennessean is reporting that Chief Steve Anderson issued a Christmas message on December 26 in which he responded to critics, and, in so doing, laid out his philosophy on law enforcement in which Nashville police are instructed to focus on community safety, rather than revenue generation and arbitrary crackdowns over political ideology. He also expressed his view that open-mindedness holds the key to a resolution of the core issues behind the police brutality protests and said, “It is only when we go outside that comfort zone, and subject ourselves to the discomfort of considering thoughts we don’t agree with, that we can make an informed judgment on any matter.”

Chief Anderson’s letter opened by thanking Nashville police and acknowledging that “not everyone will understand or agree with the manner in which we have responded during these demonstrations.” He told his subordinate officers, “As a member of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, you have responded to these events in a manner that clearly shows that this is a professional police department staffed by professional individuals who respect the points of view of all persons. Again, thank you for showing the Nashville public that, individually and collectively, they have a police department they can be proud of.”

However, he did not stop there. Anderson also included and responded to a letter from an anonymous detractor who complained that failing to arrest the protesters for taking over I-24 would lead to a collapse of the rule of law, endangering community safety. Nashville’s Police Chief said that the letter was representative of the views of people whose “thought processes are driven, not by what has occurred during the demonstration, but more by the social positions taken by the demonstrators.” He continued, “Clearly, they are more angry at the thoughts expressed by the demonstrators than how the demonstrations are being conducted. While I respect their right to take that position, we cannot allow those views to be a part of our decision making process. Decisions need to be made with a view toward what is best for all of Nashville.” Chief Anderson’s operating policy is to remain neutral on the political views of protesters in keeping with the First Amendment.

The critic also asked how he is supposed to teach his son to respect police who would allow protesters to get away with such lawlessness. The letter calling for a crackdown implied that Chief Anderson may have been ordered by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean not to arrest protesters.

Anderson responded generally by taking ownership of and standing by his decision, saying, “comparing the outcome here in Nashville with what has occurred in some other cities, the results speak for themselves.”

However, he also took the opportunity to explore a teachable moment regarding officer discretion in incidences in which minor violations of the law have taken place. He asked if the individual who wrote the letter would make the same complaint if he were issued a warning after committing a minor traffic violation. Chief Steve Anderson then confirmed a long-standing rumor by admitting that officers in his department institutionally give warnings rather than citations to citizens found clear of warrants and repeat offenses who commit minor traffic violations. Said Anderson, “In the year 2013, our officers made over four hundred thousand vehicle stops, mostly for traffic violations. A citation was issued in only about one in six of those stops. Five of the six received warnings. This is the police exercising discretion for minor violations of the law. Few, if any, persons would argue that the police should have no discretion.”

There is no doubt that Chief Anderson could raise significantly more revenue for the city if he ordered crackdowns on every minor offense and technicality, but his policing style is focused on community safety and harmony, rather than revenue generation. The below video contains footage of a police encounter with an officer from the Metro Nashville Police Department which was filmed by a Tennessee-based cop watcher.

Note in the video above that the cop watcher was given a polite warning about his non-functioning headlight, which could be a safety hazard, and was then allowed to go on his way. The two had a friendly, agreeable conversation about an incident in which Chief Steve Anderson criticized the Secret Service for asking his officers to fake a warrant, which they refused to do, in an effort to illegally search the home of an Obama critic.

The cop watcher in the above video had also previously recorded a July 4, 2013 stop in another county in Tennessee, in which officers appeared to coach a K-9 unit to signal the presence of drugs in an effort to conduct an illegal search. That video, seen below, went viral nationwide and demonstrates the difference between the conduct of police officers under Steve Anderson’s leadership in Nashville and others working in rural counties across the state.

Man Arrested For Allegedly Threatening Police With Facebook Post

A man in Massachusetts has been arrested for making an allegedly threatening Facebook post which reads “Put wings on pigs.”

According to CBS Local News Boston, Charles DiRosa, 27, was arrested Monday by the Chicopee police after they were warned by residents in the area of “very disturbing posts” made by DiRosa.  The post made by DiRosa is similar to one made by Ismaaiyl Brinsley on Saturday before he shot and killed two NYPD officers and then turning the gun on himself.

The Chicopee police made their own Facebook post in response to DiRosa’s arrest, writing, “After the events of the past few days, the PD took this threat very seriously.”  A spokesman for the Chicopee Police Department also said the phrase in question is a threat “in the eyes of every police officer in America today.”

DiRosa was arrested on charges of making a threat to commit a crime.

As we reported, the

However, some are arguing the post is protected speech under the First Amendment.

A New York Times article cites the legal cases of Hess vs. Indiana (1973) as well as Brandenburg vs. Ohio (1969) to say the post, without further evidence of intended harm, may not qualify as a punishable incitement of a crime.  According to their article, in order for speech of any kind to fit into the incitement exception made by these cases, “speech must be intended to and likely to produce imminent unlawful conduct, as opposed to just being ‘advocacy of illegal action at some indefinite future time.'”

The post made by DiRosa does not say he will kill a police officer, nor does it encourage another to kill a police officer, which makes this more of a general statement, and most likely not punishable according to the author.

The author of the article does say the Chicopee police are in their full right to investigate persons who make such comments, but prosecution for such a crime is very unlikely.

Charges Dismissed For Father Arrested At School Board Meeting

Gilford, NH- A judge dismissed all charges against William Baer, the father who was arrested at a May school board meeting after railing against the school’s missteps when it failed to disclose to parents a required reading assignment involving violent and sexually explicit material. The judge’s ruling described Baer’s behavior at the meeting as “impolite, but not criminal.”

Baer was arrested during a school board meeting on May 5 when he criticized the board for its failure to notify parents about a particular book, Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, that was assigned for his daughter’s advanced English class as required reading. The book, which is about a school shooting in a fictitious New Hampshire town, contained an explicit passage illustrating an aggressive, drunken sexual encounter between two of the main characters.

Baer had taken his concerns to the principal ahead of the meeting and told him he was upset that parents were not notified ahead of time about the book’s content and were not provided with an alternative option for a reading assignment. School officials admitted that past notifications about the book had been distributed since 2007, but the school had failed to do so this year. The school, realizing the mistake, sent out notices to parents about the book after Baer’s meeting with the principal.

Baer went to the meeting to make his dissatisfaction known to the board and other parents in attendance. Gilford Lt. James Leach was also at the meeting, at the request of the superintendent. Baer was arrested by Leach for violating the “two-minute rule” for public comment that was imposed at the meeting when he responded to comments another parent was making.

Baer faced three counts of disorderly conduct which have all been dismissed. “The Court does agree with the Defendant’s argument that, often in an official meeting or at the Court, for that matter, individuals, from time to time, may be disruptive but that disruptiveness should not be cause for an arrest in the first instance. The sequence of the arrest actions cause pause by the Court as to the chilling, if not silencing of a citizen by the State, for actions which do not warrant a criminal arrest nor conviction,” read the ruling.

Baer said that “these three criminal charges against me were not ‘dropped’ by Gilford Police Chief Bean-Burpee and his prosecutor Sergeant Eric Bredbury, they were dismissed by a New Hampshire Circuit Court Judge after a full hearing.”

“In spite of having months to review the law and the facts, the Prosecutor refused to drop the charges or even propose a plea, but rather continued to seek a conviction to justify the State’s violation of my First Amendment right of free speech, and my unlawful arrest.”

Baer noted that he has experience in the legal system and had obtained a strong legal team, but pointed out that many people in his situation do not have that advantage and “one of the most troubling aspects of this experience is having to face the fact that, out of the millions of people arrested every year in the United States, many are unlawfully arrested, maliciously prosecuted, wrongfully convicted, or pressured to plead guilty just to get it over with.”

TN City Bans Negative Social Media Comments About City Government, Employees, Contractors

Social media and mobile technology have empowered civic activism on levels before unseen. Matters that once went on behind closed doors now emerge in vivid detail on YouTube, and activists, alternative media journalists, and everyday people use sites like Facebook and Twitter to express themselves on issues that would have in the past been ignored by mainstream media outlets. However, the increased transparency and civic engagement come at a cost to elected officials and bureaucrats who prefer doing business in smoky backrooms without debate or public comment.

According to Chattanooga Times Free Press, city officials in South Pittsburg, TN have been overwhelmed by negative comments on social media and consequently enacted a new policy, passed in a 4-1 vote at a December city commission meeting, banning all elected officials, city employees, city contractors, and anyone else doing official business with the city from making any negative comments on their private social media accounts about anyone or anything with any connection to city government. The policy falls short of criminalizing negative comments by citizens not directly affiliated with the government, but does force elected officials, contractors, city employees, and anyone else doing business of any kind with the city to sign a contract which stipulates that they be punished in the event that they violate the rule. The rule specifically states that affected parties are banned from making negative social media comments about the city itself, its elected officials, and its associates, which would seemingly include private contractors.

Commissioner Jeff Powers, a supporter of the policy, explained his frustrations with social media comments to Chattanooga Times Free Press, “It seems like every few meetings we’re having to address something that’s been on Facebook and created negative publicity.” He also said, addressing critics of the policy, “The first thing everyone wants to say is ‘I can’t post anything on Facebook.’ Well, you can. Just not [anything] that sheds a negative light on any person, entity, board or things of that nature. You can go ahead and post all you want.”

Commissioner Paul Don King, the lone board member who voted against the measure, said, “But what we [the board] are trying to say is that if I’m a city employee, you’re trying to tell me what I can say at night. I call that freedom of speech. I can’t understand that.”

Mayor Jane Dawkins said the measure was aimed at silencing what she called “out-and-out lies and untruths.” City Attorney Billy Gouger gave his opinion on the rule’s impact on freedom of speech, “What this policy tries to do is reconcile that right with other rights.”

Banning elected officials from making negative comments about the city or other elected officials seemingly transfers significant power to an administration backed by a majority, as dissenters, such as Paul Don King in this case, could in the future be accused of violating the rule while advocating policy positions on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. Also, city employees appear to now be banned from commenting on their consumer experiences with private businesses that incidentally have contracts with the city.

New Illinois “Eavesdropping Law” Distorts Ability To Record Law Enforcement

A new anti-eavesdropping bill, which would replace a former law that had been struck down as unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court in March, passed the state’s House and Senate last week. The new legislation has been identified by proponents as reform aimed at protecting private conversations, but the imprecise language contained in the law could create new confusion regarding the ability of citizens to record encounters with police and public officials.

The state’s previous law had prohibited the recording of any conversation without consent from all parties involved, which was presumed to protect private conversations from being documented. However, the law applied to all conversations that were unreasonably expected to be private, and one critical consequence of the law was the inability to record interaction with law enforcement and other government officials for the sake of “privacy”.

The old statute criminalized “the recording of conversations that cannot be deemed private: a loud argument on the street, a political debate on a college quad, yelling fans at an athletic event, or any conversation loud enough that the speakers should expect to be heard by others,” according to the court’s opinion. “None of these examples implicate privacy interests, yet the statute makes it a felony to audio record each one.”

The new bill was introduced on December 2nd as an amendment to another existing, unrelated bill. All of the content of the unrelated bill was removed and then replaced with the restrictions on recording.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), a sponsor of the new bill, said that “The most important thing the bill does is to restore Illinois to a standard that requires everyone in a private conversation to consent to a recording” and claimed the bill satisfies “the Supreme Court requirement by limiting that to conversations where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Although the Associated Press has reported that the new bill “attempts to protect people from surreptitious and improper recording of their conversations without infringing on the rights of others to disseminate what others say,” independent research organization Illinois Policy Institute has criticized this new bill’s obscure wording, calling the new version “nearly as bad as the old one.”

According to the Illinois Policy Institute, “Under the new bill, a citizen could rarely be sure whether recording any given conversation without permission is legal. The bill would make it a felony to surreptitiously record any ‘private conversation,’ which it defines as any ‘oral communication between 2 or more persons,’ where at least one person involved had a ‘reasonable expectation’ of privacy.” Illinois Policy noted that the law does not clarify when someone should have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” and does not explain what qualifies as a “public encounter”.

The new bill would classify unlawful recording of police, an attorney general, assistant attorney general, state’s attorney, assistant state’s attorney or a judge a Class 3 felony, which can result in a 2-4 year prison sentence. Unlawful recording of a citizen would be classified as a Class 4 felony, which could result in 1-3 years in prison. A felony conviction and subsequent prison sentence has the ability to deter people from recording encounters, especially if they are unsure when it is legal to record conversations.

The bill currently awaits the signature of Gov. Pat Quinn. It is available to read here.

Is the internet protected by the First Amendment? The Supreme Court will decide

The Supreme Court is set to hear a case which could settle if the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech extends to the internet and social media.

The case is Elonis vs. United States, where Anthony Elonis will argue posts he made on Facebook were made in jest and not meant to be taken seriously.  Elonis was previously convicted by a federal court for these posts, saying they were of a threatening nature and therefore not protected.

All of the posts in question were viewed by Elonis’ ex-wife who said she felt threatened by them and by Elonis.

One such post reads, according to the Huffington Post, “There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts.”

The LA Times also says other posts made by Elonis mentioned killing an FBI agent, as well as massacring a kindergarten class.  Elonis testified his posts were never meant to frighten anyone, and he also said his posts were a spontaneous form of expression similar to rap lyrics.

John Elwood, Elonis’ attorney, told CNN he agreed the posts were cathartic for Elonis.  “There’s a reason why all these graphic songs were written when Eminem wrote these things and he hasn’t been prosecuted for a felony for writing these songs which are virtually indistinguishable about his ex-wife,” said Elwood.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. is representing the government in the case and disagrees, saying, “A bomb threat that appears to be serious is equally harmful regardless of the speaker’s private state of mind.”

The Justice Department weighed in on the situation saying no matter what the speaker believes about his comments, if someone feels threatened by the comments, those comments are not protected speech.

Some civil liberties groups such as the ACLU, are siding with Elonis, saying “A statute that proscribes speech without regard to the speaker’s intended meaning runs the risk of punishing protected First Amendment expression simply because it is crudely or zealously expressed.”

Arguments from both sides will begin Monday.

Lawsuit: Cops Arrested WI Man for Posting Angry Facebook Comment Accusing Them of Racism

Arena, WI man Thomas G. Smith says that police violated his rights when they arrested him in July of 2012 after he posted an angry comment on a status on the Arena Police Department’s now-deleted Facebook page. According to The Star Tribune, Arena police posted a status pertaining to the detention of two African-American teens, upon which Smith commented, calling the officers racists in a tirade that included profanity. Smith was charged with and convicted of unlawful use of computerized communications and disorderly conduct before a state-level appellate judge overturned the conviction, citing freedom of speech. Lawyers representing Smith subsequently filed a federal lawsuit last Monday alleging that police violated his rights by arresting him for the comment.

After Smith made his feelings known on Facebook, Officer Nicholas Stroik allegedly deleted the comment along with comments by two other community members who accused the officers of conducting racial profiling. Arena police then reportedly called Smith on the telephone to confirm whether or not he posted the comment. Smith proudly replied that he did and specifically pointed out that he meant what he said. Officers then visited Smith at home and arrested him, citing the fighting words legal doctrine that limits speech intended to directly cause violence.

A local jury convicted Smith of the charges against him, and he was sentenced to community service. However, the conviction was overturned on appeal, as an appellate judge found that Smith’s posting of an angry comment with vulgarities from his own home miles from the police station constituted protected free speech. The judge indicated that Smith’s comments could not be viewed as fighting words if he was not located within close proximity to the officers at the time that he made them. In the case Cohen v. California, the US Supreme Court held that vulgarities are protected speech under the First Amendment.

Smith’s lawsuit alleges that the Village of Arena failed to train Nicholas Stroik on constitutional rights, that his arrest violated Smith’s First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and that officers deleted the comments of critics on Facebook while leaving up comments by supporters, thus using public law enforcement resources to censor citizens on the basis of their views. The suit also points out the fact that, by attempting to punish Smith for his comments critical of the Arena Police Department, Stroik’s actions could have the effect of chilling free speech as publicity surrounding the arrest could cause others who would speak out to remain silent out of fear of retaliation.

Public School Orders Christian Students to Stop Praying, Discussing Religion Together During Recess

For the past three years, a group of Christian students at Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs, CO have met during a free period to pray and discuss their religious views. Though they typically meet in an abandoned classroom so as to not disturb other students, their prayer group is not an official function of the school, but is instead a voluntary, unofficial meeting between classmates during a non-instructional free period when students are allowed to meet with friends and discuss or do whatever they choose. According to Fox News, one of the students, Chase Windebank, was ordered to Assistant Principal James Lucas’ office on September 29, whereupon he was told that his group was no longer allowed to meet to pray and discuss Christianity during school hours.

In response, a religious liberty-focused law firm called Alliance Defending Freedom took up Windebank’s case and filed suit in federal court last week, alleging that his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights had been violated. Attorney Jeremy Tedesco, who is representing Windebank, said, “He was told that he could no longer pray with his fellow students during free time because of the separation of church and state… He was told that he could pray before the school day begins or after the school day ends but he could not do it during the school day.”

The complaint Tedesco filed on behalf of Windebank describes how the free period in question works at Pine Creek High School, “Defendant Academy School District No. 20 (the “District”) has implemented a policy (the ‘Open Time Policy’) which permits all students to be excused from the homeroom period of the school day, called ‘Seminar,’ on Mondays and Wednesdays, and students who meet certain academic qualifications to be excused from Seminar on Fridays, to engage in a virtually unlimited variety of activities of the students’ own choosing, including hanging out in the cafeteria and other open areas with friends, playing on their phones, meeting together for expressive activities (including both formally recognized clubs and unofficial groups), and going outside to hang out together… This Open Time is akin to recess or lunch period where students have long been recognized to have the right to engage in expressive activities… At the same time, pursuant to the Open Time Policy, Defendants permit other students to meet together in informal groups (among the multitude of other permissible activities) during Seminar time and discuss from a nonreligious perspective the same or similar matters Chase seeks to discuss and pray about from a religious perspective with his friends.”

A school spokesperson said to Fox News, “Students were told that, according to state law and district policy, they could meet during non-instructional time… That is before or after school.”

Despite Issuing Permit, City Sends 6 Cops to Enforce No Dancing Rule at “Monster Mash” Dance Party

Last Friday, an event promotion company called Heart of Dixie put on its third annual “Monster Mash” dance party at Fiesta Fun Center in St. George, Utah. The Halloween-themed event was billed as featuring mini golf, go karts, bumper boats, and a dance party. However, this year, six cops crashed the party on behalf of the City of St. George and demanded that no dancing take place during the event. Strangely, the party was allowed to take place as long as none of the patrons danced.

City officials in St. George require event planners to obtain a permit in order to hold a public dance. One of the party’s organizers, Jared Keddington, says he learned about this rule a few days prior to the event and applied for a permit, specifically indicating that the event was a dance. He was given a permit for the event, but, unbeknownst to him, city officials added handwritten amendments to his permit that specifically banned dancing. Keddington told Fox 13 Salt Lake City, “We were given a permit and then told by officers we couldn’t have a dance, under threat of being taken to jail with a felony of inciting a riot.” Police also allegedly threatened to cite the event’s DJ for creating conditions that could incite dancing in violation of the permit’s exceptions.

Apparently, local bureaucrats were worried that the party might draw too large of a crowd and hoped that the dance ban might dim the turnout. City spokesperson Marc Mortensen said, “Via the power of social media, who knows how many could have showed up and would that have overburdened that particular neighborhood and could it have potentially created problems… That’s what we try and avoid.” According to StGeorgeUtah.com, Heart of Dixie’s permit application indicated that event planners were expecting a turnout between 600-1,000 people. When police arrived at the beginning of the event to inform its promoters that dancing would not be allowed, 400 attendees had already arrived. The event’s promoters claim that the dance ban harmed the party’s turnout and that some attendees demanded refunds. Heart of Dixie’s security supervisor Karlee Jarvis notes that the company hired “at least 20” security guards to maintain order at the dance.

Heart of Dixie issued a statement to StGeorgeUtah.com about the incident, saying, “The city issued a permit. We applied for a special event permit for a ‘dance.’ It was issued. Then when they had no way to shut it down they produced additional pages to the permit that we were not given on which they had hand written that the dance was not allowed. Not to mention we were on private property, it is a first amendment right to dance, we weren’t playing music loud enough to be heard off the property and when the police were there NO ONE was dancing. They sent 6 officers to make sure no one was dancing! DANCING IS NOT A CRIME.”

City officials allege that Keddington was trying to skirt around the city’s process for approving events and that he could have obtained a permit that allowed dancing if he would have filed it 30 days in advance. The city issues event permits through an online system, and officials told Fox 13 Salt Lake City that they attempted to work with Keddington by fast-tracking his party’s approval but told him via email that dancing would not be allowed. Keddington claims he never saw those emails and first heard about the prohibition against dancing one hour before the event.

Shortly after police arrived at the party to enforce the dance ban, St. George Police Captain Scott Staley showed up with a master copy of the event’s permit which included amendments written in pen. “Things had been crossed out, and in hand was written, ‘no dance activity permitted’… On another page it was typed that the event must not be allowed to become a dance party due to random acts of dancing by patrons,” said Keddington.

City spokesperson Marc Mortensen said, “We’re not against events. We’re an events city. We have events nearly every weekend. We just asked they come into compliance.”

Keddington compared the ordeal to the plot of the movie Footloose in which Kevin Bacon’s character Ren McCormick fights against his town council’s ban on dancing. Ultimately, Heart of Dixie complied with the order and announced over the venue’s public address system that dancing would not be allowed at the event.

Students Reprimanded for Handing Out U.S. Constitutions Outside “Free Speech Zone”

Last week, four students at Southern Oregon University were told by administrators that they must stop handing out copies of the United States Constitution on campus, or else the Police would be called, and disciplinary action would taken against them.

The administrators confronted the students, who were affiliated with Students for Concealed Carry, and reprimanded them, due to the fact that they were handing out literature, in an area that was outside of the university’s designated “Free Speech Zone.”

Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) is a nonpartisan student organization that promotes students’ rights to carry concealed weapons on campus. One member of the group, Stephanie Keaveney, told Campus Reform that administrators alleged that the four representatives from SCC had caused an “immediate panic for the safety of students in the face of gun violence, or the promotion of such.

We encountered wild accusations that because the event was affiliated with SCC, there was legitimate fear for the imminent danger of students on campus,” Keaveney said.

The university’s family housing coordinator, Allyson Beck, was the first one to confront the students, who were handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution near an on-campus residence hall.

We have our free speech zone,” said Beck. “I understand that you may not like it, but that’s where it is.

The director of university housing, Tim Robitz, also approached the students. “I would very much like you to leave,” said Robitz. “If you would, please, because the students have the right to be able to come by here without you guys, you know, invading their space and asking them to do something.

Thank you for coming down here and explaining to us the unconstitutional policies here on campus, but we’re not going to move,” said one of the students from SCC.

Campus Reform reported that even though, as one student claimed, some of the administrators resorted to “personal attacks” and threatened disciplinary action, the students refused to leave, and the administrators eventually left them alone.

Although campus police claimed they had received a complaint from a student who said he felt “uncomfortable,” they did not ultimately confront the students. The members of SCC insisted that they had not heard any complaints.

Students on this campus were in no way framing themselves to be a legitimate threat to safety or inciting unlawful behavior,” said Keaveney. “This action was only related to SCC in that its members on this campus believe in order to fight for our second amendment rights; we must first be free to exercise our first amendment rights.”

Watch the full video here:


Heavy Metal Fan Arrested for Posting Exodus Lyrics on Facebook

WFIE 14 News is reporting that 31-year-old James Evans of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky was arrested on terroristic threatening charges after he posted lyrics from a song by the heavy metal band Exodus on Facebook. On August 24, Evans posted the following quote from the song “Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)”, “Student bodies lying dead in the halls, a blood splattered treatise of hate. Class dismissed is my hypothesis, gun fire ends in debate.” Shortly thereafter, he was taken into custody by authorities under the rationale that his posting constituted a threat “to kill students and or staff at school,” according to his arrest warrant.

Evans remained in jail for eight days before he was released at a hearing at which his case was deferred for six months. An updated report by WFIE 14 News notes that Evans will be required to undergo a mental evaluation.

It is unclear exactly which school that officials believe the 31-year-old was targeting with his verbatim posting of heavy metal lyrics online, but Muhlenberg County school resource officer Mike Drake claimed that multiple government agencies received warnings about the Facebook status.

Ashelynn Evans, James Evans’ sister, told WFIE 14 News, “Whenever we found out that he actually got arrested for lyrics, we were all shocked. We couldn’t believe that you could do that or get in trouble for that. I don’t personally agree with the band or the music but I agree that you should have the choice to listen to it if you want to.”

After his release, James Evans said, “It’s nonsense. I feel like my civil rights have been violated. You know first amendment freedom of speech out the window. Even all the guys I was in the cell with they thought it was nonsense themselves. I had several officials tell me it was nonsense, that there was no reason why I should have even been here.” An avid heavy metal fan, Evans frequently posted various song lyrics on Facebook prior to his arrest.

Exodus’ management commented on the issue in a press release, saying, “The band Exodus does not promote or condone terrorists, threats or bullying. That being said, the band is somewhat baffled by the fact that this man being charged for what seems against his first amendment rights of Freedom of Speech.”

The heavy metal music site Loudwire quoted additional comments by Exodus guitarist Gary Holt, who said, “The idea that an individual in this great country of ours could be arrested for simply posting lyrics to a song is something I never believed could happen in a free society. James Evans was simply posting lyrics to a band he likes on Facebook, and he was locked up for it… It was the Virginia Tech massacre perpetrated by Seung-Hui Cho that was the subject and inspiration to write the song, one in which we put the brakes on playing it live after the Sandy Hook shooting, as we did not want to seem insensitive.”

Gary Holt continued, “As some of us in Exodus are parents, of course these things hit close to home, it’s every parent’s worst fear. These moments are the stuff of nightmares, and life, as well as music, isn’t always pretty. But when we start to overreact to things like lyrics by any band, including Exodus, and start arresting people, we are caving in to paranoia and are well on our way to becoming an Orwellian society.”