Department Of Justice Uses Grand Jury Subpoena To Identify Anonymous Commenters on a Silk Road Post at Reason.com

The United States Department of Justice is using federal grand jury subpoenas to identify anonymous commenters engaged in typical internet bluster and hyperbole in connection with the Silk Road prosecution. DOJ is targeting Reason.com, a leading libertarian website whose clever writing is eclipsed only by the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery.

Why is the government using its vast power to identify these obnoxious asshats, and not the other tens of thousands who plague the internet?

Because these twerps mouthed off about a judge.


Last week, a source provided me with a federal grand jury subpoena. The subpoena1, issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, is directed to Reason.com in Washington, D.C.. The subpoena commands Reason to provide the grand jury "any and all identifying information"2 Reason has about participants in what the subpoena calls a "chat."

The "chat" in question is a comment thread on Nick Gillespie's May 31, 2015 article about Ross "Dread Pirate Roberts" Ulbricht's plea for leniency to the judge who would sentence him in the Silk Road prosecution. That plea, we know now, failed, as Ulbricht received a life sentence, with no possibility of parole.

Several commenters on the post found the sentence unjust, and vented their feelings in a rough manner. The grand jury subpoena specifies their comments and demands that Reason.com produce any identifying information on them:

AgammamonI5.31.15 @ lO:47AMltt
Its judges like these that should be taken out back and shot.

AlanI5.31.15 @ 12:09PMltt
It's judges like these that will be taken out back and shot.
FTFY.

croakerI6.1.15 @ 11:06AMltt
Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly. Especially if you
feed them in feet first.

Cloudbusterl6.l.15 @ 2:40PMIIt
Why do it out back? Shoot them out front, on the steps of the courthouse.

Rhywunl5.3l.15 @ 11:35AMIIt
I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman.

AlanI5.31.15 @ 12:11PMIIt
There is.

Product PlacementI5.31.15 @ 1:22PMIIt
I'd prefer a hellish place on Earth be reserved for her as well.

croakerl6.l.15 @ 11:09AMIIt
Fuck that. I don't want to oay for that cunt's food, housing, and medical. Send her through
the wood chipper.

The grand jury subpoena specifies that it is seeking "evidence in regard to an alleged violation of: Title 18, United States Code, Section 875." In other words, the U.S. Attorney's Office is looking for evidence of violations of the federal law against interstate threats. That's the same statute that was at issue in the Supreme Court's decision in Elonis v. U.S. last week, in which the Court decided that to be a "true threat" in violation of Section 875, the speaker must have some level of knowledge or intent that the hearer will take the threat seriously.

Since the comments are about a judge, if they are "true threats" they could conceivably also violate Title 18, U.S.C., section 115(a), which prohibits threatening federal judges.

The subpoena raises a few questions:

First, are Those Comments True Threats?

Second, if they are not true threats on their face, does the U.S. Attorney's Office still have the power to use a grand jury subpoena to identify the commenters?

Third, even if the U.S. Attorney's Office has the power, should it have that power?

Artist's composite sketch of Reason commenter "Croaker." DO NOT ATTEMPT TO APPREHEND! HE IS BELIEVED ARMED WITH A DEADLY WOODCHIPPER!

Artist's composite sketch of Reason commenter "Croaker." DO NOT ATTEMPT TO APPREHEND! HE IS BELIEVED TO BE ARMED WITH A DEADLY WOODCHIPPER!

Are the Reason.com Comments "True Threats?" No. NO. AND HELL NO!

"True Threats" are those threats that are outside the protection of the First Amendment; they are not mere political hyperbole or bluster. For instance, in 1967, when Mr. Watts said that if he were drafted the first man he'd want in his rifle sights was President Lyndon B. Johnson, that wasn't a true threat: it was conditional political hyperbole. In other words, it was mere angry bluster of the sort no reasonable person would take to be a serious threat.3

What of these comments on Reason.com, then? I submit that they are very clearly not true threats — that this is not even a close call.

True threat analysis always examines context. Here, the context strongly weighs in favor of hyperbole. The comments are on the Internet,  a wretched hive of scum, villainy, and gaseous smack talk.4 The are on a political blog, about a judicial-political story; such stories are widely known to draw such bluster. They are specifically at Reason.com, a site with excellent content but cursed with a group of commenters who think such trash talk is amusing.

The "threats" do not specify who is going to use violence, or when. They do not offer a plan, other than juvenile mouth-breathing about "wood chippers" and revolutionary firing squads. They do not contain any indication that any of the mouthy commenters has the ability to carry out a threat. Nobody in the thread reacts to them as if they are serious. They are not directed to the judge by email or on a forum she is known to frequent.

Therefore, even the one that is closest to a threat — "It's judges like these that will be taken out back and shot" isn't a true threat. It lacks any of the factors that have led other courts to find that ill-wishes can be threats. For instance, the Second Circuit upheld white supremacist Hal Turner's threats conviction when he said that three federal judges deserved to die.

Here, Turner did not merely advocate law violation or express an abstract desire for the deaths of Judges Easterbrook, Bauer, and Posner. He posted photographs, work addresses and room numbers for each of the judges, along with a map and photograph of the courthouse. Moreover, Turner's intent to interfere with these judges—to intimidate them through threat of violence—could not have been more clearly stated in his pointed reference to their colleague, whose family members had been killed: “[A] gunman entered the home of that lower court Judge and slaughtered the Judge's mother and husband. Apparently, the 7th U.S. Circuit court didn't get the hint….”

Turner posted on his website that “Judge Lefkow made a ruling in court that I opined made her ‘worthy of death[,]’ [and] [a]fter I said that, someone went out and murdered her husband and mother inside the Judges Chicago house.” Given that Turner’s statements publicly implied a causal connection between Turner’s calls for judges’ deaths and actual murders, his statements about Judges Easterbrook, Bauer, and Posner, were quite reasonably interpreted by the jury as the serious expression of intent that these judges, too, come to harm.

There are no factors like that in this case. Consider this purported "threat":

Rhywunl5.3l.15 @ 11:35AMIIt
I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman.

Is it the position of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York that a reasonable reader would conclude that "Rhywun" is in league with the Dark Ones, able to bring into existence a hot place in the afterlife for an errant judge? Ridiculous. If that's a threat, then so is "go to Hell."

So: the government has used the grand jury to subpoena a news magazine for the identity of anonymous commenters who have engaged in political rhetoric that is clearly protected by the First Amendment.

Can they get away with this?

Regrettably, The Government Can Probably Abuse the Grand Jury Subpoena Power This Way

The grand jury's investigative power — exercised nominally on its behalf by the U.S. Attorney's office — is nearly unchecked. It's not like a stop-and-frisk or search; the government doesn't need reasonable suspicion or probable case to use grand jury subpoenas to seek information. In general, one can only challenge grand jury subpoenas when they are irrationally burdensome (like demanding that Apple produce every document about iPhones in its possession) or for an improper purpose (like using the grand jury to improve trial evidence after an indictment has already been returned) or, very rarely, when privacy or constitutional issues are in play.

Reason.com — or the anonymous commenters — could file an action in federal court seeking to quash this subpoena. We know how that would likely come out, because someone recently did it. During the 2012 election cycle a juvenile but prolific Twitter personality named "Mr. X" tweeted “I want to fuck Michelle Bachman in the ass with a Vietnam era machete.” The government subpoenaed Twitter for Mr. X's identifying information; Mr. X filed a motion to quash the subpoena. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the motion.

The court began in promising fashion by saying that Mr. X had a protected interest in anonymity:

In particular, a grand jury may not compel testimony from an individual who holds a valid “constitutional, common-law, or statutory privilege,” id., because compliance in such a scenario would be “unreasonable or oppressive” for the purposes of Rule 17(c). See, e.g., In re Grand Jury, John Doe No. G.J.2005–2, 478 F.3d 581, 585 (4th Cir.2007). Mr. X has a right under the First Amendment to post on the Internet, and to do so anonymously. See McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 514 U.S. 334, 357, 115 S.Ct. 1511, 131 L.Ed.2d 426 (1995) ( “Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.”); Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844, 870, 117 S.Ct. 2329, 138 L.Ed.2d 874 (1997) (applying the First Amendment fully to the Internet); see also Sinclair v. TubeSockTedD, 596 F.Supp.2d 128, 131 (D.D.C.2009). Accordingly, the grand jury may not subpoena Twitter to gain information regarding Mr. X's identity unless the government can show “a compelling interest in the sought-after material” and “a sufficient nexus between the subject matter of the investigation and the information they seek.” In re Grand Jury Investigation of Possible Violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1461, 706 F.Supp.2d 11, 18 (D.D.C.2009).

But here's where Mr. X learned the difference between individual rights and government power. The court conceded that the tweet was almost certainly not an actionable true threat:

It bears note that the Court has grave doubts about the likelihood of a grand jury returning an indictment in this case. A “true threat” requires a “serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence.” Black, 538 U.S. at 359, 123 S.Ct. 1536. There appears to be nothing serious whatsoever about Mr. X's Twitter page, except perhaps the severity of mental depravity that would lead a person to produce such posts. Furthermore, in Watts v. United States, the Supreme Court considered a Vietnam War protestor's statement that, if drafted and given a rifle, “the first man I want to get in my sights is L.B.J.” 394 U.S. 705, 706, 89 S.Ct. 1399, 22 L.Ed.2d 664 (1969). The Court determined that such “political hyperbole” did not constitute a “true threat.” Id. at 708, 89 S.Ct. 1399. A fortiori, it seems, were Mr. X to bring a motion to quash an indictment based merely on the facts now before the Court, the Court might well have occasion to grant that motion.

Yet the court found that the government had a "compelling interest" in investigating all threats, however ridiculous:

The government must take seriously all threats against a major presidential candidate such as Ms. Bachmann, unless and until it is satisfied that there is no likelihood that the threat was legitimate. Part of taking a threat seriously may include attempting to convince a grand jury to return an indictment. . . . .But it is for the Executive, not a court, to decide whether an investigation is even worth pursuing.

The court conceded that this could produce absurd results, but hand-waved that concern away:

The Court is aware that this conclusion may seem to produce absurd results. Under this line of reasoning, the government could presumably subpoena any Web site any time any anonymous user made any post containing a mere scintilla of violence. The government could require Twitter to divulge the identity of a teenager who tweets, “My parents are so mean! I want to toss them in a ditch.” Anonymity on the Internet would be sufficiently compromised to warrant this Court's concern.11 But we are nowhere near that slippery slope. Here, an individual has made a statement that threatens an established candidate for the presidential nomination of one of our two major political parties, and the government has a strong public interest in investigating that threat, however outlandish.

Should The Government Exercise Power To Identify Anonymous People Over Clear Bluster?

The D.C. court was right — the government won't start issuing grand jury subpoenas every time someone writes "my husband left underwear on the bathroom floor again; I could just kill him." But they won't because they don't have the time, inclination, or the resources.

Instead, they will use their discretion to decide when to bring their vast power into play to pierce the anonymity of internet assholes (or for that matter, people who may have valid points on political matters but express them in the wrong fashion). That discretion is much more likely to be exercised where, as here, the person being trash-talked is a powerful federal judge in the district of that U.S. Attorney's Office, a judge that the office must appear before every damned day. The power is more likely to be exercised on behalf of establishment political figures, not outsiders. The power is more likely to be exercised when it is consistent with the politics of the administration.

The D.C. court implies that we can trust federal prosecutors to use the grand jury power to pierce the anonymity of political firebrands even when their rhetoric is clearly protected by the First Amendment. That the government will investigate anonymous political rhetoric in even-handed fashion, whether that rhetoric comes from a magazine known to be friendly to the government and its establishment, or one that is, like Reason, prone to question both.

Isn't it pretty to think so?

Is A Reference To Fargo, On The Fucking Internet, Something That Should Concern The Government?

In the Coen Brothers film Fargo, some very bad people feed another very bad person into a woodchipper. To destroy his body. This is a famous scene. This is a famous movie. It won academy awards. It's clearly the basis for one of the comments identified in the Reason subpoena. This is the sort of internet comment, a "meme" as the kids call it, that our government is investigating.

It's as though the Department of Justice convened a grand jury to probe the criminal nexus between gun-leaving and cannoli-taking, based on Reddit comments.

A Note On The U.S. Attorney's Office Reaction To My Inquiries About This Story

On Friday, June 5th, the day after a source sent me the subpoena, I decided to call Niketh Velamoor, the Assistant U.S. Attorney who issued the subpoena. My purpose was to tell him that I would not print the subpoena if he could convince me that he had specific evidence demonstrating that to do so would put a life in danger. Mr. Velamoor — who said he could not discuss grand jury investigations, which is the standard AUSA statement — said that it was unreasonable to expect the government to be able to prove such a threat before it identified the commenters. That answered my question on the point.

Mr. Velamoor was suspicious and defensive. At one point he told me that he "believed" that there was a gag order prohibiting this subpoena from being released by its recipients, and that whoever gave it to me must have violated that order, and that he would be "looking into it" and how I got it.

Such gag orders do exist. However, I note that two days earlier on June 2, 2015, Mr. Velamoor signed the cover letter on the subpoena, which contained the Department of Justice's standard language about secrecy:

The Government hereby requests that you voluntarily refrain from disclosing the existence of the subpoena to any third party. While you are under no obligation to comply with our request, we are requesting you not to make any disclosure in order to preserve the confidentiality of the investigation and because disclosure of the existence of this investigation might interfere with and impede the investigation.

In other words, two days before he told me that he believed there was a gag order on the subpoena, Mr. Velamoor told Reason.com that it was not required to keep the subpoena secret.

Perhaps Mr. Velamoor misspoke. Perhaps Mr. Velamoor misremembered. Perhaps Mr. Velamoor didn't secure the gag order until after he issued the subpoena.

Or perhaps Mr. Velamoor, bless his heart, was lying in an attempt to intimidate me.

In any case, Mr. Velamoor has provided me with no such order, despite a request.

Whatever the answer, consider this: Mr. Velamoor, and government attorneys like him, will be the ones deciding whether the federal government will use the grand jury to pierce the anonymity of your comments. No doubt in some cases they will exercise that power on genuinely frightening threats. But other times will be like this one, where the government subpoenaed the identity of people indulging in crass but obvious bluster.

They will target political speech.

Does that make you feel safer?

Why Does This Matter To You?

If, like most of us, you're a lawyer with lawyer-friends and "a swarm of asshole lawbloggers" (Yes, I have such a swarm, and I'm KING BEE!) willing to stand at your back to defend your right to use silly hyperbole in criticizing government officials, it probably doesn't matter at all.

Or maybe you're nice people. You use the internet to check email, which allows you to serve customers in a better fashion. You never comment on matters of public concern. Your email signature reads:

HAVE A BLESSED DAY!

But some of you aren't. You may have opinions, even strong opinions, but you're lower forms of life, maggots, pukes, nothing but grabasstic pieces of amphibian shit. You aren't lawyers, ready and prepared to defend yourself from the Very Special Hell that is a federal investigation of statements like:

I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman.

Dumb creatures that you are, you might even write something in the heat of the moment, while commenting on a charged political issue on Facebook, or Twitter, or Reason, without phrasing it properly:

Metaphorically speaking, I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible public official on whom I am entitled to comment, purely as hyperbole, on a matter of public concern under my First Amendment rights to free speech and to petition the Government for redress of grievances. Cf: The Screwtape Letters, an allegorical series of essays in which C. S. Lewis used Hell as a literary device for comment upon matters of spiritual and political concern.

See how far that gets YOU, dumb brute, when you're summoned by a wet-behind-the-ears mutton-headed Assistant United States Attorney to answer to the Grand Jury for the Southern District of New York after your Facebook comment to the effect that Eli Manning should defenestrated through a plate glass window because the Giants are a piece of shit team that will never win another Super Bowl as long as that piece of shit Eli Manning, who should be defenestrated through a plate glass window, is quarterback.

(I have it on good authority that Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is a big Giants fan who frequently attends parties with Eli Manning. Be careful.)

Or how much it will cost you to hire a lawyer to defend yourself against an obviously meritless investigation, for speaking your mind in a manner that no one, except a wet-behind-the-ears mutton-headed Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who should be defenestrated through a plate glass window for wasting taxpayer dollars on a frivolous investigation of mere internet braggadocio and hyperbole, would read as anything other than mere internet braggadocio and hyperbole. about the wrong people. People like Eli Manning, or a federal judge who issued an incredibly harsh sentence in a very political case?

Or, even if there's no grand jury subpoena to you, what will it cost you when two FBI agents in black sunglasses, with all the warmth and good humor of an unmarked grave, show up at your place of work and tell the receptionist they need to talk to you, in a private room, "just to clear some things up"?

I understand that Reason, on advice of counsel, may not be able to comment on these questions. I invite other journalists left and right to do so, because it can, and will, happen to you. All it takes is one presidential election.

Of course, Reason and "Rhywun" may be under a gag order asserted on the "because I said so" non-existent authority of a wet-behind-the-ears mutton-headed Assistant United States Attorney, for whom a special place should be reserved in Hell, so don't expect answers.

But ask whether that's an internet, or for that matter a country, in which you wish to live.

  1. The subpoena is in the form in which I received it, except that I printed it and re-scanned it and redacted the direct phone line of the Assistant U.S. Attorney who issued it.  
  2. The subpoena specifies that "identifying information" includes:

    1. Subscriber/Account information, if any
    2. Associated addressees, email addressees, telephone number(s)
    3. IP addressees associated with the postings
    4. Billing information to include credit card/bank information, if any
    5. Associated devices connected to the user.  

  3. It's a shame the Supreme Court didn't decide what exactly does constitute a true threat in last week's Elonis decision, but that battle will be fought another day.  
  4. In the somewhat related context of defamation, many courts have found that statements on the internet are less likely to be taken as assertions of true fact and more likely to be taken as mere opinion or hyperbole. Chaker v. Mateo, 209 Cal.App.4th 1138 (2012) (affirming anti-SLAPP order where online insults were properly understood as opinion; surveying California cases establishing that online expression more likely to be taken as opinion than fact); Nicosia v. De Rooy, 72 F.Supp.2d 1093 (N.D. Cal. 1999) (granting anti-SLAPP motion and motion to dismiss where “readers are less likely to view statements as assertions of fact” in context of web site’s claims of misconduct).  

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. CEOUNICOM says

    ""DOJ is targeting Reason.com, a leading libertarian website whose clever writing is eclipsed only by the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery"""

    Many of whom also read/cite Popehat

  2. says

    My first frantic thought on reading this was "holy shit, I leave comments at Reason.com, and this is exactly the kind of comment I leave – I hope I didn't leave a comment IN THAT THREAD".

    I'll be raided by the cops some day, I'm sure, but not this afternoon it seems.

  3. Mr. Archenemy says

    @Clark – Amusingly, that was my first thought, too. But then I saw that none of the quoted comments were hyperbolic ENOUGH.

  4. Aaron says

    Thanks for providing us a well written phrase we can use without fear of the government taking exception to us complaining, bitching, and saying mean things about a public official. Very valuable!

  5. Ronald Pottol says

    I've always found reason to have a surprisingly pleasant and fun comments section. Seriously, I have no idea how they do it, an army of sensible moderators? Compare it to my much preferred boingboing.net, where the heavy handed highly politicized moderation is an ugly nightmare. Hell, I've been moderated there, and I don't get much nastier than this.

  6. NickM says

    I am rooting for the entire U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York to get Darwin Awards.

  7. says

    Oh my God! I hope Mr Velamoor doesn't google scaphism site:reason.com! Then a bunch of us would be in trouble!

  8. LJM says

    …a leading libertarian website whose clever writing is eclipsed only by the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery.

    As a fan of Reason, I find this to be eloquently put and perfectly accurate.

  9. MrDubious says

    I'm going to make some popcorn while we all wait for the party van to show up.

  10. Owen says

    It's prosecutors like this that should be taken out back and shot.

    Let me know if you get a subpoena.

  11. Agammamon says

    Hello all – I'm the 'Agammamon' from the article.

    "leading libertarian website whose clever writing is eclipsed only by the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery."

    Yeah, that pretty much describes us – the comments section of most any place is a cesspit and I'm one of the dwellers in the Reason.com comment sewer.

    I don't really have anything to say for myself – my conduct in the cited thread was poor and below the standards I imagined I set for myself and, really, should be considered an embarrassment to libertarians in general.

    But, since its out and here, I would appreciate any help anyone could provide – even if its a contact for a decent federal lawyer in New York.

    If this gets past the Grand Jury, it could be a difficult road for me as I live a long way from New York.

  12. Chris says

    I think I read that article before the comment section got so fun. I have been reading Reason almost as long as I have Popehat, though I rarely comment over there since 1) Mobile commenting is either a pain or impossible, 2) a month long coverage of Millenialls has soured the commentors against anyone under 30, and 3) because I often read when I'm avoiding doing work, and I'm not willing to have a 30 page argument every time my opinion isn't as libertarian as others think it should be.

  13. CEOUNICOM says

    rarely comment over there since 1) Mobile commenting is either a pain or impossible, 2) a month long coverage of Millenialls has soured the commentors against anyone under 30…

    Would you be interested in participating in a poll?

  14. Andrew S. says

    Hey, us Reason posters may be stupid, and we may be blowhards, but we aren't… wait, what was that third thing?

  15. says

    CEOUNICOM:

    We may be incredibly bawdy, and we certainly have our share of obscene in-jokes. Stupid blowhards, however, we aren't.

  16. says

    a leading libertarian website whose clever writing is eclipsed only by the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery.

    What the hell, Ken? What'd we ever do to you? We're not stupid, we learned to throw in the words "rumor has it" before any sheep-fucking allegations after only getting Reason sued once.

  17. says

    In defense of Mr Velamoor, the Reason commentariat are notorious for brazen killings. Who can forget the drug trials where they menacingly paraded convoys towing up to 27 wood-chippers to the courthouses before ruthlessly seizing and grinding up several U.S. attorneys, one federal circuit court judge, two park rangers, six DEA agents and one purebred Guernsey cow (which was out of season), often in broad daylight while the local police looked on helplessly?

  18. Paul. says

    Agammamon, some at the Reason commentariat are willing to help out where necessary. Stay in touch.

  19. George William Herbert says

    What the hell, Ken? What'd we ever do to you? We're not stupid, we learned to throw in the words "rumor has it" before any sheep-fucking allegations after only getting Reason sued once.

    Ken was retained. By the Sheep. It considers the accusation libelslander.

    Govern yourself accordingly.

  20. Matthew Cline says

    Wait, wait, wait. How can "I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman" be considered a threat at all? If that can legally be considered a threat, then wouldn't any statement that boils down to "I really, REALLY hate this person" also be considered a threat?

  21. nk says

    The Silk Road felon we're talking about was a drug dealer, right? It's too bad the law did not allow the judge to have him run through a wood chipper. As well as his idiot supporters at [Un]Reason (or at least their genitalia — they should not be allowed to breed).

  22. says

    How can "I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman" be considered a threat at all?

    It's not supposed to make sense. Remember something that cops occasionally say when arresting someone on a bullshit charge:

    You can beat the rap. But you can't beat the ride!

  23. Andrew S. says

    The Silk Road felon we're talking about was a drug dealer, right? It's too bad the law did not allow the judge to have him run through a wood chipper. As well as his idiot supporters at [Un]Reason (or at least their genitalia — they should not be allowed to breed).

    Hey, it's Mary Stack! 'Sup, Mary?

  24. Chris says

    @CEOUNICOM actually I think the commentors took offense to my questioning some of their surveys, since without looking at the questions, methodology and sample size there is no telling how slanted or biased the results might be.

  25. SloopyinTEXAS says

    Well this is a kick in the balls. I only hope this prosecutor contracts Ebola and rots from the inside out before this gets out of the grand jury.

    Or ends up impaled on a broken glass dildo. That would work too.

  26. Plàya Manhattan says

    How does this matter concern the US Attorney of the Southern District of New York? Reason is in California and DC.

  27. SusanM says

    Reason commenters are "stupid blowhards"?! Nonsense! As a non-libertarian and regular reader I must protest this unjust statement. Reasonoids may, at times, be over-reacting, red-baiting, paranoid (somewhat justifiably, apparently) and stubborn but "stupid" doesn't apply.

  28. says

    Chris, the commentators are not monolithic, and I recall that the surveys were greeted with a great deal of skepticism and derision.

    Also, I should warn you that there is a failed mathematician who fancies himself to be a superbright guy and cracker jack logician/philosopher who keeps fabricating annoying argumentative personae who pollute the site with fallacious arguments, pedantry and sock-puppeting. It's hard to reckon the precise death toll of his arguing from bad faith.

    It's possible that you were tangling with him and the three or four sock puppets he has going on at any given time to act as picadors towards his target.

  29. paul says

    Using the financial system to CAUSE harm to millions of people = totally ok.
    Using the internet to WISH harm on one = federal crime.

  30. Banjos says

    I hope that every attorney that works for the DOJ is kidnapped by terrorists and forced fed Domino's Pizza breakfast, lunch, and dinner, until they commit suicide out of desperation only to be sent to a special place in hell where they are force fed Pizza Hut pizza for eternity.

  31. SusanM says

    There, that's better.

    In all seriousness, anyone who's spent any amount of time reading the Reason commentariat will be aware of the general hyperbole that goes on there. It's a group of regulars gabbing among themselves with the same basic vibe of people just blasting gas over drinks. There are trolls and goofs who do say some provocative things but the regulars are the first to tell them off. And, all kidding aside, the word "stupid" is the last word I'd apply to them.

  32. SloopyinTEXAS says

    I do take mild offense to the labeling of reason commenters. if you want to read offensive, take a gander at the KosKids or HuffTards constantly wishing death on people from southern states for little more than living outside a progressive bubble like NYC or Chicago. At least our vitriol is targeted.

  33. nk says

    Reason's writers, I mean Balko and ilk not the commenters, are disingenuous frauds. This is what a typical Reason post reads like: "Milwaukee gay rights activist, Jeffrey Dahmer, receives twelve life sentences for cooking in his apartment." That attracts a lot of weirdos, like flies to ____.

  34. Stephen H says

    The Silk Road felon we're talking about was a drug dealer, right? It's too bad the law did not allow the judge to have him run through a wood chipper. As well as his idiot supporters at [Un]Reason (or at least their genitalia — they should not be allowed to breed).

    Is that a pony in your avatar?

  35. Contrarian P says

    For the DOJ to actually construe those sorts of utterances as threats is beyond preposterous but it's pretty much what I've come to expect from them. There's no such thing as peak retard when it comes to the federal government. I'm hopeful that Reason sues and the case goes before a judge with an actual brain. If we're lucky it'll go all the way to the Supreme Court. They seem to be able to blunder into a decent first amendment ruling every now and then.

  36. TheZeitgeist says

    Wasn't the sun supposed to be burning out while cats and dogs lived together because of sequestration? They seem to have enough coin to waste on crap like this. WTF?

  37. Weebs says

    Does the government spend taxpayer dollars to employ people to read comment sections of websites? Jesus wept.

  38. Detroit Linguist says

    This is the first time I've shared a Popehat blog on Facebook, but this is so far beyond the pale it's the only way I can think of to publicize it without endangering Reason, and its columnists, some of whom are my friends, and all of whom have rights.

  39. Jon says

    Has anyone explained how it is the government came to be made aware of random internet comments within two days of them being made, given that the first comments on that article are from May 31st and the subpoena was issued June 2nd? That seems like awfully fast turnaround time which leads me to believe that a) the government is actually trawling the internet for random insults towards government officials that they can then claim were true threats and attempt to dox commenters via subpoena or b) some sleazy person who hates libertarians purposefully ratted on them with the express goal of sicking the district attorney on them.

  40. George William Herbert says

    Ken needs to warrant canary that he's not been served with a subpoena for logs of this discussion and identities and so forth. Or for his own identity.

  41. Jon says

    "Reason's writers, I mean Balko and ilk not the commenters, are disingenuous frauds. This is what a typical Reason post reads like: "Milwaukee gay rights activist, Jeffrey Dahmer, receives twelve life sentences for cooking in his apartment." That attracts a lot of weirdos, like flies to ____."

    Given that Radley Balko hasn't written at Reason in years, you sure do seem like an emotionally unstable crazy person with a bizarre ax to grind. That's an awfully long time to be harboring a weird grudge against someone who's written at 3 or 4 different outlets since he left Reason.

  42. Edward Gemmer says

    OT: I try to share this, but the cover always comes up with a general link to Popehat, which makes it less likely people will understand what I'm trying to share. Is there a way to fix this?

  43. says

    @Jon:

    If I were a betting man, I'd bet that one of the Silk Road prosecutors — or one of the judge's law clerks — reads online pieces about the case, saw the comments, and mentioned them to the judge. If I were a betting man, I'd also bet that the judge made a call to the U.S. Attorney's office and complained.

    Complaints from federal judges get treated differently than complaints from peons.

    Drafting and sending a grand jury subpoena is trivially easy. The grand jury doesn't have to be involved at all. You could do one in five minutes.

  44. JW says

    the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery.

    I came here for an argument, but I seem to have gone in the abuse door.

    One of these days, perhaps, one of the many haters of the H&R commentariat will actually articulate *what* it is they hate about us. The yokeltarians? The serial unserisouness in the face of Very Serious Things? Our bawdy limericks? Our je ne sais quoi?

  45. Jon says

    @Ken: I'm just a bit surprised they were made aware of ostensibly "threatening" (with well earned scare quotes on that one) posts within…what? 30 hours? That sort of creepy effort on the part of one of the people involved in the Ulbricht case doesn't exactly give me much faith in the state of American DA offices, although I didn't have much faith to lose when it comes to them.

  46. CEOUNICOM says

    Reason's writers, I mean Balko and ilk not the commenters, are disingenuous frauds.

    Oh, you mean Radley Balko, the guy whose reporting helped get someone off of Death Row?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/06/cory-maye-freed-after-10-years_n_890456.html

    …and wrote a book about the increased militarization of police forces in the US, well before anyone else in the media even bothered to note?

    http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Warrior-Cop-Militarization-Americas/dp/1610394577

    What exactly did you find disingenuous or fraudulent about his work?

  47. spencer says

    Ha. this is horrible. I comment there, off and on for years now… maybe 8 or 9 years? that can't be right… man, I'm old and sad.

    Anyway, I don't think I've advocated for the death of anyone, no matter how hyperbolic, but I am sorry for my mentioning that it was possible some individual could have, at some point, copulated with a sheep.

    Sucks guys… hope they don't hand out life sentences again.

  48. Comrade F. Stupidity, Jr. says

    Agammamon, I'm no lawyer – in fact, it took me way longer than necessary to beat the Phoenix Wright games – and therefore can offer you little more than my support, but you've got that. And, I suspect, that of the entire H&R crew.

    Unless you deny the awesomeness of deep dish pizza. Then fuck you sideways.

  49. SloopyinTEXAS says

    You know, Comrafe, you could have given this the seriousness it deserves and not bother trying to convince otherwise-intelligent people that deep-dish, which is an abomination to all that is culinarily holy, is a version of pizza. Every sane human, which rules out most of Chicago, knows this to be a fact.

    Calljng it pizza is worse than advocating late term abortion on demand.

  50. Victim of scientology says

    Remember what happened to Keith Henson, Mr./Ms. Agamammon. You may want to look into applying for political asylum abroad.

  51. CEOUNICOM says

    @CEOUNICOM actually I think the commentors took offense to my questioning some of their surveys

    This would be impossible, since no one ever took these surveys even the slightest bit seriously.

    I believe the key take-away from the surveys was,

    "Millenials are totally inclined to libertarianism! AND they want a bigger government which gives them more free stuff!"

    There seemed to be a mandate in 2014 (*directed by whom, i have no idea. Perhaps the Evul Koch Overlords?) for Reason to find out how to better-appeal to the elusive Millenial voter. At the very least they got some money to run some polls and write lots of articles saying nice things about Generation Yolo. It was sort of sad, really. They seemed to have gotten over it, and gotten back to doing what they do best, which is providing readers their daily nutpunch of Government-inspired awfulness.

    I don't think you offended anyone. It is nearly impossible unless you're someone people actually care about. Which is why i think people are a little snubbed by Ken's remark. He is much beloved on H&R

  52. Nate says

    Perhaps the person who wrote the subpeona should be shot. To illustrate my intent,

  53. A Serious Man says

    The comment section at Reason can be off-putting to people who don't actually understand the personalities of the regulars, so I can see why it rubs some people the wrong way.

    But even at its worst and most juvenile it outshines the Huffington Post, Slate, MSNBC, NRO, and any other political blog you can think of in terms of intelligent participants and discussion.

    That being said, this is the DoJ trying to take Reason for a nickel ride because some judge is thin-skinned. Good luck surviving the ride even when you plainly did nothing wrong.

  54. spencer says

    You know, Comrafe, you could have given this the seriousness it deserves and not bother trying to convince otherwise-intelligent people that deep-dish, which is an abomination to all that is culinarily holy, is a version of pizza. Every sane human, which rules out most of Chicago, knows this to be a fact.

    Calljng it pizza is worse than advocating late term abortion on demand.

    And the truth has been spoken.

    Why does texas get a bad rap for pizza?

  55. LynchPin1477 says

    @Jon

    a) the government is actually trawling the internet for random insults towards government officials that they can then claim were true threats and attempt to dox commenters via subpoena or b) some sleazy person who hates libertarians purposefully ratted on them with the express goal of sicking the district attorney on them.

    b) is more likely but a) is terrifying. That isn't the action of a government that is serving the people, it's the action of a government that views the people as enemies.

  56. radar says

    Obviously, Warty's subpoena for being a perv will be coming down any day now.

    But seriously my first reaction was the same as Clark's – oh, shit, is one of my comments going to be on there???

  57. Jon says

    @CEOUNICOM actually I think the commentors took offense to my questioning some of their surveys

    Really? If I recall, everyone on that site spent weeks mocking the very existence of those surveys, since there was a new one posted roughly ever 4 hours and each and every one of them was about how totes awesome Millenials are and how the rest of us are unworthy of basking in the aura of their greatness. It culminated in this ridiculously awful cover page where a hipster makes sure you area aware that he cares more about his beard than your opinions.

    No one took those surveys seriously and I don't know why anyone would have insulted you for voicing what was actually the collective opinion over there. Then again, there's always one commenter at reason who goes off the deep end and freaks out over nothing, which is kind of where the not entirely fair bad reputation of Reason's comment section comes from – periodic crazy people messing up threads by just hurling insults around as well as outright, obvious trolls who never get banned because of Reason's laissez faire commenting policy (which has now actually gotten them in legal trouble twice).

  58. e says

    Well if you don't track IPs then they wouldn't get anything…

    Maybe its time to conserve resources and delete logs.

  59. CEOUNICOM says

    It culminated in this ridiculously awful cover page

    AWFUL?? What? Did you not like my sailor shirt? I really thought it worked. also, the photographer was like, "Give me your fierce eyes!" and I was like, "fierce?? uh, hello, threatening!" and totally complained about that on twitter.

  60. Lurkiing_as_usual says

    There are numerous comments to the effect the judge is a useless piece of garbage who should get the rabid dog treatment on many websites. Part of the hyperbole was a failure to understand the case was against the kingpin not the underlings at Silk Road. Thus some of the harshness. Also, DPR rolled the dice on jury trial and lost and was convicted on multiple charges. Adding up the time, serve consecutively, etc means a long spell. Part of the problem is a genuine displeasure about drug laws in general which made DPR, warts and all, a folk hero to some.

  61. Dark Lord of the Cis says

    So, I'm trying to comply with Nick's request not to discuss the issue on H&R(for now). Question: What if all/most of the reasonoids flooded one post(say AM/PM links) with "threatening" comments? What if everyone pulled a Tulpa and had 10 socks doing same? At some point, even the DOJ would give up on that list.

  62. Matthew Cline says

    @Jon:

    Has anyone explained how it is the government came to be made aware of random internet comments within two days of them being made, given that the first comments on that article are from May 31st and the subpoena was issued June 2nd?

    c) some DA wants to look "tough on crime", thinks that prosecuting out-of-state citizen for threats against in-state officials is an easy way to do it, and so goes trawling the Internet,

     

    d) The judge in question went vanity-searching herself (or a relative/friend searched her name), found the Reason article, and read the comments.

  63. Ryan says

    While I respect your intentions in this post, I have serious questions regarding important contradictions that I believe mischaracterize your position.

    While the assertion of your presence within or around "a swarm of asshole lawbloggers" is beyond contradiction, you assert your position as "KING BEE" of this swarm, while in the very tweet that you link to contextualize and support this claim, you (or another person sharing your account, as addressed below) attribute this kingship to fellow notable asshole lawblogger Scott Greenfield.

    How do you characterize or explain this discrepancy? First and foremost, who is the King Bee? If it is Scott Greenfield, what doubt is cast on this very post, which relies on our good faith in your projection of authority? If it is you, as you claim today, was Greenfield ever king at all? Was this a miscommunication or a fabrication? Is Scott Greenfield aware of either of these assertions, and how would he respond if questioned on the current state of the sovereignty?

    If it was correct at the time of tweeting that Scott Greenfield was king of the asshole lawblogger swarm and it is true today that such monarchic power rests within you: How did this transfer of authority take place, and when? How would you characterize the tenor of this change, and for what reasons did this change take place? Can we have any faith in the integrity of this swarm's leadership if it subject to such changes without notice and with such haste, given the recency of its apparent establishment?

    Are you, Ken White, and Scott Greenfield, both King Bees of the Asshole Lawblogger Swarm, and if so, does this arrangement pre- or postdate your comments on Twitter as of 18th May? Was it deliberately concealed that you yourself also bore a supreme measure of patriarchal authority, as a sort of duumvirate with Greenfield? Was it known to you at the time that such a change in your own status might soon come about, and is it your intention to deny disclosure on these matters?

    While it is not impossible that your cohort Patrick made the previous statement and not yourself: Would Patrick's ignorance of such a matter not indicate that even those closest to you in the swarm of asshole lawbloggers remain not fully informed? If Patrick made this statement in ignorance, why was there no public disavowal or correction? And this presupposes that: Patrick made these statements, and not yourself, which cannot be proven with the deliberate lack of transparency and accountability that you have previously and regularly committed yourself to maintaining by sharing a single account; and that he did so without malice, from ignorance, rather than in the knowledge that his words were untrue, or that they were not the entire truth, with the intention to mislead through total falsity or by omission in partial falsity. The latter possibility opens a can of worms I'd prefer not to investigate at so early a stage and from a place of good faith in your cohort asshole lawblogger.

    Answer with care, Mister White; we aren't on Logan Act grounds yet, but that's where we may yet find ourselves.

  64. Agammamon says

    I appreciate the support expressed by everyone, thank you.

    I hope the others listed in the subpoena are aware – I only found out because I just happened to check a not used very often email account linked to my Reason posting account.

    So, if anyone knows those guys, please make sure they're aware of what might be coming down the pike.

  65. Smilin' Joe Fission says

    So is this where all my fellow reason brothers are going to invade and turn into the next internet cess pool with banter only one level above youtube comments?

    The threading here is disgusting.

  66. Ken Shultz says

    Only a couple of the comments up there are by Hit & Run regulars, and you'd have to stretch some of those comments like taffy to turn them into a threat.

    "A special hot place in hell" is idiomatic.

    I believe it originates from Dante. That idiom was even used by MLK.

    "The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict."

    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/martinluth134767.html

    Idiomatically saying that public officials who perpetrate injustice deserve a special hot place in hell isn't in any way a threat to anyone.

  67. CEOUNICOM says

    Dark Lord of the Cis
    So, I'm trying to comply with Nick's request not to discuss the issue on H&R(for now). Question: What if all/most of the reasonoids flooded one post(say AM/PM links) with "threatening" comments? What if everyone pulled a Tulpa and had 10 socks doing same? At some point, even the DOJ would give up on that list.

    DLoC =

    I suspect from the POV of the DOJ, the commenters are merely the means by which to go after the publication.

    The punishment is the process. Putting heat on the magazine may be the real objective.

    How many publications continue to really be putting "Ending the Drug War" front and center all the time? hardly anyone. With the increasing de-criminalization of weed, mainstream media seems to think we can pretend the Drug War has ended and we can now forget about the million people in jail or the countless lives ruined by overzealous prosecutors and minimum sentencing guidelines. Reason is one of the few media outlets that continues to criticize the DoJ and its drug policy. If anything, I'm surprised they don't get more heat than they already do.

  68. nk says

    @ Jon and CEOUNICOM

    I don't take Anarcho-Libertarians seriously enough to hold a grudge against them, weird or otherwise. To me, they're spoiled children complaining that the government hijacked Santa Claus and confiscated the Natural Rights that the elves had lovingly packed in the sleigh for them. Their half-baked rants do attract a lot of weirdos, though.

    Should the DOJ take these threats seriously enough to investigate them? I would call it a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation. What if one of these jackasses does make an attempt on the judge? Who's to say that the investigation itself did not cause somebody to abort a plan to go after the judge, even when nothing happens?

  69. Lady Bertrum says

    Wow, just wow. I can't even.

    We need a GoFundMe Legal account set up ASAP. Someone from H&R needs to get on that and post a link.

    For those targeted, This is complete and utter bullshit. You have my sympathies and my support – emotionally and financially.

  70. Another Stupid Blowhard :P says

    Should the DOJ take these threats seriously enough to investigate them? I would call it a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation. What if one of these jackasses does make an attempt on the judge? Who's to say that the investigation itself did not cause somebody to abort a plan to go after the judge, even when nothing happens?

    So is it the entire internet that'll get trawled? Or just publications pushing unmutual and disharmonious policy positions? Because consistently applying this approach would clog the DOJ permanently (NTTAWWT).

  71. See Double You says

    This whole episode with the DOJ is sickening. It has to be an abuse of discretion – even the average lay person would recognize those comments as not being "true threats." No, what really happened is that one of the King's men got upset and now wants to make an example out of us.

  72. See Double You says

    @ nk,

    I don't take Anarcho-Libertarians seriously enough to hold a grudge against them, weird or otherwise. To me, they're spoiled children complaining that the government hijacked Santa Claus and confiscated the Natural Rights that the elves had lovingly packed in the sleigh for them. Their half-baked rants do attract a lot of weirdos, though.

    Typical, boring strawman deployed.

    Should the DOJ take these threats seriously enough to investigate them? I would call it a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation. What if one of these jackasses does make an attempt on the judge? Who's to say that the investigation itself did not cause somebody to abort a plan to go after the judge, even when nothing happens?

    Wow, that's some killer logic, there.

  73. Root Boy says

    Can you say fuck them with a blunt stick so they get splinters up their wee-wah?

    Agammamon and Rhywun and others– if you need support just ask. I guess you can't insult the king's men these days?

  74. Ken Shultz says

    Incidentally, if these commenters are political ideologues, calling for a revolution may be consistent with their political ideology.

    My understanding is that calling for the violent overthrow of the government is protected speech, and that this was dealt with in Brandenburg v. Ohio. The comments about what should happen on the "steps of the courthouse" seem to be consistent with what I understand of Brandenburg; they seem to be saying what they think should happen–after the revolution.

    I wish I understood the implications of Brandenburg v. Ohio better.

  75. CEOUNICOM says

    Idiomatically saying that public officials who perpetrate injustice deserve a special hot place in hell isn't in any way a threat to anyone.

    These people are lawyers, Ken.

    The 'underlying truth' is irrelevant.

  76. CEOUNICOM says

    CEOUNICOM

    I don't take Anarcho-Libertarians seriously enough to hold a grudge against them

    I never suggested you did. Nor do I care.

    I asked you to provide an example substantiating your comment about Balko.

    (e.g. "What exactly did you find disingenuous or fraudulent about his work?")

  77. See Double You says

    @ Ken,

    IIRC, Brandenburg addressed "incitement" as an exception to the First Amendment, restricting its scope quite a bit. In that case, the KKK had filmed themselves holding guns and declaring that blacks and Jews needed to leave the country. SCOTUS held this act was protected speech.

  78. Jordan says

    A special thank you to Judge Butthurt for illustrating why libertarians are rightly skeptical of government power. May you live in interesting times (I fully expect you are moronic enough to construe an (apocryphal) ancient Chinese curse as a threat).

  79. Somalian Road Corporation says

    Preet Bharara… again!? Apart from his poker shenanigans I vaguely recall him doing something else that was incredibly idiotic apart from this, although the specifics escape me at the moment.

  80. Jon says

    @CEOUNICOM: I don't think nk is here to discuss this rationally. Not really much point in responding to someone so clearly obsessed and hateful.

  81. Noise says

    nk
    "Should the DOJ take these threats seriously enough to investigate them? I would call it a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation. What if one of these jackasses does make an attempt on the judge? Who's to say that the investigation itself did not cause somebody to abort a plan to go after the judge, even when nothing happens?"
    Just to make sure this is seen.

  82. Motorhead says

    As one of the commenters on the Reason thread in question, but not one of the commenters specified in the subpoena (thank Christ), I'd just like to say you did a good service here Ken. Please keep up the good work and keep us appraised of the situation. You have my thanks.

  83. Busab Agent says

    Regarding this whole King Bee business; it was my impression that swarms are ruled by QUEENS and that "king" bees break their junk off in the queen on their one and only flight and then die.

  84. hamilton says

    Well, it's sorta nice to see the Hampersand crowd here on Popehat for a change; it allows me to read comments from my 2 favorite blogs together.

    And we aren't that bad, Ken. I mean, we all love you. Mostly. Well, don't talk to Warty. Actually we all probably love Clark a lot more. Yeah, Imma call it jealousy. Anyway, for all the blather there are some really intelligent people in the commentariat, and I am very glad to know them.

    Also, fried chicken.

  85. Jon says

    So your one example is a five year old debate between Balko and Patterico. And if you actually read Balko's posts on that subject, you'll see that Balko makes several pretty compelling points regarding Dunphy's initial post, so this argument is hardly 'fraudulent or disingenuous' as you claimed. Here's what Dunphy wrote which Balko is criticizing:

    So, since the president is keen on offering instruction, here is what I would advise he teach his Ivy League pals, and anyone else who may find himself unexpectedly confronted by a police officer: You may be as pure as the driven snow itself, but you have no idea what horrible crime that police officer might suspect you of committing. You may be tooling along on a Sunday drive in your 1932 Hupmobile when, quite unknown to you, someone else in a 1932 Hupmobile knocks off the nearby Piggly Wiggly. A passing police officer sees you and, asking himself how many 1932 Hupmobiles can there be around here, pulls you over. At that moment I can assure you the officer is not all that concerned with trying not to offend you. He is instead concerned with protecting his mortal hide from having holes placed in it where God did not intend. And you, if in asserting your constitutional right to be free from unlawful search and seizure fail to do as the officer asks, run the risk of having such holes placed in your own.

    So Dunphy outright argued that if you assert your constitutional rights a cop might shoot you and it's kind of your own fault for not RESPECTING AUTHORITAY! Balko called him on this, and then Dunphy and Patterico attempted to obfuscate the issue and behave as if Dunphy said no such thing. There is literally no way to read Dunphy's post in any way other than that he's basically arguing citizens should not assert their 4th Amendment rights on the off-chance there's been a recent high speed chase and they will be shot. Dunphy's argument is reprehensible and Balko was 100% right to criticize him.

    Then you, having an obsession with Radley Balko which apparently runs so deep that you pull up 6 year old blog posts no one remembers, pulled out one Patterico post completely divorced from context which you claim proves Balko to be a 'fraud' when in fact it does no such thing.

    And like that, I broke my own prohibition against responding to you. I am such a dirty hypocrite.

  86. See Double You says

    Ken White, if you're reading this, I have a procedural question: how did the S.D.N.Y. acquire jurisdiction over these commenters?

  87. Andrew S. says

    So Mary, were you the one that sent the comment thread to the Feds? Seems like something you would do.

  88. mb says

    well if they get identifying info, lets hope none of them wait for a bus at CVS, the last blowhard that did that was summarily executed.

  89. Pi Guy says

    Although I've been an infrequent commenter these last 4 or 5 years, I've been a multiple-times-per-day visitor at H&R (wholly jeebus, an ampersand…) since the early 2000s. I'll defer all references to deep-dish, abortion, Postrel, and nut-punch and jump right to the chase: *rusty chainsaw + ass sex* (sans Mexicans and pot).

    Reason commenters are the perfect mix of insanely sophomoric (7th gradish, whatever) and rationally enlightened commenters anywhere on the Intergoogles, bar none. It's where statist fucks who are ignorant of the Constitution, history, economics, culture and counter-culture should be made to live until they finally become right.

    Oh, and Lou Reed is dead and Mary Stack can't die soon enough.

  90. Plàya Manhattan says

    It appears that more details will not be forthcoming. I tried to ask a question, and it was flagged by the moderator.

  91. Andrew S. says

    Jon, nk is Mary Stack, a troll with a very unhealthy obsession with Reason. She's never worth responding to.

  92. says

    What a load of horseshit. What I can offer isn't much more than piss in a bucket, but I'm ready to throw cash into the till if this isn't quashed.

  93. Smilin' Joe Fission says

    Wired has now posted an article about the subpoena of the reason commenters involved.

  94. nk says

    I am not Mary Stack, and I have no clue who she is because I very seldom even click on Reason links unless they're by people I respect like Ken, Patterico, or SayUncle. I definitely do not visit regularly and have never left a comment. I did not even know there was a comment section. I have been commenting at Patterico's as nk since 2005 and at Uncle's since 2006.

    This is my blog. http://krites.blogspot.com/ I don't link it with my handle because I have no interest in traffic.

  95. Plàya Manhattan says

    So, on the one hand, we have a judge who delivered far more than the prosecutors were asking for in the silk road trial. And on the other hand, we have a federal grand jury issuing subpoenas for comments about the judge which are derogatory in nature, but not criminal.

    The relationship between the US Attorneys and the Judge seems a little incestuous to me here.

  96. Ken Shultz says

    Continuing on the ideological call for revolution tack, one of the "offending" comments, "I don't want to [pay] for that cunt's food, housing, and medical" seems to be indicative of that.

    That commenter is saying that when the government is overthrown (sparked by injustices like this, apparently), and the liberty loving government comes in to replace it, he doesn't want to pay for this judge's incarceration. Again, the commentary is ideological speech, which I understand is protected.

    The other case I'd like to understand better, and is probably directly relevant to this, is the Supreme Court case of Watts v. United States. In 1969, a young man made a hyperbolic statement suggesting that if he were drafted and forced to carry a gun, the first person he'd want to aim it at was President Lyndon Johnson. My understanding is that the Court held, in that case, that the defendant's statement was hyperbolic and ideological and said within the context of a political rally, and, therefore, it did not constitute a violent threat to the POTUS.

    It seems to me that this is exactly what happened with these comments. They were hyperbole and ideological and written within the context of something like a political rally.

  97. Plàya Manhattan says

    If enough of us donate, what are the chances that we can get Ken's firm to take the case?

  98. Jon says

    @nk, Well, my apologies for assuming you were our long time troll based on such incisive comments as

    The Silk Road felon we're talking about was a drug dealer, right? It's too bad the law did not allow the judge to have him run through a wood chipper. As well as his idiot supporters at [Un]Reason (or at least their genitalia — they should not be allowed to breed).

    How could I have read something that ludicrous and possibly concluded you were a troll? It is beyond me. Also, I'm pretty sure your comment represents a threat to my well being, what with all that talk of castration. Subpoena's in the mail.

  99. Raul says

    As someone who has been targeted and attacked in the civil legal arena by pissed off copyright trolls (Prenda and Malibu Media) for opinions and hyperbole by weak attorney asshats this ratcheting up by GOVERNMENT, taxpayer funded, asshats is Orwellian and, frankly, scary.

  100. See Double You says

    As far as I'm concerned, it is what the DOJ is doing that is illegal. Their goal is to chill speech aimed at the government, contrary to the 1A and SCOTUS precedent.

  101. CEOUNICOM says

    nk
    June 8, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    My Jeffrey Dahmer illustration in my first comment is my overall view of Reason's style of "reporting". But here's a specific example____

    Your example says absolutely nothing about Balko's journalism

    Its a complaint by someone who apparently believes any non-compliance with a police officer is justification for homicide

    And his own writing is hopeless. This is the best you could do? Really?

    I was hoping you were going to dig into the SHAME PROJECT-type of vituperation. But i guess the Dahmer remark was your high point.

  102. Agammamon says

    On advice, I've started up a crowdfunding . . . thingy for this. Its got to be approved by the site's owners before it can go live.

    My intent with the funds is *if* anything is leftover it'll be returned (if possible) proportionally to what you donate – but I don't think that's actually going to be possible.

    Otherwise I will be looking for suggestions on a good pro-bono type group to donate the leftover to.

  103. See Double You says

    Ag, this seems like something the ACLU would (or at least should) get involved in pro bono.

  104. Busab Agent says

    How many times have some of us complained that the US is fast becoming a police state and been hit by the 'rebuttal' that if the US was a police state we wouldn't be allowed to post politically incorrect stuff on the internet?

  105. Col Derp says

    Preet Bharara never met a camera he didn't like, no surprise he relishes in further public burning of the constitution since his office is solely a stepping stone for future political campaigning and this kind of clownstick shenanigans gets his name in the media.

    Does Reason have their own comments or farm the liability out like everybody else these days to disquis?

  106. sorrykb says

    It could be the subset of Reason articles I'm reading (mostly focusing on police issues), but there certainly are a great many commenters who seem to be doing their best to embody to all the worst stereotypes about libertarians.

    But then one should never read the comments…

  107. nk says

    @ Jon
    Subpoena's in the mail.

    That does not scare me, because I own two leather jackets and roll my own cigarettes.

    There's nothing trollish about saying that drug dealers are filthy animals who deal in misery, debasement and degradation and for whom death is too good, and that their enablers are the scum floating on the surface of the gene pool.

  108. Dark Lord of the Cis says

    Agamammon, I think IJ would be a good group to contact, and always good people to donate to.

  109. Reisen says

    Agammamon, I would gladly help out with a donation. Might I suggest donating the leftovers to the Reason Foundation? Well, provided they fight this tooth-and-nail, instead of caving and throwing you guys under the bus.

  110. Smilin' Joe Fission says

    I'll donate to help you out Ag. Just let us know where we can put up the donations.

  111. Agammamon says

    See Double You
    June 8, 2015 at 6:33 pm
    See Double You
    June 8, 2015 at 6:33 pm
    how did the S.D.N.Y. acquire jurisdiction over these commenters?

    Based on my preliminary research – because that's where the judge (who I assume is the complaintant of record) is.

    Not knowing who or where we are it makes sense to start the procedures there. Later the defendants can move to sever themselves and try to have their cases moved.

    Complaints can be heard in the district that the violation was *started* in or where it was *completed*. So, depending on how they interpreted 'completed' . . .

  112. crusty juggler says

    I for one think the reason commenters are a bunch of icky, gross, disgusting people. Some of them probably have cooties.

  113. Leo Marvin says

    [I]f you want to read offensive, take a gander at the KosKids or HuffTards constantly wishing death on people from southern states for little more than living outside a progressive bubble like NYC or Chicago.

    You can't say enough for context that runs the gamut from A to B.

  114. Agammamon says

    See Double You
    June 8, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    Ag, this seems like something the ACLU would (or at least should) get involved in pro bono.

    I'm writing up a request for assistance and will drop it in their box tomorrow. Initially I didn't think I had a chance of getting their notice but with Ken's and Wired's articles (and I would expect some more soon) I think there's a far better chance of their agreeing to assist.

  115. says

    There's nothing trollish about saying that drug dealers are filthy animals who deal in misery, debasement and degradation and for whom death is too good, and that their enablers are the scum floating on the surface of the gene pool.

    I have to say that when civilization-hating totalitarian filth allow the mask to slip, sometimes it *really* slips!

  116. CEOUNICOM says

    there certainly are a great many commenters who seem to be doing their best to embody to all the worst stereotypes about libertarians.

    Good-looking, heavily-muscled, witty, wealthy, sexual Godzillas? I appreciate that not everyone feels comfortable in our midst. You probably need to do more squats.

  117. Ken Shultz says

    Yeah, Agammamon, I second Dark Lord's suggestion about the IJ.

    They already advertise in Reason anyway, and I'd be thrilled if whatever you didn't use went to them.

  118. Plàya Manhattan says

    Agammamon,
    Be careful what you say.

    Your first post here was not a good idea, and you should try to get it deleted ASAP.

  119. Ken Shultz says

    sorrykb,

    Not everyone who comments at Hit & Run is a libertarian. A lot of people come to the site specifically to troll libertarians. You'll find one of them in this very thread!

    I only recognize two names in the "offending" comments as regulars–and one of them is on a comment that everyone seems to agree is ludicrous to think of as a threat. I don't recognize any of the other names at all.

  120. says

    In re the third Mr. X excerpt: "The court conceded that this could produce absurd results, but hand-waved that concern away:"

    Must be old hands on the bench. From what I've seen from the usual gang of hysterics in those loonyversities we're all familiar with, the youngsters wouldn't even bother to put in that common-sense-intervention "concession."

    Not because they'd elide it, but because it wouldn't even occur to them. Give it 20-25 years, my guesstimate, and you'll see decisions that make analytic philosophers look street-smart by comparison.

    [Yeah, I'm being insensitive and apparently cavalier.]

  121. says

    Friendly reminder, to our friendly friends coming over from Reason, that by tomorrow morning a mutton-headed wet-behind-the-wars assistant united states attorney will be printing off this entire comment thread.

    My lawyer charges me what I feed him for dinner. Yours may be more expensive.

  122. Fred says

    I'm going to plant a Bradford Pear tree. I will name it Preet Bharara.

    I'm also going to plant an Oak Tree. It's name will be the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

    My last tree will be named Ronald Reagan. It will be a cactus or some shit like that.

    I'm going to try to find a way to nurture all three without being beheaded, imprisoned, or investigated.

    JK. They are all going to the wood chipper!

  123. JD3 says

    You would think it's April 1st.
    Hard to believe that this is real.
    Just when you think big government can't get any more absurd…un-fuckin'-real.
    I know the statist suits are reading this:
    Eat shit you sociopaths. You fucking leeches. You dickless parasites.
    Oh and if you're going to come by for one of your raids, please knock gently, my children are asleep.
    –Thnx Mgmt.

  124. says

    > Hard to believe that this is real.

    Aww! That kind of innocence is so cute.

    This is the government, my friend. They'll murder your dog, rape your child w a broom handle, manufacture evidence against you, and steal your house just because they can.

    This kind of bullshit isn't novel or even uncommon. This bullshit happens Every Single Day.

    This is why I don't want "reform", I want … well, something else.

  125. radar says

    Not everyone who comments at Hit & Run is a libertarian. A lot of people come to the site specifically to troll libertarians.

    Well, a lot of Tulpa socks, anyway

  126. JW says

    Well, a lot of Tulpa socks, anyway

    Mary/Kizone is over at Wired, impersonating Playa and obsessively and bitterly cutting itself over H&R.

    All that's missing is the boiling bunny.

  127. CEOUNICOM says

    Patrick Non-White

    by tomorrow morning a mutton-headed wet-behind-the-wars assistant united states attorney will be printing off this entire comment thread

    My lawyer charges me what I feed him for dinner. Yours may be more expensive"

    Why? Do you feel threatened now?

    You seem awfully excited about the forthcoming pointless-litigiousness. I think its sad that so many people think lawyers are assholes. They can be such generous and interesting people once you get past the petty power-tripping

  128. Jon says

    @NK: Good Lord

    That does not scare me, because I own two leather jackets and roll my own cigarettes.

    I sincerely hope this is a joke. I can't tell because all of your posts are so absurd that there seems to be no way to parse the jokes from the sincere but utterly insane.

    There's nothing trollish about saying that drug dealers are filthy animals who deal in misery, debasement and degradation and for whom death is too good, and that their enablers are the scum floating on the surface of the gene pool.

    That's a nice retconning of your initial post, but here's what you actually said:

    The Silk Road felon we're talking about was a drug dealer, right? It's too bad the law did not allow the judge to have him run through a wood chipper. As well as his idiot supporters at [Un]Reason (or at least their genitalia — they should not be allowed to breed).

    This is particularly funny since I just saw you over at Instapundit saying the following:

    nkatCreeTees

    Your comment is the disingenuous, fraudulent bull***t that defines [un]Reason. It was not only "the special place in hell" — there were comments about taking her out back and shooting her and others about putting her through a woodchipper.

    So saying someone should be fed to a woodchipper is an actionable threat according to you, and yet you just argued that other people should be fed to a woodchipper which, by your own logic, would mean you engaged in a threat and should now be prosecuted. Or do you think you're somehow above the laws that you petulantly declare should be applied against people you don't like?

    I also like your constant use of the word "disingenuous" in every situation where it's in any way applicable. Was that on a word of the day calendar or something?

  129. says

    CEOUNICOM:

    I like to think that I'm generous. I have no idea whether I'm interesting. But I'm cautious. and advising caution, as a lawyer, is a form of generosity.

    This is my gift to you, CEOUNICOM. Long may you reign as CEO of our UNICOM.

  130. Jon says

    Patrick's right and I don't know why he was criticized. I think you need to tread lightly and really don't think Agammamon should be posting publicly about this at all given the circumstances. If you've been "named" in that subpoena you should definitely think twice about what you're going to post online.

    I don't know what Patrick is talking about specifically since I didn't see anything else in this thread the DA could start subpoenaing people over, but it's probably a very bad idea to be discussing this publicly if you've been named in that subpoena. Start your legal fund, consult a lawyer, and keep quiet until this is resolved.

    And thank you for calling me a friendly friend, Patrick, even though I have the vaguest suspicion you were being sarcastic. It's always nice to have friends, even sarcastic ones who secretly despise you.

  131. sorrykb says

    CEOUNICOM wrote:

    Good-looking, heavily-muscled, witty, wealthy, sexual Godzillas? I appreciate that not everyone feels comfortable in our midst. You probably need to do more squats.

    Squats are easy. It's the standing back up that gives me trouble.

  132. Paige says

    This is fascinating! I love reading about the law, and the Popehat folks are excellent at explaining it to us interested non-lawyers. But watching this story come together…it's like watching the law happen live! With the good, the bad, and the truly ugly. I had no idea grand-jury subpoenas were so powerful!

  133. nk says

    I also own a Wookie suit. Really. I played Chewbacca at the school Halloween play that's put on by the parents every year, and dished out about $180.00 for it, very good quality. Like I said, Jon, I don't take Anarcho-Libertarians seriously –the leather jacket and rollup reference was a riff on Libertarian faux-manliness.

    As for my comments, you might have noticed "the law did not allow" and ignored it to make your point that I was making the same threat. That would be disingenuous. I don't see any inconsistency in my several comments here and at Instapundit, but like Patterico says the most important part of speech is the audience. Or if you prefer Simon and Garfunkel: The man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

  134. terroh8er says

    Agammamon, I think your best bet is to get the ACLU to take your case since it would be pro bono. This seems like something they'd be interested in. Alternatively, email me at terroh8er @gmail.com and I can get you the name of a great federal attorney in NYC that I dealt with a few years ago.

  135. says

    Jon: As a few of my ex-co-bloggers could inform you (someday I'll return to blogging, when the true king's tomb is revealed), I reserve sarcasm for people I like.

    We, all of us, like Reason.

  136. says

    So if I understand this correctly, either (a) some fucking turd AUSA in SDNY has lost his fucking mind and can't stand up to a pissant thin-skinned federal judge, OR (b) the government is now trolling Reason's comments looking for an excuse to silence what it finds to be unfavorable media coverage. I lurk in the comments there and find them to be both hilarious, intelligent, and pointed. I'm still getting to learn the players' names, numbers, and teams, however. (Someone should do some kind of lineup card to help ease in the uninitiated). I'm disappointed that Reason's attorneys don't have the stones to advise their client to report on the issue themselves. I can't think of any legal justification why they should have to stop their work as a media outlet simply because the AUSA served them. That would be known as a "prior restraint." They should be covering it factually, very close to the vest, but they should not cave. This is intimidation, pure and simple, and one of the most egregious abuses of both the Consitution and prosecutorial power I've ever seen in my 15 years as an attorney. Someone should find out where the prosecutor went to law school and then track down the professor who taught him Con Law – and demand that his alma mater shame him for embarrassing their law school. Any prosecutor who does this should have his license to practice law pulled. There, I said it. And with a bunch of year as a criminal defense attorney, I'll say it again: the AUSA who did this should be reported to the state Bar and disciplined. This is un-fucking-conscionable. At the very least he should gave to re-take Con Law 1 and 2 and then write "I am sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, especially the FIRST AMENDMENT" 5,000 times on the blackboard after school. Fucktard.

  137. BigT says

    but it's probably a very bad idea to be discussing this publicly if you've been named in that subpoena

    The terrorists, aka the censorious judges, have won. Will this thin-skinned fool of a judge ever be held to account?

  138. Jon says

    Jon: As a few of my ex-co-bloggers could inform you (someday I'll return to blogging, when the true king's tomb is revealed), I reserve sarcasm for people I like.

    We, all of us, like Reason.

    It's nothing personal, but I never trust a lawblogger. I have it on good authority you've appointed Ken King of the Swarm and I don't trust any swarm of asshole lawbloggers that allows itself to be so easily led.

    Declare your independence and refuse Ken's future orders, and I'll reconsider your in-no-sense-sarcastic gesture of friendship.

  139. Danny K. says

    People like this do deserve to be tarred and feathered. Go ahead and investigate me — I will have it aaaaaaaaaaaallll over the news. Local news channels love these kinds of stories.

  140. says

    @Jon, Patrick is advising caution for precisely the reasons Ken laid out:

    1. a person in government employ is going to read this thread and print it out and look for reasons to attack with people, because they're already doing that anyway. In for a penny, in for a pound.

    2. It is expensive to protect oneself in an investigation of this nature. There are costs beyond lawyer fees, point of fact.

  141. Noise says

    nk
    June 8, 2015 at 8:56 pm
    "I also own a Wookie suit. Really. I played Chewbacca at the school Halloween play that's put on by the parents every year, and dished out about $180.00 for it, very good quality. Like I said, Jon, I don't take Anarcho-Libertarians seriously –the leather jacket and rollup reference was a riff on Libertarian faux-manliness."

    As opposed to egotism?
    And from your posts, it's not faux egotism, it's flat-out 'ain't I wonderful, gee, I'm terrific!' fertilizer.
    Did your mom tell you that you were great?

  142. Unreconstructed says

    Jumping in late to say that I, too, would be willing to donate what little I can to support my fellow Reasonoids. Oh, and that chainsaws up the bung-hole is a punishment too good for people that would start something like this.

  143. nk says

    @Noise
    And from your posts, it's not faux egotism, it's flat-out 'ain't I wonderful, gee, I'm terrific!' fertilizer.

    If you don't like yourself, who will?

    But I do admit that I can sometimes sound condescending. (That means talking down to people.)

  144. Noise says

    "If you don't like yourself, who will?"
    In your case, I'm guessing not even the dog. Or fleas. Or tics.
    You seem to be a truly despicable piece of excrement and dedicated to proving it, so just keep on keeping on.

  145. nk says

    If this were middle school, that would really hurt me, Noise.

    Cultivate a sense of humor, buddy. It's the best preventative of self-righteous pomposity.

  146. nk says

    Reason's Rand-tough he-men, anonymously wishing death by bullets and woodchipper, and damnation in Hell, for a lady judge; then getting their panties in a wad because another anonymous internet commenter (that would be me) refuses to validate them. It is to laugh.

  147. Ken Shultz says

    nk,

    You don't see the difference between government prosecutors trying to indict people for speech, on the one hand, and private individuals calling you names on the other?

    Libertarians do. Libertarians see a big difference between them.

    One of them is a violation of our rights. The other one isn't. You see the difference don't you?

  148. Artifex says

    While the Judge would need to be impeached to be removed, does anything other than tradition protect the Federal prosecutors ? Could a sufficiently motivated POTUS make a point of ending these folks careers ? If a candidate really wanted to run on making accountability an issue, could they theoretically clean house at all levels by simply dismissing anyone bringing these sorts of lawsuits ? Is the bureaucracy actually untouchable at this point or is this simply the case of the last couple batches of Presidents wanting to play the political machine rather than repair its excesses ?

  149. says

    I recall helping a couple of alleged friends beat a tax case brought by the DoJ. The people prosecuting that case were using a section of the tax code to attempt to obtain a permanent injunction against publication of a book which allegedly made 'false statements' about the tax code. The fact that they were also attempting the prior restraint of a book which in fact only made direct quotations of the U.S. Tax Code, or said that any tax planning should be done only by a tax professional went completely over the prosecutors' heads. They were going on the assumption that in all previous cases, the courts had found for the DoJ, because no one had been able to prevail against them.

    Not this time, though. In addition to making sure in the Permanent Injunction that the book would continue to be published, we shot down an attempt on the part of the DoJ to subpoena the names of the people who had purchased the book via cash, by threatening to take the case on appeal up to the Supreme Court. They backed down.

    The problem with rights is that they only work if you know what they are, and how to use them. Most folk don't, alas.

  150. Dale Saran says

    Ken et al: nk is a troll, plain and simple. Like most, it thinks it is way smarter than it is. Best not to feed it. Eventually, when properly ignored, they go away.
    I used to love on the old newsfeeds how you could just "plonk" them. Ah, the good old days of the internet – before it was made easy enough for the idiots to access it.

  151. Dale Saran says

    Artifex – there was a point (I'm ashamed to admit) when I was considering becoming an AUSA. It's actually considered a "prestigious" job for a trial lawyer – or used to be – but it's widely known that those positions are political payback. At the lowest levels, most people don't have to worry about their jobs when there's a shift in election results from D-R or R-D, but go much up the ladder and it's understood that you're likely to be sent packing if the other Team takes over. At least that's the way it was in Boston when I was still familiar with folks in those offices.

  152. nk says

    I don't disagree with Ken's analysis of the law on threats, Mr. Shultz. And if I cared if people called me names on the internet, I'd stay off the internet. I am making fun of Libertarians because they have a philosophy emptier than Taoism. You know … "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Well, their one hand is not exactly "clapping", if you know what I mean. I also have a deep prejudice against drug dealers — Silk Road was not a chubby hippie girl selling legal marijuana for $350.00/oz in Colorado — and people who make it possible for them to exist.

  153. CEOUNICOM says

    "they have a philosophy emptier than Taoism. You know … "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"

    You're confusing Taoism with Zen Buddhism.

    Not that it matters. You haven't "made fun" of anything yet either.

  154. REDACTED says

    That crazy philosophy where consenting adults own themselves in a structured way as to protect each person through a strong court system and property rights.
    To stay on topic, this is quite unfortunate to see. I hope to see Reason dig in.

  155. Ken Shultz says

    Libertarians often don't like the people they stand up for, nk. I'm not particularly enamored of drug dealers either.

    But using the government to impose your own personal preferences on the rest of the world–because you can, you want to, and you don't like certain people–is about the emptiest philosophy I can imagine.

    Violating other people's rights certainly isn't okay just because you don't like them. You should try to learn to respect other people's rights–even if you don't like them personally. It's part of being a grown up member of a civil society.

  156. Matthew Cline says

    Wow, looks at all the comments. All Ken needs to do is amend the post to tie in feminism and sexual harassment, and the thread will never end.

  157. Corning says

    Wait, are you saying all reason commentors are asshats/twerps or just the ones who made those particular comments?

  158. says

    nk,

    This guy must be your hero:

    "Look, we understood we couldn't make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue…that we couldn't resist it." – John Ehrlichman, White House counsel to President Nixon on the rationale of the War on Drugs.

  159. Kratoklastes says

    The robed welfare-princess cocksucker did not even realise how tin-eared it is to bray that

    There appears to be nothing serious whatsoever about Mr. X's Twitter page, except perhaps the severity of mental depravity that would lead a person to produce such posts.

    Imagine the depth of mental depravity that is embodied in people who think that their time is best spent finagling decisions by selectively citing excerpts of other robed welfare-princesses.

    Why 'welfare princess'? Because every single cent a judge is paid, is originally the tax paid by a productive member of the private sector (some of the private sector is only pseudo-productive: e.g., beneficiaries of government contracting, or of government-enforced restraints of trade (IP, licensure etc)).

    Second-rate advocates are forced to go to the bench in order to fund a decent lifestyle in retirement; given that judges are the Betas (at best) of the legal profession, it's little wonder that they insist that dissing them is a modern variant of lèse majesté.

    I am also reminded that more judges are paedophiles, than you would expect by chance (i.e., the proportion of paedophile judges is statistically-significantly-greater than the proportion of paedophiles in the entire community; ditto priests, pigs, politicians, schoolteachers, and members of the armed forces… must be something about attraction to undeserved prestige).

    Lastly: vermin like this prosecutor and judge want us all to go around bearing in mind the words of that cocksucking pederast (Cardinal, judge and politician: the paedo-trifecta) Richelieu –

    Qu'on me donne six lignes écrites de la main du plus honnête homme, j'y trouverai de quoi le faire pendre.

  160. says

    Kratoklastes June 9, 2015 at 1:22 am

    Translation of Richelieu –

    If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.

  161. Terry Cole says

    MSimon: Good translation but probably not of Richelieu. Not his style. The man tended to make use of the very good and the very bad, rather than hang them. Probably uttered by one of his very bad, Laubardemont (a persecutor of Grandier), but authorities disagree.

  162. Terry Cole says

    Mediocre people, Richelieu would squash like a bug.

    On the subject, there's a hundred and ninety-three comments here when I looked. That's a lot, no? Are Popehat commenters also blowhards?

  163. Copernicus says

    Is this whole thing just Nick's clever ploy to get more viewers at Reason.com? I wish. Good luck to those of you who've been targeted by the man. (or woman, as the case may be).

  164. Busab Agent says

    Terry Cole
    June 9, 2015 at 3:05 am
    On the subject, there's a hundred and ninety-three comments here when I looked. That's a lot, no? Are Popehat commenters also blowhards?

    There's a lot of overlap in Popehat and Reason commenters, so almost certainly. Also there are many Reasonoids like myself who normally just lurk at Popehat (I come for the raw awesomeness that is Clark), actually commenting because we've been asked not to comment about it at HnR.

  165. nk says

    Hate to break this to you, Kratoklastes, but in modern Greek "Kratoklastes" means "I hold farters". I know, I know, you thought it meant "Destroyer of Nations" — you should have talked to your neighborhood hot dog stand owner.

  166. nk says

    Mary! There you are! I've been accused of being you, which is very likely a great injustice to you.

    If Reason's webmaster deleted the comments after receiving the subpoena, or any other notice of a federal investigation, he is facing up to twenty years in prison. I hope you are mistaken.

    Notice the "If", please, selective Reason readers. I am not accusing anybody of having committed a crime — just pointing out the law (which, BTW, was recently the subject of the "One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish" case in SCOTUS).

  167. Dan T. says

    Is this poem (which I wrote many years ago) legally actionable in the same way as those comments?

    The war on drugs
    is a war against the people
    Those governmental thugs
    should be thrown off a steeple!
    Your life belongs to you
    Do what you want to do
    Support free enterprise
    LEGALIZE!

  168. Jeebus says

    And how many of you commenting fools don't even bother with hiding your original I.P. addresses before talking shit ?
    Really fucking stupid if you aren't at the very least running TOR.

  169. Mary Stack says

    nk — The allegation that the original offending comments were being wiped was made by one of the regulars at Reason, who may or may not be a paranoid crackpot. Furthermore, you can't possibly be me, because I am not even me. I'm [insert former, present or imaginary Reason bête noire here].

  170. Mary Stack says

    Anyone clever enough to click the link to the original comments will note that the offenders in question have indeed been disappeared. Not that they have a right to be forgotten. That would be totalitarian! Wait, fascist! Wait…what's that word…?

  171. Celeste says

    As someone who gets stuck doing the research and pulling server logs for these sort of requests, I wouldn't put any store by the fact that the comments are no longer physically visible on the site; it's common practice for sites to take down comments of questionable legal status, but keep all of the original metadata and records for it in legal cases. When someone communicates violent threats on sites I work on, we don't leave them up; we take them down and then we report them to the necessary authorities. I don't think that the site I work on, which is definitely not dedicated to Free Minds and Free Markets, would have taken the quoted comments as actual threats, though.

    I hope Reason fights tooth and nail against this, and I extend my sympathies to the people on their engineering team tasked with dealing with it.

  172. Durandal says

    212 comments in less than 24 hours. Guess I'll add my name to the din of derp the DOJ will have to sift through.

  173. Mary Stack says

    I'll do what I can to help when the fund is set up.

    You'll contribute cash to anonymous commenters whose real identities you don't know, who haven't been charged with anything (and who won't be) based on little more than hearsay, which thus far is uncorroborated by Reason itself? P.T. Barnum was right.

  174. Ken Shultz says

    In the judge's sentencing statement, she said this:

    “Silk Road’s birth and presence asserted that its…creator was better than the laws of this country. This is deeply troubling, terribly misguided, and very dangerous.”

    I suspect the judge has no conception of how inflammatory that statement is to libertarians–and anyone else who is disgusted by the Drug War.

    It doesn't matter that enforcement of the Drug War is so racist in outcome, the racist law is the racist law and we have to follow it because it's the law?

    It doesn't matter if the Land of the Free has the highest incarceration rate in the world–the law is the law and everyone has to obey it no mater what?

    It doesn't matter if the Drug War creates an important revenue stream for violent street gangs, and buyers and sellers are often caught up in the violence–a problem that Silk Road alleviated. The law is the law, no matter how stupid, authoritarian, freedom depriving, racist, or violence inducing, and we have to follow it anyway becasue it's the law?

    I'm glad this judge wasn't around to enforce Jim Crow and segregation.

    In Letter from a Birmingham Jail, MLK wrote that "We have a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws". Our laws are only sacred to the extent that they protect our rights from criminals and the government, and by that standard, there isn't anything sacred about the Drug War.

    No wonder so many of us were upset.

  175. says

    “Silk Road’s birth and presence asserted that its…creator was better than the laws of this country. This is deeply troubling, terribly misguided, and very dangerous.”

    That was the sentence that made me see red. Bluntly, the entire war on drugs is illegal. Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is the Federal Government authorized to ban any commodity. What was originally a racist attempt to harass Mexicans, Asians and Blacks, became a workfare project for federal employees put out of work with the end of prohibition, and then a massive war on the American people. It has destroyed thousands of lives; it has measurably reduced economic growth; the drug war actually turns foreigners engaged in opium or coca leaf production into enemies of the U.S.; it has led to people peacably going about their business being robbed of their life savings.

    It is illegal, and they pretend it is legal. And in 500 years, this judge will be looked upon with the same contempt we reserve to judges who centuries ago presided over trials where spectral evidence was admitted into evidence.

    Just as Henry V regarded the Dauphin, we regard her with scorn and defiance, slight regard, and contempt.

  176. Mary Stack says

    I suspect the judge has no conception of how inflammatory that statement is to libertarians

    Yeah, 'cause it takes a lot to inflame libertarians:
    -The wrong pizza
    -The wrong beer
    -The wrong Star Trek reboot

    This is assuming that the judge has ever heard of libertarians, whose sense of self-importance is exceeded only by their utter lack of self-awareness.

  177. Old Bull Lee says

    Another sad aspect of this case: No matter the legal outcome, the chilling effect will remain. Anyone who is aware of this case will have that little bit of fear in the back of their mind when they post a comment on a blog, or even communicate publicly in any way. True the fear won't stop most of us, but it will still be there.

  178. rsteinmetz70112 says

    Is "taken out back and shot" a thing judges use? I recall reading a similar phrase on Groklaw in a transcript of a hearing in the SCO bankruptcy when a judge's ruling was challenged as being outside his authority. His joking response was something like "What are they going to do take me out back and shoot me?" It became sort of a thing on that site for a while. I wonder if these comments are related to that or if the original was some kind of thing judges say?

  179. Danny K. says

    @Ken – What you said in the previous post does not resonate with me. I don't care about Silk Road or the unintended consequences resulting from drug laws. What I do care about is when government officials abuse the great power entrusted in them to go after people who are merely exercising their constitutional rights.

    If the judge and the prosecutor don't like criticism, then it seems to me they have no business being in a public position. It also seems to me that public officials that abuse their power should be personally liable to their victims for damages (such as legal fees) resulting from their egregious behavior. Especially people so obtuse that they don't comprehend the difference between a snarky remark and an actual threat.

    Tar and feathers, followed by financial ruin. That's what these Bolsheviks deserve.

  180. says

    Noise June 8, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    This place: http://tjcenter.org/ seems to be interested in promoting free speech, but I can't find a way to contact them

    Thanks for pointing this out Noise. I've fixed the issue and made sure that our complete contact information is now visible.

  181. Ken Shultz says

    Danny K,

    Yeah, I'm all in favor of people being free to criticize public officials, too.

    I'm also still thinking about the legal defense for these comments, in line with what I understand of Brandenburg v. Ohio and Watts v. United States.

    It should be plain to everyone that these statements were political advocacy in a forum devoted to political advocacy from an ideological point of view–and they were a reaction to a public official's ideological statements.

    According to my understanding of Brandenburg v. Ohio, the mere advocacy of violence does not rise to the standard of criminality.

    Furthermore, my understanding of Watts v. United States is that threatening to shoot a specific public official isn't necessarily a crime–if it's hyperbole and said within the context of a political argument in opposition to some political stance.

    I agree that we should be free to criticize public officials, but even apart from that, we're talking about idioms here. We're talking about hyperbole within the context of political ideology and advocacy, and I believe all of those issues have already been addressed by the Supreme Court.

  182. nk says

    True the fear won't stop most of us, but it will still be there.

    Well, that's your business, but it's always been my view that the First Amendment is a government trick to identify the enemies of the state by encouraging them to speak freely. It's nice to cite Sullivan, and Brandenburg, and Watts, etc., but those cases hide the people who are framed for some horrible crime totally unrelated to "speech", gunned down by the police on a pretext, killed in an "accident" or by "sudden illness", or just disappear.

  183. Raston Bot says

    We're talking about hyperbole within the context of political ideology and advocacy, and I believe all of those issues have already been addressed by the Supreme Court.

    It's beyond slam-dunk precedent. But that's not the point. Ken nailed it. The AUSA has to stand tall before this cunt so, as venal and antithetical to 1A as their actions are, they hammer dissent.

  184. says

    Geez, this hits too close to home. I believe I commented in that thread, although I didn't say anything specifically about the judge, and don't seem to be one of the targeted commenters. But still…

  185. Bronwyn says

    You'll contribute cash to anonymous commenters whose real identities you don't know, who haven't been charged with anything (and who won't be) based on little more than hearsay, which thus far is uncorroborated by Reason itself? P.T. Barnum was right.

    Actually, I've been corresponding with the reason commentariat for I don't even know how long. At least eight years. Many of them contributed to a fund to support a member of my family in a health crisis. By and large, these are good and intelligent people, just like me, who are disgusted with the injustices perpetrated by our government. If I am a fool for offering my support, emotional, financial or otherwise, to someone who will be facing a personal and financial challenge EVEN IF no charges are brought, well, then I'll wear the label proudly.

  186. says

    Bronwyn, ignore Mary. She doesn't care about anything other than making people she dislikes feel bad. Read her comments above; she is trying various arguments hoping to get a response that will tell her what people care about. She hopes that once she finds that chink that will make people care about her she can ruthlessly exploit it to make her enemies suffer.

    You don't need to justify yourself to anyone, particularly a loathsome malevolent creature like her.

  187. Plutonium says

    Ken,

    I was wondering what you think of how this interacts with current interpretations of 18 USC 1519. As I read the text of that statute, as well as the model jury instructions, it would seem to me that if any of those posters deleted their comments and did so with it in their head that they didn't want some US Marshals knocking on their door, they'd have committed a crime. It looks like that would be true even if they didn't know there was an investigation ongoing, or even if they deleted it before such an investigation began. Does that sound right in broad strokes?

    It also appears the decision you cited means, even though such bombastic comments are almost certainly protected speech, it's still within the jurisdiction of federal law enforcement to investigate them. From there, the 1519 charge could withstand a First Amendment challenge with "it's the act of deleting the comment with intent to obstruct or influence our investigation that's being punished, not any legitimate speech," no?

    Just curious on thoughts. After all, it's your fault that now every vaguely threatening comment I drunkenly post will cause me to want to delete it to avoid the headache of a Secret Service investigation, which thought may, in itself, make it a crime for me to delete it.

  188. Safely outside the US says

    Men will never be free until the last judge is strangled with the entrails of the last US attorney.

  189. Troutwaxer says

    It amazes me that the DA (and possibly the judge*) could be so clueless. What would otherwise have been a dozen asinine comments (out of the million asinine comments made on the Internet on a particular day) on a political website for a second-tier political party, which any experienced Internet user would immediately understand to be non-threatening, will now blow up into a festering hideous boil of political nastiness in which every official person associated with the case encounters enormous personal and professional difficulties only to hear a judge dismiss the original charges as being protected by the First Amendment per Elonis, Brandenberg, and Watts.

    I don't know whether anyone other than Reason and Popehat have been covering this story, but I'd guess it will hit the main news sites in 24-48 hours and turn into a three ring circus at which point the only question will be "how many Feds can fit inside a clown car?"

    My personal opinion says the DA in question is either inexperienced or unwise. (No gag order? *Shakes head sadly*) I'd have resigned rather than touch this one. Maybe he's clueless enough to imagine he's following up on the Silk Road case? Regardless, I will be laying in a supply of popcorn and enjoying the show!

    As for everyone else? "Have fun stormin' da castle."

    * The judge may have said something innocuous like "I'm sure it's nothing, but I'm a little concerned over those comments. What do you think?" I rather doubt it went down like that, but we don't know what was said behind closed doors and I think it's worth giving her the benefit of the doubt.

  190. Detroit Linguist says

    It'll be interesting to see whether this breaks cover and goes mainstream. The Wired blog, which is at least minimally mainstream covered it last night, in a somewhat unfavorable light, but the writer clearly didn't understand the legal issues about what exactly constitutes a threat. Commenters attempted to set him/her straight. i haven't been back since.
    I'm happy to financially support folks who get screwed by this investigation if it can be done cleanly, say by a gofundme campaign. I often comment on H&R and don't even remember whether I did on the issue in question. I'm certainly disgusted by the sentence.

  191. says

    By the way — I've deleted or not approved several nasty hyberbole-"threats" because (1) they were nasty (2) it's my fucking blog (3) threateners are assholes even when the context establishes they aren't making a true threat.

    So: if you are here contemplating posting "hurrr hurrr hurr somebody [x] that judge," kindly fuck off.

  192. Andrew S. says

    HURR DURR SOMEBODY [X] KEN FOR DENYING ME MY FREEZE PEACHES.

    Plutonium June 9, 2015 at 10:21 am
    Ken,

    I was wondering what you think of how this interacts with current interpretations of 18 USC 1519. As I read the text of that statute, as well as the model jury instructions, it would seem to me that if any of those posters deleted their comments and did so with it in their head that they didn't want some US Marshals knocking on their door, they'd have committed a crime. It looks like that would be true even if they didn't know there was an investigation ongoing, or even if they deleted it before such an investigation began. Does that sound right in broad strokes?

    Notwithstanding the answer to that, Reason's commenting system doesn't allow for edits or deletions. Any deletions are done by the admins and not by the posters.

  193. Ken Shultz says

    Plutonium,

    Commenters at Hit & Run cannot delete their own comments. They would have to ask that they were taken down. I saw one of the accused seems to suggest that he didn't know about the issue until he was approached by the feds. That might mean the comments were taken down before he even realized there was an investigation.

    Hit & Run may have taken them down because the commenters asked. Why did the commenters ask that they were taken down? It's pure speculation at this point, isn't it? People don't just ask to have their hotheaded comments taken down because they're trying to avoid a federal investigation. They do it for other reasons, too. They may have been completely oblivious to any investigation.

    Why did Hit & Run take the comments down? Again, that's pure speculation. It could have been becasue the commenter requested. Hit & Run's comments aren't actively moderated–nobody may even notice bad comments unless someone complains. Sometimes they do take comments down for whatever reason. Sometimes it's just their own reasons.

    At the top of every thread, there's this:

    "Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses."

    The "Report Abuses" button goes to a link. Maybe somebody other than the commenters reported those comments and they were taken down. Who knows?

    Just because the comments were there and are now gone certainly doesn't mean that anyone willfully tried to avoid an investigation. And the feds must have already known about the comments, or they wouldn't have been reproduced in the [subpoena for] the grand jury. How can you hide evidence from the feds that the feds already have in their possession?

    Maybe Reason took the comments down under legal advice. Maybe the feds advised Reason to take the comments down.

    Who knows?

  194. Plutonium says

    Cool your jets Ken and Andrew, I was asking about a hypothetical to get opinions about what the state of the law is. I was not saying any actual person committed a crime, nor was I asking for an assessment of the state of the facts of any actual event. I know it's a small word, but that "if" is important.

  195. Mary Stack says

    Bronwyn, ignore Mary.

    Tarran, you clueless buffoon. Do you really believe that the actual (stalked, outed and doxed by Reason commenters) Mary Stack would comment here under her own name? Take a good look at the commenters' handles here. They are what we call "pseudonyms." That means "fictitious name." I would add that, for a "free minds" libertarian, you sure have a nasty authoritarian streak, telling people who to ignore. Get a grip. Your obsessions aren't that interesting.

  196. Harun says

    The DOJ obviously has too much time on their hands.

    Budget and staff cuts should be done.

  197. NickM says

    By the way — I've deleted or not approved several nasty hyberbole-"threats" because (1) they were nasty (2) it's my fucking blog (3) threateners are assholes even when the context establishes they aren't making a true threat.

    So: if you are here contemplating posting "hurrr hurrr hurr somebody [x] that judge," kindly fuck off.

    Can we still wish that somebody do to the judge what Steven Spielberg did to a Triceratops? :D

  198. says

    Most commenting systems allow the 'unpublishing' of a comment.

    So, let's say, ad arguendo, a commenter on my site posted a person's address and announced they were going over there to murder them and their family, and encouraged like-minded people to join them.

    If I were to leave the comment up, I would be allowing the threat/exhortation to join in the conspiracy to continue to do its work. Removing it from publication would be completely appropriate, even if the only way to do that was to delete the comment entirely. One could, for example, make note of the original IP address etc before nuking the comment.

    Most if not all modern commenting systems permit comments to be put in moderation/quarantine. In that case, the comment remains in the database and is readily accessible without being published whenever a browser requests that it be served the webpage it is associated with.

    Based on some of the … er… dramatic episodes of moderation on Reason that I have witnessed, I believe that their custom commenting system has this capability.

    The notion that unpublishing or deleting a comment in a bid to keep it from appearing on the Internet necessarily means that evidence was destroyed is puerile nonsense.

  199. Sad Panda says

    Apologies for not reading every comment, but all the First Amendment references I did read seemed to relate to freedom of speech (and the doctrine of true threats). What I find interesting to think about is the First Amendment establishment/free exercise of religion angle wrt the "I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman" comment. Is this a tacit admission by the DA that a particular religious perspective on hell carries weight with the feds?

    If the commenter had said "I hope that judge gets touched by the FSM's noodley appendages", would it have gotten that commenter in the same sort of trouble? Even sticking with the hell comment, in the Greek tradition, the Elysian fields were a special place in hell, and wishing someone there would be a very kind thought indeed. Maybe when the subpoena is executed, the judge should send that commenter flowers and a thank you card.

  200. AuH20 says

    I suppose I'll join the reason commenter exile here.

    Yes, we may be blowhards, and stupid, but we are not ugly. Well, most of us. Well, the ones who do squats are okay!

    Seriously, though, Ken, as much as my ego may be a bit stung from your critique, thanks for promoting this case and keeping up the good fight on twitter.

    I also think the tone of the comments comes from understandable anger that police, judges, and prosecutors keep abusing their authority and are rarely held accountable.

    After about the 5th "Guy is proved to be innocent, turns out prosecutor withheld evidence, taxpayers to pay him millions, prosecutor is now a judge and will face no penalty " – well, some anger builds.

    But please keep blogging about this and about anything people can do to help.

    Also if you ever want to wade in to the comments to talk about everything from cocktails to men's fashion to punk rock to movies to libertarian philosophy, we'd love to have you. I promise we won't put you in Warty"s basement (he likes to do it himself )

  201. says

    June 09, 2015 – Just heard about this via Mark Steyn subbing for Rush Limbaugh on his daily radio show. Brings a whole new meaning to … "They're Coming To Take You Away; Ho-Ho; They're Coming To Take You Away; Hey-Hey…"

    WELCOME TO YOUR NEW UNITED STATES OF OBAMA.

    Selective enforcement of the MYRIAD of federal laws, deliberately sloppily and vaguely written, so said laws can be invoked against … YOU … "as needed" And Obama and his lieutenants (for now), will determine the "as needed" part. As of the November 2016 election, we'll get a NEW … uhh … "Enforcer-In-Chief". Again … WELCOME TO OBAMA'S DREAM, AND GEORGE ORWELL'S NIGHTMARE.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

  202. BC says

    The problem is the age old question who will watch the watchers. When you have unelected lawyers who can use the violence and power of the state for tyranny but no laws that really criminally hold them accountable for their law breaking we will continue to see this. When Judge and Lawyers start getting jail time for breaking the law aka the Constitution then we will see a lot less of this.

  203. Ken Shultz says

    "Cool your jets Ken and Andrew, I was asking about a hypothetical to get opinions about what the state of the law is."

    The guy whose identity is being subpoenaed for idiomatically saying there's a hot place in hell? I think we Hit & Run commenters have been talking to him about every issue under the sun every day for more than ten years now.

    It isn't hypothetical to us. These are real people that we've come to know and care about.

    And any one of us could have made that comment about a special hot place in hell–and we would have had our identities subpoenaed before a grand jury, too. There isn't anything hypothetical about that to me either. That could have been me, and in any case, those are my rights they're going after. They're going after him for criticizing a public official, but that's my right to criticize public officials, too.

    And that isn't hypothetical either.

  204. Andrew S. says

    So, "Mary Stack", what you're telling us is that you're not the real Mary Stack (who usually posts under that pseudonym that escapes me right now), but you're a terrible enough troll that you actually want to imitate her? That's even more pathetic than if you were Mary Stack.

  205. Andrew S. says

    That's the thing, Ken. I know that, in fits of rage, I've made comments like that on Reason. It doesn't take anything at all to see myself in the position of the ones who received the subpoena.

    In fact, I've joked about it happening before. That it's actually happening is terrifying.

  206. Plutonium says

    Ken Shultz,

    My comment asking about a hypothetical question isn't hypothetical to you? Unless the facts I've put in to my hypothetical actually represent yours or someone else's reality, which you've made clear (at length) that they don't, I'm not sure how that's possible. I made a comment asking about a specific fictional scenario, telling me my fictional scenario doesn't match the facts is like telling me my ice water is cold, that's not really news to me.

  207. Stevo says

    I am not a lawyer but a quick question…are sites required by law to keep all this information and if so for how long? Why do they not simply wipe all identifying data daily? Also why do so many sites require so much personal information before you can leave a comment…it isn’t as if they are blocking the comments?

  208. Quixote says

    Come now, these insidious comment posted on Reason were not "bluster," any more than the criminally deceitful emails sent by a "satirist" in New York were mere poor efforts at parody or blustery expressions of anger. See the documentation of America's leading criminal satire case at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  209. Jackson says

    "a … website whose clever writing is eclipsed only by the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery."

    The comment thread here makes this look like an incredibly prescient form of self-parody now, Ken. Well played?

  210. says

    In an earlier posting (which was held for what I believe to be an immoderately long time before being published), I mentioned that I had been involved in a case brought by the DoJ in an attempt to stop the publication of a book on trust administration. We kept them from doing so. They also attempted to subpoena the records of those who had purchased the book with cash (The DoJ had managed already to get PayPal to give the records of those who had paid with PayPal).

    We stopped that attempt by citing the settled law that unless there were strong indications that particular members of a group were committing a crime (such as unauthorized use of satellite TV), that the First Amendment has long protected members of a group, or those who read a book in a library, from being listed and identified.

    I will point out what should be obvious to libertarians and others: you don't have rights unless you assert them. You can't assert them if you don't know them. It is just that simple.

  211. Ken Shultz says

    Why do they not simply wipe all identifying data daily? Also why do so many sites require so much personal information before you can leave a comment…it isn’t as if they are blocking the comments?

    Stevo Darkly, is that you?

    What do you mean by personal information? You mean an email address?

    I think some of that makes it easier to ban people when necessary–especially spammers. Spambots can't provide all of that personal information or, at least, it's frustrating to spambots.

    As far as identifying information and how long they keep it, at Hit & Run they have archives of all of our comments going back to when the site first started in 2003–which is completely awesome. It's a feature as far as I'm concerned.

    But then I'm not afraid that people will find out what I say, and I'd hate for anyone to think that I'm afraid–which is why I don't use an anonymous handle. If the feds ever want to find out my identity, they shouldn't waste anyone's time with a subpoena.

    My name is Ken Shultz. It's spelled without a "c".

    P.S. Posting under your real name helps with the delusion of anonymity. Just like in real life, you tend to edit yourself when you assume people know who you are. And imagining that you're anonymous online to the authorities because you use a fake handle really is delusional.

  212. Another Reason Commenter says

    Plutonium,

    I believe it's a combination of:

    – Name overlap between Ken Shultz and Ken White. So your initial comment caught the former's attention. Rereading, I'm still not sure which Ken you're trying to talk to (as both brought up court cases in their comment/post).
    – Any veteran Reason reader reads your post, and assumes that federal prosecutors are slimy enough to actually use this argument in court once the initial charges get squashed.
    – Trolls in this thread positively relishing the idea of seeing people dragged in court over this. You might be getting caught in the crossfire.

    As for answering your hypothetical, the answer is yes. Anything you do can be used against you by a sufficiently motivated prosecutor. And we have multiple cases of people found innocent of specific charges, but guilty of obstruction of justice in the investigation surrounding those charges (see Martha Stewart).

    Everyone is guilty of something, if you look hard enough.

  213. says

    The guy whose identity is being subpoenaed for idiomatically saying there's a hot place in hell? I think we Hit & Run commenters have been talking to him about every issue under the sun every day for more than ten years now.

    It isn't hypothetical to us. These are real people that we've come to know and care about.

    Precisely. I have a special place in my heart for these guys, and I say this as one of the token female HnR readers.

  214. Trent says

    Ken,

    You need to watch Fargo again. Only one person feeds one other person into a wood chipper. The article indicates there are multiple people involved. Peter Stormare's character feeds Steve Buschemi character into the chipper after Buschemi refuses to pay him half for the car and Peter kills him. Frances McDormand's character the sheriff discovers the car and finds Peter's character pushing the last bit of Buschemi's legs into the chipper and is forced to shoot him when he tries to run away over the frozen lake.

    I know it's a stupid correction, but I think it's an important plot point in the movie that everyone that does bad things in the movie ends up getting equally bad things done to them.

  215. says

    @Bernard:

    In an earlier posting (which was held for what I believe to be an immoderately long time before being published),

    I'm terribly sorry that the people who run the blog weren't on hand to approve your comment the very moment you left it, and therefore deprived you of your voice and the world of your wisdom. What terrible customer service. You should demand a refund.

  216. Durandal says

    @Trent

    "You need to watch Fargo again. Only one person feeds one other person into a wood chipper. The article indicates there are multiple people involved. Peter Stormare's character feeds Steve Buschemi character into the chipper after Buschemi refuses to pay him half for the car and Peter kills him. Frances McDormand's character the sheriff discovers the car and finds Peter's character pushing the last bit of Buschemi's legs into the chipper and is forced to shoot him when he tries to run away over the frozen lake."

    WHOA, SPOILERS PAL.

  217. triffeh says

    @Jackson:
    That's a byproduct of this article attracting the attention of Reason posters, who are posting here in these comments.

    I'm a long time lurker of the comment sections of both sites, as I'm sure a lot of people are. I can say that it's pretty easy to take Reason comments out of context, as the context in this case is a years-long tradition of good-natured posting of absurd hyperbole with the knowledge that it'll be taken as such. Taking it at face value is like taking Colbert at his word without knowing the premise of his show.

    I'm not sure if the court involved knows this, but I'm pretty damn sure they wouldn't care. This is about punishing those who don't fawn over our beloved government officials.

  218. barry says

    it was unreasonable to expect the government to be able to prove such a threat before it identified the commenters.

    Having laws that depend on who broke them to determine if they were broken, looks like some kind of deep corruption to me. And there's a name for political/legal systems that distinguish between 'good guys' and 'bad guys' before a trial.

    A quick limited google search of phrases:
    "should be taken out the back and shot": 487,000 results.
    "should be locked up and the key thrown away": 244,000 results.

    To me, the method of execution does not matter. Firing squad, electric chair, beheading, lethal injection, hanging.. It's all very barbaric and uncivilized, but in some places still legal. And where it is legal, I can't see how anyone could interpret someone saying either sentence 'should' be imposed (even on a judge) can possibly be interpreted as anything other than political speech. 'Should' means 'would under a political/legal system I prefer', and even moreso on reason.com.

    Kidnapping is criminal. Why hasn't DOJ gone after all the people who said Edward Snowden should be locked up and the key thrown away? It's exactly the same kind of 'threat'.

    If 'Department of Justice' turns out to be a satirical department, and Mr. Velamoor a notorious sock-puppet subpoena-troll named after a Harry Potter villain, please forget I said anything too obvious about this.

    "should have their head examined": 20,200 results.

  219. Plutonium says

    Another Reason,

    Thanks for giving your input on the actual question I asked, I appreciate that. While I don't think I should have had to state it since it doesn't really change my comment or question, I think you're right that other commenters are mistakenly thinking I believe they should be charged. I don't at all, quite the opposite, I want to better understand the potential implications of these repressive laws so I can better advocate against them.

    As for Martha Stewart, read her actual case, she's not a great example of overreach. The investigation into her found what it was looking for, civil SEC violations. That's what she lied to conceal, because they could have (and did eventually) resulted in her being barred from the industry for a period, and she wanted to remain head of her newly public company.

  220. Aaron S. says

    Be careful what you say California Attorney Ken White… a US Attorney might send a subpoena to learn your identity.

  221. jim says

    Eventually we will end up like the post-Tianamen Square Chinese joke, where the guy that called the Chinese Premier an idiot was given the harshest sentence because he had given away "State Secrets."
    Given that impossible threats are then acceptable, could I wish for an asteroid to hit said mutton-headed wet-behind-the-ears assistant United States Attorney in the ass, lobotomizing him? Or would that hypothetical statement be considered a real threat?

  222. Trent says

    WHOA, SPOILERS PAL.

    Yea, I'm sorry you haven't seen a 19 year old movie.

    Would it also be a spoiler if I told you Brando gets killed at the end of Apocalypse Now? How about if I tell you Rett Butler leaves Scarlett in Gone with the Wind? I assert that when the movie is more than 10 years old you've lost the right to a spoiler warning.

  223. Drew Palmer says

    Does this mean it's potentially a criminal act to perform Henry the Sixth and thereby suggest that we "first, kill all the lawyers?"

  224. says

    Yea, I'm sorry you haven't seen a 19 year old movie.

    Did everyone's sarcasmometer go on the fritz at the same time?

  225. Patrick Maupin says

    The admonition to take them out back and shoot them is sound advice, because, as anybody who has used a web chipper in anger could tell you, it's hard to load people in when they're squirming and grabbing at the sides.

    But if anybody wants to follow through on the comment by "Safely outside the US" that "Men will never be free until the last judge is strangled with the entrails of the last US attorney." that will require some planning, because obviously you have to hold at least one attorney back from the wood chipper, and one judge back from being shot.

  226. roberto says

    So, a federal judge has no protection against threats made against her while carrying out the duties of her office? And, they must have been joking because everyone THINKS they were joking? What if they weren't joking? I'm pretty sure finding out is the work of the grand jury.

  227. Celeste says

    @Stevo – there aren't any laws compelling websites to store all of this data for any length of time yet, but it's come up as a possibility. It all depends on the site in question. Some will store the incoming IP from every comment along with the comment in their database, in which case, that data is there for as long as the comment is there. Or they could be keeping nothing on you in the long-term but the comment text and your name itself, in which case they'd end up having to pull IP addresses out of server logs, and depending on the site's operations team, those could go back anywhere from 24 hours to over a year.

    As to why they collect that info? Well, partly so they can ban real problem users or report authentic crazies to the authorities, but mostly for advertising. That info is worth money.

  228. Jim Lyon says

    One of the very few recourses that we have for this type of governmental overreach is publicity and mockery. Perhaps it's time to invent a definition for the word velamoor, to rival the definition of santorum.

    Any takers?

  229. Matthew Cline says

    @roberto:

    So, a federal judge has no protection against threats made against her while carrying out the duties of her office?

    One of the comments listed in the subpoena written by Niketh Velamoor was a wish for the judge to literally go to Hell. Either Niketh Velamoor isn't serious about them being threats, or he thinks that merely showing a sufficient level of hatred for a judge is justification for investigating that person.

  230. says

    roberto June 9, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Of course a Federal Judge has protection. That is why the Federal Government has an Army. Martial law can be ordered. And enforced. Just like it was in Berkeley back in the day. ('69).

  231. Anonymous-ish says

    Look up 18 USC 641 and see how it applies to the actions of Niketh Velamoor and the Dishonorable Judge whatever-her-name-is.

  232. PJ says

    So… does hanging them from lamp posts pass muster?

    How about quoting Jefferson?
    "…god forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. the people cannot be all, & always, well informed. the past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. we have had 13. states independant 11. years. there has been one rebellion. that comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. what country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? let them take arms. the remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. what signify a few lives lost in a century or two? the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it's natural manure."

    If they want my identity, they are welcome to it. NSA has it anyway. Let's see what they want to do with it. I don't care any more.

  233. says

    So Dunphy outright argued that if you assert your constitutional rights a cop might shoot you and it's kind of your own fault for not RESPECTING AUTHORITAY! Balko called him on this, and then Dunphy and Patterico attempted to obfuscate the issue and behave as if Dunphy said no such thing.

    Without intending to create a side discussion, I'll simply say that I disagree, and that Dunphy had a point which was mischaracterized by Balko, the better to cheaply criticize it.

    I agree with Ken that there is prosecutorial overreaching here. I also think many of the commenters who "joked" about killing public officials are assholes. This type of attitude by radical libertarians alienates more people than you could possibly imagine.

  234. SloopyinTEXAS says

    In what way did Balko mischaracterize Dunphy? By directly quoting him in entirety?

    Also, libertarians by and large base their arguments on founding principles of the right to be left alone and the right of people to disagree as long as the disagreement doesn't include coercion or an unwanted use of force. The left and right use intimidation to compel people to choose their side under fear of further force (like this judge and Asst AG).

    I'll choose to associate myself with people I don't necessarily agree with but share principles with. You've chosen otherwise.

  235. PJ says

    "It's prosecutors like this that should be taken out back and shot."

    I believe using proper grammar, it should be, "It's prosecutors like this WHO should be taken out back and shot."

  236. Careless says

    One of the comments listed in the subpoena written by Niketh Velamoor was a wish for the judge to literally go to Hell. Either Niketh Velamoor isn't serious about them being threats, or he thinks that merely showing a sufficient level of hatred for a judge is justification for investigating that person.

    Possibly he thinks that one or more Reason commenters is actually a god.

  237. says

    In what way did Balko mischaracterize Dunphy? By directly quoting him in entirety?

    In the way I described, at length, in the post I wrote that nk linked. But my, what a snappy pair of questions.

  238. says

    Also, libertarians by and large base their arguments on founding principles of the right to be left alone and the right of people to disagree as long as the disagreement doesn't include coercion or an unwanted use of force. The left and right use intimidation to compel people to choose their side under fear of further force (like this judge and Asst AG).

    I'll choose to associate myself with people I don't necessarily agree with but share principles with. You've chosen otherwise.

    Libertarians, as I understand it, primarily base their philosophy on the non-aggression principle, from which all other beliefs flow. It's a good principle and I agree with it. I believe in much libertarian philosophy, especially in the economic sphere.

    I continue to be appalled by the rabid anti-police behavior of some of them, such as some of the Reason commenters (not all) quoted in the post. Some of whom (while not having committed a crime, according to Ken's persuasive analysis) made some extraordinarily ugly comments that I would never allow on my blog, and that I find reprehensible.

  239. SloopyinTEXAS says

    But you're incorrect. Balko correctly identified the problems with Dunphy's argument…based on underlying principles you simply refuse to acknowledge: that the police officer has no right to treat someone as a criminal without probable cause. And that a police officer that escalated a situation outside of his defined rights based on those principles will always be in the wrong.

    You're just granting way too much discretion to police officers. And we can all see where that's gotten us as a society.

  240. Entropy Void says

    Jim Lyon June 9, 2015 at 5:03 pm
    One of the very few recourses that we have for this type of governmental overreach is publicity and mockery. Perhaps it's time to invent a definition for the word velamoor, to rival the definition of santorum.

    Any takers?

    Velamoor- dried Santorum

  241. SloopyinTEXAS says

    I'm sure someone that reveres "law and order" would be appalled at people that vocally oppose the coercive and aggressive nature with which police officers use to violate our natural right to be left alone until we infringe on someone else's rights.

    It would appear that you love the guiding hand of society, always there to establish arbitrary rules against vice or other activities the majority may not approve of. Me? I'll take liberty for all over that crap any day of the week.

  242. Los Doyers says

    Some of whom (while not having committed a crime, according to Ken's persuasive analysis)

    So, had you not read a "persuasive analysis" written by someone who clearly understands and supports the first amendment, you would have them thrown in jail for their "crime"? Always good to see another person in favor of the "I support free speech, but…" amendment.

  243. says

    "The discussion about whether or not Balko mis-characterized a comment as part of a post he wrote in 2009 is very fascinating and relevant to our interests"

    Said no Popehat author ever.

  244. Another Reason Commenter says

    I'm sure someone that reveres "law and order" would be appalled at people that vocally oppose the coercive and aggressive nature with which police officers use to violate our natural right to be left alone until we infringe on someone else's rights.

    It's beautiful misdirection on their part that to call themselves that, when their first priority is to exempt the enforcers from having to respect the law:

    – Qualified immunity, in practice really being treated as absolute immunity.
    No duty to protect.
    – No responsibility to actually know the law you're using to arrest people.

    And if you object to this lopsided arrangement, you must be an anarchist working for the forces of chaos.

  245. requiem says

    One of the very few recourses that we have for this type of governmental overreach is publicity and mockery. Perhaps it's time to invent a definition for the word velamoor, to rival the definition of santorum.

    Any takers?

    This is exactly right. What's more, this name, as well as Bharara's, ought to be prominently placed in every story about this disgraceful clusterfuck.

  246. says

    But you're incorrect. Balko correctly identified the problems with Dunphy's argument…based on underlying principles you simply refuse to acknowledge: that the police officer has no right to treat someone as a criminal without probable cause.

    No, that's not right, but I don't really feel like debating it with you. I said everything I needed to say in that post several years ago — and as you have noted, it was indeed several years ago. I'll let you have the last word.

  247. En Passant says

    Patterico June 9, 2015 at 7:55 pm:

    I continue to be appalled by the rabid anti-police behavior of some of them, such as some of the Reason commenters (not all) quoted in the post.

    I only rarely see any "rabid anti-police" attitudes that are not a rhetorical response to actual reprehensible and often criminal behavior by police.

    Some of whom (while not having committed a crime, according to Ken's persuasive analysis) made some extraordinarily ugly comments that I would never allow on my blog, and that I find reprehensible.

    My heart bleeds for sensitive precious snowflake policemen, prosecutors, and judges who can't tell the difference between somebody hoping they will roast in hell, and somebody who is actually threatening to kill them. They really shouldn't be expected to walk the same streets or even hear the same words as the rest of us.

    Special people deserve special privileges, like having their pals indict anybody whose words offend their sensitive ears.

    Subjects must learn to be more attentive to the feelings and sensitivities of their masters. Maybe these subpoenas will teach those uppity libertarians at Reason who is boss.

  248. says

    So, had you not read a "persuasive analysis" written by someone who clearly understands and supports the first amendment, you would have them thrown in jail for their "crime"? Always good to see another person in favor of the "I support free speech, but…" amendment.

    So, you favor murdering public officials?

    See how much fun it is to argue by saying "So, you . . ." and then making something up?

    I'm going to save us both some time by declaring discussion with you to be pointless. You also may have the last word.

  249. says

    My heart bleeds for sensitive precious snowflake policemen, prosecutors, and judges who can't tell the difference between somebody hoping they will roast in hell, and somebody who is actually threatening to kill them. They really shouldn't be expected to walk the same streets or even hear the same words as the rest of us.

    Special people deserve special privileges, like having their pals indict anybody whose words offend their sensitive ears.

    Subjects must learn to be more attentive to the feelings and sensitivities of their masters.

    We're not debating whether these comments are legal, since you and I agree that they are, when viewed in their full context. I contend that they are an example of bad behavior — that repeatedly making comments about shooting public officials is behavior that I find reprehensible. That is hardly the same as saying that public officials should be treated like special snowflakes and should not have to endure criticism.

    Honestly? If you're confident in your position, then you don't have to load the dice by pretending I am making an argument different from the one I am actually making. That's a cheap debating tactic, and while it's common on the Internet and makes people feel good when they use it, it doesn't impress me or anyone whose opinion I would respect.

  250. says

    En Passant,

    Your handle sounds familiar to me, and I have a negative connotation associated with it for some reason. Have you engaged in cheap and intellectually dishonest debating tactics with me on Popehat before?

  251. says

    Patterico June 9, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    Well how about this example of bad behavior :

    After the Waco massacre, author Claire Wolfe said, "It's too late to work within the system, and too early to start shooting the bastards…"

    Well folks, its been 15+ years since she said that. It's now time to start shooting the bastards.

    =========

    Oh? You want a permalink?

    http://popehat.com/2010/12/30/the-first-rule-of-the-war-on-drugs-is-dont-talk-about-the-war-on-drugs/#comment-242829

  252. SloopyinTEXAS says

    Dear lord. Somebody has their little feelings hurt by the big, bad libertarians. It's ok. You'll be back to justifying police misconduct to your echo chamber as soon as we all run back to our cesspool of debate.

  253. says

    If anyone here wants to argue at a level above fifth grade (and it's a great blog with *some* good commenters, so that's gotta be possible), I'm here. All I ask for continued discussion is that you not misrepresent my position. In turn, I'll try not to misrepresent yours.

    My contention, to any sensible person, is rather unremarkable: that the comments discussed in this post are 1) legal and 2) in many cases tasteless and reprehensible. For example, the ones that specifically reference (and appear to relish the prospect of) shooting public officials.

    I recognize that this is not a hotbed of folks who love public officials, but surely there are some here decent enough to agree with point 2 as well as point 1. If not, then how about someone willing to have a civil discussion about it?

    (The problem, of course, is that the same person who says "I'm not bothered at all by morons who revel in talking about shooting public officials" is unlikely to be the same guy who says "hey, but let's debate it civilly in a way where we don't engage in cheap easy-to-see-through strawmen and other idiotic Internet tactics.")

  254. Paige says

    Well, I'm not sure it's quite taking up the gauntlet, Patterico…but I do agree that some of the statements made as part of this political hyperbole were distasteful. Even one of the original commenters admitted he was not being his best self. Should we condemn them? Certainly. Should we censor them? Depends who "we" is. Can Reason choose not to let the posts stand? Certainly. Can Ken kill it in moderation? I'm glad, for the sake of the tone of this place, that he does. Can you and I choose not to read it? This isn't North Korea, so we can. The crucial point is that we should also be able TO read it, if that's our thing. That's where these subpoenas give me a nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach.

  255. says

    Patterico – June 9, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    The police – having learned nothing from Alcohol Prohibition – CHOOSE to support Drug Prohibition. And it has lead to the same kind of policing prevalent during alcohol prohibition. "Every citizen is a potential enemy of the state" and will be treated accordingly.

    Why shouldn't police be disrespected? They brought it on themselves. There are some police who don't like what Prohibition has done to police. You might have heard of them. Peter Christ of that organization is especially eloquent.

    Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

  256. says

    The police – having learned nothing from Alcohol Prohibition – CHOOSE to support Drug Prohibition.

    Well, placing to one side debates about the social contract and the like, it is the law. You make it sound like drug prohibition (or Drug Prohibition) is some alien force that descended upon society, never voted on by any duly constituted legislature.

    Now, if you want to have a wider debate about the legitimacy of government generally, that's fine, we can do that. But let's please not pretend that the drug laws just happened on their own.

    So yes, the police tend to support enforcing the law. We could have a debate about whether that makes sense in the context of drug prohibition. It would be interesting to know what your views are on political legitimacy generally; the legitimacy of laws against murder; and so forth.

    But again: let's just not pretend that drug laws were written by invisible aliens.

  257. says

    Patterico June 9, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Well of course it is the law. and last time I looked ENFORCER was a voluntary position.

  258. Paige says

    I reserve special notice for the fascinating church and state issues raised by finding "a warm place in hell" a credible threat. I consider that slightly less credible than "i hope you are gored by a unicorn"….we can probably engineer a REAL unicorn.

  259. says

    Well, I'm not sure it's quite taking up the gauntlet, Patterico…but I do agree that some of the statements made as part of this political hyperbole were distasteful. Even one of the original commenters admitted he was not being his best self. Should we condemn them? Certainly. Should we censor them? Depends who "we" is. Can Reason choose not to let the posts stand? Certainly. Can Ken kill it in moderation? I'm glad, for the sake of the tone of this place, that he does. Can you and I choose not to read it? This isn't North Korea, so we can. The crucial point is that we should also be able TO read it, if that's our thing. That's where these subpoenas give me a nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach.

    I agree with just about all that. I'm not as wildly defensive of the comments as Ken is (the HELL NO in all caps and bold is not quite how I feel) but on balance I agree with him that the comments are not prosecutable. I probably think they're closer to the line than he does, but that disagreement doesn't completely surprise me, and I imagine that we can disagree on such nuances without losing respect for one another. Even if we might disagree on how obvious it is, in other words, I still think he's right.

    And I think your comment makes a lot of sense. Like I said, this is a great blog and certainly has many sensible readers and commenters in the mix. I think your comment is a pretty good example of the positive side, which is nice to see.

  260. says

    My views on murder differ from my views on drinking water. My views on murder differ from my views on eating a pastrami sandwich. My views on murder differ from my views on drinking apple juice.

    If the government outlawed pastrami I might violate such laws. I might encourage blak market pastrami.

    But in any case I especially encourage Black Markets in medicine. And just in case you were wondering that includes heroin and meth. Hell – heroin used to be legal over the counter until the Chinamen Scare.

    Black Markets service criminals. Inside Government and out.

  261. SloopyinTEXAS says

    Are you saying it is always reprehensible to relish shooting a public official? Because the history books are riddled with names that would lay waste to that comment.

  262. says

    I reserve special notice for the fascinating church and state issues raised by finding "a warm place in hell" a credible threat. I consider that slightly less credible than "i hope you are gored by a unicorn"….we can probably engineer a REAL unicorn.

    Yes, that is absurd. Forget church and state issues, it's just stupid to consider that a threat, period. That kind of phrase is commonplace, and I can wholly throw myself behind the argument that the prosecutor should be ashamed of himself for trying to investigate someone for a comment like that. People say that kind of thing all the time; it's not a threat; it's a strong form of disparagement (and not even that strong really).

  263. says

    The General distaste for Enrorcers caused by Prohibition was entirely unforeseen. Never happened in this country before. /sarc

  264. says

    MSimon: the notion that people own their own bodies and that they should get to decide what to put in them is a strong argument. The fact that the government arrogates to itself such decisions is hardly the main problem with government, but criticizing such government action is fine by me. I get annoyed when people act as though decriminalization would amount to Shangri-La — as usual, people love to oversimplify and make the opposing position sound ridiculous. But there are plenty of sound points to be made there, for sure.

  265. SloopyinTEXAS says

    Closer to what line? Because I do t find any reference to a "line"in the First Amendment.

    Lines are arbitrary and moveable. Principles are not. That's why the founders were so explicit in the verbiage of the 1A. And their accompanying writing clearly defines the right for such speech to be respected.

    You're just too flexible for my tastes. Rights should be immovable. It would appear that you don't the that's the case when it comes to speech absent a subsequent action furthering the commission of a crime.

  266. Tom says

    The only times I've ever seen people use the term "rider" to mean "list of things you have to give me" was booking acts at a bar and responding to federal subpoenas. There may be a special place in Hell for AUSAs (present company and other penitent formers excluded) and entertainment agents.

    Also, the brief with the motion to quash on behalf of Mr. X in the machete case is great (as most that come from the DC ACLU chapter are). I don't have a PACER account any more and the machine I might have a copy of it on is recently dead, so I don't have a link. Lemme see if I can find one.

  267. SloopyinTEXAS says

    The government criminalizing what I choose to do with my own body in no way that directly effects another person "is hardly the main problem with government"?

    I can hardly think of anything worse they could impose upon individuals than removing free will from the equation. Can you point to something worse the government does?

  268. Scott F Fletcher says

    Patterico-

    I continue to be appalled by the rabid anti-police behavior of some of them, such as some of the Reason commenters (not all) quoted in the post.

    I can't imagine why anyone would be anti-police… I got pulled over last week leaving the grocery store. He stopped me on a main road through town, and asked me to pull into the Burger King parking lot less than 50 yds ahead. I did so, and he approached my car- then stepped back and with his hand on his gun asked me "Why did you take off your seatbelt"?

    Me- "To take my wallet out of my pocket, and get my registration and proof of insurance from the glove compartment."

    Cop- "Why are you nervous?" (I had my last three insurance papers-buried under three pens, two lighters, a pack of smokes, the copies of my last two oil changes, my car manual, and even a pair of gloves!- couldn't find the newest insurance proof immediately)

    Me- "Um- there is a cop with his hand on his gun standing 5 feet away whose only punishment for shooting me will be a paid vacation…"

    So, if a cop feels he needs to be prepared to shoot me because I removed my seatbelt after pulling over in a parking lot- I am "rabidly" anti-police.

    My crime was an expired registration. And he was prepared to shoot.

  269. Paige says

    @Patterico…I've seen your posts before and I'm pretty sure our ideologies do not match. However, this place has given me some reason to consider that there are (some) honest lawyers….and that a significant percentage of the disagreement in the world comes from not agreeing to define the same word in the same context the same way. At least around here I generally have an idea what I'm agreeing or disagreeing with. In this case…what you CAN do and what you SHOULD do may not be the same…but there is a valid societal context for disagreeable speech. Even if it is only to reaffirm the right to publicly disagree.

  270. says

    Closer to what line? Because I do t find any reference to a "line"in the First Amendment.

    Lines are arbitrary and moveable. Principles are not. That's why the founders were so explicit in the verbiage of the 1A. And their accompanying writing clearly defines the right for such speech to be respected.

    You're just too flexible for my tastes. Rights should be immovable. It would appear that you don't the that's the case when it comes to speech absent a subsequent action furthering the commission of a crime.

    Could you rephrase that comment in English?

    I'm sorry that you have been unable to follow Ken's explications of what constitutes a true threat. I suggest you start by re-reading this post, and then peruse some other posts Ken has written about true threats, to learn the law that you evidently haven't bothered to learn yet. The short answer is that language alone can get you into all kinds of trouble, and the Constitution agrees with me on that. Sorry you didn't know that. Again, Ken can explain, and already has, repeatedly, right here on this blog.

    Good night!

  271. says

    Patterico June 9, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    Well let us see what the arguments are.

    With Prohibition we have :

    A drug problem + a criminal problem

    Without Prohibition we have :

    A drug problem.

    ================

    So yes. The arguments in favor of Prohibition have a LOT of force. We only have to look at history and how well those arguments did in 1932. The "conservatives" of 1932 supported Prohibition. Just as more than a few do today. With the same arguments no less. You will note the results of the election of '32.

    So yes. The "conservatives" have a point these days. Especially if they would enjoy 4 or 8 more years of socialism.

  272. says

    Paige,

    There is a warm place in hell for many lawyers, but go easy on the profession. Remember: Ken is a lawyer! And I owe him as big a debt of gratitude for his work as a lawyer as I can imagine.

  273. Paige says

    I do feel that the things I've learned reading here have proved to me that there are some good lawyers. Kinda makes me want to go back to school…again. but I'm not sure there's a market for idealistic scientist lawyers.

  274. SloopyinTEXAS says

    Nice smarmy reply. But you and Ken are both wrong. The constitution is plainly written. The courts have perverted the plain language to create carve-outs to many rights. The 1A, 2A and 4A being hardest hit in the last century.

    The founders never thought for a minute "language alone" should get you into trouble.

    I'm no legal scholar but I've read enough about original intent to know our laws on speech in no way match the founders vision. And no amount of doublespeak by you or anybody here that has made a living out of parsing words will convince me otherwise.

    Good day.

  275. SloopyinTEXAS says

    And there's no need to reply to any other posts of mine, Patterico. I'll be asleep.

    Save your energy…or go read Jefferson. It would be time better spent than reading the ramblings of those whose job it is to bend principles as far as they can to fit their agenda.

  276. says

    Patterico – June 9, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Well no. The Drug Laws were not written by invisible aliens. They were written by Progressives.

    What is ironic is to see Progressives arguing for smaller government (in that area) and the so called conservatives arguing for continued or enhanced government power (in that area).

    I'm working that cognitive dissonance with this:

    Every tax, every regulation comes with it an army of bureaucrats and behind that an army (with guns) of enforcers.

  277. requiem says

    I'm not as wildly defensive of the comments as Ken is (the HELL NO in all caps and bold is not quite how I feel)

    To be clear, are you suggesting that (1) it is not absurd to think that Agammamon was earnestly announcing his intent to assassinate the judge on reason.com, rather than engaging in "vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials"; and (2) it is not absurd to argue that everyone on the internet who has ever posted analogous comments should be subject to a federal threats investigation?

    I understand that you don't personally agree with either of those lines of reasoning, but as an occasional reader of your work, it just seems difficult to believe that you think a reasonable person could subscribe to one or both of those arguments.

  278. Sans Serif says

    I'm rather surprised that they are investigating calls for the lady to be sent to a special hell, given that the administration seems to believe in the separation of Church and State…..

  279. says

    Had Elliott Rodger been arrested for his YouTube video before he shot and killed several people in Santa Barbara, plenty of defense attorneys would have been happy to tell you how nonspecific his threats were. (When he says "on the day of reckoning," when is that, really?)

    Sometimes the specifics become clear only after the killing begins.

  280. says

    And yes Patterico the last 45 years of drug enforcement didn't come from aliens. They came from Nixon:

    "Look, we understood we couldn't make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue…that we couldn't resist it." – John Ehrlichman, White House counsel to President Nixon on the rationale of the War on Drugs.

    And a LOT of those kids you made war on are now enemies of the state. What a surprise. /sarc

  281. says

    Patterico June 9, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    The alternative is North Korea. I'll take my chances with Free Speech. Thank you very much.

  282. En Passant says

    Patterico June 9, 2015 at 9:20 pm:

    We're not debating whether these comments are legal, since you and I agree that they are, when viewed in their full context. I contend that they are an example of bad behavior — that repeatedly making comments about shooting public officials is behavior that I find reprehensible. That is hardly the same as saying that public officials should be treated like special snowflakes and should not have to endure criticism.

    I don't consider those Reason comments worse than just a waste of time and bandwidth. I think actual reprehensible behavior is enacting bad laws, or being so morally twisted that one but seeks to judicially stretch good laws to cover acts so common that every citizen who uses a bad metaphor could be indicted. But only rarely is one who does those reprehensible acts subjected to even a few days off with pay.

    So, here we have an AUSA seeking an indictment for "true threats" against people who at worst merely demonstrated bad taste in their speech. But, to be as forgiving as possible, maybe AUSA Niketh Velamoor just discovered that The Sedition Act of 1798 is no longer good law, and he is desperately seeking a substitute.

  283. requiem says

    But Rodger's video can hardly be compared to a one line comment invoking a well-known hyperbolic idiom, and in any event, the fact that someone commits a crime should not have an effect on whether their prior statements should be viewed, in the legal sense, as true threats.

    It's not hard to imagine a person saying something that is indisputably protected ("If they ever make me carry a rifle the first man I want to get in my sights is LBJ") and then later actually attempting to shoot LBJ. That doesn't retroactively transform the constitutionally protected speech into a punishable true threat. The constitutional standard will necessarily protect some speech that a crazy will follow through on–because it's more important to avoid chilling speech than to catch every threat before it materializes.

  284. SloopyinTEXAS says

    Patterico June 9, 2015 at 10:47 pm
    Had Elliott Rodger been arrested for his YouTube video before he shot and killed several people in Santa Barbara, plenty of defense attorneys would have been happy to tell you how nonspecific his threats were. (When he says "on the day of reckoning," when is that, really?)

    Sometimes the specifics become clear only after the killing begins.

    Cool anecdote, bro.

    Be careful lest people start painting all cops as incompetent or mendacious based on the actions of a few.

  285. SloopyinTEXAS says

    @ requiem, LEOs and their apologists will never stop trying to make thoughtcrime punishable. It helps them make a criminal out of everybody. And that gives them power over "civilians," which is more their goal than justice is.

    The kind of person that would aspire to have control over others is the last person to be trusted with that authority. Yet society has all but granted them exemptions from laws that apply to "civilians" and in many instances have created separate justice systems entirely to shield their activities from the public eye. (See administrative courts)

  286. Ken Shultz says

    Speech can be criminal, but in order for something to be a crime, it needs to have violated someone's rights.

    Speech is a crime if it defrauds someone.

    Threatening to shoot a cashier if she doesn't empty the cash register is also criminal speech.

    The speech in the thread at Hit & Run was idiomatic hyperbole, and no one's rights were violated by that speech.

    Convicting someone of a crime for criticizing a public official is violating someone's rights, too, but when the government violates someone's rights, we don't call it "crime". We call it "injustice".

    Conspiring to violate someone's rights is a crime, too. When this is all over, it will be interesting to see what sort of communications went on between the prosecutors and whomever else is behind this complaint. Shouldn't that all be a matter of public record?

  287. En Passant says

    Patterico June 9, 2015 at 9:21 pm:

    En Passant,

    Your handle sounds familiar to me, and I have a negative connotation associated with it for some reason. Have you engaged in cheap and intellectually dishonest debating tactics with me on Popehat before?

    I dunno. Have you? And I don't really care what connotation you associate with my nym. As long as you don't start sending subpoenas.

    The only reprehensible and dishonest acts I see are AUSA Niketh Velamoor's issuing subpoenas to identify people who made pseudonymous but legal unpleasant comments. If he did so at the behest of his superiors at DOJ, or at the behest of some other sniveling precious snowflake official, their acts are as reprehensible as his.

    If you think Velamoor's acts are acceptable behavior from someone sworn to uphold the constitution, then we disagree. If not, then we agree.

  288. Ken Shultz says

    The Second Amendment doesn't give us the right to arbitrarily shoot people. It just gives us the right to choose to own a gun. We can still be convicted of a crime if we use our gun to violate someone else's rights.

    The First Amendment is the same. It doesn't give us the right to violate other people's rights with our speech. But again, those Hit & Run comments were not violent threats; they were idiomatic hyperbole, and they did not violate anyone's rights.

    In that light, I'd like to amend something I just wrote in my comment above:

    "Speech can be criminal, but in order for something to be a crime, it needs to have violated someone's rights."

    I understand that is a libertarian interpretation of crime. To libertarians, what constitutes a legitimate crime is not determined by way of a popularity contest. Popularity contests have been used to try to legitimize horrific violations of people's rights like the Drug War and Jim Crow laws. Libertarians are not susceptible to such rationalizations for injustice.

    All this is to say that I might have phrased my statement better. "Speech can be a crime, but in order for something to be a crime, it [should] have violated someone's rights".

  289. nk says

    Polling an average 3% during elections, they want to

    Walk on our sidewalks
    Drive on our roads
    Drink our water
    Use our sewers
    Fly out of our airports
    Hide behind our armed forces
    Have our police guard their persons and properties
    Have our firemen save their homes from fire
    Call our ambulances when they're hurt
    Use our hospitals when they're sick
    Educate themselves and their kids in our schools
    Use our ports to bring cheap goods from China
    (And a thousand things more that they could not get in a state of nature)

    And when society says "Our house, our rules", they whine "DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO. I am a special snowflake just by virtue of being born, Thomas Jefferson said so. Besides, I DIDN'T ASK TO BE BORN."

    Yup. Teenagers, err no, "Libertarians".

  290. nk says

    They're at their most annoying when they invoke the Founders. Attention, Walmart shoppers: The Founders built America. That's spelled M-A-D-E. With their sweat and blood. Then they told King George, "Our house, our rules." Can your video-game playing, comic book reading, Mosin-Nagant caressing mentalities grasp that?

  291. Rick H. says

    nk: They're at their most annoying

    I sympathize. All that work putting it together, and then your weirdly elaborate strawman ends up annoying you.

  292. mcinsand says

    Clark, thank you for mentioning FDR. I was wondering what reading material to take on an upcoming trip, and it's been a while since I've reread 'FDR's Folly.'

  293. nk says

    I'm sorry, Rick H., but I can take your comments seriously only if you engrave them on Rearden Metal.

  294. SloopyinTEXAS says

    nk June 10, 2015 at 6:14 am
    I'm sorry, Rick H., but I can take your comments seriously only if you engrave them on Rearden Metal.

    Ooh, look! Someone thinks he's read Rand and understands libertarians

    Hey Motörhead, there's a wide and deep chasm between libertarianism and objectivism.

  295. says

    It's not hard to imagine a person saying something that is indisputably protected ("If they ever make me carry a rifle the first man I want to get in my sights is LBJ") and then later actually attempting to shoot LBJ. That doesn't retroactively transform the constitutionally protected speech into a punishable true threat.

    No? I'm not quite sure I agree with that. To me, whether a guy who talks about shooting the President is articulating a true threat depends on the totality of the circumstances. The Supreme Court has established that the phrase you mentioned, in the context in which it was made, was protected as hyperbole. But if it were made by a guy armed with a rifle and documents including a map to Washington D.C., a diagram of the layout of the White House, a copy of LBJ's schedule for that day, and a handwritten suicide note saying "I have killed LBJ and now myself to protest the Vietnam War" then the context is a little different.

    I don't think you can strip the words from their context and say that they are automatically protected, then add back in damning context and claim that it makes no difference.

  296. says

    Nice smarmy reply. But you and Ken are both wrong. The constitution is plainly written. The courts have perverted the plain language to create carve-outs to many rights. The 1A, 2A and 4A being hardest hit in the last century.

    The founders never thought for a minute "language alone" should get you into trouble.

    I'm no legal scholar

    You don't say. How do you rate your scholarship when it comes to history?

  297. Beezard says

    In other words, the DOJ uses fear and extortion tactics on an information outlet which frequently calls out the DOJ on using fear and extortion tactics to get what they want. I figured they'd be too busy walking guns to drug lords across the border.

    And what's with all of these court cases recently that magically give the government more power when they are being limited? Is it just the legal culture now?(Genuinely confused non-lawyer type here)

    Apart from a slight increase in *immediate* ad hominem attacks (as opposed to maybe waiting an extra comment or two before crying "statist!"), I find a pretty high level of cleverness and intentional hilarity in the Reason comments section. I often chuckle. Sometimes even guffaw. A lot of the real nasty stuff is just part of the rhythm. Now, the Facebook Reason comments…ugh.

  298. Enough About Palin says

    Hey Sloopy and all my fellow Reason commentariat who are posting here, I just discovered this site yesterday afternoon and have to wonder how many other sites do all y'all post at? BTW, something about rumors, federal judges and sheep.

  299. SloopyinTEXAS says

    You don't say. How do you rate your scholarship when it comes to history?

    The thin-skinned defender of Jack Dunphy who accused Balko of attacking him by not quoting him in context or in entirety chops up a post of mine in an effort to completely mischaracterize what I said.

    Nice work, patterico. It's exactly the kind of reaction I suspected: void of substance.

    As for my scholarship when it comes to original intent, I'd say it rivals your knowledge when it comes to parsing words in an effort to defend government overreach. And that, my friend, is a very high bar.

  300. Eric Rasmusen says

    The Indiana Brewington case last year was similar, except the blogger was not just subpoena'd, but actually convicted of a felony. Then he lost his appeal first at the appellate court and then the Indiana Supreme Court.

    We need to be very afraid. Judges are not unbiased on this matter.

    http://volokh.com/2013/01/22/harshly-criticizing-a-judge-or-others-for-their-past-conduct-crime/
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/05/01/conviction-of-blogger-who-threatened-judge-upheld/8584563/ ((contrary to the new article ,, the Supreme Court did *not* really pull back from the earlier decision– it just said, falsely, that the man's blog comments were meant as a threat to the judge, tho there's no indication the judge ever "heard" the supposed threat)

  301. says

    These clearly are not threats:
    Rhywunl5.3l.15 @ 11:35AMIIt
    I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman.

    AlanI5.31.15 @ 12:11PMIIt
    There is.

    Product PlacementI5.31.15 @ 1:22PMIIt
    I'd prefer a hellish place on Earth be reserved for her as well.

    Yet they were included on the subpoena. Openly desiring a judge go to Hell or be imprisoned are clearly within our Rights. Overtly wishing them death is as well. Actually threatening to carry out the act crosses a line. Now about prosecutors….

  302. says

    The thin-skinned defender of Jack Dunphy who accused Balko of attacking him by not quoting him in context or in entirety chops up a post of mine in an effort to completely mischaracterize what I said.

    Nice work, patterico. It's exactly the kind of reaction I suspected: void of substance.

    As for my scholarship when it comes to original intent, I'd say it rivals your knowledge when it comes to parsing words in an effort to defend government overreach. And that, my friend, is a very high bar.

    We've established that there is no point in having an actual discussion with you. Now I'm just having fun pointing out to others how wrong you are.

    Anyone who maintains that the Founding Fathers never contemplated that speech alone could be reached by the law is so deeply ignorant of history as to be beclowning themselves. Alien and Sedition Acts, anyone? Was the First Amendment intended to abolish libel or true threats? Etc.

    Anyway, please continue to sputter away.

  303. Ken Shultz says

    nk,

    That's a cartoonish caricature of what libertarians really think. You just seem to be trollin' now, but just for the record, …

    Libertarians believe that if there is any legitimate function of government at all, it is to protect our rights. Some examples: We have a military to protect our rights from foreign threats. We have police to protect our rights from criminals. We have a criminal justice system to protect our rights from the police. We have a civil court system to protect our property rights. Etcetera.

    Apart from those things, you'll find that individual libertarians disagree on other topics, but you're not going to find many libertarians, for example, who don't think that every child, no matter how poor, should be given a good education regardless of their ability to pay. But you will find plenty who criticize the way the government is delivering those services–by way of local school districts that are run for the benefit of the teachers' union rather than the children, for instance.

    in other words, the typical libertarian you described in your post is a straw man that mostly only exists in your head–and the heads of other people who either don't like us, don't understand us, or whose livelihoods, being derived from tax dollars, are threatened by us.

    One last point: you referenced how libertarians only win 3% of the vote. Again, you misunderstand. The purpose of libertarians is not to seize the reigns of power through the ballot box and force libertarianism on everyone using the coercive power of the state. Our purpose is to win hearts and minds, issue by issue, individual by individual, regardless of party identification–and we're making great progress. We've supported gay marriage for decades. We openly supported gay marriage when Barack Obama was too ashamed to do so and was campaigning on the slogan, in Obama's words, "Marriage is between a man and a woman". Look how far we've come on that issue. We've opposed the Drug War for decades, and look–two states have now legalized recreational marijuana, with more on the way. 3% of the vote for the LP is beside the point. When we win the hearts and minds of the American people on an issue, the Democrats and Republicans fall over themselves to push our issues for us. In that way, we are much more powerful than the 3% the LP scores at the voting booth would suggest. There are a hell of a lot more of us than that out there who are socially liberal and fiscally conservative, like we are, and those numbers are growing all the time.

  304. says

    Over at Reason magazine, John the former military prosecutor made a point I largely agree with:

    Second, some situations really are outrageous and deserve outrageous language. That judge did a horrible and immoral thing. All right thinking people should condemn her and her actions in the most uncompromising terms. Should she literally be fed into a wood chipper or threatened with harm? No. Will she burn in hell? That is up to God but she will someday have to answer to God for what she did and she will have a lot to ask forgiveness for. There is certainly a place for reasonable response and for understanding the other side of an issue. This, however, was not one of them. Sometimes outrage is the only moral response. If Postrel read that story and feel real anger, then she is missing something morally. Does that mean she should make her next book about how judges should burn in hell? Of course not. It does however mean she should appreciate the people who wrote those things were doing nothing but venting a sense of outrage that any moral person should feel. Instead of worrying about making sure her Prog peers know she is "not one of those people", she should be writing her own condemnation of that decision.

  305. Beezard says

    On the basic subject of whether or not the DOJ were within reason to investigate this matter and start subpoenaing right and left, my two pence:

    If the DOJ actually succeeds in prosecuting, what do you honestly think the true outcome is? A possible attempt on a judges life is thwarted? Or a sudden chill effect on internet speech? Before we start taking this into court simply because we can, how's about someone actually do some basic investigation of the "anonymous" posters. It won't take long to see that they probably post all the time. So they're not *that* anonymous. A few other comments from them might give you the idea that maybe they just have a heightened sense of indignation or dark sense of humor. And maybe they're not using some random Hit&Run blog post to announce they are taking their gun and heading for Valhalla just after they "make things right with the world"…

    I think it's pretty clear the DOJ's agenda here.

  306. SloopyinTEXAS says

    We've established that there is no point in having an actual discussion with you. Now I'm just having fun pointing out to others how wrong you are.

    Oh really?

    Alien and Sedition Acts, anyone?

    First off, the three acts that are referred to as "The Alien Acts" had absolutely nothing to do with speech. It enabled the government to remove or imprison any alien "dangerous to the safety of the U.S." during times of peace (Alien Friends Act) or any male over 14 from a hostile nation during times of war (Alien Enemies Act. The Naturalization act changed residency requirements from five to 14 years.

    Now, the Sedition Act was hardly supported by Jefferson,memo is the man I directed you to read on original intent. It was a political move intended to consolidate power in the hands of the Federalists and was roundly vilified by all other corners of the political spectrum for what it was. It was allowed to expire less than three years after passage and certainly contributed to the transfer of power back to the Democratic-Republicans (Jefferson's party).

  307. SloopyinTEXAS says

    Speaking for Reason, because she can't speak for herself, it's sad that so many people are willing to parse very simple language and are unwilling to look into original intent when determining whether speech is protected or not.

    I hope a new/old reading of the Constitution happens soon before all of our rights are stripped away. Speech codes and "reasonable suspicion" are all but neutering the First and Fourth. The second had been infringed upon more ways than I can count. And the Fifth is openly mocked by the President when he claims the right to extrajudicially assassinate Americans not even charged with a crime.

  308. Ken Shultz says

    Enough About Palin,

    Most of us came here because this is where the news broke, and they asked us not to talk about it at Hit & Run.

    I see the story has been picked up by everyone from Ars Technica to Wired, as well as Bloomberg and others. Reason may have to break down on not saying anything about it as this becomes a bigger story and goes mainstream.

    Congratulations to Mr. White! And thanks for tolerating our…"blowhard stupidity" if that's what you want to call it.

    We've been called worse. Weigel famously suggested that we were all rat-f%$#ers and we should all set ourselves on fire.

  309. SloopyinTEXAS says

    We've been called worse. Weigel famously suggested that we were all rat-f%$#ers and we should all set ourselves on fire.

    Yet none of us requested a grand jury look into it…

  310. says

    Now, the Sedition Act was hardly supported by Jefferson,memo is the man I directed you to read on original intent. It was a political move intended to consolidate power in the hands of the Federalists and was roundly vilified by all other corners of the political spectrum for what it was.

    Thank you for finally contradicting your earlier point, which was, and I quote:

    The founders never thought for a minute "language alone" should get you into trouble.

    Unless you are prepared to assert that John Adams was not a "founder" then you have now established why your previous generalized statement that the founders all opposed criminalization of speech was wrong. John Adams was perfectly happy to see people go to prison merely for criticizing him. He was wrong about that, of course, but that was nevertheless his view. I agree with you that Jefferson was by far the better thinker as regards free speech.

    I now await your erudite analysis concerning the Founders' desire (according to you) to place true threats and libel beyond the reach of the law.

    Or, since you can't provide any such analysis, maybe it's time to simply admit that you overstated things a tad? Or, you could just pretend you never said what you said, and just hurl some more insults. I know which road I believe you'll take.

  311. SloopyinTEXAS says

    Adams made a complete about-face in signing the Sedition Act.

    As for the words and actions of the authors, Jefferson and Madison, they remained consistent in vilifying the infringement on the 1A. Unfortunately for them Marbury hadn't yet granted the Supreme Court the right to hear a case on the Sedition Act. So they, instead, used the power of the pardon on all persons convicted while it was in effect as soon as they got into office.

    Is that the response you were expecting?

  312. says

    Is that the response you were expecting?

    One ignoring the challenge to show true threats and libel beyond the reach of the law, in the eyes of "the Founders"? Yes.

  313. Ken Shultz says

    I don't think it's fair to say that just because Adams criminalized political speech once he became President that this means the founders didn't support free political speech.

    I remember when candidate Senator Obama was okay with Bush's warrantless wiretapping because it supposedly didn't involve the collection of data about Americans. Once he got into office, somehow, that all went out the window, but saying that candidate Obama never cared about the Fourth Amendment is missing the point.

    American history is full of Presidents who abandoned the principles they campaigned on once they got into the White House. If Adams was one of the first, that doesn't mean the founders didn't want to protect political speech. And we are talking about political speech in these "offending" comments at Hit & Run. They're political speech from an ideological point of view written in reaction to something inflammatory a public official said in defense of her own ideology.

    In the old days, people used to threaten armed insurrection and secession and really mean it. Who was convicted for such speech back then? Was anyone even indicted? Was John Brown convicted for what he said or for what he did?

  314. Ed says

    I see nk, like any other communist, wants free drugs.
    Those like nk might try joining the productive class where people pay "dealers" for what they want and feel so much better about themselves.

  315. SloopyinTEXAS says

    Have you now dug in so far that you can't even take the words of the authors, as well as their subsequent actions, at face value? Are you letting Adams glom onto them so as to support your point, incorrectly? Not all of the founders were in lockstep on everything. But the actual authors of the 1A were pretty clear in their words and deeds when it came to the Sedition Act.

    Your argument would be akin to saying that John Adams was pro-slavery because the constitution permitted it and he was a founding father. Just, you know, because he participated in its enactment.

  316. says

    I don't think it's fair to say that just because Adams criminalized political speech once he became President that this means the founders didn't support free political speech.

    Well, if you review the exchange, I was actually taking issue with a much broader (and indefensible) claim: that "[t]he founders never thought for a minute 'language alone' should get you into trouble." My point is that: (1) "the founders" is a very broad term, and the actions of some of them show that they immediately failed to live up to the principles enshrined in the Constitution, and (2) the founders never thought for a minute that things like libel or true threats would be protected by the First Amendment. The Sedition Act example goes to point 1.

  317. Sammy Finkelman says

    It's judges like these that will be taken out back and shot

    I don't like this at all, but this threat is clearly in the context of a revolution that has overthrown the government

    The commentator doesn't indicate that he is going to overthrow the government, or that he would be in charge, but rather that he hopes or thinks – not truly expects – that some others who would in charge would do that sort of thing, and I think we can interpret this as something other than one person making the decision to kill someone, and that those other people are not known to the commentator…

    Since the probablity of a revolution overthrowing the government and replacing it by people he likes is minuscule, and he isn't even portraying himself as playing an active role, this doesn't really amount to anything. In another country this could be maybe something to worry about.

    There's no potential crime here.

    Now maybe you could worry that if he says this, he might say or do something else.

    I think the most anyone should ask for a forthright disavowal of this being a threat, or a warning on that thread that it will be taken as a threat if it is repeated.

  318. Ken Shultz says

    Well, like I wrote above, I think speech is like the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment doesn't give you the right to violate someone else's rights with your gun, and the First Amendment doesn't give you the right to violate someone else's rights with your speech.

    I think Sloopy is correct to suggest that the founders didn't expect inflammatory political speech to be criminalized, and I think that, especially in the run up to the Civil War, people routinely said things that amounted to calls for violence, revolutionary action, sedition, and secession, on both sides of the slavery debate. Sometimes they said it from church pulpits and sometimes at political rallies, but such speech was not routinely prosecuted–perhaps in large part because it was political speech.

    John Brown was convicted of conspiracy, but, again, that was after what he did–not because of what he advocated. But John Brown, and others like him, spent plenty of time advocating for violent insurrection. And I can't think of anyone, on either side of the slavery debate, who was tried, much less convicted, for doing that.

    Aaron Burr was tried for conspiracy, but he was acquitted.

    It's important to remember, too, that during the Revolutionary War period, and it's run-up, the newspapers of the day could be extremely inflammatory–especially against the crown. To suggest that the founders didn't know what they were protecting or that they weren't protecting speech that calls for insurrection and revolution seems naive. The founders gave us the Second Amendment so that we could rise up against a standing army of the federal government in the future if that should ever become necessary. Knowing all of that, why would anyone think that they weren't protecting calls for insurrection and violence in the First Amendment?

  319. says

    Ken Shultz June 10, 2015 at 6:52 am

    It is even more delicious when you consider that now a days we have the Big Government Party pumping for smaller government in the area of Drug Prohibition.

    And as tasty as you can get : they are uniting with a Libertarian Republican faction in Congress to strike down the Prohibition laws.

    So yes – the Libertarian Party – nothing. The libertarian leaning faction of the Republicans? About 25%. Libertarian sentiment? Winning issues. Evidently this scares some people. And has made some others ("cough") come to their senses.

  320. PJ says

    "Well, placing to one side debates about the social contract and the like, it is the law. You make it sound like drug prohibition (or Drug Prohibition) is some alien force that descended upon society, never voted on by any duly constituted legislature.

    Now, if you want to have a wider debate about the legitimacy of government generally, that's fine, we can do that."

    Hmmm, what about the Fugitive Slave law? Would you still say, "It is the law?"

    I'm well aware this is a law blog, but it still takes my breath away to hear people say "It's the law" as if that is all that needs saying. Are we so completely unaware of history? Was Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia and Mao's China bereft of laws? Was that their problem?

    So yes, the answer to your last question, is that we need to also discuss government legitimacy and things of that nature. The thing that makes this event notable, that so draws the outrage, is precisely because the judge acts as if there is no history to deal with, and that there is no question of legitimacy, and never can be such a question. Even such merely conventional, traditional views as "the punishment should fit the crime" are ignored by her.

    "If the DOJ actually succeeds in prosecuting, what do you honestly think the true outcome is? A possible attempt on a judges life is thwarted? Or a sudden chill effect on internet speech?"

    The latter of course; but there are even larger effects. When government officials commit such outrages, what happens to legitimacy? How many people are going to conclude from this event, finally, that there is no legitimacy? Legitimacy is the life-blood of every government, yet here the government is pissing it away. It's as if they can't help themselves; it's "in their nature".

  321. SloopyinTEXAS says

    My point is that: (1) "the founders" is a very broad term, and the actions of some of them show that they immediately failed to live up to the principles enshrined in the Constitution, and (2) the founders never thought for a minute that things like libel or true threats would be protected by the First Amendment. The Sedition Act example goes to point 1.

    The "founders" more directly means the ones responsible for drafting the actual 1A, but even taken more broadly, I'm pressed to find any that, at the time of the writing or prior to it, advocated criminalizing speech of an incendiary nature. Perhaps one prominent one, or his followers, changed his mind at a later date but that doesn't negate his words or lack thereof at the time the 1A was written and enshrined.

    I challenge you to find a single instance of a person criminally convicted of speech alone prior to the Sedition Act, which wasn't overturned merely because the Marbury case hadn't been heard yet.

  322. SloopyinTEXAS says

    I'll add one more point: anybody that includes the Alien Acts (Naturalization Act, Alien Friends Act and Alien Enemies Acts) in a discussion of speech has wildly missed the intention of those laws and their application. Those who were punished under those acts were punished merely for existing, not for speaking in an incendiary tone. And although the Alien Enemies Act was upheld, It is still an amoral piece of garbage that is a black eye on our nation.

  323. Marshall Gill says

    Wow. Why do reasonoids come to this site? It can't be because the authors defend human Liberty because it appears pretty obvious that they do not. The expansion of "law" is not a defense of Liberty. NRO is different how?

    Ken, why are you arguing with a Dunphy supporter? Clearly they believe is no limit to "law" which has no actual relation to Law. Obey your betters, right Patterico? Law is nothing more than a game you use to advance your finances? Sickening.

  324. Hyperion says

    First post on this site. Been a regular on H&R for nearly a decade.

    This appears to me, to be a thinly veiled outright attack on Reason.com for what they stand for, personal liberty and all that goes with it, including the first amendment. I've been expecting something like this for a long time , not sure what took them so long.

  325. says

    PJ June 10, 2015 at 9:16 am

    What is so Good about Prohibition is that it is causing some on the Left to loose their faith in government.

    The Left can't help being anti-Prohibitionist at this point ("the Right supports it") but such an attitude is antithetical to their bigger goal (Big Brother).

  326. SloopyinTEXAS says

    Ken, why are you arguing with a Dunphy supporter?

    I take it that's for me. I don't know why…perhaps I thought somebody might actually look at a principled argument vs a Parsi g one and change their mind? Perhaps I'm just bored waiting on this next baby to get here (Justice Forall Spicer) next Friday. Either way, it is apparent in not getting through to my intended target.

    I recoil thinking what they'd want done to me for literally naming a pig Dunphy and then slaughtering him months later. I wonder if theu would have considered it a real threat when I posted "I'm going to have to kill little Dunphy today."

    And now I miss fresh pork on top of everything else.

  327. nk says

    @ Ken Shultz
    June 10, 2015 at 6:52 am

    If somebody calls himself a knight, I picture him in a full suit of armor. If somebody calls himself Libertarian, I ascribe to him all the accoutrements of Libertarianism. I freely concede the fallacy of labels. In Europe, "Libertarians" were also called Anarcho-Socialists or Ultra-Socialists. But it's not a label I stuck on; they stuck it on themselves.

    I do notice, BTW, that you use small "l" libertarian in describing yourself and I understand that there is supposed to be a difference but I do not know what it is. I have been called that by Social Justice Warrior Progressives in their softer moments when we agree about the obligations of the State to the individual. The going gets rough with them, as it does with you all, when the discussion is about the obligations of the individual to the State (or polity, society, community).

    As for trolling … never done it. Not fly fishing, either I just like to sit on the rocks by the shore, bait my hook, and let the fish come up to it. ^_^ But I'll stop. A poison-peddling POS (Silk Road) is not worth any more fuss.

  328. says

    nk June 10, 2015 at 10:01 am

    So you admit you are an expert in a subject you are rather unfamiliar with.

    Angling for a government job? Or perhaps you already have one.

    And to top it off you are rather unfamiliar with the Libertarian Republican faction in Congress. But you are really up on Anarcho-Socialists.

    As to peddling poison. I take it you are AOK with dealers in alcohol.

    ========================

    What I really like about anti-libertarians is their incoherence. It is a great advertisement for their positions.

    I know. I know. It doesn't have to be rational if you believe in it. Thank you very much.

  329. says

    Ken White
    June 10, 2015 at 10:11 am

    This thread is a nice example of a Reason thread. Props for breaking the story. But what did you expect from "the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery" ?

    This ain't even close to as bad as it gets.

  330. SloopyinTEXAS says

    Not a peep, Tarran. And I really wanted to before baby Reason has her surgery later this summer.

  331. Trent says

    I remember when candidate Senator Obama was okay with Bush's warrantless wiretapping because it supposedly didn't involve the collection of data about Americans.

    The NSAs plans for bulk collection of telephone data started under the bush Administration. Though the Utah NSA data center wasn't completed until Obama was elected it was well under construction before he was. Utah's government began planning and installing all the required infrastructure (roads, power lines, a new power plant, etc) years before Obama was elected. Based on a prior whistle-blower from AT&T that divulged the existence of a direct fiber connection from the NSA into AT&T switches shortly after 9/11 I would be willing to bet that declassified intelligence would show that the bulk collection was started within a year of 9/11. The NSA likely had sufficient storage for several years worth of data within their existing data centers and planned the new one (it was extremely rapid construction) to coincide with the exhaustion of that space. Once Obama was elected he was then faced with daily briefings by the very groups that planned and executed this bulk collection. He deserves fault for continuing it, but not for setting up the program. This all started years before he even considered running for president.

    The Left can't help being anti-Prohibitionist at this point ("the Right supports it") but such an attitude is antithetical to their bigger goal (Big Brother).

    The "Left" as you call it has been opposed to Prohibition since Carter. Carter made moves to end the war on drugs almost immediately after it was started. It has nothing at all to do with the Republican position on the matter and everything to do with the total invasion of rights that the war on drugs represents.

  332. SloopyinTEXAS says

    Trent, I guess Clinton signing the sentencing enhancement bill that really put the WoD on steroids is a figment of my imagination.

    as for the NSA spying, Obama could have ended the illegal program any time he wanted and prosecuted those carrying it out for civil rights violations. He's every bit as guilty as Bush et al.

  333. says

    Trent June 10, 2015 at 10:36 am

    "The "Left" as you call it has been opposed to Prohibition since Carter."

    Really? Then why didn't they end it when they had House and Senate majorities and the Presidency?

    Why did Bill Clinton ramp up the WOD. A move that Hillary – with opposition to the WOD now exceeding 50% – says was a mistake

    Their opposition is opportunism. IMO.

  334. says

    Not a peep, Tarran. And I really wanted to before baby Reason has her surgery later this summer.

    That's a shame. I really hope that he is too busy with that Ukranian doctor girlfriend of his, and not a victim of the latest unpleasantness happening over there. :(

  335. Jon Marcus says

    Errr…I think I'll decline to take a deep breath while immersed in a bag of dicks. Sounds unpleasant at best, and quite possibly dangerous.

  336. Bryan says

    TL:DR, blahblahblah.

    Investigators should get the warrants just for the lulz. It would be so funny to see videos of the pants-crapping done by the internet tough-guys when the real world comes a-knockin'.

  337. Dale Saran says

    Some of the worst decisions the Supreme Court has ever made were its first decisions on the issue of sovereign immunity. I'd been meaning to write about its ugly consequences – and the error of its analysis – for some time, but got sidetracked. Much of the police brutality, unjust (and frequently racist) prosecutions, abuse by legislators and judges, stems from these cases on "sovereign immunity." The term itself indicates the completely erroneous nature of the decisions. I get they only had English common law to work with by way of background, but the idea that any public official should be entitled to the same kind of exemption from accountability as "the Crown" had been – is fucking hysterical. Think about it – we fought a war specifically to prove we weren't to be governed by an unaccountable, unchecked sovereign. Then the Courts – designed to protect our individual freedoms against overzealous government officials – gave those very same public officials either qualified, or near complete, immunity for their actions, even when those acts can be shown to have been done with malice, vindictiveness, in disregard of their oaths of office, etc. It might be one of the greatest acts of abdication ever by the courts and now it has become so entrenched as a doctrine, no one even questions it. It's "well-settled law" – much as slavery was "well settled law" for quite some time, until enough people got pissed enough to change that. We won't be free-men/women again until enough people are pissed off and elected officials are held accountable. That Patterico doesn't like it because he's part of that class of protected officials (if I understand that you, like me, are also an attorney) is completely unsurprising (and someone above said libertarians lack self-awareness?).
    Criticize the King's Men (of course, of course!)…just not in terms that imply the peasants might be tired of being under the yoke of their "betters." That's too far.

  338. Francisco d'Anconia says

    If everybody could take a deep breath and not be a huge bag of dicks, I would be so happy.

    Um….

    DOJ is targeting Reason.com, a leading libertarian website whose clever writing is eclipsed only by the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery.

  339. barry says

    One irony here is that only last week reason.com published "Europe Goes Down the Memory Hole With the 'Right to Be Forgotten'" which ended with curious sentence:

    But you should nonetheless remain vigilant, and watch for any expansion of privacy protections at the expense of the freedom to discover history and truth.

    Then the DOJ says "screw privacy protections, we want to discover history and truth". Is everybody happy now?

  340. Ken Shultz says

    Trent,

    The NSAs plans for bulk collection of telephone data started under the bush Administration. Though the Utah NSA data center wasn't completed until Obama was elected it was well under construction before he was. Utah's government began planning and installing all the required infrastructure (roads, power lines, a new power plant, etc) years before Obama was elected.

    I know that whither Bush or Obama is ultimately responsible for some travesty is of utmost importance to some non-libertarians. On the issue of warrantless wiretapping and the mass collection of our communication data, most libertarians say "a pox on both their houses."

    But let's take a stroll down memory lane, anyway…

    "Dennis McDonough, a foreign policy adviser to the Obama campaign, said in a conference call this morning that legislation expanding presidential power to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans' communications is acceptable to Senator Obama because the United States Inspector General will ensure accountability."

    —-July 2008, during Barack Obama's first Presidential campaign.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/m.s.-bellows/obama-adviser-well-trust_b_108904.html

    The fact is that Obama made like he was worried about protecting our Fourth Amendment rights from government abuse, and when he got into the White House, all of that concern blew out the window. Despite what candidate Obama was saying when he was campaigning, all of that concern for our Fourth Amendment rights went out the window once he made it into the White House. Whatever Bush was doing before Obama, Obama, at best, endorsed it all in practice and, at worst, he expanded the abuse of our Fourth Amendment rights. Like I said, "a pox on both their houses".

    I mentioned that to counter the observation that if one of the founders suddenly opposed political speech once he made it into the White House, that means the founders were against inflammatory political speech or that that the First Amendment wasn't intended to protect inflammatory political speech. The First Amendment was intended to protect inflammatory political speech. Just like Barack Obama (or George W. Bush) wiping their asses with the Fourth Amendment doesn't mean that neither of them ever supported the Fourth Amendment before they made it into the White House. Hell, as I recall (from my faulty memory), there were libertarians on staff at Reason that supported Barack Obama at certain points specifically because of what he was saying about warrantless wiretapping. I certainly remember there were Reason staff who voted for Barack Obama the first time.

    Regardless, if an early President abandoned the founders' principles once he achieved the White House, that doesn't mean the founders didn't have any principles.

  341. Francisco d'Anconia says

    @KenWhite

    Other than the the jab at the commentariat, I do want to thank you for your support on this issue. It's getting out of control and it will take responsible journalists to quell it.

    /one of the peanut gallery

  342. Dale Saran says

    TL:DR, blahblahblah.

    Investigators should get the warrants just for the lulz. It would be so funny to see videos of the pants-crapping done by the internet tough-guys when the real world comes a-knockin'.

    Now that's an intelligent and thoughtful comment, Bryan. You're too fucking lazy to read what others wrote, can't be bothered to inform yourself of the issues, but you think it's cool that public officials have targeted a website they don't like that criticizes the decisions of public officials – essentially wiping their ass with the U.S. Constitution. All because you don't like "internet tough guys." You sound like a real peach yourself.

  343. Scooby says

    @Dale- Some of the worst internet tough guys I've seen are those that think that the gov't is on their side (and that they are safe from capricious prosecutors) just because they are good cheerleaders for unrestrained gov't power.

  344. Dale Saran says

    Scooby – Indeed. Trolls gonna troll, so I don't know why I even responded. While his point about internet tough guys may generally have some merit, it has no applicability to Agamemnon's case or the other commenters at Reason, but whatever. I suppose it sounds good (and tough) in its own way. As in, "Yeah, we'll see what happens when the Swede shows up!" "Swede. Swede. Swede!"

  345. Warrren says

    The example for the definition of 'interminable' at eDicktionary.com now points to this thread. Good job everyone!

  346. Warrren says

    I'm an H&R regular. But this is a different site with a different owner and a different culture. So transplanting or grafting H&R norms into here may be just a tad rude.

  347. says

    Warrren June 10, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Free Speech also points to this thread. And just in case you were wondering if Ken was aware of what he was getting into:

    "clever writing is eclipsed only by the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery."

  348. Bob says

    I wonder how the comments and reaction would be if this was not about freedum loving libertarians but claimed Islamic extremists? The double standard of authoritarians masking behind a yellow Gadsden flag is so obvious it has moved beyond dog whistles.

  349. Dale Saran says

    @Bob – a fair point and one we should all remain cognizant of. Let's hope that when they "come for the Muslims" – simply because they are Muslims – as they did to the Japanese in WWII, that we have at least as much outrage. I do think it bespeaks well of most of the H&R commenters to remember that they were outraged over the conviction and sentence given to a fairly unsavory character, Ross Ulbricht. It's not like they were protesting over the incarceration of Mother Theresa. And now, for Reason's temerity in covering the issue -and its commenters vitriol – it's finding out that the government – OUR government, is going to give them a wirebrushing, AUSA stylie. Freedom loving Americans should be horrified, but it's amazing how many people will simultaneously admit it's wrong, but still try to defend it, all because it's happening over an issue they happen to disagree with. It's unbelievable what people will say in complete disregard of principles they claim to hold. Cognitive dissonance has no limits to its irony.

  350. Beezard says

    Bob- I'd say that double standard definitely exists, but it's not terribly prevalent at Reason.

  351. SloopyinTEXAS says

    The double standard of authoritarians masking behind a yellow Gadsden flag is so obvious it has moved beyond dog whistles.

    Looks like somebody missed the majority of reason posters' reaction to the NYC Mosque controversy.

    That, or he projects his inconsistencies onto others.

  352. Doly says

    There's justice for the powerful, and there's justice for the little people.

    My husband was on the bottom rung of the social ladder. His neighbour stabbed him several times, then took away his mobile so he couldn't ring emergency services. I'm guessing he expected him to die. Luckily, my husband recovered consciousness and there was another mobile in the flat, so he managed to call an ambulance and survived the attack. Afterwards, he told the police who had stabbed him, only to be told that after searching his place they found no proof he was behind the attack. There were never any charges for attempted murder.

    On the other hand, a powerful person feels threatened by somebody getting mouthy on the Internet, and they can get the cops after this person, no problem.

    Somebody tell this judge that, as a member of the powerful classes, they may be entitled to harass anyone with little reason. But if they weren't a member of the powerful classes, they would be pretty powerless if somebody killed a relative of theirs. And that it's supposed to be judges who prevent this sort of stuff from happening.

  353. Ken Shultz says

    I wonder how the comments and reaction would be if this was not about freedum loving libertarians but claimed Islamic extremists? The double standard of authoritarians masking behind a yellow Gadsden flag is so obvious it has moved beyond dog whistles.

    This is where those Reason archives I was talking about come in handy. Go look it up yourself!

    Reason was universal in its condemnation of torture, extraordinary rendition, its condemnation of refusing legal council to accused terrorists, its condemnation of refusing to give accused terrorists trials, etc., etc. They've also stood up for the right of free speech against the sensitivities of Muslim fundamentalists.

    Libertarians have stood up for both the right of gays to marry and the right of Christian fundamentalists not to be compelled by the government to cater gay weddings if doing so violates their religious convictions.

    The best thing about being a libertarian is that you don't have to pick your positions based on whether you like the people you're standing up for. I stand up for the rights of scumbags all the time because it isn't really them I'm standing up for. I'm standing up for their rights–becasue those are my rights, too. Funny how close that's now landing to home. There we were saying that if we don't stand up for the constitutional rights of Muslims, we may find our-libertarian-selves being targeted for criticizing the government some day. I guess that day is here!

    There are so many people out there who imagine libertarians are the Tea Party. Meanwhile, the Gadsden Flag people flood into our threads about immigration denouncing us as traitors for our positions on open borders and such. I suppose when we're being denounced by liberals for being the Tea Party even while we're being denounced by the Tea Party for being liberals, that must mean we're doing it about right.

  354. Dale Saran says

    @Ken Shultz – Amen (but not in any kind of "state establishment" kind of way… or in any way that might microaggress an atheist or anything… or that might indicate control over a Deity such that if I said a particular judge should "go to hell" that I really meant that to be an action item for next month… No way, Jose, that was just a generic use of the term to indicate profound philosphical assent. For the record.)

  355. Paul says

    Remarkable. I'm not sure I've ever seen an Internet thread as thoroughly hijacked as this one, and I used to be a blogger. "Lawyer" blogs such as Popehat and Patterico have long been among my most important resources in attempting to understand the legal arcana that governs our lives (whether we like reality or not). "Reason" is a great site, as are Popehat and Patterico, NRO, etc. I usually bother to read the intelligent and enlightening subsidiary commentary at the latter three, as well, because the respondents are generally hugely enlightening. But if the commentariat on this thread is representative of what damage a gang of obnoxious twerps can do to a cause–let alone a superb web site–then Ken White was exactly right. First time commenter here, btw, and have never commented at Reason.

  356. Beezard says

    You should see us during mating season.

    Anyway, three cheers for Ken White for being a window to this nonsense while Reason is in blackout. Seriously, it's great. Sorry we broke your lamp and puked on your ottoman.

  357. barry says

    @Grandy,

    It's not ironic given that you are suggesting a link between two entirely different things.

    There are differences, but I'm not seeing the 'entirely' bit.
    Is it that when the government can legally go through your stuff (with subpoenas etc) its not about privacy, and when it's done illegally it is about privacy?
    Or is the difference you are suggesting between when the government does it and when people do it?
    Or some major conceptual difference I've never seen? Irony might be subjective.

  358. Old Man With Candy says

    Paul, you should be taken out and shot, then be put into a woodchipper, feet first.

  359. Paul says

    I guess I'm paraphrasing, and probably bastardizing, the advice Ken White gave to one of my heroes Mark Steyn here, but the bottom line is this: It's all well and good to go all Russell Crowe and step into the arena shouting "I am Maximus [etc. & whatever] and I will have my revenge!!!" But you'd better know the rules of the arena, or you will die like a gallant, pathetic gladiator. Learn the "rules" of the combat you face.

  360. Ken Shultz says

    Paul,

    Someone's being dragged in front of a grand jury for saying "there's a hot place in hell", and you think there are coherent rules we're all supposed to know about?

    Do tell.

  361. says

    Well played, sir.

    Excuse me. I meant to say . . .

    That was a bit of alright, you malodorous, toffy-nosed pervert who should be forced to watch "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" re-runs until your eyes bleed.

    And I bid you good day.

  362. Paul Simpson says

    Ken Shultz,
    You will recall that the Roman head-of-state shoved a knife between the ribs of Russell Crowe/Maximus, a hero of the empire, and then challenged him to a "fair fight" in the arena. Those are the "coherent rules" that we're all supposed to know about. Really. Read Popehat more often. When the empire forces you into the arena, you'd better know what you're dealing with. That was my only point.

  363. Paul says

    I look forward to Ken White's next post on this subject, which is actually very important, and much needed by the masses that truly wish to circumvent tyranny.

  364. Paul says

    In my non-legal opinion, the host of this site could rest his case here:
    "a leading libertarian website whose clever writing is eclipsed only by the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery."

    You guys do no justice to our seriously libertarian cause.

  365. Francisco d'Anconia says

    You guys do no justice to our seriously libertarian cause.

    Why? Because we approach liberty with humor and camaraderie?

    Perhaps we should be more serious like the Republicans who haven't attracted a follower under the age of 40 in two decades? Or should we mirror the Democrats who reason with feelings and haven't had a logically consistent thought in 4 decades?.

    Unbutton your top button, Paul. Maybe loosen your tie. Life can be fun and principled at the same time.

  366. Paul says

    Why? Because a very serious person, who knows of what he speaks, has outed a very serious abuse of the Grand Jury process. I would think that important to libertarians. But loosen your tie and relax. Do a bong, bro.

  367. Ken Shultz says

    Paul,

    Try to relax.

    Reason is where libertarianism meets the real world.

    You can't have an impact in the real world and keep the gospel locked up in your ivory tower, too.

    And from what I've seen, your ivory tower thinking could use a little scrutiny.

    You should come over to Reason sometime, but try to relax.

  368. Dale Saran says

    In my non-legal opinion, the host of this site could rest his case here:
    "a leading libertarian website whose clever writing is eclipsed only by the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery."

    You guys do no justice to our seriously libertarian cause.

    In my legal opinion, you're a humorless dink. There, now what?

    I've been a lawyer for 15 years and was in the military for over 20 – and I find the Reason "commentariat" to be quite erudite, they just don't care much for which fork you eat dinner with or any of that faux sophisticate nonsense.
    You have to lurk a while to begin to appreciate the humor and the history that's resident there. These people obviously know each other and have for some time. I've been a part of a few online communities like that and there never fails to be someone like you, @Paul, who neither gets the joke, nor the general tenor of the debate, but is the first to insist that you're better than those proles who use dirty words to make their points. Paul, you know what's more boorish than using the F word? Acting like you're the smartest guy in the room when you're obviously not or like you're better than the people who actually understand what's going on. "The Libertarian cause" doesn't need professors in smoking jackets to publish papers in academic journals that will "clearly" show why it's superior to either Statist Team Red or Statist Team Blue. It could use more folks like Mike Rowe (and I may be putting words in his mouth, but I get the distinct feeling that he's a closet libertarian based upon some things I've seen him say and he's publicly said he reads. Find me another kind of descriptor for a guy who reads lots of Hayek). And yeah, maybe you could use a bong, bro. Right about now, given what members of my profession – like Judge KATHERINE FORREST and AUSA NIKETH VALAMOOR (you f***ing twerp) – are doing, giving the whole lot of us an even worse black eye, I'm sure I could. I'm pretty sure they both could, too.

  369. Paul says

    Oh yes, God will have his judgment on all you bongers. But the government will grab your stoned asses for something else, and you won't even notice.

  370. Ken Shultz says

    Not that I'm buying what you're selling, Paul, but even if you were right, you know, the central purpose of libertarianism isn't necessarily to avoid conflict with the government.

  371. Paige says

    Not just npr. Found on WSJ site as well. Google news pulls up 55 references, though many are smaller blogs, there's a sprinkling of heavier hitters. The good news…they spelled Ken W's name right. This is about to get interesting….

  372. Dale Saran says

    Ah-hahahhaha. There it is!

    Oh yes, God will have his judgment on all you bongers. But the government will grab your stoned asses for something else, and you won't even notice.

    I can't remember where the part is in the New testament about God having his judgment on all the stoners. "And lo, thou shalt be smitten with mine right hand for thine use of the wacky tabacky…"
    And come to think of it, why was Moses talking to a burning bush, anyway?? I mean, of all the ways in which the Divine could appear, don't you find that kind of odd, @Paul? Can you explain why it is that God decided to "smoke a bush" (and not metaphorically, I might add), but he's going to render judgment on those of his flock who do the exact same thing?

  373. Old Man With Candy says

    Dale, Mike Rowe is pretty upfront about his small-l libertarianism. He's exceptionally thoughtful and articulate- I wish some more libertarian political candidates were like that.

  374. Dale Saran says

    OMWC – Thanks. I don't follow him closely enough to have caught that (and I dumped my facebook page, which I do every now and again to preserve my sanity), but he strikes me as being right in there with the commenters at Reason. Maybe less F-bombs, but no doubt he would get a chuckle (and maybe does!). I see people constantly hitting him up about running for office and all kidding aside, I think he should. Celebrities have a "known by the public factor" that can't be overstated and women adore the guy. Dudes like him for his "Dirty Jobs" and blue-collar sensibilities. Shit, I can't think of a part of the electorate that wouldn't vote for the guy – except of course hardcore Team Red and Blue folks, but I don't think they really are a large enough bloc against the vast majority of reasonable Americans. The problem is that they're well-funded and control the debate, however.

  375. says

    @barry

    There are differences, but I'm not seeing the 'entirely' bit.
    Is it that when the government can legally go through your stuff (with subpoenas etc) its not about privacy, and when it's done illegally it is about privacy?
    Or is the difference you are suggesting between when the government does it and when people do it?
    Or some major conceptual difference I've never seen? Irony might be subjective.

    One can hold the positions that (1) the European "right to be forgotten" is bad (2) the Reason subpoena is bad and (3) a right to privacy should exist and there's nothing at all inconsistent in believing these three things. In the case of Reason, the US government is acting dubiously (if not illegally) in what is nothing more than a shameful power play that could have disturbing long term consequences (but won't, because someone totally boss is going to be on this like white on rice, and Uncle Sam is going to be on the business end of a suplex from the top turnbuckle). In the case of the Euro-law, there's essentially no governing body except dudes and dudettes at Google (et al) who have to decide whether or not a convicted criminal should be allowed to essentially whitewash his or her own history online (probably with the risk of denying such a request bringing the courts in, but I don't know how it works). The Eurolaw is absurd and suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of technology (I don't believe, but could be wrong, that the Eurolaw allows one to e.g. have news papers and copies of such things destroyed for the same reasons). A right to privacy exists amidst a sea of other rights, and the positions of people stateside will certainly be colored by our award winning first amendment protections.

    Suggesting there is irony afoot only works if we're using Alabama Rules of Word Meanings. "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

  376. Paul says

    Jesus will wreak his righteous vengeance upon all you bong-swilling perverts.

    Anyway, so who's the brilliant Libertarian candidate who will protect your rights this year?

  377. Dale Saran says

    Smoked the wrong Bush.

    Very nice, Shipmate.
    (Tip o' the cap and my saltiest salute).

  378. Plàya Manhattan says

    To Ken White:

    Thank you for your work. If you're ever down the 405, I'll buy you a (nice) steak dinner.

  379. Dale Saran says

    Playa – I don't know you, but I've seen your posts on Reason enough to extend the same offer. If anyone is ever "down the 405" far enough to be in North County SD, dinner and cold ones are on me.

  380. SloopyinTEXAS says

    Well everybody at Reason knows they're always welcome at my place for a wonderful (grass-fed!) steak. I'll extend that to everybody at popehat…especially those that argued with me in good faith and good fun.

  381. JW says

    And a couple dozen crabs and beer, should you find yourself in MD, Dale. Paul can clean up the mess after. That seems to be his calling.

  382. Dale Saran says

    I have kids back east and not that far away, JW. I mean to hold you to it. Some Old Bay on the crabcakes sounds mighty good this time of year…

  383. Dale Saran says

    Ha. Nice place, Playa. I've been to the one in downtown. Have a friend at a firm right next door.
    Next time!

  384. Paul says

    Dale: there's an old Internet truism that says "On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog." But God knows when you say sinful things, and He will subpoena your records at the final reckoning with even more relentless disregard than the DoJ. So put that bong away, and cease your other libertine transgressions.

  385. says

    Paul June 10, 2015 at 8:02 pm,

    According to this you are a blasphemer. Get right with the Maker.

    Hebrew Etymology

    You know what Jesus said about the false churches that would arise. It appears you have been snared by one.

  386. says

    Paul,

    The oil that Jesus used heals. What other oil do we know about (Federally illegal) that heals? Well read the Hebrew…. article to learn more.

  387. Plàya Manhattan says

    Again, I'd like to thank Ken White for what he is doing here. It's no coincidence that this story was broken by one of the premier 1st amendment attorneys practicing law in this country today.

    In addition to thanking Ken, which I can't do enough, I'd also like to apologize for dragging our Reason trolls here. This blog is better than that. I'm sorry that we forgot to wipe our feet on the way in.

  388. Ken Shultz says

    I think it's interesting that Paul doesn't seem to be able to grok that there are people who want to end the drug war that don't do drugs.

    I wonder if he thinks everyone who's against using the government to discriminate against gay people is gay?

    Incidentally, Paul, I opposed the Iraq War, but I've never been in the military.

    As I was saying in a Reason thread the other day, to me there is no more concise and thorough description of libertarianism than, "Do unto others as you would have done unto you".

    Just becasue we take that kind of logic seriously doesn't mean we're gay or potheads.

  389. Mr Drew says

    Was that a grrr for yum or a grrr expressing a non-belief in the superiority of grass fed?

  390. Paige says

    Excellent interview, Mr. White. Hope you get to "lawsplain" as adequately on something with a bigger distribution than HuffPo live…though news is changing. For my parents, there's a "mainstream". For my generation (I'm 33, for the record), I'm not so sure that's true…

  391. says

    Plàya Manhattan June 10, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Judging by

    Paul June 10, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    The real trolls are regulars here. And that is a very amusing thing to say.

    Also amusing when I pointed out to Patterico about certain laws not being obeyed. He asked, "Murder?" And I said "I can tell the difference between murder and a Pastrami sandwich."

    Some people get so caught up in law that they forget about inalienable rights and justice. And those are the real trolls. Not surprising that hey populate a Law blog. The blog owner – Ken – seems a cut above his commenters. Several cuts above.

  392. Plàya Manhattan says

    Interesting concept. Liberty applies to OTHER people.
    I've never smoked weed in my life, even though I went to Berkeley (sorry again, Ken. But Stanfurd sucks). But I know that it's wrong to lock people in cages for doing so.

  393. Cromwell Descendant says

    The Judge is a Fink!

    I for one will be singing When We Were Under the King all night. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cQK7ivQ2h4

    The little tailor may still run through Hell with his broadcloth under his arm. But it is his broadcloth under his arm.

    Is this subpoena truly theirs, or is it a stolen injustice?

  394. SloopyinTEXAS says

    Francisco d'Anconia June 10, 2015 at 9:01 pm
    @Mr Drew

    The latter.

    You know you're still welcome any time, right? Even if it's just to cure you of your addiction to corn-fed meat.

  395. Ken Shultz says

    Plàya Manhattan,

    I don't know about how liberty belongs to other people; It's more like I see other people's rights being violated as my own.

    During the worst of the War on Terror, we used to talk about how if we don't stick up for the rights of Muslims now, someday government officials might target libertarians for criticizing government officials online. And here we are years later with one of our own being sent before a grand jury for saying he hopes there's an especially hot place in hell for rotten judges.

    If I want to live in a society where I'm free to make choices for myself, then I have to stick up for other people in that society who are unjustly being deprived of their right to make choices for themselves. It's still about sticking up for my own rights. It's just that when I see gays, potheads, Muslims, or whomever having their rights violated, I don't think to myself, "Well, I'm not a gay, Muslim, pothead, so none of that has anything to do with me". I think, "Those are my rights they're violating.".

    Do unto others as you would have done unto you, indeed. There are a number of reasons why Tea Party types shouldn't treat all Muslims like terrorists, but isn't the most obvious that they shouldn't want to make it socially acceptable for people with non-mainstream beliefs to be treated like terrorists–since, you know, Tea Party type beliefs aren't in the mainstream?

    That's all i was tryin' to say. I'm not a Republican who wants to smoke pot.

  396. says

    Ken Shultz
    June 10, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    "I'm not a Republican who wants to smoke pot."

    Well I am. If it was legal. And we have a son…. Who could use the medicine. Badly. It might not work. But the stuff he is getting now is killing him. Breaks our hearts.

  397. Brian says

    Thank you Ken White, you have verified what I have suspected to be the case for days. The vermin running our filthy rotten government have adapted the SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) into a SIAPP (Strategic Investigation Against Public Participation) and they can easily get away with using it to subvert the first amendment whenever they damn well please.

  398. Phil B says

    Just pay for a good VPN. They're not that expensive.

    Then the government can subpoena the websites you want to comment on all they like. All they're going to get back are IP addresses that fifty thousands other people are on that also keep no record of any kind as to who is assigned to what, or even who is connected when.

  399. MaxZ says

    I know there is a promise to stand up to attacks on free speech, but the US Attorney's Office has a logical position here, uses some sound axioms and probably (although I'm not sure) the commentators started it. No reason to get involved in this slap-fight. What would Jesus do? Undoubtedly, say 'Meh', shrug and walk away.

  400. Ken Shultz says

    MaxZ,

    Jesus didn't shrug and walk away.

    He said, "If ye have done so unto one of the least of my brethren, ye have done so unto me."

  401. Scooby says

    Since there's no Temple anymore, would He be overturning tables over at the SDNY US Attorney's office?

  402. Alan McIntire says

    Threatening a public official is a crime. I remember here in San Joaquin County California several years ago when some nut who didn't get his social security check on time threatened to kill then congressman Richard Pombo. The feds were all over it and quickly arrested the fellow.

    You can call judges, congressmen, and other pubilc officials crazy, say they're nuts and should be checked out by a psychologist, say they're acting like assholes, but once you threaten to KILL the, you've crossed the line.

  403. says

    Alan McIntire:

    once you threaten to KILL the, you've crossed the line.

    Yes, but you're missing the entire point of the post: NO ONE DID THAT.

    There is a huge difference, both legal and moral, between saying "I will kill person X at time Y" and "It'd be great if person X ate a bullet."

    The former is, depending on context, perhaps a true threat. The latter is not, and thus has NOT "crossed the line".

  404. Ken Shultz says

    Alan McIntire also seems to be missing the fact that the Supreme Court has already ruled that it isn't a crime if it's hyperbole and said within the context of political advocacy.

    Please see Watts v. United States, in which someone supposedly threatened to assassinate President Johnson specifically. The Court saw right through it.

  405. says

    I chuckled, a bit nervously, as I saw that you folks were in the DoJ's sites for the comments posted on Reason. I am a careful coucher. I regularly call for the impeachment, trial, removal, indictment, trial, conviction and THEN execution of Barack Obama for his treasons related to the Benghazi affair. My caution makes clear my intention that such ends be obtained by lawful means.

    I learned my caution by being sued for calling abortion murder, and for comparing a local abortion clinic to Auschwitz. We won, but I learned that winning doesn't mean not getting beat up on. So, now, with an actual legal education, and 25 years of federal constitutional law practice under my belt, I just go with the couched phrasing route.

    Still, I've read and re-read your words:

    Agammamon: “Its judges like these that should be taken out back and shot.”

    Croaker: “Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly. Especially if you feed them in feet first.”

    Rhywun: “I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman.”

    ProductPlacement: “I'd prefer a hellish place on Earth be reserved for her as well.”

    None of these constitutes a "true threat."

    Agammamon's is a statement of preference: "In my view, this sort of judge should be shot." Rough system. Still, not a threat. A true threat would be something that said that you were going to take action, not that action should be taken.
    Rhywun's too is obvious, it's an aspiration, a hoped for future condition: "May hell have a special place for the judge."
    ProductPlacement still is obviously NOT a threat, but a statement of preference: "I'd rather not see us all have to wait for her to go to hell, instead, I'd just as soon she started suffering in some hellish place here on Earth.
    Even Croaker is not making a truth threat, but instead providing, in worst case scenario, some kind of bizarre advice for getting the job done.

  406. nk says

    The problem with First American jurisprudence is that the Supreme Court makes it up as it goes along, and the Watts case was decided by the most liberal Court in history. Don't bet that if you change it from Johnson to Obama, today, every one on the Supreme Court now (with the exception of Scalia, he likes stare decisis) will vote the same way as the Justices did in Watts. Here:
    — The only way I want to face a mob is from behind a machine-gun. Easy case, actually most people would applaud.
    — The only way I want to see Obama giving a speech is through the scope of a high-powered rifle. Blowhard pretty obviously.
    — "I have already received my orders for redeployment to Iraq and I have got to report for my physical this Monday coming. I am not going. If they make me carry a rifle again, the first man I want to get in my sights is Obama." Clearly First Amendment protected?

  407. Dale Saran says

    The problem with First American jurisprudence is that the Supreme Court makes it up as it goes along, and the Watts case was decided by the most liberal Court in history. Don't bet that if you change it from Johnson to Obama, today, every one on the Supreme Court now (with the exception of Scalia, he likes stare decisis) will vote the same way as the Justices did in Watts. Here:
    — The only way I want to face a mob is from behind a machine-gun. Easy case, actually most people would applaud.
    — The only way I want to see Obama giving a speech is through the scope of a high-powered rifle. Blowhard pretty obviously.
    — "I have already received my orders for redeployment to Iraq and I have got to report for my physical this Monday coming. I am not going. If they make me carry a rifle again, the first man I want to get in my sights is Obama." Clearly First Amendment protected?

    nk – While I agree with the first part of your comment – and you may even be right about the second – I think you've dropped a huge piece of context from the Watts case: Watts was a draftee. Anyone in the US military today is a volunteer. Being vocally opposed to being involuntarily shipped to Vietnam after being drafted is NOT the same thing as being redeployed for your third tour. Not even close. Not in the same universe. And I think the Court recognized that distinction. The US has a really weird relationship with the draft – and always has. Look it up. You'll find that whenever the government has tried to institute a draft, even as far back as the Civil War and WW I – people have gotten more than a little shitty about it. And spoken their mind rather vituperatively. I'm old enough only to remember that Vietnam was a thing, but having served in the all-volunteer force I can tell you that if we ever have to go to war and the govt demands to mobilize the citizenry, we'll find out very quickly about these same limits of the First Amendment again. And whether or not the draft is actually Constitutional.

  408. Dale Saran says

    Dale: there's an old Internet truism that says "On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog." But God knows when you say sinful things, and He will subpoena your records at the final reckoning with even more relentless disregard than the DoJ. So put that bong away, and cease your other libertine transgressions.

    Paul, I am so tempted to give you a rhetorical thrashing, but then something occurred to me. There are two possibilities. Since I'm new here and don't know the regulars, it could be that you're simply trolling – in which case, well played! In fact, for a moment I imagined you might be one of my friends pulling my chain. (My friends are like that). And thus there is no point in actually pointing out how idiotic your comment is. The second possibility is that you're being earnest – which is, well, even more amusing. And if you are, then there is also absolutely no point in showing you why your comment is idiotic because reason, logic, facts, etc. won't convince you of anything. Moreover, if you're earnest, I find it rather precious and getting into a rhetorical pissing match with you for me would feel like kicking a puppy. So, in either case, I cede the field to you. I should point out – as someone else already did – that you should learn about the conditional tense. I didn't say I smoked weed (then again, I didn't say I didn't) but you shouldn't assume someone else's sin. I seem to recall something about "…lest ye be judged" but I can't quite remember what it was about….Maybe you could help me out with it?

  409. Jearld Clifford says

    Call me crazy but is the Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York confirming the actual existence of hell and that its nature is to have warm places that may threaten said Judge? Or is he saying a grand jury is required to determine that? Wow

    "Rhywunl5.3l.15 @ 11:35AMIIt
    I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman."

  410. says

    Jearld Clifford June 11, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Not only is he confirming Hell but he also confirms that it has designated places for special needs people (with apologies to all those with handicaps not self imposed).

  411. Jearld Clifford says

    MSimon,
    I would love to be a fly on the wall in the office the day after these claimed threats became public. Such a claim would seem to necessitate that Mr. Velamoor "go to hell" or provide a expert witness (officially endorsed by the government) to substantiate that it would in fact be hazardous to the judge. I'm willing to contribute to the cost of publishing the briefs, it should be entertaining reading.

  412. Dale Saran says

    I think the US Atty's office may be surprised to find out how many attorneys may be willing to step forward to fight this. I know I would, although I'm not a NY attorney. I could certainly get PHV in depending on local rules and I've practiced in federal courts before. I'd be surprised if IJ didn't jump on this. It's right in their wheelhouse.

  413. Allieicious says

    What a shame the DOJ isn't as interested in stopping corrupt politicians as it is in shutting down freedom of speech.

  414. Kyle says

    While the other comments are kinda rough, I don't see how "I hope there is a special place in h*ll reserved for that horrible woman." equates to "violent." It's not even promoting death – how is that any differently than someone saying "You're going to h*ll?

  415. barry says

    @Grandy, The irony I mentioned was only in that final sentence, not the overall article. I did have some minor problems with the "Memory Hole" article, but nothing worth commenting on at the time. I remember thinking the first time I read it that "he probably didn't mean exactly how that last bit came out", and after the DOJ stuff-up, it was actually funny.

    My view is that free-speech and privacy are linked together in complicated ways, but still independent valuable rights on much the same level. And when they clash, the reasonable thing is to find a balance resulting in a maximum possible of both, rather than throwing one right to the dogs to save the other. That would be an overall greater loss.

    I don't know if there is a coherent 'libertarian view' on that balance. I've read some say that privacy (beyond the 4th amendment) isn't even a real right. That's an extreme view, but many libertarians seem to be halfway toward vilifying privacy when it conflicts with first amendment. The "Memory Hole" article looked like it was heading in that direction, which could be another irony, being based on a small part of the most well known pro-privacy scare novel ever.

    I especially do not understand the relatively common view that although governments should not violate privacy, it's perfectly ok for corporations and individuals to do it. I'm unconvinced that the European privacy laws are as absurd as they are often painted.

    "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

    Yep, that's exactly how I do it. It's the language I use when I talk to myself. And even that doesn't get rid of all the ambiguities.

  416. Richard Smart says

    Barry and Grandy: The "Alabama rules" mentioned ("When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.") aren't supposed to be a licence for ambiguity.

    The phrase comes from Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass", and even from the mouth of Humpty Dumpty reflects a logic professor's ideal of consistent meaning. Dodgson was of course a mathematician.

    Of course, the "consistent" meaning of a word to Humpty doesn't have to be what ordinary people think it is, as any lawyer knows. It just has to be consistent.

    Now, this thread is up to 488 posts. Just what does the word "libertarian" mean? Because to this non-United Statesian, it seems to mean whatever individual libertarians think it means.

  417. Paul says

    Dana, I was pulling your chain, along with those of others, and I am not one your friends.
    That said: a lawyer who cannot distinguish between obvious facetiousness on the internet and "trolling" is of a piece with a judge who can't distinguish between internet hyperbole and "real threat." I pray that your ambulance-chasing slip-and-fall legal practice continues to prosper, so that no citizen will ever have to suffer the indignity of seeing you elevated to the bench.

  418. says

    @Richard Smart – I hadn't realized that was a famous quote. It was just some words I threw down on paper. What an amazing coincidence.

  419. Busab Agent says

    For Richard Smart

    A libertarian is a person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason whatever; nor will a libertarian advocate the initiation of force, or delegate it to anyone else.

    Those who act consistently with this principle are libertarians, whether they realize it or not. Those who fail to act consistently with it are not libertarians, regardless of what they may claim.
    — L. Neil Smith

  420. Mr Drew says

    @francisco. @sloopy
    Hear him, Francisco, hear him! Grass fed, grass finished is indeed superior. I don't believe in the healing power of crystals, that hip, ironically named beer is better than Amstel or that organic is anything more than marketing but I do know good steak. Hell, butter from grass fed cows is awesomely superior. Look for Kerry Gold in a good super market. You'll beg for forgiveness. ;-)

  421. Paul says

    I originally directed this post at "Dana"–probably because I was watching FOX News and listening to Dana Perino. My bad. No, I was addressing my mild rebuke to this other person.

    Dale Saran, I was pulling your chain, along with those of others, and I am not one your friends.
    That said: a lawyer who cannot distinguish between obvious facetiousness on the internet and "trolling" is of a piece with a judge who can't distinguish between internet hyperbole and "real threat." I pray that your ambulance-chasing slip-and-fall legal practice continues to prosper, so that no citizen will ever have to suffer the indignity of seeing you elevated to the bench.

  422. Paul says

    I've not been rhetorically thrashed in a long time, Dale. I'm tied up and wearing a silk blindfold. Bring it, you small-L libertarian stud.

  423. Lagaya1 says

    Ah, so this is why Clark wrote that post about telling ken one thing and doing another. It stands as proof that he's all bluster, and nothing he posts should be taken seriously. Smart thinking!

    That aside, that judge is probably already regretting…at least if he has any sense.

  424. says

    Paul June 11, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    You were actually pointing out the root of the problem although it is possible you are unaware of it. Making "sin" an offense under the law is the root of this whole controversy.

    And punishing sin is a fine occupation. Until the sin becomes a sacrament. Then the world gets turned upside down.

  425. cornell says

    so assume one of those commenters are commenting from a location that doesn't fall under federal jurisdiction,US gov can't do bat shit about them right?

  426. nk says

    America is where her power is. A shepherd in Nowherenistan can brag to his sheep about his plan to bomb the White House, and the FBI can kidnap him covertly, bring him to New York, and try him for conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, and the Bill of Rights will not start applying to him until he is inside the three-mile limit. (Could be twelve-mile limit.)

  427. Jearld Clifford says

    @cornell
    So many cases lately have spanned the globe that jurisdiction is meaningless (Kim Dotcom & Megaupload, drone strikes in undeclared war zones, FIFA, UBS in Switzerland, LIBOR in UK). Reminds me of the Jack Sparrow Character in "Pirates of the Caribbean" …"the only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do, and what a man can't do…".

  428. Richard Smart says

    Dear Messrs Clifford and Cornell,
    A lot of US legal 'overreach' comes about through the US dollar being the world's reserve currency. Since it is also the domestic legal tender of the US, foreign courts – despite "comity" – have so far been willing to accommodate extradition orders where the proceeds of crime involved US dollars.

    That is why a US prosecutor can successfully bag eg. corrupt FIFA administrators. I suggest a visit to economist.com, type in "FIFA" in the search bar, and look for "America's legal reach'/"The World's lawyer". The article begins:
    "To Russia's foreign ministry, the American mass indictment of FIFA officials is just another example of the superpower trying to “set itself up as a judge far outside its borders”. Few would take Russia’s counsel on international law, but in this case it is on to something."

    "The Economist" goes on to document the current state of overreach in terms which would surely chill the blood of any good libertarian – and having looked up that word on Wikipedia I'm still not sure it has a consistent meaning.

    But the state of over-reach does not go so far as to chill civil fraud. The modern 'Freezing orders' (such as writs of Mareva) recognized by other common-law jurisdictions, do not apply in the US on account of what the guest lecturer in our civil procedure class called the "dead hand of originalism". That is, the unwillingness of US courts to allow foreign courts to seize the proceeds of crime within US borders. Absent such a quid pro quo, the long arm of America's law can only reach so far.

    On the original subject of this thread, the Economist notes:
    "As long as they have no intention of hurting anybody, people should now feel safe posting even the vilest content on social media. Elonis won’t clean up the internet, but it seems it will keep the feds off your Facebook page."

  429. andrews says

    Who's to say that the investigation itself did not cause somebody to abort a plan to go after the judge, even when nothing happens?"

    No one. Indeed, a prosecutor who shows no useful results can claim to be useful merely by claiming to have prevented unidentified unknown threats. You would have a hard time disproving them.

    That is not the only threat. There is a great danger of being mauled by a bengal tiger if you do not use my tiger repellent, which is only $5.00 per bottle. Of course it works! No one from my household, where it is used religiously, has been mauled by a tiger. Ignore the rabble who claim that it is no more than pool-water in used soda bottles, they deserve to be mauled by tigers.

  430. Uluwatuboy says

    Richard Smart:
    I can't say this with certainty, but my understanding is that the FIFA gang used their US bank accounts in ways that violated US law, and that is all that the US law enforcement is pursuing. If this is the case, the US is not overreaching its law enforcement jurisdiction.

  431. L.S. says

    Is the bending over backwards to emphasize the "I don't like what you say," portion of "I don't like what you say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it," sincere?

    Does Mr. Popehat or Virginia Postrel – who took the same tact – actually believe these comments ought to be softly condemned as protected speech that nonetheless should be culturally taken to the woodshed?

    Do you think William F. Buckley, Jr. should have been prosecuted for telling Gore Vidal on national television, "I'll sock you in the goddamned face, and you'll stay plastered?" Of course you do not. And Gore Vidal was not going to run to the police, either.

    Do you think Buckley should have been culturally castigated for the same? Or, was what Mr. Buckley saying something that really could not be said another way? A statement that first and foremost, and is immediately understood as communicating a testimony to the importance of the matter at hand.

    The same damn thing is happening when someone is asking, "What would be justice here? Feet first into the woodchipper?" Why the soft rejection? Those comments are not actually sophomoric at all.

    Also,

    Did the Judge instigate this subpoena?

    Or, is the DOJ currying favor with this Judge by bringing this subpoena at the very time the DOJ is still in the process of dealing with appeals in the Silk Road case?

    What I see is the United State Dept. of Justice for the Southern District of New York, not the 'cops' conspiring with a sitting US Federal Judge from the same district to violate the First Amendment. This they do publicly, for the effect.

    So, Mr. Pope Hat, or Judge Katherine (if you've tapped the time of Spooks to read this), what sort of response verbal or otherwise is warranted against those who use their office to undermine the supreme law of the land?

    I mean, hell, the Dread Pirate violated only lesser laws in our hierarchy, and did not attempt to chill the First Amendment rights of an entire nation.

    He did not create the appearance of corruption between the relevant prosecutors and presiding judge, and then go do a press release on it.

    Yo, Preet, if you're reading. Good luck with your bribe, buddy.

  432. says

    "Is the bending over backwards to emphasize the "I don't like what you say," portion of "I don't like what you say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it," sincere?

    Does Mr. Popehat or Virginia Postrel – who took the same tact – actually believe these comments ought to be softly condemned as protected speech that nonetheless should be culturally taken to the woodshed?"

    HE HURT ME! FOR NO REASON! NOBODY GIVE ME BREAK!

    WHY DO YOU CURSE ME FOR?

  433. says

    @L.S.:
    The thin skin and entitled attitude of some of these Reason commenters is incomprehensible to me.

    It's not enough that I follow up on a tip at some risk of becoming a target of a subpoena myself. It's not enough to write a full-throated condemnation of the subpoena and defense of the commenters. Apparently I must avoid bruising their delicate feels or deterring their speech with my harsh criticism.

    Horseshit.

    I say they're assholes because u think they are — both many in general and at least some of these in particular. I'm not "bending over backwards." I'm speaking my mind. Anyone who doesn't like it can snort my taint.

  434. says

    Ken June 13, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Well actually Ken I have found the Reason commentariat to be probably the most erudite commenters on the current scene on the net. And they do it with an economy that is breathtaking.

    They can express in 20 words what takes some others 20,000. Crude. To be sure. But not blindly crude. Not crude because they have no other means of expression.

    The current explosion of woodchippers is a case in point. Crude and yet subtle at the same time. And props to 701 (translation available on request) for starting this new subtlety.

    Well. I suppose it is an acquired taste. And more than a few have adopted the "insult" as a medal of honor. So you do have that going for you.

  435. Dale Saran says

    I originally directed this post at "Dana"–probably because I was watching FOX News and listening to Dana Perino. My bad. No, I was addressing my mild rebuke to this other person.

    Dale Saran, I was pulling your chain, along with those of others, and I am not one your friends.
    That said: a lawyer who cannot distinguish between obvious facetiousness on the internet and "trolling" is of a piece with a judge who can't distinguish between internet hyperbole and "real threat." I pray that your ambulance-chasing slip-and-fall legal practice continues to prosper, so that no citizen will ever have to suffer the indignity of seeing you elevated to the bench.

    Paul – Amazing. You get to win the debate by admitting you're a troll. I don't chase ambulances, but I was a criminal defense attorney (proudly, for many years), mostly for military folks. Now I'm a corporate attorney and work for a great company. I have no desire to be a judge and work for the government. I like adding value to society (unlike some, evidently). I'm bothered by US Atty's abusing their position and power simply because they can. I'm bothered that the economic incentives in the law are such that Reason can be intimidated because of what it might cost to defend the comments on their site or move to quash the subpoenas. It doesn't have to be that way. Other jurisdictions and legal systems have other methods. I'd love to see "loser pays" and even have it apply to the government, as one example. Let's find out how much the government believes in its case – if you lose, you pay the other side's legal fees, including the criminal defendant's – and perhaps even with some rider for lost time, wages, etc. to be proven at a second stage of the trial. "Loser pays" dis-incentivizes a lot of silly shit. It also would seriously cut down on the number of ambulance chasers and change the economics around insurance – in a LOT of areas. I've got a ton of other ideas about fixing the profession, too, including that accounting/CYA move/scam known as the "billable hour," but that's best left to another time.

    For the moment, Paul, we're talking about whether or not weed – or any drug – should be criminalized. Just 100 year ago it was fairly uncontroversial that you needed a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit an adult from consuming an intoxicating substance if thy so desired. Now here we are giving some guy life in prison for setting up an electronic exchange to purchase the currently prohibited drug of choice. Like we didn't learn anything from the 20's and 30's and organized crime in THAT era of Prohibition. It's like Progressives/Statists simply refuse to live in the same reality as the rest of us. I wouldn't care if their cavalcade of shitty ideas at least had the virtue of being novel because then they could genuinely claim ignorance…BUT they DON'T!! It's the same shitty ideas packaged another way. And if that weren't bad enough, WHEN (not IF) those social engineering feats fail miserably, the answer is always just MOAR MONEY/GOVERNMENT/BUREAUCRAZTS/RED TAPE!!!!

  436. Dale Saran says

    @Paul: If you can't grok how that makes some of us use four letter words it's because we've tried writing about this from the intelligent side (Friedman, Hayek, Von Mises, Rand, George Gilder, et al.) and have been met largely with indifference, then don't be surprised if in some of the more quotidian exchanges on the frigging internet with anonymous handled strangers, that you don't get a little wire-brushing and locker-room language. Libertarianism may be "serious" but you've acted like you get to corner the market on how "serious" Libertarians get to express themselves. Sorry, that idea alone is itself anti-Libertarian (big or small L there, no matter). There are those of us who've come to our libertarianism the old-fashioned way: by getting repeatedly fucked in the ass by government, or watching others with whom we empathize share in the experience. At some point, you can't filter yourself any more. While I spent a lot of time reading, I didn't arrive at "Libertopia" from an academic exploration. I got here because I've watched government suck for quite some time now, with every expression possible of good-faith and swell-sounding intentions.

    That the folks who are supposed to be charged with protecting civil liberties have now decided they'll attack those rights by using the threat of "legal violence" against others, and proclaiming it as a badge of honor, I think can be forgiven for not using "Robert's Rules" in venting their spleen – even if it appears to you that they're being "un-serious" in the process.

  437. says

    Dale Saran June 13, 2015 at 4:37 pm,

    When I mention the 18th Amendment to conservatives. – "follow the Constitution" conservatives at that – I'm met with deathly silence.

    They are up in arms about all the usurpations but the mother of all usurpations they are silent about. It is a wonder.

  438. says

    I was reading the Heritage Foundation site the other day and they were up in arms about a case of civil asset forfeiture. But absolutely no connection was made in the article or the comments I read (mostly of the "government is out of control" sort) to Prohibition – which they support.

    They absolutely refuse to see that they are part of the problem.

    I'd like to see "there oughta be a law" excised from conversation. Polite or impolite – other than as an epithet.

  439. Dale Saran says

    Who is it over at the "Commentariat" who always facetiously posts the phrase "principals, not principles!"? Whoever it is has it perfectly right. Statists on Team Red and Team Blue may be the "opposite" of each other, but are merely equally hypocritical for the libertarian-minded. I mean, seriously, we might as ell just take the Bill of Rights and assign random Amendments for each side to violate this month. The can even take turns. At least we could do away with the pretense that either of them gives a fuck about anything other than power – and being allowed to impose their particular version of Utopia on the rest of us – using "the Law" and "the Guys with Guns" to make it into reality. It's not as if there is anything approaching a coherent, consistent philosophy that would lead you to be able to discern what acceptable behavior was in any given instance. Reason does a great job – and so does the Commentariat – of pointing that out, daily.

  440. nk says

    The fuzziness of thinking of the "pot and prostitution" proselytes is no better demonstrated than by their conflation of alcohol prohibition with the prohibition of the other vices. Alcohol is almost sanctified in Western civilization, from Dionysus and Apollo to the Marriage at Cana and the Last Supper, and accepted by noble and base, rich and poor, for thousands of years. Drugs, traditionally, have been used as medicines by decent people, and as poisons and recreation only by lowlifes. And it is still the case.

    And at Reason, it's not only fuzzy thinking, there's also outright rhetorical fraud. Anything that does not fit the narrative is blurred or airbrushed out altogether.

  441. says

    nk June 13, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Well you just lost another one nk. (How typical). Cannabis was a widely used medicine until 1937. And what do you know? We are finding out it is still medicine with even more benefits that we knew in 1937. A cure for (some? all?) cancer fer instance. A cure or amelioration for type II diabetes for 2/3rds of those with it. Smoking it prevents lung cancer (Donald Tashkin). And small doses of THC prevents the advance of Alzheimer's. And that is just a few I keep on the top of my drug addled cranium.

    And then there was before 1937 a suggestion that alcoholics switch to cannabis for intoxication because it was not as hard on the body as alcohol.

    You really ought not comment on things you are totally ignorant about. It makes you look like you are suffering from severely reduced IQ.

  442. nk says

    @ MSimon
    Did I write:

    Drugs, traditionally, have been used as medicines by decent people, and as poisons and recreation only by lowlifes. And it is still the case.

    I am under the distinct impression that I wrote that. I see it right there on my 5:59 pm comment.

  443. Dale Saran says

    The fuzziness of thinking of the "pot and prostitution" proselytes is no better demonstrated than by their conflation of alcohol prohibition with the prohibition of the other vices. Alcohol is almost sanctified in Western civilization, from Dionysus and Apollo to the Marriage at Cana and the Last Supper, and accepted by noble and base, rich and poor, for thousands of years. Drugs, traditionally, have been used as medicines by decent people, and as poisons and recreation only by lowlifes. And it is still the case.

    And at Reason, it's not only fuzzy thinking, there's also outright rhetorical fraud. Anything that does not fit the narrative is blurred or airbrushed out altogether.

    nk – so, because we have traditionally "sancitified" alcohol for "a long time" that means it's categorically "different" than "pot" or "prostitution" and thus deserving of different legal treatment? That's an amazing (if unconsciously honest) basis for putting some people in jail over others. Only the "lowlifes" use drugs, eh? So, nk, where do you fall on sugar? It lights up the brain even more than cocaine does. It paves over our arteries. It's responsible for metabolic derangement in humans on a scale that will never fully be appreciated. Dr. Robert Lustig, Chair of Pediatric Endocrinology at UC San Fran, has called sugar a "poison" or "toxin" to the human species, quite simply. Metabolically speaking, he's perfectly correct. Every year, 600,000 Americans will be treated for ESRD (End Stage Renal Disease) meaning they're not going to heal, they're going to die eventually. The vast majority of them are Type II diabetics, meaning they were not born with any kind of genetic abnormality – they ate themselves that way and any endocrinologist or nephrologist will tell you with perfect certainty its because of the high carb diet, which includes vast amounts of sugar, principally in soda and other fructose laden drinks, but also in most processed foods.) Add in alcohol related deaths, either in DUIs, or the other alcohol related illnesses, and it dwarves anything you could possibly ascribe to the "harder drugs" – you know the ones you think are used recreationally by the "lowlifes." (It's funny how powder cocaine usage by affluent whites escapes your notice, nk, or prescription drug abuse by athletes and others, but whatever. I know you hate them all equally, nk, even if you lump them all together as "lowlifes." You didn't mean nothin' by that comment.) I wonder how Bacchus and Dionysus managed to do into their 50's after a lifetime of those "traditional" and "sanctified" diets and vices…

  444. nk says

    That's an amazing (if unconsciously honest) basis for putting some people in jail over others.

    It's an entirely conscious basis for putting some people in jail over others. And for requiring a Constitutional Amendment. And why it was so difficult to enforce.

    The life of the law is experience. The Ladies Temperance had their way for a short time and they flopped precisely because thousands of years of human experience dictated that they would flop

    And sugar? Seriously? Oy vey.

  445. Dale Saran says

    "The life of the law is experience" is actually a misquote from that wonderful Progressive who also gave us "judicial deference" and "three generations of imbeciles are enough" (Buck v. Bell), the eminent Mr. Holmes. But continue, nk, keep right on showing your ass. This is indeed revealing.

  446. Dale Saran says

    And you've not yet answered the distinction you would make for sugar, which has destroyed the lives of millions. How should we handle that? Regulate or no? And why was it okay to treat crack cocaine differently than powder for sentencing purposes for quite some time "under the law?" I look forward to your explication of the chemical and legal differences that justify why alcohol possession is okay, but marijuana possession is a federal felony that will get you thrown in jail. One high comes from smoking a plant you can grow in your own backyard and the other comes from fermenting some plants (grapes, or corn, or hops and barley) that you can grow in your own back yard. I'm looking forward to your explanation of the need for differing treatment, including that one (alcohol) requires a Constitutional Amendment in order to get people thrown in jail, while the other only requires Congressional authority.

  447. nk says

    It's a paraphrase. "The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience." I felt it was very inappropriate to dignify the pro-drug arguments with any hint of logic. And I've read the whole book.

  448. Dale Saran says

    And "oy vey" is quite a rhetorical turn of phrase, nk. Do you know what the one of the chief drivers was for the slave trade, by the way? Or are you that historically ignorant? I'll give you a hint: it starts with "shoo-" and ends with "-gar"
    I don't know what else is on the site, but they've got a fairly a-political history on their front page, nk. You should maybe check it out so you can stop these bouts of historical ignorance. I hear they have medication for it: it's called "knowledge."
    http://www.understandingslavery.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=309:plantation-life&Itemid=221

  449. nk says

    differing treatment, including that one (alcohol) requires a Constitutional Amendment in order to get people thrown in jail, while the other only requires Congressional authority.

    You're not really a lawyer, are you? Or you'd know when Wickard v. Filburn was decided, and what it held.

  450. Dale Saran says

    And I've not even pressed the point that there's a long, long history of use of caanabis by human beings, found at some of the earliest archaeological sites. Time magazine had a whole issue on the human history with weed, nk, but I guess "drug warriors" gotta "drug war." So, just keep telling yourself how justified the distinction is – even if you have yet to articulate anything that looks like a reason or coherent justification for the drug war – versus alcohol prohibition. We're all waiting to be educated, nk. The floor is yours.

  451. Dale Saran says

    I know perfectly well what Wickard v. Filburn held, nk. I am hopeful that someday it will be relegated to the dustbin of history along with "Dred Scott," and the cases that allowed American citizens of Japanese descent to be interned during WWII, among a handful of other shitty decisions. Would you care to justify Wickard v. Filburn, nk? I'm happy to argue the con, which the Supreme Court – and even Roberts – undercut, even while finding that the ACA could be justified as a tax, rather than as "commerce" that could be regulated by Congress under the Commerce Clause.

  452. Dale Saran says

    You have any reasons yet, nk, or just more ad hominem? Because I'm still waiting to hear the distinction and any answers to any of the questions I've posed. I've answered all of yours straight up. So, take your time. Wow us all. Now is your time to shine.

  453. Dale Saran says

    And the Japanese internment case is Korematsu v. U.S., nk. But you know, the life of the law being experience, not logic, I guess it's still cool. I wonder who we should round up next? And if it turns out to be your family, nk, will you laugh at them and point to Korematsu and tell them about how "it's the law?" Just hypothetically speaking, of course. Because the King's Men would never go after you, nk, 'cuz you're one of the non-drug usin' "good guys," I'm sure.

  454. nk says

    Like whatever, dude. Mellow out. You're wasting your arguments on me. What you need is 3/4ths of Congress and 38 states. So far you have had 1/535th of Congress, and two states for marijuana only. Come back when more than 3% of the population takes your Party seriously.

  455. Dale Saran says

    Ah. I see, nk. So, you quit the field. Okay. Well, I was hoping to learn something, but instead you've only helped me reinforce my understanding of the issue. I thought perhaps you had some serious flaw in my logic or argument you could point out. I'll mark you off of my list of "people who can be taken seriously in discussing the matter of Prohibition and the current Drug War."

    @MSimon – it appears there's a history here I don't know about. I'm beginning to think nk is a pseudnym/handle/sock puppet for someone else entirely. Am I wrong in that assumption?

  456. says

    So,

    nk. Does Wickard authorize alcohol Prohibition? Can we reinstate that under Wickard? Because alcohol is a poisonous debilitating drug and innocents are dying from drunken drivers and users are dying from overdoses. Shouldn't there be a law? Heh.

  457. says

    Well nk,

    53% of the population takes libertarians seriously. It is expected to be greater than 60% in Florida in 2016.

    The Illinois legislature has quite a contingent favoring legalization. And among the population it is quite strong:

    A 2014 poll showed that 63 percent of Illinois residents approve of non-criminal penalties for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana. Nationwide, a little more than half of people polled in March support cannabis legalization, according to Pew.

    http://www.redeyechicago.com/marijuana-legalization-20150417-story.html

    ================

    In 2016 8 States will have cannabis on the ballot. California is expected to have a recreational measure.

  458. nk says

    MSimon, are you still buying ads for your blog or now relying only on your trolling of comment sections for traffic?

  459. says

    and btw nk did Wickard authorize this:

    "Look, we understood we couldn't make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue…that we couldn't resist it." – John Ehrlichman, White House counsel to President Nixon on the rationale of the War on Drugs.

  460. nk says

    You keep "quoting Ehrlichman":
    1. Do you have a source? You've been asked that before and not responded.
    2. Who cares what a toady of a disgraced President said?

  461. says

    Pot prohibition is ending the same way alcohol Prohibition did. First the states stop enforcing it and then the Feds wise up.

    As to Congress – we have about 170 Democrats and 49 Libertarian Republicans passing laws against various aspects of Prohibition in the House. And being upheld in the Senate.

    And this guy is our Congressional lobbyist. And I'm Proud to say a personal friend of mine.

    "Modern Prohibition/War on Drugs is the most destructive, dysfunctional and immoral policy since slavery & Jim Crow – Retired Police Detective Howard Wooldridge

    Citizens Opposing Prohibition

    The Drug War is lost. Give it up before it costs you an election.

  462. says

    dk,

    You want a source? Find it yourself. The results speak for themselves.

    What that toady and his President started is still in effect today. If it is so disgraceful….. end it.

  463. Dale Saran says

    nk – I was initially suspicious of the Ehrlichmann quote because it seemed, well, seemed pretty insane for me to imagine one of the President's lawyers (even one of Nixon's) said that. Interestingly, it wasn't too hard to track down. Don Baum of the Washington Post did an interview with Ehrlichmann right after Ehrlichman was released from federal prison. Baum's notes and some of the quotes are online. Here is Ehrlishman being interviewed again (online) and he comes pretty close to that same quote.

    http://goodfelloweb.com/werbe/wondrugs.htm

  464. Dale Saran says

    nk – if it matters not what Ehrlichman said (and it does in this case, because the Nixon Administration is the one that started the War on Drugs). As it turns out, like most things, it was a complete fucking fraud from the start. Even the scientists involved thought so. Baum's book/notes show that conclusively.

    But if you're claiming an appeal to authority fallacy (which it isn't in this case), I wonder, wouldn't that apply to your quotation of Holmes? I mean, who gives a shit what a Supreme Court justice who said "baseball is a sport, not a business" (I'm paraphrasing) in giving MLB the antitrust exemption it still has to this day, thinks about anything – like "the life of the law blah blah blah?" I mean, so fucking what? The "great" Holmes said it, so now it's holy writ? He's also the guy who said that it would be okay for the State to forcibly sterilize the mentally handicapped (Buck v. Bell). So his thoughts on anything are relevant or worthy of special consideration exactly why again?

  465. nk says

    I'm beginning to think nk is a pseudnym/handle/sock puppet for someone else entirely.

    Paranoia is a common side effect of marijuana use.

    As for continuing the discussion, I'm shy about revealing my ass to strange ladies. Say hi to Roy for me, Dale.

  466. says

    A note from the diary of H.R. Haldeman,

    "[President Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks," Haldeman wrote. "The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to."

    So are the results racist? Former Police Detective Howard Wooldridge thinks so.

    But OK that is history. How about what this former DEA Agent has to say:

    http://youtu.be/HmgeCeGk–I starting about 1 minute 30 seconds in

  467. Dale Saran says

    Paranoia is a common side effect of marijuana use.

    As for continuing the discussion, I'm shy about revealing my ass to strange ladies. Say hi to Roy for me, Dale.

    Okay, so off with you, too. That's two knuckleheads in one day. Is the drug war-type that easily warded off? You guys are the rhetorical equivalent of cockroaches. Shine some light on the subject and you all go scrabbling away, making scurrying noises as you go. I don't think the hardcore "drugs are evil!" and "what about the children!?" crowd even believes any of that bullshit any more. It's as if everyone secretly knows that they've been had, but no one wants to collectively admit that by just repealing the thing, so we have to slowly chip away at Prohibition state-by-state, have silly legal battles and continue to watch cops act like thieves, until the whole machinery finally collapses on itself…and the drug warriors go find some actually useful, productive fucking employment. My guess is they'll just get shifted to the "G-WOT" – another completely idiotic term to describe what could and should have been a relatively straightforward proposition. So now we wage war on a tactic ("terror-ism") or an economic state ("poverty") or chemicals ("drugs" – but only certain drugs, and not the ones that are most widely abused, and not the chemically indistinguishable ones that are used in affluent neighborhoods!).

    Maybe government can come up with another "war" to fight. Ooh! I know, the drug warriors will wind up getting shifted over to the BORDER WARZ! That's coming, for sure.

  468. AlphaCentauri says

    I don't have much use for the War on Drugs. However, I have two questions that we must consider when we think about changing it: 1. While adults who are too drugged to hold a job or who skip work Fridays to blow their entire paychecks on cocaine should face the consequences of those choices, they often have small children who are neglected as a result. Removing them from their parents' homes to take care of their physical needs doesn't address the psychological harm done by being raised in a home with parents incapable of emotional bonding. And even if we as a society decide we have no responsibility for the suffering of someone else's children, we have to deal with them when they often grow into sociopathic adults who commit violent crimes and require incarceration to ensure public safety. How do we respond to the needs of these children? 2. Drug prohibition ("scheduling") is part and parcel of the entire FDA system of evaluating and approving drugs as safe and effective, and in determining which ones require a prescription. Countries with less rigorous standards have serious problems with adulterated counterfeit drugs as well as with antibiotic-resistant bacteria bred by overuse of over-the-counter antibiotics. (There was so much problem with adulterated children's acetaminophen in India that the number of unexplained cases of kidney failure in children dropped 80% when liquid acetaminophen was outlawed.) Are we willing to accept the risk that our local pharmacy may be getting drugs that are fake or even poisonous when laws regulating drug sales are eliminated, and if not, how do we draw the line restricting certain drugs to prescription-only status?

  469. says

    AlphaCentauri June 13, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    How did we ever manage when cocaine was legal and over the counter? Other than Negroes raping white women I mean.

    The Big troubles didn't start until Prohibition.

    Scheduling is (mainly) about the DEA not the FDA.

    Scheduling is about legal availability. Purity is a different law.

    So do we want gangs/cartels in charge of purity? Or druggists?

  470. Richard Smart says

    Guys, please. 547 posts of common abuse? Flogging the horse beyond death is bad enough, but that's flaying it within a centimeter of its life and burning it the rest of the way.

  471. LS says

    Mr. Popehat: What you have done is enough, and I applaud you for it. The question was actually sincere. I'm surprised you found the comments in question objectionable as sophomoric since you just told to me do some (doubtlessly) unpleasant thing to your 'taint.' Since you are an older man, and I am a beautiful young woman, maybe you were just coming onto me? You might want to keep your distance, however, since I comment at Reason.

  472. Matthew Cline says

    @nk:

    Drugs, traditionally, have been used as medicines by decent people, and as poisons and recreation only by lowlifes. And it is still the case.

    That's a very odd, guilt-by-association way of making law. "Lowlifes do X, so lets outlaw X".

  473. says

    Matthew Cline June 14, 2015 at 3:53 am

    That is traditional. In England gin was used by lowlifes. So it was outlawed. It gave law enforcement a "tool" to punish the disfavored. And that is how the law works for the most part. The favored don't get punished at all or are punished lightly.

  474. Richard Smart says

    Mr Simon,
    Gin wasn't outlawed. Homeowners were always able to distill their own, for example. They did tax it. They also stopped it being sold in cheap dives. But lowlifes could still buy it – or make it, until grain got too dear for cheap fermentation.

    Around the time to which you refer, law enforcement didn't need a tool to punish the disfavoured. There was no moral stigma attached to repressing the underclasses. You could be transported to Botany bay for stealing a loaf of bread, or put to death for trivial crimes – stealing a shilling's worth of goods, or staying with gypsies for a month or more. (My favourite). A shilling might be a week's wages. Prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner all slept well at night.

    For what it's worth, what really killed gin as a mass intoxicant was the advent of tea, after the taxes were relaxed. United Statesians had something to do with that. We thank you.

  475. Frank says

    You're welcome.

    And on the previous comment, scratch a police department lightly and you find a Fugitive Slave Patrol.

  476. says

    Richard Smart June 14, 2015 at 5:42 am

    Thank you. Obviously my knowledge has receded in that area. But I think my point still stands. Making some things a crime is often a tool of class and political warfare. After all we have Nixon instituting the Drug War to go after his political and class enemies.

    We see that today with the EPA going after people who fill in puddles. Why? Well the rural – where such things are important – is more right than left. And of course the Right likes its DEA.

    The only cure is much smaller government. A minority sentiment at this time.

  477. nk says

    @ Matthew Cline

    Which drug has been outlawed? You can get any of the drugs the dopers care about with a prescription from someone holding the appropriate license. (Including marijuana, LSD and other psychedelics, if your prescriber has a Schedule I license.)

    If you can't get thalidomide, it's because nobody's marketing it; and if you can't get sodium pentothal in the United States it's because the manufacturers don't want it used for executions.

  478. Pete says

    Who wants more "Croaker"? Evidently violence fantasies are his thing:

    croaker|4.29.14 @ 10:44AM — There are a lot of government officials who need to be shipped to zip code 18241 for crimes against the Constitution and dealt with. Google Maps shows a nice wide field where the courts can be built surrounded by tall trees suitable for five nooses each.

    Oh, those blustery, knuckleheaded libertarians!

  479. Matthew Cline says

    @nk:

    Which drug has been outlawed?

    Not any drugs in-and-of-themselves, but the use of certain drugs for recreational purposes. Given the context of this thread in general, and what you wrote that I quoted in particular, it should be perfectly clear I wasn't talking things like thalidomide.

  480. Frank says

    Pete seems to believe that the United States Constitution and the first ten amendments thereto should be printed on softer, more absorbent material. Kind of like most folks that are receiving government direct deposit.

  481. AlphaCentauri says

    @MSimon "How did we ever manage when cocaine was legal and over the counter?"
    We managed with cocaine when it was expensive and impure, so much so that it wasn't felt to be particularly likely to cause dependence. Opiates were more of the problem, as people who are sedated can't hold jobs.

    There also used to be a lot more tolerance for neglect of children as well as acceptance of child labor. Children were the property of their parents. Before mechanization, they were an essential source of labor to contribute to the family in the home, on farms or in factories. The children of an addict might well be supporting the intoxicated parent. If the children couldn't bring in enough money to feed the family, they might be removed and given to childless families which needed extra workers.

  482. Dale Saran says

    Alpha – While I appreciate the tenor of your argument, I'm not so sure about the content. I've yet to see anything except naked assertions that (1) drug use causes sloth (we'll have no non-productive members of the State!!), and (2) "what about the children" fear-mongering. The real question isn't whether or not these things happen, the issue is whether criminalization prohibits these things from happening at significantly reduced rates, as opposed to what those rates would be if drugs were decriminalized. That's the important question. In fact, it's the only relevant question to which an answer matters in the entire drug war.

    On a related note, it's worth noting that cars kill shitloads of people annually. Roughly 37,000 people die in car crashes every year. Another 2 million are estimated to be injured. According to the CDC, for comparison sake, in 2010 there were 38,000 deaths from drug overdoses, about 30,000 of them accidental. So, roughly the same from from car accidents as we do from drug overdose? How many of the 37,000 dead drivers had kids? How many of the OD drug addicts had kids? In other words, given your concern about drug abuse deaths, do you have the same concerns about the children orphaned by car accidents? Are you advocating just as strongly to make cars more regulated? More traffic laws? More traffic police to stop speeding?? It's also worth factoring in there that many of those killed in car accidents (vastly more than drug ODs I'll warrant) are children themselves – roughly 8,000 of those killed are between the ages of 16-20. Another 1600 are under 15 (i.e. passengers).

    I can't say the evidence is perfect, but it's not like the solution is a secret. Portugal decriminalized all drugs – ALL – even the opiates, 14 years ago. Here is a link that tells you what happened.
    http://mic.com/articles/110344/14-years-after-portugal-decriminalized-all-drugs-here-s-what-s-happening

    None of the libertarians here will be at all surprised at the drop in drug overdoses, the overall drop in rates and prevalence of drug use and abuse (initial spike after decriminalization, then a steady decline), as well as violence surrounding said crimes. Alpha – what you need to understand is that legalization doesn't lead to people running rampant in the streets on opiates. There will be some people who will initially dabble in some stuff once it's legal, but overall, the people who will become addicts will probably be just about the same as it was when it was illegal. Those people have already shown that won't stop them (hence the black market in drugs) and the rest of us aren't going to go "full Libertine!" just because taking cocaine won't get us sent to prison. The same people will dabble at roughly the same rates, but the vast amounts of money/policing spent on the drug war, which disproportionately hurts the poor, can be turned to rehabilitation. It winds up being a net save, if Portugal is any indicator. It also has the salutary benefit of ending all of those harmed by no knock warrants, the DEA tapping our phones and emails, and the rest of the fucking security state that has been built up in order to justify the Drug War. It's over. It doesn't work. It never has, but statists will simply keep doubling down on the stupid – along with all of the horrible second and third order effects (continues institutional racism, exacerbates class differences by uneven policing, etc.) that they have to wave away in order to absolve themselves of the horrors of their policies.

    Portugal did not devolve into a drug den. Quite the opposite. But keep telling yourself that if we decriminalize drugs the U.S. will come to an abrupt end in a drug-addled fog. Whatever helps you justify your beliefs.

  483. says

    Dale Saran June 14, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    Nothing explains the drug market as well as this.

    People in chronic pain chronically take pain relievers

    PTSD explains most of the pain – and if you look at the symptoms from PTSD and those imputed to drug use you will find considerable overlap.

    Dr. Lonny Shavelson found 70% of female heroin users had been sexually molested in childhood.

    What kind of civilization makes war on the traumatized? At this point it is intentional. I have been saying stuff like the above for at least 12 years. All over the 'net. The people at the top know.

    Prohibition and prohibitionists are the immoral ones.

  484. Terry Cole says

    RSteinmetz70112: you asked "Is "taken out back and shot" a thing judges use?" in reference to a ruling by a judge reported by Groklaw. That site, while no longer active, still exists and is searchable. The relevant discussion includes the transcript where the bankruptcy judge (Gross) asked:

    ""I just have been wondering what happens if I don't decide it in 15 days. Do they take me out behind the building and shoot me?"

    Groklaw's moderator commented: "… it really doesn't matter. In a courtroom, you treat the judge with respect, and whatever the issue is that is blocking you from prevailing, you try to work with it."

  485. JakeRake says

    So, I can tell you what happens to the commenters once the government gets their personal information. There is a formal process by which these people are destroyed. First, their name goes into a watch list. It's often extragovermental – a political support group or some such. If they have a particular leaning or offend the wrong person, then government resources are used to silence them. These folks are subject to high tech stalking and electronic harassment. Essentially, they gather dirt on these folks and run a smear campaign against them. If that works, they can be isolated and then they are followed around. Sometimes they're subject to weird street theater and workplace harassment. It's a domestic psychological warfare campaign meant to make the person seem paranoid and crazy. They do noise campaigns inside their houses to sleep deprive them. Also, there's also "no touch" torture technology used to harm these people without leaving any evidence. It's a central nervous system hack. These folks are calling themselves "targeted individuals," and their claims are based in fact. This treatment is a clear violation of the Fourth and First Amendments. It's true. These crimes are really happening. It's up to those that care about freedom to research this stuff and corroborate the evidence.

  486. Pete says

    It's a domestic psychological warfare campaign meant to make the person seem paranoid and crazy.

    You don't say.

  487. Pete says

    Tangentially related, the "obnoxious asshats, twerps, trash-talking, juvenile, mouth-breathing internet assholes" (Good ones, Ken!) over at Reason seem to have lost their minds over Obergefell v. Hodges. How is equal protection under the law antithetical to the principles of libertarianism? At least no one has (as yet) threatened to feed gay couples into wood chippers.

  488. Dale Saran says

    That's a lie, Pete. A complete and total one. At least in that it implies that people are against same-sex couples. The complaints are all around the basis for the decision, while on net most are happy with the outcome. The libertarian position is generally that govt shouldn't be in the business of giving privileges in any case.

  489. Pete says

    @Dale,
    You should probably check out today's implosion. If there was ever any doubt as to whether Reason-libertarians consider gay couples to be equal under the law, this latest public rending of garments should end all speculation. The majority verdict at Reason: government shouldn't be in "the marriage business" (they parrot), so gay couples should have had to wait to get hitched till government finally got around to dismantling itself. Just like all of them did when they got their government marriage licenses with the attendant rights and benefits. Oops, but they didn't wait for anarchic utopia, did they. Why not? That's what any principled person would do, after all.

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