Colin Murphy, Arrested For Free Expression (and Poop)
June 3, 2016 (Mimesis Law) – -Fault Lines co-contributor Andrew King wrote Tuesday of the importance of protecting free speech, however disagreeable we may find that speech. It’s an important concept, and King as a prosecutor should be commended for his stance decrying the prevalence of labeling uncomfortable ideas “wrongthink.” Free speech is important, and so is freedom of expression. That’s why Colin Murphy’s free expression of his views on Kroger should be protected, charges dropped, and Murphy receive a public apology.
Authorities arrested Colin Murphy, 23, after they say he exposed himself to an employee and relieved himself on the self-checkout Sunday.
There’s absolutely no context behind Murphy’s beef with Kroger. He could have experienced lousy customer service when going through a regular check out line. Using the self-checkout scanner is painful enough. Continually waiting for an attendant to punch a few buttons magically fixing a computer error is crappy enough. Maybe Murphy found the store unsanitary and wanted to express his view on the matter in a way that drove the point home.
Unfortunately, Murphy’s chosen manner of expressing his viewpoint only drove him to jail. He’s now faces feculent disorderly conduct and public indecency charges. The judge sat bail at $2000 during Murphy’s initial appearance, most likely without considering Ohio’s factors for setting bond. That’s a waste of justice and a jail cell, all in the name of punishing wrongthink. Why would law enforcement or a jurist set such a high bail for Murphy’s free expression? It’s simple. He “appeared” intoxicated.
Court records said Murphy was slurring his speech, staggering and smelled of alcohol.
This justification is used every day across the United States by law enforcement officers to stop and arrest people for suspected crimes. However baseless, it’s now justifiable in our attempts to criminalize speech. This disgusting, shameful conduct by Ohio law enforcement means Murphy deserves no less than an absolute apology once all charges are dismissed. Has anyone contacted the ACLU yet about this egregious free speech criminalization?
Why does this incident even warrant Kroger’s attention? Staff are trained to clean spills, waste, and other messes. They probably do it daily. The self-checkout machines are most likely sanitized once the store closes in the name of public health, so it’s not as if this wasn’t a quick fix. And if a single employee present for this “offense” was a parent they’ve got a black belt in cleaning fecal matter. Unfortunately, Colin Murphy won’t get the benefit of the doubt, or even a chance to apologize in person, since he’s barred from returning to the store.
It was bad enough when colleges started criminalizing speech and suppressing viewpoints with which they disagreed. That a champion of free speech like Milo Yiannopolous would be physically assaulted by campus protesters during a talk is bad enough. That was a private institution. This is the State, criminalizing your right to free expression. Ohio needs to free Colin Murphy, and do so immediately. If they don’t, I *smell something similar to a § 1983 suit in the near future.