Congress Shall Make No Law – But Don’t Talk Bad About Police
Apr. 1, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — Article I, Bill of Rights
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Free speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution and the individual constitutions of most, if not all, of the separate States. In California, that right is in Article I, Section 2, which states:
Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press.
If you disagree with what the United States government is doing, then you get to say so. You can burn the flag. The Nazis can parade through a town that was home to a sizeable Jewish population and many Holocaust survivors. A nutjob Christian sect can protest at funerals of fallen service members. The Klan can burn a cross. You can speak out in any number of offensive ways, in ways that piss off a good number of people.
Just don’t direct your speech towards the police.
In Crestline, California, 36-year-old Sarah Stewart directed her speech toward the local police. They didn’t like it, so they arrested her.
Her speech consisted of hanging effigies of deputies and others in the law enforcement community throughout Crestline. Seven mannequins were hung, each with a different name on it and bullseye on the front. Some of the names were of former deputies.
You see, Sarah doesn’t like the police. She’s got an extensive arrest record, is on parole for burglary, and has ties to local white supremacists and drug dealers.
The police apparently don’t like her much either. Nor does the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.
She was charged with multiple counts of “Resisting an Executive Officer,” with one count of “Threatening a Public Officer,” and multiple counts of “Participation in a Criminal Street Gang.” All of these charges stemmed from the effigies.
To make a charge of Resisting an Executive Officer, you have to be able to prove that a threat existed that was designed to prevent that officer from performing their job. This is where the bullshit comes in. Captain Donald Mahoney of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office said that there was no evidence that there was any plan to attack the deputies, and that at first, they were laughing about it. So there is no plan to attack, but there is a “threat” meant to “intimidate” the deputies.
What that really means is that the police got their feelings hurt.
So they charged her. Of course, the former deputies could not be intimidated from performing their job, so the cases were only filed for deputies who were still employed.
The other charges are so much BS too. The street gang charge is uniformly used to put pressure on defendants.
And it worked in this case. Stewart pleaded guilty to one count in return for the other charges being dropped. She faces up to four years in prison on the single count, which was enhanced by a prior felony conviction.
Look, I think Stewart and her skinhead buddies are scum. I certainly do not have a problem with her going to prison. Based on her extensive record, she deserves to be locked up.
But not for this. This is free speech, and if we don’t protect her, we all lose.
You see, the use of effigies has long been used in this country to show disagreement with the government.
We used effigies before the American Revolution, to protest the Stamp Act.
In 1841, an effigy of President John Tyler was burned outside of the White House.
In 1861, Abe Lincoln was burned in effigy in Chicago.
In 1974, Richard Nixon was burned in effigy at Columbia University.
In 2012, Barack Obama was hung in effigy outside of a church in Florida.
In all of those, no one was arrested, no one was imprisoned.
You know, if we are going to allow the people to express their displeasure with the President of the United States by the use of effigies, what makes the police more important than the President?
Other than being pissed off, there is no difference. So Stewart goes to prison for free speech. It’s vile and inappropriate, but that is always the type of speech we have to protect. It’s the type of speech that police take an oath to protect.
Instead, the lesson becomes that you have free speech unless you talk bad about the police. Then you get arrested and go to jail.
That’s inherently wrong.