Recently, Remel Newson, a man from Queens, NY, was arrested for his allegedly ‘terroristic’ Facebook post which he posted in response to the George Zimmerman verdict.
The post reads: “BLAC N****S CNT GET NO TYPE OF JUSTICE F****N WIT DESE CRACCER'S #KILLALL WHITES DATS DA TYPE OF S**T I'M ON F*** DIS BEEF S**T LET'S KILL COPS ND NEIGHBO RHOOD WATCHER #FACTS DAT."
While this is no doubtan emotionally charged and vitriolic comment, it's certainly not a ‘terroristic threat.’ Anyone who spends time on the Internet has encountered this type of comment in forums, on comment threads, or just on Facebook. It is ridiculous that Newson was arrested for this comment.
Facebook posts, Youtube comments, or tweet are often misleading, and do not relect the actual intentions of authors. This was a major problem for another Facebook user, Justin Carter, who made comments in a private conversation about going on a shooting rampage with sufficiently clear sarcastic context. He now faces charges of ‘terroristic threats’ that could land him 10 years in jail, which equally as ridiculous. It is reasonable for law enforcement to try and prevent mass shootings or terroristic acts, but they absolutely cannot base their intelligence on such meaningless scribble. Spend 15 minutes reading comments anywhere on the Internet and you will find equally wild remarks.
Another reason this is troublesome is that smaller or local law enforcement agencies have no reason to keep track of ‘terroristic threats’ on the Internet because the NSA already has that covered. This is just another example of government overreach. Because of arrests like this, law enforcement or governments now believe they can confidently govern the Internet. There is nothing farther from the truth.
Do not misunderstand this as a defense for Newson. His status is abhorrent and deserves of some sort of reprimand. That reprimand, however, should come from other Facebook users via comments on the status and then several reposts with deprecatory threads Reddit. Public embarrassment is sufficient for a negligible status. Thankfully, he now understands he made a “stupid mistake.”