When I first saw the headline on a news site, I was like “oh, wait a minute”. I don’t even remember what site it was but it was just the video anyway. The headline read something like “Blogger Jailed For Posting About Shooting”
First the story, and then my take on it.
Isaaz Zamora killed several people back at the beginning of September in Washington State. It was all over the news channels as well as the Internet. One of the online papers that had an article about it is the Bellingham Herald. In a comment on the story Jeffrey N Gargaro wrote the following:
Also to all of you who blame drugs…shut up as well. You know what, I am going to go shoot up sunset square today…just for the hell of it. No drugs, no mental illness…you can blame today’s episode on video games and George Bush’s example of ‘pay back’ to society.
As a result of this an officer in St. Louis saw the comment and reported it to the Bellingham Police Department. They tracked the guy down, obtained a search warrant and arrested Mr Gargaro, charging him with Felony Harassment. Gargaro said he’s not sorry for what he write but did say he probably could have worded it better.
Here’s a hint to all you folks out there. WATCH WHAT YOU SAY ON THE INTERNET. Get a fucking clue. I am just like a lot of folks in that I will say things off the cuff not necessarily meaning it and we all have to be really careful in what we say, but anyone stupid enough to state that they are going to be in a certain place at a certain time to kill people deserves what they get. Yeah, it’s very clear that he didn’t mean it and I don’t think any of the commenters at the Herald took him seriously either but how could police NOT take him seriously, particularly considering the fact that too often people have made this threat and followed through.
Gargaro’s attorney, Jeffrey Lustick claims that Gargaro was exercising his first amendment rights of free speech. Freedom of speech as spelled out in the United States Constitution and several state constitutions as well protect criticism of the government as well as unpopular ideas and all sorts of crap that people find distasteful, racism for example, although that comes under fire regularly. Some things are NOT permitted under the First Amendment to the Constitution though, such as child pornography, hate speech and fighting words. Stating that you are going out to shoot some fuckers sounds like fighting words to me, at least in my neck of the woods.
Oh, yeah. As a side to journalists and other various and sundry newspersons here is a bit of valuable info. A blogger is someone that writes content and posts it. Like a journalist. Like the person that wrote the article about Zamora. Now obviously I am not as serious nor do I write such ‘quality’ work as paid journalists but it is mine nevertheless and I stand by it.
A commenter is someone that writes comments on someone else’s blog posting or newspaper article. Jeffrey Gargaro is NOT a blogger, so quit with the “Blogger is jailed” crap. (yeah, I know it’s in my title too). I love my commenters but unlike online newspapers that live or die by the visits from theirs, I was writing when I had three visitors a day and I will still be writing the same crap when I have 3 million a day. That’s what makes me a blogger.