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Censorship United States Your Rights Online

Online Parody Cartoon Targeted For Prosecution 327

Posted by timothy
from the what-renton-might-need-is-some-attention dept.
SeattleGameboy writes "It seems that the Renton (suburb of Seattle) police need a remedial course on the U.S. Constitution," linking to a story at Seattle TV station KIRO which says "The Renton City Prosecutor wants to send a cartoonist to jail for mocking the police department in a series of animated Internet videos. The 'South-Park'-style animations parody everything from officers having sex on duty to certain personnel getting promoted without necessary qualifications. While the city wants to criminalize the cartoons, First Amendment rights advocates say the move is an 'extreme abuse of power.'"
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Online Parody Cartoon Targeted For Prosecution

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  • by mbone (558574) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @08:27PM (#36992686)

    It's not the police, it's the prosecutor. The police may have agitated for this, but the prosecutor is the person who should know better.

  • Wait for it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by U8MyData (1281010) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @08:28PM (#36992692)
    ...you civil liberties are becomeing an endangered species if you question authority, impead the operations of businesses, or criticize your elected officials. I never thought it would come to this in this country. Isn't it sad that the pent up frustration and anti-establishment from the 60's generation (the people now in power) has morphed into this?
  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @08:34PM (#36992742) Homepage

    Yet another nugget I would not have known about were it not for someone out there trying to stop it!

  • by Fjandr (66656) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @08:40PM (#36992798) Homepage Journal

    The judge should be removed from the bench and the prosecutor should be disbarred. This is blatant abuse of the judicial process, and both are either complicit or incompetent, and either one should warrant their removal from their respective offices.

  • Re:Wait for it... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 04, 2011 @08:46PM (#36992838)

    Generation gap. The 60s people marched, risked jail time, and their lives to deal with this crap.

    These days, people don't give a shit about rights, as long as they have their iPhone and their Facebook. Maybe they might sign a petition to have the First Amendment reinstated, or like a group on FB saying they miss having the ability to not have their property searched at whim. However don't expect anything more than that.

  • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @09:25PM (#36993070) Journal
    When you yourselves are seen as not obeying the law of the land, you expose yourselves to the risk of removing your authority. Authority is granted for certain purposes, not others. You must enforce the law, you are not allowed to enforce whims. You are diluting your authority by permitting such abuses. The people will see this as an abrogation of the agreement between government and the governed.

    Just because the founding fathers lived a couple of centuries ago, doesn't mean that people don't get equally upset now as they did in 1776.

  • by IonOtter (629215) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @09:50PM (#36993226) Homepage

    Actually, police are not supposed to "enforce the law", they are supposed to maintain order.

    If they see someone causing disorder, they may, at their discretion, choose to gently caution, give a stern warning to, give a written citation to, or arrest, the individual causing the disturbance.

    In a perfect world, a police officer will NOT enter into that situation simply because the individual causing the disorder is merely annoying or insulting to the officer themselves. In a perfect world, a police officer is supposed to have a thick skin and endless amounts of patience. In a perfect world, an officer refrains from a confrontation until someone else complains about the disorderly behavior, or that behavior clearly escalates to maliciousness and/or damage of physical property, or the overall psychological well-being of the populace.

    In a perfect world, "law enforcement" is the product of proper police behavior.

    What we are seeing is petty, selfish, arrogant, belligerent, puerile and legally actionable misbehavior by the police and their support structure.

    And, should the local legal system fail in providing a solution, then the case must be escalated to the state, then federal legal system.

    Should that fail, our problems are going to be much more serious than police misbehavior.

  • Re:Abuse Of Power? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday August 04, 2011 @09:57PM (#36993266) Homepage Journal

    I know you're being annoying, but the truth is that it is expected that police forces will try to overstep their authority.

    That's the whole point of the Constitution: not that police forces and government officials will never overstep their authority but that when they do they get bitch-slapped to the ground and the overstepee gets a fat payday to punish the ones who violated someone's rights as well as their fat-fuck supervisors who got their position because they are the brother-in-law of the city council chairman.

    It is the beauty of our Constitutional system in action, and it keeps me from getting overly outraged at the police assholes who actually believed that you can prosecute someone for simply expressing an opinion.

    Now, the outrage would be warranted if somehow the prosecution stuck or said donut-eating side of pork and his department managed to somehow avoid the punishment they so richly deserve.

    For the most part, I'm OK with police. I know several socially and teach a t'ai chi course that is attended by a few forty-something officers. For the most part they are decent and honorable people who don't fuck around with peoples' rights. They are of a generation that is sickened by the behavior of predecessors like a former Commander Jon Burge (here in Chicago) who is sitting in a Federal penitentiary for extracting confessions through the use of torture. But now he's got to be really careful when performing his daily ablutions and the men who were tortured to confess have received multi-million dollar awards, which is of course insufficient for having spent years, sometimes decades behind bars and in a couple of cases on Death Row. But the right people were punished and the right people were paid and the generation of cops that seem to be rising to supervisory positions at least here in Chicago appear to be more professional and more decent.

    In other words, the system seems to work, but only if we constantly watch it. There needs to always be civilian oversight of all law enforcement (and military for that matter). There are still problems, but there's at least an expectation that they will be solved.

  • by sjames (1099) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @10:07PM (#36993316) Homepage

    It's not the police, it's the prosecutor. The police may have agitated for this, but the prosecutor is the person who should know better.

    And should face disbarment for dereliction of his duty as an officer of the court.

    The actions he seeks to prosecute are practically textbook examples of protected speech.

    The judge who signed that warrant has some explaining to do as well. He isn't there to operate the rubber stamp, his job is to make the police and prosecutors demonstrate that their warrants are valid and constitutional before he signs off on them. If he won't do that or he's too much of a patsy to do that then he's a disgrace to his office and yet another in a growing list of reasons why citizens should re-consider any level of respect they might have left for their government.

  • Re:IANAL (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Thursday August 04, 2011 @10:54PM (#36993544)

    They already know who he is. The comics chronicle conversations he had with people in that office. And you can tell from their tone that he's on the outs with the leadership. They just want proof it was him so they can fire him, or whatever.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @10:57PM (#36993554)

    the renton police like to pretend they are all swat officers in a robocop movie. all of their patrol cars are kitted out with external roll cages, and the officers wear full body armor at all times. i used to work in the old city hall building, and they would use the floor below us for training exercises with flash bang grenades. we'd ride the same elevator up and i'd count the number of handguns strapped to their hips and chest (always more than their number of hands). parking in a lot full of brand new cop cars with shiny new powder-coated black rims didn't make me feel safer... it made me feel like the police had their priorities in an order that did not benefit the community... this story is more of the same.

    Who the hell are you and what have you done with the MichaelKristopeit### Troll?

  • Re:Abuse Of Power? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday August 04, 2011 @11:42PM (#36993736) Homepage Journal

    You're posting this in a article where someone is being charged by drawing a comic of police.

    And thirty years ago, people were charged for being gay.

    You have to take your progress where you find it, friend.

  • Re:Abuse Of Power? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nbauman (624611) on Friday August 05, 2011 @12:13AM (#36993868) Homepage Journal

    No, sorry, the system doesn't work. Many police are sadistic bullies, and even the "good cops" accept it, so the good cops in their No, sorry, the system doesn't work. Many police are sadistic bullies, and even the "good cops" accept it, so the good cops in their complicity are bad cops too.

    People who are framed by the cops usually go to jail, sometimes to death row.

    The cases where innocent people are acquitted are rare, usually the result of an unusual circumstance, like the person who actually did the crime feeling guilty and confessing, or a crime where a DNA test can resolve the facts.

    The Innocence Project, which first started freeing people from jail with DNA evidence, said the significance of their acquittals was that they were rare and unusual and they demonstrated that many people were falsely convicted in cases where they *couldn't* be vindicated with DNA evidence -- and they're still in jail.

    Worst of all, when cops get caught committing perjury, the prosecutors usually don't prosecute. For example, in New York City, during the Democratic convention, the police arrested demonstrators who were doing nothing illegal -- along with innocent bystanders who had nothing to do with the demonstration -- and gave sworn testimony, under oath, accused them of felony crimes.

    One of the defense lawyers got the police's own videos, which clearly showed that the defendants were innocent, and that the cops were committing perjury. But the police department refused to prosecute them for perjury. If it wasn't for that accident of having the videos, these defendants would have had to choose between pleading guilty to a minor crime or (if they had the $50,000 or so for a criminal defense) going to trial and possibly getting convicted of a serious felony.

    So the police have strong career (financial) incentives for framing people, and no penalty for lying. What do you think they're going to do?

    If you look at Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment you'll see that it's almost inevitable for the police to turn into sadistic bullies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment [wikipedia.org]

    In order to avoid it, the police managers and elected officials have to make strong efforts to overcome these natural tendencies, and most of them don't do it.

  • Re:Wait for it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FutureDomain (1073116) on Friday August 05, 2011 @01:12AM (#36994122)

    Generation gap. The 60s people marched, risked jail time, and their lives to deal with this crap.

    These days, people don't give a shit about rights, as long as they have their iPhone and their Facebook. Maybe they might sign a petition to have the First Amendment reinstated, or like a group on FB saying they miss having the ability to not have their property searched at whim. However don't expect anything more than that.

    Of course there are people today who care enough about our rights to stand up for them. They're called Anonymous. They may be trying to create change the wrong way, but at least they are standing up against corporations, organizations, and governments who try to censor and tear down the First Amendment.

  • Re:Abuse Of Power? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Archtech (159117) on Friday August 05, 2011 @05:39AM (#36994990)

    If a police officer gives you an order, YOU SHUT UP AND OBEY. No complaining, no resisting. It doesn't matter who is right, just stay quiet and save it for the judge..

    That's what certain German soldiers did. They did what they were told, kept quiet, and saved it for the judge. Who unhesitatingly sentenced them to death, establishing the granite precedent for all future times that "I was just obeying orders" is never an acceptable excuse. As a human being you have a brain and a sense of morality, both of which you should use early and often.

    Now if a disciplined private soldier, in a desperate war against a ruthless enemy, dare not obey an order unthinkingly and unquestioningly - why would a civilian, in peace time (Shrub to the contrary notwithstanding) dare to obey a police officer's order unthinkingly and unquestioningly?

    Before you start attacking what I didn't say, please note that it doesn't matter that the soldiers carried out orders to shoot defenceless people, or that the policeman may just be ordering you to give him your phone or leave the area. Because you yourself chose the exact words "YOU SHUT UP AND OBEY. No complaining, no resisting. It doesn't matter who is right..."

    In fact, it really does matter very much indeed who is right. And you cannot "shut up and obey" and let the judge sort it out later. As a citizen and a human being, you owe it to yourself, the state, and all your fellow-citizens to decide for yourself at all times what is right and what is wrong.

This place just isn't big enough for all of us. We've got to find a way off this planet.

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