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Calif. Man Arrested For ESPN Post On Killing Kids 416

Posted by timothy
from the just-a-suggestion-really dept.
SternisheFan writes with an AP story as carried by Yahoo that illustrates one of the boundaries of free speech online: "A California man accused of posting comments on ESPN's website saying he was watching kids and wouldn't mind killing them was in jail Tuesday on $1 million bail after he was arrested for investigation of making terrorist threats, authorities said. Several guns were found Monday at the home of former Yale University student Eric Yee, said Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Steve Low. Yee was arrested after the sports network ESPN reported threatening posts were made in a reader response section to an online ESPN story on Thursday about new Nike sneakers named after LeBron James that cost $270 a pair. Some of the nearly 3,000 reader comments on the story talked about children possibly getting killed over the sneakers because of how expensive they are, said ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys. 'What he was posting had nothing to do with sports," Soltys said Tuesday. "We closely monitor the message boards and anytime we get a threat, we're alerting law enforcement officials.' An employee at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., notified local police the same day and they linked the posting to Yee's home in Santa Clarita in northern Los Angeles County."
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Calif. Man Arrested For ESPN Post On Killing Kids

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  • Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by concealment (2447304) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @07:53AM (#41397773) Homepage Journal

    Actually, this is what people should be doing: responding to obvious cries for help before the perp manages to shoot up a theater full of people.

  • ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @07:55AM (#41397787) Homepage Journal

    Is it me or is a "terrorist threat" charge starting to become the "etc" category to charge people for statements that someone is uncomfortable with.

    If he is making a threat that is a chargeable offense and the "terrorism" adjective is useless anyway.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:00AM (#41397829)

    I love how the article points out that "several guns were found", implying that it is somehow out of the ordinary for an American citizen to legally own firearms. See? He owns guns, so obviously he must be a violent psychopath.

    Stupid media.

  • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:00AM (#41397831) Homepage Journal

    Actually, this is what people should be doing: responding to obvious cries for help before the perp manages to shoot up a theater full of people.

    You're not a perp until you've done something, or at least set in motion clear actions towards doing something.
    This is punishing thought crime, justifying actual means by a potential end.

    If people are worried about someone's cry for help, call someone who can help, not the law. They have no ways - nor intentions - of helping the person.

  • Re:ugh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:01AM (#41397847) Journal

    One day I'll be arrested for using logic. "You're THINKING! That's illegal! You must tow either the Republican or Democrat party line! Independent thought is systemic dissension and causes disorderly disruption to our country's political operation, and is thus terrorism!"

    I am Emmanuel Goldstein.

  • by arth1 (260657) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:03AM (#41397875) Homepage Journal

    Guess it died as soon as people found you could call something terorist.

    If we don't arrest everyone who sounds scary, the terrists have won!

  • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:07AM (#41397917)
    I got the impression this guy was posting a tongue in cheek response. If he was posting in jest, then it's another case like the bloke in Britain who tweeted about blowing up an airport that was closed due to inclement weather. Now you'll have to excuse me, as I need to take out the next chav who drives past my office window with ridiculously loud R&B music blaring out from their car and I can't find my rifle.
  • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:10AM (#41397945)

    No this is not thought crime, this is punishing a real crime. Making "terrorist threats" has been a crime for a very long time. You can think about crime all you like, telling someone you are going to kill people is a crime. Just not as bad a crime as actually doing it.

  • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by metrometro (1092237) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:19AM (#41398031)

    Yes, but there's a presumption of future crimes that seems problematic. Note the final phrase in this quote from TFA:

    "We are thankful that police departments are working together and without the information from Bristol, maybe this wouldn't have been able to be stopped."

  • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:20AM (#41398045)

    That is just people being people.
    In court he will not be tried for a future crime, but the actual crime he did commit.

  • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:27AM (#41398129)

    Oh please.. It's an expression. It's a distasteful one but if every parent who made an off-color comment about how they'd like to strangle their kids to death went to jail we'd have no parents left.

  • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:41AM (#41398315)

    You can think about crime all you like, telling someone you are going to kill people is a crime

    But in this specific case, he DIDN'T threaten to do it. Couldn't immediately find a direct quote, but the articles all say he said he "wouldn't mind" doing it.

    There are a lot of crimes I wouldn't mind doing. Did I just threaten to do a lot of crimes? No. I won't be doing any crimes today if I can help it. Aside from jaywalking and maybe some copyright crimes. Actually, I'm pretty sure I already did both already, now that I think about it...

    Anyway, this is not threatening to kill a specific person to their face to terrify them, which is clearly something that should be illegal. This is saying something tasteless about children, which should not be a crime, and being near an unregistered gun, which depends on the circumstances. And one million dollar bail is quite high even if he had said to a specific kid that he was going to kill them.

  • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ToadProphet (1148333) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:43AM (#41398361)

    Terrorist threats have nothing to do with terrorism.

    Sorry, what?

    The term has been used for many decades before the Patriot act was even imagined

    Yes, and prior to 9/11'ish it was generally reserved for acts that sought a political goal through terror. It's only been very recently that the political motivation was dropped as a requirement.

  • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:44AM (#41398367)
    Which was what exactly?!?!?!? the 1 million dollar bail is higher than a normal murder charge bail. While making comments like this might be illegal, or in poor taste, the response seems a bit over the top.
  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:45AM (#41398379)

    The fact that the offender owns guns is highly relevant to the level of threat he poses.

    A person who owns guns is not usually problem.

    A person who makes death threats is a potential problem.

    A person who makes death threats AND owns guns is a potential problem of great severity.

  • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:51AM (#41398473) Journal
    But he has done something. Communicating threats is a crime in most states.

    TFA doesn't quote what he said, so we don't really know whether he did or did not make a "threat".

    If he said "I've had it, gonna go kill those little punks skateboarding on my sidewalk, back in a few", okay, possible threat (though in plenty of contexts it still would not count as a threat).

    If, as seems more likely, he said "I hate those goddamned kids, hope they get hit by a bus, might even do it myself one of these days", then no, not a threat.

    Fortunately, in situations like this the courts actually do fairly well at separating hurp from fact. Unfortunately, he will either cop a plea, or end up bankrupt paying for a lawyer.


    / What do I call it? "Justice!"
  • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:11AM (#41398767)

    Making "terrorist threats" has been a crime for a very long time.

    It is a stupid, arbitrary excuse for a crime that is so ambiguous that the lawmakers responsible should die of shame. Oh dear - did I just make a terrorist threat against government officials? To the dungeon with me!

  • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:14AM (#41398819)

    Which was what exactly?!?!?!? the 1 million dollar bail is higher than a normal murder charge bail. While making comments like this might be illegal, or in poor taste, the response seems a bit over the top.

    Yes, but for most murderers the judge doesn't have strong reason to suspect they might go out and murder again. With the threats this guy made, the judge does have strong reason to suspect he might go and murder people. Hence, a high bail.

  • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by icebraining (1313345) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:21AM (#41398927) Homepage

    And who decides what a "terrorist threat" is?

    A court of law. But for that he needs to be brought to it.

  • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:39AM (#41400133)

    terrorist threat

    Terrorism is a very specific thing. These laws were written and passed because it plays on the stupidity of Americans.

    Even if they guy was absolutely serious, in no way, shape, or form, would it actually be a "terroristic threat." Period.

    These laws were created such that it gives the state power over everyone for anything. You'd have to be a completely delusional to support these laws.

  • by jmerlin (1010641) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:50AM (#41401235)
    A person who makes death threats AND owns a knife is a potential problem of great severity, too. What about a fork? How about household chemicals? A belt? A hammer? A nailgun? A saw or chainsaw? Any number of gardening tools? How about one of those iron things you use to poke a fire? Pretty deadly spear you've got there. How about a maglite?

    The "he has a gun and therefore is automatically guilty" nonsense needs to stop. There are plenty of other good weapons to accuse, too.

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