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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 @08:53AM (#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.

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

      by arth1 (260657) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:00AM (#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:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:10AM (#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 @09:19AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by h4rr4r (612664)

            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:4, Insightful)

              by Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:44AM (#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.
              • Re:Ermahgerd 1984! (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Baloroth (2370816) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:14AM (#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, Interesting)

                  by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:56PM (#41401343) Journal

                  Uhhh...his bail is set HIGHER than for people that have CORPSES listed among the evidence okay? Now you want to investigate this guy cool, after the whole thing with the DK Rises i can see erring on the side of caution.

                  But setting his bail higher than serial rapists, bank robbers, and actual "here is the corpses" murderers? i'm sorry but that is off the rails. Spin it however you want that is using bail for political purposes and is wrong.

              • ...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.

                Doubtless ESPN advocated for such a large amount so after saying the number, Stewart Scott can add: "Boo-Yah!!"

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

            Not presumption, assumption. If you make threats, then it is reasonable to suspect you might follow up on those threats. On the other hand, making murder threats _is_ a crime in itself, so a crime _has_ been committed.

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

              by poofmeisterp (650750) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:14PM (#41402459) Journal

              Now I know what the "old folks" meant when they talk about times a'changing.

              Back when I was a boy, when I was pissed at someone, I could talk with friends and say, "I wanna kill that bastard."

              It got the steam out and anger went bye-bye.

              Nowadays I'm afraid to say anything about killing anything to anyone.

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

          by arth1 (260657) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:27AM (#41398125) Homepage Journal

          No this is not thought crime, this is punishing a real crime. Making "terrorist threats" has been a crime for a very long time.

          The term credible threat means a threat that is âoe real and immediate, not conjectural or hypothetical.â Kegler v. United States DOJ, 436 F. Supp. 2d 1204, 1212 (D. Wyo. 2006)

          The standard that has been used up until now is if a perceived threat is distanced in time or target, it's not a credible threat, and subject to free speech protection.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            If it just an expression then the DA will likely decline to press any charges and this guy will be back on the street in 24 hours or less.

            I would suggest you not put your off color comments on billboards though, since that is what posting to a public website basically is.

          • Oh please.. It's an expression.

            Do you know exactly what was said?

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

          by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:41AM (#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.

          • Also have to wonder how much of the post was intended to be satirical or to mock all the other comments that were saying these shoes might end up getting kids killed. I can see how a deeply sarcastic/creative person who is a bit asbergers might write something like this. It's like me saying that I might want to kill some religious people. It's fun to say, fun to provoke, and the world would certainly be better off...but I'm not going to go out and do it because I'm against violence.

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

          by DarkTempes (822722) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:41AM (#41398319)

          And who decides what a "terrorist threat" is? How do we know he wasn't being sarcastic?
          A lot of shit gets said on the internet and in real life.

          And notice nowhere is the actual quote of what he said posted...

          Here are some context quotes by other people though:
          z3nmaster69@yahoo.com writes: "Some kid will get killed if he wears one of these in the hood. I'll guarantee that!"
          Buzz1158 asks: "When will the first kid be killed for a pair?"

          So if he responds to that in a way that says he's "watching kids and did not mind murdering them" then that's not tongue-in-cheek?

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

            by icebraining (1313345) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:21AM (#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 @11:39AM (#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.

        • It's not a terrorist threat. It's not about terrorism. It's a "mundane" mass murderer threat.

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

          by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:11AM (#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, Informative)

        by Wansu (846) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:23AM (#41398067)

          You're not a perp until you've done something, or at least set in motion clear actions towards doing something.

        But he has done something. Communicating threats is a crime in most states.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by arth1 (260657)

          But he has done something. Communicating threats is a crime in most states.

          Communicating credible threats. "I want to do [bad things] to [indeterminable targets]" is not a credible threat.

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

          by pla (258480) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:51AM (#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:5, Interesting)

        by thesandtiger (819476) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:37AM (#41398269)

        This is a huge problem in the US - our first responders are not well trained in handling people in emotional distress or who are mentally ill. Even medical first responders tend to be extremely ill equipped to handle this. Often by their ham-handed approach to things they make a situation much, much worse than it needs to be.

        There are efforts to train LEOs and other first responders, but the problem is that by and large, the qualities that police forces look for when hiring officers do not tend to mesh well with the qualities ideal for working well with the mentally ill.

        It's a horrible situation, and one that keeps on getting made worse in the US because politicians want to be seen as tough on crime to satisfy a bloodthirsty population out for revenge and punishment rather than rehabilitation and prevention.

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

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:53AM (#41398505) Homepage Journal

        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.

        There's an article [sj-r.com] in today's local paper about just that.

        When the Jacksonville Developmental Center finally closes its doors, police there are worried that the 130 or so remaining residents will simply be released into the community because there is nowhere else for them to go.

        "And they're going to end up in jail," said Jacksonville Police Chief Tony Grootens. "That's the shame about it."

        Law enforcement officials and mental health professionals met Wednesday at the University of Illinois Springfield to hear about what they called Illinois' mental health crisis and how police and the community need to respond.

        "The word 'crisis' couldn't be a greater understatement," said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, the keynote speaker at the symposium. "There is less attention and fewer resources being given to it, and the mentally ill are being thrown in jail.

        "By that neglect, law enforcement is the primary provider of mental health treatment," he said. "Nobody on the planet thinks that is good."

        The article continues...

    • by N1AK (864906)

      Perhaps by actually giving them some help, not arresting them under a terrorism related charge.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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.
    • I don't see a link to his actual comments but it sounds to me like he was just making an obvious joke: "kids today suck. I wouldn't mind killing them for their shoes, ha-ha" Dumb maybe, but cry for help or terrorist threat? I'd have to see a lot more to make me think this is anything other than a somewhat-offensive joke.
    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      So randomly put people in jail because it's much easier than understanding that not everyone who says "I wish he was dead" or "I'll kill him" actually intends to carry out a murder. In fact it's a quite common expression. This is just more yankee hysteria. Well done America, keep flushing your "freedom" down the toilet.
  • The source link doesn't work. It goes to a dead link and appears to be the mobile site. Please correct.
  • ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:55AM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572)

      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)

        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!"

        You should report to the computer. The computer is your friend. Trust the computer.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Terroristic threats have been the name for that sort of talk for decades.

      It's not a "terrorism" charge.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      This crime has been called that for a very long time. Why should we rename our legal terms to make you feel better?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:00AM (#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.

    • by _Shad0w_ (127912)

      If in doubt, resort to innuendo.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      There is a correlation though, very few go on a rampage with bare hands or knives. It's not a proof alone, but could be a basis of suspicion if something else is found.

    • by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:45AM (#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.

      • by jmerlin (1010641) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:50PM (#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.
        • As one gun owner to another, stop being deliberately obtuse. They're not saying that he is guilty. Nevertheless, the potential danger that the guy represents, assuming that his threats were genuine (which cops pretty much have to assume at some point), is certainly higher if he has a gun compared to him just having a knife. The whole point of (most) guns is to be more efficient at that kind of thing.

          So, yeah, if I go online and threaten to kill someone, I would expect the police and others to treat me accor

    • by batquux (323697)

      And somehow that is more relevant than actually quoting what he said. For all I know, they arrested him because his post "had nothing to do with sports."

  • Say this out loud and see how it sounds: "My kid needs $300 sneakers!". Does this sound good to you? Then you have the mind of a five-year-old and are still waiting for your golden ticket from Wonka.
  • 270 buck (Score:5, Funny)

    by puddingebola (2036796) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:04AM (#41397893) Journal
    $270? Maybe someone should kill LeBron James.
    • by cvtan (752695)
      Gee, I thought the announced price was $315. Could be for $270 you are getting a cheap Chinese knock-off made in the left side of the Nike factory instead of the right side. You do want the REAL ones!
  • Yeesh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:08AM (#41397929)

    I like the part where neither the summary or the article actually shows us exactly what he said so that we can judge its seriousness for ourselves.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Of course they don't. That would be terrorism. This kind of speech can be quite dangerous, only the forensic analyst testifying in court will be allowed to read it.

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:22AM (#41398065) Journal

    I've read TFA - even though the link in the summary is broken - and what I can't see is any detail on what the offending post actually said. I mean, are we talking about a "I see kids pestering their parents for $250 sneakers and sometimes I want to throttle them myself" type comment? If so... grotesque over-reaction, violation of constitutional rights etc.

    Or are we talking about something which clearly expresses a credible intention to commit violence? If so... fine, go ahead and stop a major crime from occuring.

    • by TheSwift (2714953)
      Really? Have you actually RTFA? "The online post on ESPN said that a shooting would be like the one in Aurora, Colo., where 12 people were killed and 58 were injured in July, authorities said."

      That's pretty explicit. There's a line between, "Man I just want to kill someone!" and "Here's how I'm going to do it." We act on these things because they've happened before.

      • Really? Have you actually RTFA?

        "The online post on ESPN said that a shooting would be like the one in Aurora, Colo., where 12 people were killed and 58 were injured in July, authorities said."

        That's pretty explicit. There's a line between, "Man I just want to kill someone!" and "Here's how I'm going to do it." We act on these things because they've happened before.

        Without the actual quote, I still don't know.

        I've seen people joke using disasters as references before. In bad taste? Maybe. Were they dangerous and actually considering hurting anyone? No.

  • Since TFA is down, I can't read TFA, but judging from the summary it read muchs more like he was commenting on working conditions in Nike's factories than making a "terrorist threat". Surely the US isn't yet at the stage where commenting on a company's business practices is considered terrorism?

  • This was the plot of a very good book I read.

  • What is really really bad is that real kids are likely being even dying, being paid a pittance to make the $300 piece of shit shoes. Bu that's business, and we don't give a shit or at least close our eyes so we can have our baubles and trinkets.
  • The obvious goal of any police department is to prevent crime, not just react after it's happened. If the guy had just said something as a bad job I'd like to think he'd be questioned, at worst, and quickly released.

    The thing that seems to be overlooked is that some evidence was found that doesn't cast this guy in a good light. He dropped out of school and was found in possession of a few guns. That, in conjunction with his comments makes this a concern. Obviously, that could all be a series of coincidences

  • It's messed up that people are still reacting differently because this was an online post than if it were a postcard or a phone call or note tacked to a utility pole. In other words, I fail to see what makes this newsworthy at all, let alone "news for nerds."

    More than 70% [google.com] of people in the U.S. are Internet users. That works out to over 200 million. OMG! It happened on teh IntarWebz! is a reaction that's about 15 years out of date.

    Now if only the legal system would catch up with the new normalcy ...

  • by TheSwift (2714953) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:34AM (#41399077)
    I find this is a pretty key line in the article: "The online post on ESPN said that a shooting would be like the one in Aurora, Colo., where 12 people were killed and 58 were injured in July, authorities said."

    That's referring to the post he made that they responded to. He didn't just say, "Ah man, I'd like to shoot kids who get expensive sneakers." It was more like, "Here's how it's going down..."

    If you don't think this is grounds to go after someone (fine), then when should we pursue a terrorist(ish) comment online? How descriptive do you have to get?

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