Free Speech vs Public Nuisance

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by bostjan, Apr 29, 2016.

  1. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Student's mom convicted of posting rumours on facebook

    Another link to this story

    So this woman posted a message on facebook describing some hearsay from her child, that there were some students planning on bringing weapons to school to shoot each other.

    It appears the woman did nothing malicious, and may have actually had good intentions. But, perhaps that is beside my point.

    She was convicted in court of Public Nuisance.

    This brings me back to the age-old debate concerning free speech. Where does freedom of speech end? If a newspaper had posted a similar rumour.

    What do you guys and gals think?

    EDIT: For convenience, this is the alleged post in question:

    Sentence was 30 days in jail (deferred) and a $29 court cost.
     
  2. vansinn

    vansinn SS.org Regular

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    I think we're actually sortof past the discussion about what free-speech really is.
    It's being attempted taken away from us, especially here in the west.

    As a quick example, just look at when someone mocks Erdogain (Sultan of his wanted new Ottoman empire) in Germany, where after it''s attempted to jurys-dickt-this-up-the-nevershining.
    Similar attempt didn't fare that well in Holland, though..

    So, it'll be more and more important talking about how to keep [enough] free-speech.

    But back to your original question..
    In the referred case, maybe the mom ought to have referred that info to police.
    And still, simply stating info about having heard something shouldn't possibly be enough to rule such as a felony.

    And, now that you mention press, it gets worse, cause the press will load us up day and in with presumptions on how there could be terrorists in our countries, and other such info warfare..
    But that's just fine. "You write what you're told. Thank you press, without you we couldn't have done it." (said David Rockefeller)
    Bloody New World disOrder
     
  3. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    That's really where I was trying to go with that. If this woman can post on facebook, what she allegedly did post on facebook, yet the news can have stories like "OMG, everything you are eating is killing you right now!!!!1!one!!!/" then seriously WTF?

    30 days in jail, I know some people might say "this is not really true punishment," but it means you lose your job, possibly lose your friends, etc. It could be devastating for some innocent citizen behaving like an average innocent citizen to have to go through this sort of ordeal.

    Did the court prove without reasonable doubt that the woman was the source of the nuisance, and not simply the rumour? If so, how?! I don't think it possible. If not, then what ramifications does that have on the USA justice system? If you can be convicted of a crime, no matter how minor, not a civil thing, but a crime, without proof beyond reasonable level of doubt, then we are absolutely f****d.
     
  4. USMarine75

    USMarine75 Doc McStuffins Contributor

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    Meh, it was a class C misdemeanor with no jail time. Basically amounts to a written admonishment + $29.

    Public nuisance is usually charged when a person commits an act that obstructs, damages, or inconveniences the rights of a community. With respect to freedom of speech, you usually see public nuisance invoked when someone alleges their own first ammendment right, but infringes upon another group's rights. The common examples are yelling fire in a movie theater, or email/mail/phone threats that are not specifically bodily harm/death threats. (FWIW you're lucky if public/common nuisance is all you get charged with!)

    1. An indictment will lie for the erektion (had to intentionally misspell this lol) or continuance of a nuisance or an unlawful obstruction on a public highway. All common and public nuisances, which aggrieve, annoy, or impair the common rights of the community must be punished criminally by indictment.

    2. One need not have a criminal intent to make him guilty of committing a nuisance.

    3. A defendant cannot escape liability by arguing that others also contributed to the harm.

    4. A person convicted for maintaining a nuisance of a continuing character is generally ordered to abate the nuisance together with a fine and imprisonment.

    tl;dr You may not like the law, but it's the law, and it appears to have been correctly applied.
     
  5. NicePants

    NicePants ok

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    You have the freedom to say what you want, but it doesn't free you from the consequences. If you say or write something that maliciously damages a person's reputation or incites a panic for no reason or causes harm to someone, then you should expect to pay the price. I do agree that the media a lot of times gets away with a lot of bull.... they shouldn't. I don't really agree with the concept of banning speech that isn't directly doing any of those things though. People can say some disgusting and hurtful things, but this notion that we should jail or fine people that make you feel bad over the internet is insane.
     
  6. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Had to read the articles to see that the comment caused a bunch of people to skip school or to contact the school with concerns, etc. As much as I sort of get it, it's ridiculous to actually charge someone for that kind of comment IMO. It's the kind of comment you see from mothers on facebook all day. So much horrible nonsense gets posted on the internet at any given time that it's difficult for me to justify the idea of going after someone legally for voicing a concern. If I was a parent and the students were talking about guns in school, I'd be concerned and talking about it too. Is it legal, and is the city/school in their right to complain? Sure. But it's still ridiculous.
     
  7. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    By definition, legally, a public nuisance is a disturbance that infringes on the rights of the public. How did this woman do such? The reason I brought up the fact that it was repeating a rumour was that the woman herself did not contribute to the public nuisance.

    Turns out, that several of the children at the school were actually planning an attack. Whether or not it was earnest is another story; however, they were the public nuisance in this case. The reason this woman was charged was administrative bull...., nothing else.


    I'll pick apart what you said, although it seems we agree:

    1. "Freedom from ... except you pay the consequences" is not freedom.
    2. Freedom is being able to do whatever you want, as long as it does not infringe on the freedoms of another person. Whose freedoms did this woman infringe?

    I'm sure the facebook comment caused people to skip school the same that the Beatles caused Charles Manson to have people murdered. Come on.
     
  8. tacotiklah

    tacotiklah I am Denko (´・ω・`)

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    She was within her rights to voice a concern about a school shooting. We see enough of them here in the states that it's like we're horrified by them, yet we've become kind of numb to them too. Now we treat people calling in threats like criminals. It's not right. I'd rather have someone call in a bogus threat and people react as if it were real than for someone to call in a credible threat that everyone ignores and there becomes a bloodbath where a school should have been.
     
  9. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    She was probably not particularly well off and ended up with a public defender who recommended she plead guilty for a deffered sentence rather than go to trial. It's unfortunate, but those with money tend to have more "equality" and more freedom than the rest of us, at least in the states.


    How was this public nuisance? From the info provided, she appears to have posted facts, so in what manner did she infringe the rights of others?
     
  10. Sicarius

    Sicarius Reggie J Worthington

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    1) It's called being responsible for your actions. Freedom of speech protects many instances of speech, but certain things aren't protected. Like Hate Speech or inciting a panic: Don't yell "FIRE!" in a crowded movie theater when there's no fire, it's irresponsible and there's a possibility of someone getting hurt in the panic.

    She posted an unfounded rumor on Facebook, one she heard from her child, and instead of contacting the school for more information, she just spread it to others. The possibility of a shootout on a school campus does, indeed, incite panic, especially in recent years with all the school shootings that have happened. It was irresponsible and hopefully she learned something from this whole thing.

    Her lawyer tried to say that she was only posting it to get information about the situation, and wasn't trying to cause a panic. Except the way it's written, it's not inquisitive. It's just a statement about what her kid told her. There's nothing in that statement to make it seem like she was just trying to get clarification. He also mentioned that there wasn't a law that required her to contact the school officials for clarification. Like that was something that needed to be a law?

    2) You have a pretty Libertarian view on "freedom". Just because "you aren't infringing on someone's rights" doesn't mean you should do it.
     
  11. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

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    I wonder how true that "shootout" was going to be, IF

    like they prob were talking about from paintballs, paperplanes, ruberbands wars, even a online videogame thing. And mom being a mom took whatever they said and blow it up over 9000

    could have even being a simple play of words between friends, or just a "hate" talk someone said outloud without any real though of doing so. Like a kids fight "Im gonna kill you blah blha"

    plus the "my kid told me" I bet you it was more of a "I was oing the dishes while I over heard my kid talking over the phone with a friend" kinda thing
     
  12. larry

    larry ". . . . . . . ."

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    Screw Facebook... I simply would have alerted the police and let them sort it out. The earlier children are exposed to the reality of consequence, the better.
     
  13. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I don't agree with calling it a nuisance, but one of the articles says that a whole bunch of students skipped school, a bunch of parents called in, etc. The school day was disrupted.

    At the same time, I tend to think the school should have been more prepared for something like that. Moms that spend all their time on facebook post that kind of stuff all the time.
     
  14. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

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    yeah it could be seen as a bad thing due to the fear she accidentaly caused, and I dont blame the other parent/teachers/students that saw her post and didnt go to school.

    but......

    what if... IF... by a really tinny small chance she was right?, and the supposed students who were going to do the shooting saw that post and decided to back off their plan for fear to be compromised about it?

    Theres not going to be a way to prove that, but because there wasnt any killing or shooting to prove it then she gets trow in jail. But if it happen and a shooting took place then she would be a "hero" for making people skip school that day :scratch:

    honestly if I were a parent and I heard my son telling me that I would make him name the who involved or find a way to pin point the group who might be involved, call school to put in contact to parents from that grade and eventualy call police. Not trow it on facebook like you are asking for cooking recipes.

    again I bet you this was an innocent thing who got blew up away due to misunderstood, miscommunication, wrong writing, mom factor and just general internet
     
  15. synrgy

    synrgy Ya ya ya I am Lorde

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    Every so often, cases like this will come up in which individuals will be made examples to countless others who commit the same crime. See: Digital Media pirates: Countless thousands do it; only a hand full get indicted for it.

    Like it or not, Facebook long ago reached a level of ubiquity equating it to a perpetually-crowded theater.

    Not that I lack sympathy! I do think the punishment exceeded the crime, and I also tend to presume that her intentions were genuine: I have more than a couple of well-meaning (but dimly-witted) acquaintances who run to Facebook every time they're faced with any kind of crisis, no matter how personal it is, or how stupid it may be to discuss publicly.

    Further, if there's one thing I've learned in my years of customer service (and internet-ing) it's that most people can't (or don't bother to) write in complete sentences, or even use punctuation, generally. Expecting average folks who aren't educated in law to express themselves in bulletproof legalese seems a bit much..
     
  16. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    I think that's part of it.


    The issue with yelling fire in a crowded theater isn't so much that you interrupt people's experience, but that people will be injured or killed in the mad rush to get out of the theater.

    I look at facebook as a communication medium, like face to face, telephone, letter, email, etc. As such, I don't equate it with a theater full of people. Had the conversation occurred in person rather then via facebook, would she have been prosecuted?


    I think it is very reasonable to assume that she was looking for a conversation on the topic rather than merely spreading rumors (even if the part about the school announcement wasn't accurate). Internet media are communications media, after all (some more so than others), not merely a one-way platform to disseminate rumors to the masses. :lol:
     
  17. Alex Kenivel

    Alex Kenivel Psycho, dont engage

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    I don't think she was being a "nuisance" per se. Sure, she went about it the wrong way, causing panic.

    What she should have done was notify the school. :2c:
     
  18. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    So, I used to work at a movie theater. According to the manager when I worked there, the reason it's illegal to shout fire in a theater is because people will get hurt trying to physically run out of the room. The illegality of it does not have to do with simply making people feel worried.

    That's why I'm saying such a comparison shouldn't be valid.

    Facebook is a space to talk about the things that are happening in your life. If your kid told you some sh/t, guess what, that happened in your life. You should be able to write it on facebook. Sure, there are consequences for making threats, bullying, doing things that are in fact illegal in person. But last time I checked, telling your friends that your son hit you with some scary rumor isn't illegal. This woman was voicing her own concern. If I were another parent, I'd be happy to have read it even if it weren't true. She did say in the post that it was told to her by a child.
     
  19. russmuller

    russmuller Cramblin' Contributor

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    This seems very wrong to me, but maybe there's a brightside. Does that mean that now I can file a complaint of "public nuisance" against David Wolfe and other nonsense-promoters for sharing homeopathy and anti-vaccine memes?
     
  20. n4t

    n4t SS.org Regular

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    Free speech is a right.

    Public nuisance is when your average american actually uses said right. :p

    The woman was a douche. You don't go to FACEBOOK to deal with safety issues. If you have a concern, call the school or the police. Incredibly stupid and completely thoughtless, not to mention very irresponsible.

    Sad thing is most young people can't do anything these days if it isn't on social media. Absolutely useless flesh-bags. I am super thrilled that I will most likely live to see our species wiped up like the sewage spill we are.
     

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