Chicopee, MA– Emotions are running high and police across the nation are on high alert after the killing of two NYPD officers on Saturday afternoon.
Emotions are also running high with the huge portion of Americans who have been watching police kill and brutalize with impunity, and of course people have taken to social media to vent their frustrations, hurt, and anger.
Sometimes, people express themselves in a strong way, so in this age of Orwellian spying and rights disappearing before our eyes- how far is too far? Where does freedom of speech end and when does venting become a threat to commit a crime?
As Charlie Dirosa has just learned, for the Chicopee Police Department all it took was a quote.
Dirosa did not say “I am going to put wings on pigs,” “Please friends, go put wings on pigs,” or even “All I want for Christmas is wings on pigs.” He simply quoted the now infamous caption from the NYPD killer’s instagram.
Chicopee police is comparing the post to yelling fire in a crowded theater and claiming the post “scared a lot of the guys.”
The police have filed a criminal complaint and Dirosa will have to appear in court for “threatening to commit a crime.”
Back in August a man was arrested and jailed for more than a week when he posted the lyrics to a song by the metal band Exodus on his Facebook profile. He was charged with making terroristic threats which could have lead him to a decade in prison.
“When we start to overreact to things like lyrics by any band, including Exodus, and start arresting people, we are caving in to paranoia and are well on our way to becoming an Orwellian society.” the bands guitar player, Gary Holt stated.
The ACLU quickly jumped on the case and argued that his post was protected by the First Amendment, leading to charges being dropped.
So, where do we draw the line? We all say things we don’t necessarily mean, or things we wouldn’t do. When is trolling or venting actually a credible threat?
I can’t even count the amount of times I have said Michael Bay should be shot for butchering the Texas Chainsaw Massacre with his awful remake, but do I actually want him shot? No, well, not fatally at least (kidding). Would I shoot him or suggest someone shoot him? Nope, of course not.
The First Amendment is important, it was left vague for our protection- not the government’s, and this is a very slippery slope we are definitely sliding on with this selective enforcement.