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The Internet Crime Government The Courts

Court: 'Repugnant' Online Discussions Aren't Thoughtcrime (arstechnica.com) 155

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a ruling in favor of former NYPD officer Gilberto Valle — the so-called "cannibal cop." In 2012, Valle was fired and arrested for going online and talking about his fantasies, which included kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, and cannibalism. He was later convicted in a jury trial. A district court judge overturned the conviction, but the government appealed, hoping to make it stick. The Appeals Court has now affirmed Valle's acquittal. In the ruling (PDF), the court notes, "We are loathe to give the government the power to punish us for our thoughts and not our actions. That includes the power to criminalize an individual's expression of sexual fantasies, no matter how perverse or disturbing. Fantasizing about committing a crime, even a crime of violence against a real person whom you know, is not a crime." The court also addressed the government's questionable efforts to use the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to increase the severity of Valle's punishment: "While the Government might promise that it would not prosecute an individual for checking Facebook at work, we are not at liberty to take prosecutors at their word in such matters."
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Court: 'Repugnant' Online Discussions Aren't Thoughtcrime

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  • Well LA has per crime now so what is next?

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Friday December 04, 2015 @05:55PM (#51059769) Journal

    More of the quote:

    While the Government might promise that it would not prosecute an individual for checking Facebook at work, we are not at liberty to take prosecutors at their word in such matters. A court should not uphold a highly problematic interpretation of a statute merely because the Government promises to use it responsibly.

    Pay attention the next time your senator or congresswoman or Attorney General or CIA head or ex head or President says, "Come on, Shelley. Give it a rest. We aren't going to abuse it."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      More of the quote:

      While the Government might promise that it would not prosecute an individual for checking Facebook at work, we are not at liberty to take prosecutors at their word in such matters. A court should not uphold a highly problematic interpretation of a statute merely because the Government promises to use it responsibly.

      Pay attention the next time your senator or congresswoman or Attorney General or CIA head or ex head or President says, "Come on, Shelley. Give it a rest. We aren't going to abuse it."

      I wish people would remember in the voting booth that the government power to do this kind of crap comes from taxes.

      And having "someone else" get their taxes raised because "they need to pay their fair share" is BULLSHIT propaganda purveyed by those who want to give that government even more power to use against us.

      • by spauldo ( 118058 )

        I wish people would remember in the voting booth that the government power to do this kind of crap comes from taxes.

        Except it doesn't, not really.

        It comes because the people consent to the government having power, for various reasons. It may be because people recognize the need for an organizing force to maintain public infrastructure and essential services (the justice system being one of those), because of societal pressure to follow the status quo, or because the government has enforcers that quell any serious threat to their power.

        Taxes are a by-product of government power, not the source of it. Yes, the government

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Friday December 04, 2015 @06:38PM (#51060013) Journal

      Pay attention the next time your senator or congresswoman or Attorney General or CIA head or ex head or President says, "Come on, Shelley. Give it a rest. We aren't going to abuse it."

      Generally in politician speak you could translate that to: "We are going to abuse you with these laws, now bend over"

    • If it can be abused, it WILL be abused.
    • This kind of holding is somewhat more important than usual because it is coming from the 2nd Circuit, which is one of the most respected appeals courts in the country. It will give it a little extra weight if the question is examined by either another circuit court or the Supreme Court in the future.

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      Loretta Lynch Vows to Prosecute Those Who Use 'Anti-Muslim' Speech That 'Edges Toward Violence'

      What do you expect from an AG named "Lynch"?

      Seems like the "identity politics" crowd these days worries more about backlash against muslims after a terrorist attack than the next attack. You know, there wasn't a backlash after 9/11, because the average American really can distinguish between "muslim terrorist" and "muslim". Really.

      • I saw a video once of a woman whose proof that Obama is a Muslim was that his middle name is 'Hussein'. "Wake up, America!", she said.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 04, 2015 @06:42PM (#51060047)

      "UPDATE: Loretta Lynch, at a press conference yesterday, termed the San Bernardino shootings a "wonderful opportunity" to change the nature of police work:

              We’re at the point where these issues have come together really like never before in law enforcement thought and in our nation’s history and it gives us a wonderful opportunity and a wonderful moment to really make significant change."

      She's a FUCKING MONSTER.

  • Seems to almost perfectly require Evelyn Hall's pithy description of Voltaire's attitude.

    Nice to see a judge agreeing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This would have been a very dangerous precedent to set. As a society we have to stop being so terrified that something bad MAY happen that we police all potentially harmful actions. I'm glad no one was hurt but we have to be willing to accept a certain level of risk to have the freedoms we all want. Maybe he was going to kill that woman and that would have been tragic but it's nothing in the grand scheme. Just because something could happen doesn't mean it will and trying to stop everything that might happe

    • I'd personally rather have the slim risk of being tortured to death and eaten than guaranteed oppression.

      It's not a binary choice, you unutterable clown.

      You might as well say that since laws against murder impact on your freedom to kill that it would be better to dissolve them.

  • Elizabeth I of England may not have been the first person to say it, but she probably said it best: "I have no desire to make windows into men's souls."
  • He was later convicted in a jury trial.

    Convincted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, by the way. Just in case you thought he was convicted of simply expressing grim thoughts.

  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Friday December 04, 2015 @08:50PM (#51060803)
    AG Loretta Lynch was just explaining that if people use unpleasant rhetoric about Muslims, the Department of Justice would "go after them." She also told Muslim parents that if their kids are bullied at school, they should call the DoJ immediately.

    You know, not talk to the principal, or local law enforcement, no. Call the federal government.

    No mention other people being bullied, of course.

    So watch that rhetoric, people! The Obama administration just said they feel they have the power to "go after you" if you're found being ... mean? Insensitive?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-16/chapter-12/article-3/part-2/16-12-100-2

    2010 Georgia Code
    TITLE 16 - CRIMES AND OFFENSES
    CHAPTER 12 - OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC HEALTH AND MORALS
    ARTICLE 3 - OBSCENITY AND RELATED OFFENSES
    PART 2 - OFFENSES RELATED TO MINORS GENERALLY
    16-12-100.2 - Computer or electronic pornography and child exploitation prevention

    Of most interest to this discussion:

    (e) (1) A person commits the offense of obscene Internet contact with a child if he or she has contact with s

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday December 04, 2015 @09:45PM (#51061005) Journal
    $10 says that if the defendant wasn't a cop, the conviction wouldn't have been overturned in the first place, and if it were appealed, the appeals court would side with the prosecution.
  • From the I-dont-think-thoughtcrime-means-what-you-think-it-means dept.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I just saw a famous feminist dox some guy on facebook because he used the word "slut" online. She tattled to his employer (an apartment complex). He was fired the next day. Can't remember her name. Clemintine Ford or some shit like that.

    http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/news-life/sydney-man-fired-after-calling-feminist-writer-clementine-ford-a-sl/news-story/e1179d6bd723ab6e395c1e2735e4a157

    • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

      I just saw a famous feminist dox some guy on facebook because he used the word "slut" online. She tattled to his employer (an apartment complex). He was fired the next day. Can't remember her name. Clemintine Ford or some shit like that.

      http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/news-life/sydney-man-fired-after-calling-feminist-writer-clementine-ford-a-sl/news-story/e1179d6bd723ab6e395c1e2735e4a157

      Stupid auzzies voted away all of their own rights decades ago.

      auzzie being auzzies is not surprising at all.

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