Oh Look, Police Can Investigate A Satirical Online Comment About Mythical Violence And Not Overreact
from the if-only-others-did-so-as-well dept
We’ve recently covered two separate stories of guys who made (perhaps in poor taste) jokes online about a violent activity they were considering (one a joke about blowing up an airport, and another taking a line from Fight Club and applying it to an Apple Store). In both cases (one in the UK and one in the US), police came to investigate. I have no problem with that part of it. If someone legitimately feels threatened, it’s good that the police will go investigate. The problem was that even after they realized that the person was just making an offhand joking statement online, they still pressed charges. The guy in the US eventually got off, but the guy in the UK did not and is still appealing his case higher.
However, it’s nice to know that sometimes the police recognize a silly online comment for being a silly online comment. Romenesko points us to a recent story of a blogger who writes (somewhat satirically) about the giant NYC apartment complex Stuy Town, who recently had a post entitled Tenant to Children: STFU, complaining about kids making a lot of noise early on Saturday morning, and telling parents to keep their kids quiet however possible. It also illustrated the post with “a crying child in a rifle scope’s crosshairs,” — an image that was changed after people complained. Either way, all of this got some residents to call the police, worried that someone was “targeting” their children, and so the police actually stopped by the blogger’s apartment to make sure he wasn’t really planning to shoot children:
Detectives from the 13th Precinct stopped by today to check on my lucidity and be sure there were no guns in my apartment after some tenants complained that I was inciting violence by posting an email sent to me for the “Tenant to Children: STFU!” post. They were really nice and understood the Lux Living post in question was satire but they had a job to do. After a tour of my apartment and some light conversation about my art collection and antique furniture it was clear to them that I am just a writer with a dark sense of humor and not a threat to society.
While one assumes that this should be the standard way that police respond to such complaints, just the fact that we’ve seen a few stories that went in the other direction made me realize we might as well highlight when things go the right way also.