Village of Arena

“Fighting Words” On Police Facebook Lead to Arrest, Conviction & Appeal

I found this story over at The Free Thought Project. In 2012 a man was charged with disorderly conduct and unlawful use of a computerized communication system for writing these bad words on the Facebook wall of the Arena Police Department in the Village of Arena, Wisconsin:

Fuck the fucking cops they ant shit but fucking racist basturds an fucking all of y’all who is racist

Fuck them nigers policy bitchs wat the you got on us not a darn thing so fuck off dicks

It was ruled that this was not legal free speech. Instead, it constituted “fighting words.” The man was convicted. He later won an appeal in 2014.

Lest it be thought that his appeal righted a wrong, or vindicates the legal process, don’t forget that he suffered. This is a systemic flaw wherein the arbitrary whim of a law enforcement officer, even if aware that a charge may not “stick,” is able to enact a punishment or silence dissent by making an arrest. Despite the slogan of innocent until proven guilty or the legal burden of proof, in practice the defendant must go to extensive lengths to protect him or herself in court.

Law enforcement is thus able to penalize individuals regardless of guilt or innocence. By the time an outcome is decided the defendant will have experienced violence, confinement, stress, as well as a loss of time and money. This is a natural part of the current criminal justice system. It is not an aberration, not a simple error that can be reformed, but an integral part of the modern law enforcement model. And this all takes place before guilt is determined.