Thursday, March 16, 2006

Uh-Oh or How to Have the Secret Service Confiscate your Computer

One of the front page articles in today's Asheville Citizen-Times is titled: "Bashing Bush costs student his computer."

What, you say? There are lots of us bashing the chimp on-line. This is America, right? O, and as I wrote two days ago, it's Sunshine Week, the week that shines a light upon our First Amendment rights.

Here are a few excerpts from the story by Clarke Morrison: "The U.S. Secret Service seized a computer from the dorm room of a Mars Hill College student after he posted a message on a Web site apparently deemed threatening to President Bush.

Freshman Tim Willis said he meant no real harm in using modified song lyrics describing the violent death of the president on myspace.com, a site popular with millions of young people as a place for personal expression.

'Even though I don’t like the president and I don’t like his policies … I don’t want to hurt anybody,” he said. “I’m very peaceable. I don’t desire any conflict or anything.'"

Okay, Tim, we get it. It was a joke, right? I joke a lot on EM, though typically not about the violent death of others. But then, maybe I'm just a bit more mature and mortality-aware than the average 20-year-old (I'm guessing his age as it wasn't in the paper).

"Jamie Cousins, the Secret Service agent who paid a visit to Willis on March 7 at the college and carried off his computer, said he couldn’t talk about the case."

No surprise there. There's a reason the first part of Service is Secret.

"Willis said he made the post in late February as a response to a posting about Bush by a friend, who also had his computer seized. Willis said he took the lyrics from “Bullet,” a song recorded by The Misfits in the late 1970s, and replaced the references to President Kennedy with President Bush."

So, this isn't the first time this has happened.

"On March 6, a Secret Service agent left a note in the mailbox of his Newton home asking him to call, Willis said. The teen’s mother then called him at Mars Hill to relay the message, and Willis called the agent.

'He said he needed to talk to me because I threatened the president,' Willis said. 'At the time I didn’t think I was threatening the president. It’s just lyrics to a song.'

The next day he met with Cousins at the college and signed papers agreeing to turn over his computer.

'He asked me if I was a member of any organizations, and I told him I was in the Boy Scouts and got my Eagle Scout,' he said. The agent also asked him if he was aware of any plots to overthrow the government, and told him the First Amendment doesn’t protect threats to the president, Willis said."

Oh yeah, I think we've heard that before. The old exception rule. This applies to everyone, except meglomaniac me.

So, kids. Beware. The SS is monitoring the on-line community and protecting us against former Boy Scouts turned college students in the North Carolina mountains.

(Crossposted from Edgy Mama/Also check out Syntax's take on the story)

1 comment:

Bensilly said...

Is`nt(Aint) that what the ss is for, among other things?

I pooped in a bush once and they came after me....