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August 12, 2009 3:47 PM   Subscribe

"Uh oh, They're here": A Washington Post editorial about Elisha Strom, who blogged about the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement Task Force in northern Virginia with intensity and focus, displaying officers' photos, their cars, and in one now-gone entry, one officer's home. For this on July 16 she was arrested.

Strom was jailed under a Virginia law that forbids publication of law-enforcement officers’ addresses or photographs with the “intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass.” Unemployed, she has been unable to post the $7,500 bond, and remains in jail until her next court date on September 17.

Unfortunately, Elisha Strom and her estranged husband are perhaps not the role models that civil libertarians might prefer.
posted by waraw (94 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've seen this on a few other sites today. It's been funny to watch the initial internet fury of headlines like "WOMAN IN JAIL FOR POSTING PICTURES OF POLICE!" temper itself when people realize that she is a "white separatist."

Good post, Waraw! Really tells as much of the story as is currently known. I'll be watching this one closely.
posted by MoreForMad at 3:54 PM on August 12, 2009


Is this really Virginia? The state for lovers? Where you can do jail time for driving over 80 mph?

Remember, if certain states suck, that means other states can suck less.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:57 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Strom -- already unpopular for her connections to the white separatist movement...

I suppose this shows my possibly unfair bias, but I lost all sympathy for her right there.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:58 PM on August 12, 2009


You know, given the details of this particular case, the police have acted with surprising responsibility and restraint. She does appear to be guilty of a felony, and they let her be until she clearly committed a crime, at which point she was rightfully arrested. They haven't harassed or abused her in any way. I also don't find the following all that unlikely:

Chief Longo warned Ms. Strom that her blog posts were scaring off informants and endangering the officers and their families, but he provided no evidence.

There was a lot of potential for things to get very ugly here, but things seem to be neat and tidy. Good for you, Jefferson.
posted by mek at 4:00 PM on August 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I wonder what kind of beer Obama will serve when they all get together at the White House?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:02 PM on August 12, 2009 [8 favorites]


Non white seperatists stalking cops is of course awesome and the sort of thing that should be encouraged.
posted by Artw at 4:03 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good post...
posted by kathrineg at 4:05 PM on August 12, 2009


RobotVoodooPower: "Is this really Virginia? The state for lovers? Where you can do jail time for driving over 80 mph?"

They'll pull you over for doing the speed limit in Kansas (and bein' swarthy).
posted by notsnot at 4:13 PM on August 12, 2009


Is this really Virginia? The state for lovers?

I grew up in Virginia, and I remember when they had the "Virginia is for Lovers" signs at the borders. Sometime in my teens they were replaced with signs with the slightly less touchy-feely "RADAR DETECTORS IllEGAL."

Speaking of Virginia's borders, the welcome centers along the southern border with North Carolina are right on the border, and the welcome centers closest to Washington, DC are dozens of miles inside the state. Not that they're bitter about the Civil War or anything. Not at all. The Virginia/West Virginia welcome centers are right on the border, suggesting they've gotten over the messy divorce.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:17 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


My last memory of Virginia was paying $400 for doing 95 on 95.
posted by jsavimbi at 4:20 PM on August 12, 2009


Why is it so bad that she's a white separatist? I think people of all races, creeds and cultures can agree that the world would be a much nicer place if white people would just go away.
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 4:21 PM on August 12, 2009 [16 favorites]


I tried and failed to get pulled over in Virginia once. Or was that West Virginia? Both?
posted by Shutter at 4:23 PM on August 12, 2009


Is the actual bond amount $750 or $7500? That's kind of a big difference.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:24 PM on August 12, 2009


The first few comments in the last link are pretty interesting. Then they degrade, of course, but the second one in particular was sort of insightful.
posted by gemmy at 4:25 PM on August 12, 2009


I think people of all races, creeds and cultures can agree that the world would be a much nicer place if white people would just go away.

Assholes come in all shapes, sizes, and colours.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:26 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Welcome to MetaFilter "Elbows." Nothing like casting caution to the wind on your first comment. :)
posted by netbros at 4:26 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why is it so bad that she's a white separatist? I think people of all races, creeds and cultures can agree that the world would be a much nicer place if white people would just go away.
Your very first comment, huh? And it took you almost two weeks to compose it. Kudos.
posted by Flunkie at 4:27 PM on August 12, 2009


" I think people of all races, creeds and cultures can agree that the world would be a much nicer place if white people would just go away."

Hey, I know you were going for a tongue in cheek reverse racism gag here, but I want to point out that some of us have white family members. Hell, I even married a white person! I'd be perfectly happy to keep them around.

It's assholes I'd like to see go away, and those come in all shapes, sizes, and shades.
posted by majick at 4:27 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think there is a place in the world for a blog that targets bad cops and bad departments. There are plenty of them out there-- articles every once in a while on the front page of Digg arent' really enough.
posted by empath at 4:30 PM on August 12, 2009


The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that up until Strom's second marriage to Elisha Strom, his personal website "carried a gallery of alluring photos of young girls, many of them scantily dressed, and running to shots of a teenage Brooke Shields atop a horse."

Dude this cross-lobby strafing is kinda upsetting. Seriously if the Southern Poverty Law Center has such huge problem with a teenage Brooke Shields on a horse photo they should want the photographer indicted too.
posted by Non Prosequitur at 4:30 PM on August 12, 2009


And yeah this woman is no Radley Balko—she seems really stalkery.
posted by Non Prosequitur at 4:31 PM on August 12, 2009


Elisha Strom and her estranged husband are perhaps not the role models that civil libertarians might prefer.

Um, in my mind there's a little distinction between a 'libertarian' [pretty much permits anything to be expressed] and a civil rights activist [defends the rights of the disadvantaged].

Oddly, from my UK perspective, I am under the impression that your ACLU defends both.

Being in the 'activist' camp, I fail to have a great deal of sympathy for her neo-racist views; being more pro-citizen than pro-Police, I admire her motivation.

Maybe I should donate now?
posted by dash_slot- at 4:32 PM on August 12, 2009


Rather, she was indicted on a single count of identifying a police officer with intent to harass, a felony under state law.

That's a felony? That's pretty ridiculous. I could see if you were obviously trying to incite violence against a particular cop, or intentionally blowing the cover of an undercover one, or something. But intent to harass?

Oh noes! Someone is trying to annoy the police! Better throw them in prison!
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:34 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


in my mind there's a little distinction between a 'libertarian' [pretty much permits anything to be expressed] and a civil rights activist [defends the rights of the disadvantaged].

Then you don't know what the hell American libertarianism is...
posted by wfrgms at 4:36 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


" Is the actual bond amount $750 or $7500?"

Seems to me the bond would be $7500, and a bail bondsman will charge you 10% of that to bail you out, hence her share would be $750.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:38 PM on August 12, 2009


Oh noes! Someone is trying to annoy the police! Better throw them in prison!

Dude. It's VIRGINIA.

There fucking state motto is RADAR DETECTORS ILLEGAL.
posted by wfrgms at 4:39 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


You'd be surprised what constitutes a felony. Here in California, it's a felony to take someone's cell phone away from them. It's deprivation of means of communication for assistance, and it's also considered phone tampering, which I believe is a Federal crime.

Been learning a lot of things like that lately.
posted by Xoebe at 4:40 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Assholes come in all shapes, sizes, and colours.

I used to believe that they were limited in shape, size and color. God, how I long for the days before I discovered goatse.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:44 PM on August 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, I can tell my Elbow from my Asshole, so I welcome the contrarian contribution of Mr./Ms. O'Donoghue. Any relation to the late grate Michael O'Donoghue?

in my mind there's a little distinction between a 'libertarian' [pretty much permits anything to be expressed] and a civil rights activist [defends the rights of the disadvantaged].
Then you don't know what the hell American libertarianism is...

In my real life experience, I don't know many Libertarians who don't think the American Civil Liberties Union (from which the compound term "Civil Libertarian" became popular) is an evil organization trying to hand us over to the New World Order, except when they get pro bono representation from them. Which happens less often now that there's the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ, which can and does cash checks made out to "ACLU" if the "U" isn't written right).
posted by wendell at 4:45 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


gemmy: The first few comments in the last link are pretty interesting. Then they degrade, of course, but the second one in particular was sort of insightful.

Just to clarify so that you don't do the same doubletake I did, gemmy means the second comment to the article in the last link above the fold, not the last link of the post.
posted by Kattullus at 4:45 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Been learning a lot of things like that lately.

You stole someone's phone?
posted by brundlefly at 4:45 PM on August 12, 2009


Her blog could certainly be more substantive (I suppose neo-nazis tend to be intellectually lazy) but there's definitely a history of police using low-hanging fruit like Strom to set disturbing precedents.

(I thought my comment was funny, dammit!)
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 4:45 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


In my real life experience, I don't know many Libertarians who don't think the American Civil Liberties Union (from which the compound term "Civil Libertarian" became popular) is an evil organization trying to hand us over to the New World Order

There are a lot of flavors of libertarian.
posted by brundlefly at 4:46 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this really Virginia?

Man, let me tell you. I drove down to Fredericksburg, VA last weekend for a friend's birthday. It was a co-celebration with her twin brother, a town police officer. The birthday party was at least 50% police (town, county, and state troopers but no feds). I was surrounded with the most racist and stupid crowd of people since a college frat party. Here are actual quotes from actual police officers, as best I remember them:

"You have to be ugly, black, or have pissed a cop off to get arrested for sex in public." ...[part of the same story]... "I said 'Sir, are you drunk or on drugs, because you must be to want to do it with that nasty bitch in your back seat.'"
"These [homosexual] dirtbags go through a lot of trouble to be reunited with their boyfriends in lock-up."
"Marijuana is no big deal, I only write up Mexicans on dope charges because they're not supposed to be here anyway. I 'confiscate' the rest."
"I get so much ass in that parking lot, I wish Spotsie [Spotsylvania County Police] would stop patrolling there."
"People should beat their kids so we don't have to."

Despite of this, I believe that Virginia is the progressive razor's edge of the south.
posted by peeedro at 4:47 PM on August 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


Seems obvious she was doing it to get back for stinging her hubby and messing up her marriage, which may have been legitimate concern over her whackjob husband or may have been "okay, we found a pic we can verify is of Traci Lords before she was legal, you want to plead or you wanna talk about witness tampering too?"

In any case, once this hits slashdot those fine ossifers can forget ever doing anything undercover again. She wins.
posted by localroger at 4:47 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's a felony? That's pretty ridiculous.

The law, § 18.2-186.4 It's a Class 1 misdemeanor (the highest level) in general, and a Class 6 felony (the lowest level) if the target is a police officer.
posted by smackfu at 4:50 PM on August 12, 2009


Then you don't know what the hell American libertarianism is...

To be fair, neither do a lot of American libertarians I know. Or, what Wendell said.
posted by darkstar at 4:51 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I suppose this shows my possibly unfair bias, but I lost all sympathy for her right there.

The Constitution protects everyone, white supremacists or not.

It's very very frequent to see civil rights abuses of people that are pretty scummy. That's because it's always convenient to deprive people of rights when they have opinions you don't like, or behave in ways of which you don't approve.

But the thing is, you only need rights when you are unpopular. If you "have rights" when you're toeing the line, but lose them as soon as you express a forbidden opinion, then you don't have rights, and never did.

That's the nature of fighting civil rights cases -- working very hard to set unlikable people free. And as long as we keep working at it, to keep that precedent strong, it makes it much harder when the Coulters of the work take power and want to charge you with treason for being liberal.

What she did is absolutely irrelevant to her views, and if your opinion changed when you found out what she believes in, then shame on you. You have failed the first and most important test of civil liberty.
posted by Malor at 4:51 PM on August 12, 2009 [69 favorites]


Sigh. "of the world".
posted by Malor at 4:54 PM on August 12, 2009


empath: I think there is a place in the world for a blog that targets bad cops and bad departments. There are plenty of them out there-- articles every once in a while on the front page of Digg arent' really enough.

One such blog is Injustice Everywhere National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project. It's currently under reconstruction but there's plenty of links there.
posted by metagnathous at 4:56 PM on August 12, 2009


smackfu: The law, § 18.2-186.4 It's a Class 1 misdemeanor (the highest level) in general, and a Class 6 felony (the lowest level) if the target is a police officer.

'Equal protection under the law', hmm?
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:57 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to go out on a limb, and say that the state should not get a free pass to jail someone just because she's a "white separatist." I probably wouldn't like this woman if I met her, but she still shouldn't go to jail for citizen's activism.

The law she is charged under requires intent to harass (etc.) which is clearly not present in her blog, and which the cool heads at WaPo suggest is not present at all. So it looks like what happened is that the authorities resented Strom's criticism, and thought she was making them less effective. They wanted to punish her. But there's no law that really fits, so they choose this one -- in bad faith -- to get her out of the way.

It's abuse of power and hell probably a crime.

But because this woman is a "white separatist" this entire thread has come out against her.

I'm reminded of the Ruby Ridge massacre, when figures on national TV -- Bill Maher comes to mind -- took the position that because Randy Weaver was a "white separatist" it was somehow okay for federal marshals to kill his family.
posted by grobstein at 4:59 PM on August 12, 2009 [8 favorites]


shoulda previewed =P
posted by grobstein at 5:00 PM on August 12, 2009


(You can watch Bill Maher and his guests and his studio audience covering themselves in glory, here.)
posted by grobstein at 5:04 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Consider me irked.
posted by rigby51 at 5:07 PM on August 12, 2009


Or, to put it in a way that children of the media like me (who express all emotion through movie or Simpson's quotes) can understand:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
posted by Justinian at 5:09 PM on August 12, 2009 [23 favorites]


In my real life experience, I don't know many Libertarians who don't think the American Civil Liberties Union (from which the compound term "Civil Libertarian" became popular) is an evil organization trying to hand us over to the New World Order, except when they get pro bono representation from them.

No reasonable libertarian would ever consider the ACLU an enemy. Ever. They're one of the finest organizations going for those who believe in freedom.

Either you or they are confused, and I think it's probably you.
posted by Malor at 5:10 PM on August 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I thought her website seemed kind of crazy even before finding out she was a white supremacist.
posted by delmoi at 5:11 PM on August 12, 2009


The last time I was in Virginia, my family missed our flight back to Colorado. It was the last one of the evening, so we got a room at a nearby hotel. The shuttle driver let us know that local laws would let him kill a tresspasser, no questions asked. He also described his deep seated hatred of his "goddamn raghead boss", whose family he reckoned he could hit with the shuttle while they were entering the hotel. He did not, perhaps out of kindness to us, his passengers.

Our room had two beds; one was missing a skirt, revealing large bloodstains on the boxsprings. We made makeshift bed linens out of our beach towels. The bathtub was similarly stained, with additional large purple stains from what I suspect was a mobile meth lab. We did not bathe.

I have not returned to Virginia since.
posted by boo_radley at 5:11 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Malor: That's the nature of fighting civil rights cases -- working very hard to set unlikable people free.

"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all." - H. L. Mencken
posted by granted at 5:16 PM on August 12, 2009 [15 favorites]


'Equal protection under the law', hmm?

Some animals are more equal than others.
posted by fings at 5:19 PM on August 12, 2009


I wonder what kind of beer Obama will serve when they all get together at the White House?

Coors Light White
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:23 PM on August 12, 2009


> What she did is absolutely irrelevant to her views, and if your opinion changed when you found out what she believes in, then shame on you. You have failed the first and most important test of civil liberty.

Just wanted to repeat this because it's so important.
posted by languagehat at 5:26 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


And yes, even horrible racists deserve due process and justice.
posted by boo_radley at 5:31 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


" I think people of all races, creeds and cultures can agree that the world would be a much nicer place if white people would just go away."

MetaFilter Comment Lesson #1:

Replace "people" with "separatists" and that comment would have had 50 favorites.

(And been funnier.)
posted by rokusan at 5:31 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are a lot of flavors of libertarian.

I liked the ones on the sexy calendar.
posted by rokusan at 5:33 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]



Rather, she was indicted on a single count of identifying a police officer with intent to harass, a felony under state law.

That's a felony? That's pretty ridiculous. I could see if you were obviously trying to incite violence against a particular cop, or intentionally blowing the cover of an undercover one, or something. But intent to harass?

Oh noes! Someone is trying to annoy the police! Better throw them in prison


Would you feel the same way if Operation Rescue members were targeted?

Either you or they are confused, and I think it's probably you.

I think Wendell is a great deal better in touch with Libertarianism-as-it-is-pracitsed that you give him credit for.

What she did is absolutely irrelevant to her views, and if your opinion changed when you found out what she believes in, then shame on you. You have failed the first and most important test of civil liberty.

I would suggest the same is true when considering whether a person's job is relevant to wether they're being stalked and harrassed.
posted by rodgerd at 5:54 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Littering is illegal in Virginia,as a sort of roadside footnote to radar detectors. But I've never understood what exactly is depicted on those signs. It's a soda can, with a bite taken out of it? With a price tag? A used tea bag? Is it some sort of party favor? A sexual device of some kind? To make it clear, why don't they just put McDonald's packaging and Arizona Tea on the sign?
posted by steef at 6:00 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]




Is this really Virginia? The state for lovers? Where you can do jail time for driving over 80 mph?

Remember, if certain states suck, that means other states can suck less.



A bit of an aside here:

1955. Yours truly coming south on a state (?) hwy. through Va.
Local cop goes by us and three other cars signaling us all to pull over. One car with NY tags, two with Pa. and us with Jersey tags. We follow him to a newly constructed ranch house with a little hand painted justice of the peace sign in the mud. No sidewalk. Just some boards. Well, sweetie has on white jeans and a white tube (?) top. Half way to the front door she screams and takes a header face first into the mud. The cop is all apologetic asking if she is hurt. "Hell yes I'm hurt"
Cop offers to call ambulance. Sweetie says, "Call the most expensive lawyer in the county". New york vehicle occupant announces he is an attorney and his firm has some arrangement with some Va. bar firm. True story. JP comes out invites sweetie in to clean up and change clothes. Presents her with a crisp $100 bill (5 outfits back then) and apologetically sends us on our way.

I knew right then she was a keeper.
posted by notreally at 6:12 PM on August 12, 2009 [11 favorites]


"No reasonable libertarian would ever consider the ACLU an enemy. Ever. They're one of the finest organizations going for those who believe in freedom.

Either you or they are confused, and I think it's probably you.
"

There are no Scotsmen who don't enjoy golf and haggis.

Well, no true Scotsmen.
posted by klangklangston at 6:32 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


One one hand, JADE is a waste of money and resources. On the other hand, I don't see what the point of her blog was other than to harass people. Document that the officers spend all their time jerking each other off, playing beer pong, and taking bribes, that's one thing. But just following them around and posting what they look like? What's the point of that if not to harass?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:42 PM on August 12, 2009


See? I told you that Scorm was doomed!
posted by iamkimiam at 6:55 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


What she did is absolutely irrelevant to her views, and if your opinion changed when you found out what she believes in, then shame on you. You have failed the first and most important test of civil liberty.

Really? "Sympathy" for Strom is hardly the same thing as "respect for her legal rights", even if pretending to think so does provide you with a sweet chance to wag your finger at other people - and the very unwillingness of so many people to distinguish between the two concepts is what causes the (very scary) problem you're describing.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 7:07 PM on August 12, 2009


As for her husband's child pornography, there was a lot of it (allegedly 100s of pictures of sexually provocatively posed girls), and there was more of that than benign clothed Brooke Shields (not actually porn) and commercial porn like Traci Lords that you could claim that you didn't realize she was so young. Scuttlebutt also says that there was some suspicious behaviors/relationships with girls of his acquaintance, but I do not believe he was ever charged with any form of molestation.

I believe the official chronology is: he denied it all, he copped a plea and plead guilty, he denied it all, he claimed the state might be setting him u--- no, his ex-wife was the one setting up, and now everyone set him up.
posted by julen at 7:15 PM on August 12, 2009


gemmy: The first few comments in the last link are pretty interesting. Then they degrade, of course, but the second one in particular was sort of insightful.
Kattulus: Just to clarify so that you don't do the same doubletake I did, gemmy means the second comment to the article in the last link above the fold, not the last link of the post.


Ohh, jeeze. Yea, you are right. That's what I meant. Thanks for the clarification.
posted by gemmy at 8:02 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's assholes I'd like to see go away

YOUR GUTS ASPLODE
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:33 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Look, I'm hardly the first person to defend cops or anything like that, but if this woman was running a similar blog about, say, ACORN would any of you have a problem with her getting arrested? She was following people around, photographing their cars and homes. She didn't even seem to be accusing them of any wrongdoing, at least in the part I read.

Like I said, just looking at her blog, I wasn't sure she was someone I would really defend, and that was what I thought before finding out about her unusual background.
posted by delmoi at 8:43 PM on August 12, 2009


Needs more meth
posted by kathrineg at 8:45 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


This woman's crime, apart from being an apparent dirtbag, is that she aggregated information she found online about undercover officers into one blog? She took pictures of them in public and posted them? I would love to find a way to make this woman's, her racist views and her child porn possessing husband, life miserable, but this is not the way.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:48 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, Elisha Strom and her estranged husband are perhaps not the role models that civil libertarians might prefer.

You fight for civil liberties with the lunatics you have, not the lunatics you want.
posted by prak at 8:53 PM on August 12, 2009 [7 favorites]


A civil libertarian is someone who strongly supports civil liberties. The term does not come from "libertarianism" any more than moral objectivism comes from Randian Objectivism.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:12 PM on August 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


If we're talking about Virginia and its crap-ass southernness, I should mention that Northern Virginia still has a secession movement going on.
posted by kldickson at 9:46 PM on August 12, 2009


Anywhere north of Fredericksburg is no longer the South. It's a well-known fact.
posted by armage at 10:12 PM on August 12, 2009


reasonable libertarian

Teehee, good one.
posted by naoko at 10:23 PM on August 12, 2009


"You'd be surprised what constitutes a felony. Here in California, it's a felony to take someone's cell phone away from them. It's deprivation of means of communication for assistance, and it's also considered phone tampering, which I believe is a Federal crime. "Been learning a lot of things like that lately."

These batshit-over-the-top laws get passed all the time often with explicit intention not to use them on Joe Average but instead only ever on really bad people. Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink. And they don't for the most part but they sure do make awesome leverage when you want some ultra low level criminal (or even someone like Gates who just ran afoul of law enforcement by accident) plead out to a crazy lesser charge by threatening them with some federal felony.

"But just following them around and posting what they look like? What's the point of that if not to harass?"

Public awareness to reduce their effectiveness as undercover operatives.
posted by Mitheral at 11:14 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


No reasonable libertarian

That rules out the overwhelming majority of the ones I've met. Is this like "No True Scotsman would ever be seen without a kilt"?

would ever consider the ACLU an enemy. Ever. They're one of the finest organizations going for those who believe in freedom.

That all depends what you mean by freedom. The Libertarian definition of freedom in my experience tends to be freedom of those with money to do whatever the hell they like with it, free from either taxes or interference of government. And when I say whatever they like, I'm talking about ending the FDA (because we really need plaster in bread), overturning more than 100 years of labour relations to allow complete freedom of contract (returning to company towns and company stores), and other such methods.

All that is great if you are one of the aristocracy. And absolutely sucks if you are at the bottom of the heap. Which seems to be exactly what the major Libertarian inspirations/organisations such as Cato and Mises want.

At least they've moved on their express goals from 150 years ago. When the exact arguments used by Libertarians were used in support of slavery.

Either you or they are confused, and I think it's probably you.

And I think you're listening to what they say rather than following through the consequences of what they advocate and watching what they actually do.

As for the OP, when she posted an officer's house she IMO crossed a line. Photos of officers and anything they do on duty are to be encouraged. (And any officer trying to conceal their number should IMO be fired and charged).
posted by Francis at 1:39 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


If we're talking about Virginia and its crap-ass southernness, I should mention that Northern Virginia still has a secession movement going on.

and

Anywhere north of Fredericksburg is no longer the South. It's a well-known fact.

To be fair, this isn't NoVA, this is Charlottesville. It's about 2 hours southwest of DC, and is a pretty liberal bastion in what can honestly be a very backwards state. When I was living there it was always a shock to get outside of town and realize that the rest of the state wasn't actually wasn't somewhere I enjoyed being, considering how much I loved Charlottesville itself.

And I'm not saying that all Charlottesville cops are amazing people, but in general they're not anything like the stereotypical backwater redneck cops people seem to associate with Virginia.
posted by This Guy at 6:21 AM on August 13, 2009


I thought her website seemed kind of crazy boring even before finding out she was a white supremacist.

ftfy
posted by nax at 6:40 AM on August 13, 2009


Do people really think this is a crazy law? It just seems like a generic harassment thing, with a kicker for harassing police officers.
posted by smackfu at 6:42 AM on August 13, 2009


The problem is that the law as written can be interpreted pretty broadly, allowing a felony arrest for activities even less intrusive than EStrom's.
posted by waraw at 7:20 AM on August 13, 2009


I don't think it's a crazy law, but it is a bad law--it should be defined more narrowly to prevent its abuse.
posted by kathrineg at 8:20 AM on August 13, 2009


"People should beat their kids so we don't have to."

This drunken cop quote actually makes a lot of sense. Not advocating child beating of course, but if the choice is a corrective punishment from the parents or a volent subduing beatdown from the cops, I think it's pretty obvious which is preferable.

I know which one the cops would prefer. They don't like beating down kids any more than we like hearing about it.
posted by Aquaman at 8:36 AM on August 13, 2009


Anywhere north of Fredericksburg is no longer the South. It's a well-known fact.

This is true, except for parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania, the northern part of the Shenandoah Valley, Orange County, Culpeper County, and Harrisonburg. I would argue that Clarke County is still southern in big chunks, but I think Loudoun has been almost completely NoVa-ized, even out in Horse Country.

I'm biased because I grew up and lived in different parts of Virginia, so I've never really seen it as a horrible place to live. Perhaps it's because I've seen racism and backwards thinking in all of the different [American] places I lived or worked, sometimes more virulent, sometimes more subtle, at about the same levels. Perhaps it is because I've seen the commonwealth make big changes during my lifetime, and I believe that - with my vote and my community expectations - it will make more.
posted by julen at 8:36 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


<> pigs at a trough, waving asses in the air, saying don't look at my ass, can't you see I'm eating here <>
posted by nomisxid at 8:59 AM on August 13, 2009


d'oh - mentally put "political cartoon" in those brackets
posted by nomisxid at 8:59 AM on August 13, 2009


That all depends what you mean by freedom. The Libertarian definition of freedom in my experience tends to be freedom of those with money to do whatever the hell they like with it, free from either taxes or interference of government.

In my experience with Libertarians, it goes a little further to say the freedom of those with money to do whatever they hell they like (not just with money).

Which is generally the sort of thing the ACLU will help with, so I agree with those upstream who find it odd that there would be a substantial number of libertarians who don't like the ACLU, and it's certainly not my experience (as a not-Libertarian who spent enough time in an engineering/science background and SF-fandom to know a lot of libertarians).
posted by wildcrdj at 3:31 PM on August 13, 2009


wildcrdj, in my experience, most of my fellow members of the scientific community tend more toward the liberal.

Engineers seem to trend more libertarian.
posted by kldickson at 4:54 PM on August 13, 2009


As far as I'm concerned, being a libertarian and not liking the ACLU is roughly analogous to being a Beatles fan and not liking how John Lennon sings.
posted by Malor at 6:55 PM on August 13, 2009


There are Beatles' fans who hate Paul McCartney.
posted by Kattullus at 7:04 PM on August 13, 2009


As far as I'm concerned, being a libertarian and not liking the ACLU is roughly analogous to being a Beatles fan and not liking how John Lennon sings.

I think this was true when the statement was limited to "civil libertarians," but actually the ACLU has a lot of positions a libertarian could be upset about. If you are a libertarian, it might be perfectly reasonable to dislike them on balance.

Here are some examples (I'm going to include positions of regional ACLU affiliates, because it's too hard to sort out what stance "the ACLU" has): inclusion of positive economic rights in the bundle of "civil liberties;" support for speech restrictions in "campaign finance reform;" support for requiring life insurers to charge equal premiums to men and women (btw this position is sexist and dumb); ambivalence over gun rights; etc.

I'm not saying all those positions are necessarily wrong. But many libertarians would find them not just wrong but outrageous. Hence it would be understandable for them to not like the ACLU, and would not contradict their nature as "libertarians." (I personally think the ACLU is okay, and was a board member of an affiliate group for 3 years.)
posted by grobstein at 7:19 PM on August 13, 2009


The ACLU's position on equal premiums is sexist and dumb or the insurer's position is sexist and dumb? (BTW Which sex has lower premiums without enforcing equivalency, women I guess?) I can kinda see both sides of the issue but if I was an insurer I'd want to be left the fuck alone on that point.
posted by Non Prosequitur at 10:00 PM on August 13, 2009


I meant the ACLU (affiliate)'s position was sexist and dumb. But actually I misstated the issue slightly -- it's the lump-sum payment for life annuities (like, the opposite of life insurance premiums). Since women live longer than men, the efficient annuity payments are higher for women than for men (and the efficient life insurance premiums are lower for women than for men).
posted by grobstein at 10:05 PM on August 13, 2009


(This actually apparently became law in Massachusetts, ugh, see here.)
posted by grobstein at 10:09 PM on August 13, 2009


(This actually apparently became law in Massachusetts, ugh, see here.)

Here I was thinking that Massachusetts was the poster child for good-government-liberalism. That law is completely ridiculous.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:56 PM on August 15, 2009


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