Or is that “watch your fingers?” Nothing scares us around the offices of The Crusty Curmudgeon more than news of “the man” cracking down on the freedom of speech on the Internet. Not that we have ever disparaged anybody. Well, OK, a few celebrities, but they’re famous and they asked for it. But, you never know when we might want to lay into the car repair guy down the street or that rude checkout chick at the grocery, Yolanda, I think her name is– what a cretin bitch!–which is why we’re all a little twitchy today.
Cyber-bullying they called it. Just the other day, the woman from the “MySpace Cyber-bully Case” was only convicted on three counts of the lesser offense of accessing a computer without authorization on account of of she violated the MySpace Terms of Service. It’s a sad, sad thing that happened to that girl, but I don’t know if the mother is responsible for her death any more than J.D. Salinger is responsible for the death of John Lennon (Mark David Chapman had a copy of the book Catcher In the Rye in his back pocket at the time of the shooting).
Now comes this: In Colorado, A man has been charged with criminal libel for making unflattering comments about his former lover and her attorney. Seems he “suggested” she was trading sex for legal services. Normally, libel is a civil case, but Colorado has an antiquated 1800’s era statute that allows prosecution for speech “tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead” or to “expose the natural defects of one who is alive, and thereby to expose him to public hatred, contempt or ridicule.” Holy tort! It doesn’t even matter if what you say is true or even if the person is dead. They can still get you. She could have really been boinking for briefs and IT DOESN’T MATTER. Criminal libel carries a punishment of up to 18 months in prison just for shooting your mouth off. Now you know why we’re all twitchy around here.
Steve Zansberg, a Denver attorney specializing in first amendment law, said prosecutors seeking criminal libel cases could have a “chilling” effect on free speech in Colorado, particularly over the Internet.
It could be you (I saw what you wrote last summer). Do you know what outdated, moronic statutes are buried deep in the books where you live, just waiting for an over-zealous cop or an ambitious (and I mean that in the Shakespearean sense) prosecutor to come along and start swinging their dicks? So beware, my friends. You’d better keep you fingers shut. Even the dead can get you. Damn zombies!
The Shameless Self-Promotion Section
Which got me wondering about other trouble I could get into. I recently wrote a satirical piece about growing penicillin in your refrigerator and using it to cure yourself and your children of illnesses. Because of the way I had worked references and links into the piece, it had an air of authority in spite of it’s absurdity, even concluding that you could sell your homegrown penicillin on the black market. Some intelligent people thought that some of it was the truth, and then the inevitable question of what if some kid read it, thought it was true, and ate a big hand-full of mold? Could I be held liable if he got really sick or died? It was enough of a fear that I added a disclaimer, which is pretty damn hysterical all by itself. If you’d like to read it go to Make Home Grown Penicillin: Don’t Clean Out That Refrigerator. It’s funny.