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I present for your enjoyment yet another case where a petty government bureaucrat offers an excellent reason why no one should entrust petty government bureaucrats with any sort of power. Kristin Holmes, 26, of Chesterfield, Virginia, was apparently mistaken for someone else on Facebook. This mistake led to a vigorous online argument between Holmes and an as yet unidentified other person that turned a bit vitriolic. The exchange ended with Ms. Holmes posting the above selfie holding a pistol, with the comment, “So you know the difference when u (sic) come find me.” . . .

The result of Ms. Holmes’ impertenant post? An arrest on charges of harassment by computer.

“It wasn’t a threat,” Holmes, of Chesterfield, said. “I thought it was a funny picture, and then I realized later it was a little bit intimidating. So I took it down.”

Before she did, someone reported the picture to Henrico police. Holmes now faces up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

Holmes was arrested under a Virginia law, passed in 2000, that criminalizes obscene or threatening language online or in public.

Kevin Carroll, a police sergeant with the Chesterfield County Police Department, and President of the Fraternal Order of Police of Virginia, offered some thoughts that demonstrated a shocking lack of understanding of the right to freedom of speech.

“It’s not a matter of free speech,” he told the [New York] Daily News. “Free speech doesn’t say you have the right to insult somebody else or threaten them in any form.”

Well, the right to freedom of speech does include the right to insult people – even cops, and even people on Facebook. Threatening speech is a different matter, but (keeping in mind that we don’t quite have all of the facts in this story yet,) I suspect that a prosecutor will have to jump through a few hoops to connect the photograph posted above to evade the First Amendment and get a conviction in this case.

[Hat tip: Charles C.W. Cooke]

DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece, and is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice on this subject, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel.

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  1. Someone must have been sleeping during the history class covering of the bill of rights…

      • You know….that document that says you must kneel down and give praise and forcibly attend the ceremonies for gays and gender confused people.

        • The gay mafia has converted my long-standing acceptance and tolerance of them into active animosity.

          Remember during the early gay marriage debate just a couple years ago when all the gay activists were screaming…..

          ….”Gay people getting married won’t affect you in the least!”

    • More a need for study of precedent, I’m afraid. 1A says “Congress shall make no law”, does not forbid individual states from restricting FOS or regulating any other of its protections. Precedent has treated it as though it said something like “freedom of speech shall not be infringed”, but it does not. Despite their best efforts to make their intentions clear, the founding fathers would have done better to simply include RKBA in 1A.

      • The 1A has long since been incorporated and applied to the states. Yes, it goes by the 14th amendment, but has been affirmed in specific SC cases. Gitlow v. N.Y. back in the 1920s is the famous 1A incorporation case. There were others pertaining to other rights, most recently including MacDonald and the 2A.

        Interestingly, the 3A has not yet been incorporated against the states. Something to consider should your local National Guard unit decide to set up base camp in your living room.

        • It’s not as much of an issue since National Guardsman by and large come from the community they are supposed to be serving. And I doubt very much any unit commander would force a private owner to house his troops on their own dime. Whereas in the 1700’s, it was the overseas essentially foreign government forcing private homeowners to house and feed essentially foreign British troops during long extended occupation.

  2. I think the City of Henrico might possibly (again, we don’t have all the facts) have a new majority stockholder, so to speak, in its future.

  3. It’s a good thing falsely accusing 7 men of raping you isn’t a crime in Virginia. Because, you know, then there *might* be more people in jail, n’ stuff.

  4. Well, if someone felt threatened a law must have been broken, right? As we all know the one with the gun has to be the one to pay because they could at least pay to buy a gun so they must have something of worth to take.

    • Her response *sounds* like he promised to come look her up, and she felt threatened enough to encourage him not to make any mistakes. If she did not promise to look *him* up along with that selfie, calling it threatening is ridiculous.

  5. IANAL, but to prove the picture was threatening, the state will first have to articulate the threat. So: what was the threat? Anyone? Beuller?

    • No “threat” to my way of thinking. Just a “conditional warning” —- “I am not the person you have a dispute with, and if you come after me to do me harm, I will defend myself”.

    • “I feel threatened by your remarks, which make me think you might be violent, so just so we’re clear, if you try to hurt me or my family, I’ll shoot your arse, er, I mean, defend myself and my family.” <<<<This is what she should have said.

      In all honesty, that appears to be what she meant. She didn't say she was coming after or going after her internet tormentor. She just appeared to say, "If you're thinking of coming after me, I have a right to defend myself; I know how to do so: and I will do so, if you force me to."

      What a screwball society we're living in now, in which someone can essentially be arrested and charged with "threatening" self-defense.

      • There it is!! I knew there was an easier expression. Chip, the quick answer was that she was “threatening self-defense”.

        • Plenty of Tea Partiers in Henrico — the Western part voted Cantor out in favor of Brat. Of course, the Eastern part keeps electing that idiot predator felon Joe Morrisey.

    • This should be no different than a “No Trespassing” sign with a gun graphic posted at the end of your driveway.

    • Excessive use of freedom. Considering she was using a very watered down and infringed form of freedom it’s quite amazing. “certain unalienable rights”…Well that’s all I have to say about that. Time to go get fitted for my yellow star and leg chains.

    • I’d consider her reply was to the threat. It appears someone said they were comming to get her.,her reply simple continued the “you have the wrong person” and added that she had the means to defend herself. From the sound of things several people should/could be arrested if the stupidity continued

    • What was that crap about saying bad words in public is a crime so if it is said on the internet it is a crime? What about TV and movies? I have seen PG movies full of foul language. Cops curse at suspects all the time. Hell, I should be in jail now for all the foul mouthed stuff I have posted. That’s bullshit!

      • It’s a Virginia thing. Probably wouldn’t withstand a constitutional challenge. Many states have ample case law holding that mere profane language and even loud, belligerent cursing in public and at cops is perfectly protected.

  6. The first amendment is all about offensive speech. If the speech isn’t offensive, it doesn’t need constitutional protection because nobody will care about it.

  7. “It’s not a matter of free speech,” he told the [New York] Daily News. “Free speech doesn’t say you have the right to insult somebody else or threaten them in any form.”

    Well, fuck him…

    • Translation (as always, with these types): I support the [fill in your favorite amendment], but….

  8. I always looked at such a statement as “when you…” Or “if you…” as a promise or a warning, not a threat. It requires an initial action on someone else’s part, resulting in a response that they might not like. Just my take on it.

    • Now, you just shut up with that common sense crap. The collective didn’t ask you for your opinion. Take your logic and go back home.

  9. I am all for not threatening people on Facebook or anywhere else. Her post said “when u come find me”; how can that be a threat? If she had said “when I come to get u” that might be different. Yet another reason to not participate in Facebook.

  10. Another instance of a person’s words or image on fakebook being used against them. That is one piece of “modernity” that seems to continually bite people in the a$s. Am I ever happy that I have stayed away despite the numerous invitations by friends and family. Every so often………….a reminder. The cop……he is just a dimwit spokesperson……who knows not his bill of rights.

    • Even if you are on, FB, using a profile that holds way too much personal information to argue with people to the point where someone feels the need to warn the other with the presence of lethal force is just ridiculous.

    • I know what you mean. I recently got on FB under an obvious alias. Who knows how many FB accounts are deceitful aliases.

  11. Aside from any question of “obscene” language or “insults”, the picture with the gun was accompanied with both a denial by Kristin Holmes of being the person with whom the other party had a dispute, and a WARNING, not a THREAT, that if the other party sought her out (Did that other party THREATEN to “come and find” Holmes?) and became an immediate threat, Holmes was prepared to defend herself.
    I don’t see any real “threat”. Maybe that’s why they are adding those “drop-back” charges of “obscenity, insulting language”, etc. They seem determined to punish any “brandishing” of a gun any way they can.

    • That’s just normal. They made fools of themselves and refuse to simply admit it, so they have to drum up some silliness in an attempt to show they really did capture a dangerous criminal. To me, the logical course would be to demand a jury trial, and tomorrow morning (right to a speedy trial). They’d have no choice except to drop the charges. Then sue them, individually and collectively.

  12. She put “come find me” in quotes in the picture caption, as if she were quoting the person she was arguing with. Wouldn’t that be a warning against a potential aggressor? But she has a gun so therefore must be the bad person…

    • If someone threatened to come and get her, I don’t see how announcing her defensive capabilities could be criminal.

  13. What did George Carlin have? ……. oh yes, the seven dirty words the FCC banned! Henrico P.D. just makes it up as they go, it would seem.

  14. I live in Henrico and I’m confused. Henrico is not a city, it’s a county and a shorthand used by the Post Office for a grouping of cities in Henrico County. The story says the gal is from Chesterfield, which is the next county south, clear on the other side of Richmond, not even close, so why is Henrico even involved?

    On a different note, I have to wonder if the cops will start coming at people for things like “Protected by Smith and Wesson” bumper stickers?

  15. So I take it everyone else in this Facebook argument used Lilly white language or they’re also facing similar charges?

    I’m starting to think the communists did win

  16. “There’s no such thing as a petty crime. No such thing as a petty offence.”

    Whaaaat? Sounds like that FOP LEO likes the Draconian theory —– overtime parking, death penalty.

  17. Most police departments have an IQ limit. Score ABOVE 105 and they won’t hire you. Keeps rookies from being bored and quitting BUT it guarantees as they advance in rank the officer will never be as smart as the job demands. That is why so many Chiefs are dumb as a rock.

  18. For the same reason we don’t have NRA stickers on our cars we shouldn’t be posting on facebook with our guns showing.

    Major life lesson learned the hard way. Sad.

    • Couldn’t agree more JWM. Posting publicly? With a gun? And saying that? Who do you think you are -Trayvon Martin?!?

      • Someday you may treasure those pictures, for instance, should you have a tragic canoe accident while transporting your guns to an undisclosed location.

  19. Socialist George Orwell imagined a dystopian future where the government would put cameras in your house so bureaucrats with weapons could watch citizens for anti-state behavior.

    Step a few decades into Orwell’s future and we have capitalists paying for and installing the cameras themselves so bureaucrats with guns can watch what passes for a degraded and freely spied upon citizenry.

  20. “It wasn’t a threat,” Holmes, of Chesterfield, said. “I thought it was a funny picture…”

    She’s no stranger to BS either.

  21. This arrest is yet another example of the government engaging in ‘lawfare’……the use of the legal system as
    a punishment. The badgemonkeys, the DA….everyone involved knows FULL WELL that they will never get a conviction for the crime they charged her with. They don’t care. The fact that she was arrested, taken to jail and put through the abuse and humiliation of the process is part of the goal. After that it’s the expense of defending herself in court, the incredible burden of paying an attorney, the missed work and possibly the loss of her home, job and maybe more. In the end she will, with a virtual certainty be found not guilty….if the DA even takes it that far. But even so the damage is done. And THAT is why so many people are arrested….so
    they can be ground up and destroyed by the process…..and if a conviction does happen that’s just a happy
    byproduct of the process. But the process exists and is used to destroy, intimidate and control.

    Justice in the American legal system is irrelevant and is not the goal of the system. If by chance justice does
    occur in a courtroom it was by accident.

    • VA in particular has been proud of that process and their mastery of it, for a long time. Way, WAY back, some energetic person took the case of his stolen (confiscated) radar detector to the SCOTUS and won, after which VA returned his radar detector and simultaneously announced that anybody else who wanted his confiscated radar detector returned needed only to take his case all the way to SCOTUS (at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars). They may still do that, in fact. I know they did for decades, and even had billboards announcing the policy at state borders. “We will violate the law and the Constitution whenever we like, and there is nothing you can do about it!” I moved out as soon as I finished college, nearly 50 years ago.

  22. Wished I lived in Virginia, then I could press charges against a sizable number of Moms Demand Action and CSGV members. I could be charged under this statute for some of my social media posts. It would appear that some LEOs need to spend time in remedial classes on the Constitution.

  23. Is it any more of a “threat” than someone posting a pic with a gun and saying “come and take it?” same manner of free speech I would have thought.

    • Damn! NOT passively worded, “he discharged his weapon”. Never heard of such a thing.

      • Holy crap, now it says a human did it.
        I swear they edited that. “Accidentally discharged” must have changed into “was accidentally discharged”, and I don’t remember the outright truth being told in the first paragraph.

  24. She needs a lawyer to tell her about “statements against interest” and how they are often exceptions to the rules against hearsay.

  25. They probably brought her in for being hot….when she didnt “cooperate” they threw the book at her. There are thugs with posts like this all over fb

  26. There it is. The triumph of petty bureaucrats over the will of the people.
    Pretty soon you’ll be getting sent to a gulag for giving someone a “dirty look”.

    “Remember citizens, maintain bland, non-expressive facial expressions and refrain from acting like you have any rights under the now illegal constitution of the United States or you and your family will be sent to a re-education camp !”

    Not even funny anymore.

  27. The cops making those comments need a close encounter with a night stick dipped in axle grease and sand until they get the first 10 Amendment correct.

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