You may threaten random women in cyberspace without fear of retribution. You may even, usually, threaten women celebrities in cyberspace. But it’s a bad idea to threaten women who happen to be Federal attorneys in cyberspace, because the Feds have no sense of humor. Buzzfeed reports:
The Justice Department has issued a federal grand jury subpoena to Reason, a prominent libertarian publication, to unmask the identity of commenters who made alleged threats against a federal judge.
In the June 2 subpoena, first published by the blog Popehat on Monday, the Justice Department orders Reason to provide a federal grand jury with “any and all identifying information” on the identities of commenters who mused about shooting federal judges and/or feeding them through a wood chipper.
A May 31 article on Reason’s blog about the prosecution of Silk Road founder Ross “Dread Pirate Roberts” Ulbricht spurred the anonymous commenters’ vitriol. Ulbricht pleaded for leniency, but a federal judge sentenced Ulbricht to life in prison without parole for setting up the illicit online drug market.
“It’s judges like these that should be taken out back and shot,” one Reason commenter wrote.
“It’s judges like these that will be taken out back and shot,” another responded.
“Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly,” a third wrote. “Especially if you feed them in feet first.”
Another comment suggested shooting such judges on courthouse steps instead.
Other comments flagged by the Justice Department were less violent, such as one that wished for “a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman.”
In the subpoena, the Justice Department says it is seeking evidence regarding possible violations of federal laws against interstate threats…
Kimberly Chow, an attorney for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said the comments on Reason clearly fall within the internet’s regular, if outrageous and often vile, discourse.
“In terms of the comments, everybody knows the internet is a forum where exaggeration and hyperbole take place,” Chow told BuzzFeed News. “These comments are in that category. Nobody believes that these people are going to go and put this judge in a wood chipper.”…
I just hope the Reasonoids aren’t depending on their old pal Rand Paul to speak up in their favor, because I misdoubt that Rand will risk getting crosswise with anybody possessing actual power.