CBS News reports:
MANTUA, Ohio (CBS Cleveland) – Just one day after a school shooting devastated Chardon High School in Ohio, a local teen was arrested after posting a new Facebook profile picture that showed him posing with an assault rifle….
…He will now face two counts of inducing panic, one count each of aggravated menacing and telecommunications harassment. All of the charges are first-degree misdemeanors.
The kid also made a few comments in support of school shootings.
While it is wrong to threaten people, as this constitutes assault, the kid never directly threatened anyone. Further, under the law, saying you want to kill someone is protected speech as long as it is clear that you are not immediately capable of carrying out such an act.
In this case, we can see that he never made direct threats against any particular individuals or schools, and that he never directly harassed anyone with his generalized comments. Nor is taking an image of yourself holding a rifle grounds for arrest. The first and second amendment make it quite clear that such images are to be protected under the law.
Of course, “the law” in our society today is anything the dictators say it is. If “inducing panic” is something to be prosecuted, then every director of horror films should be behind bars at this point. Clearly saying things that some people may be frightened of is not grounds for throwing people into cages.
If I was this kid, I would file counter-suit for civil rights violations and go to a full jury trial.