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Aug 09 2011

Renton: First Amendment? What First Amendment?

The law enforcement authorities in Renton, Washington apparently don’t think the First Amendment applies in their jurisdiction. They’re trying to have a cartoonist thrown in jail for making fun of them.

The Renton City Prosecutor wants to send a cartoonist to jail for mocking the police department in a series of animated Internet videos.

The “South-Park”-style animations parody everything from officers having sex on duty to certain personnel getting promoted without necessary qualifications. While the city wants to criminalize the cartoons, First Amendment rights advocates say the move is an “extreme abuse of power.”


The story continues:

Only KIRO Team 7 Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne holds a key document that really lays bare the city’s intent. The document was quietly filed in King County Superior Court last week. It’s a search warrant accusing an anonymous cartoon creator, going by the name of Mr. Fiddlesticks, of cyberstalking (RCW 9.61.260). The Renton Police Department and the local prosecutor got a judge to sign off as a way to uncover the name of whoever is behind the parodies. Halsne talked with three nationally respected legal experts who believe the use of the cyberstalking statute is likely stomping on the constitution.

The series of web-based short cartoons feature a mustachioed street cop and a short-haired female bureaucrat. The dry, at times, witty banter between the two touches on some embarrassing insider secrets, some of which seem to match up with internal affairs investigations on file within Renton PD.

Here’s one of the videos:

It’s hard to imagine a more obvious abuse of power than this. You’re the government. People get to make fun of you. Get over it.

11 comments

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  1. 1
    'smee

    xtranormal is teh kool.

    and cyberstalking? WTF!

    I would normall say “get a life” but… the folks in Renton are obviously undead zombies, so that would be tantamount to inviting more crime!

  2. 2
    Pierce R. Butler

    Fatwa on Mr. Fiddlesticks!

    When did Virginia become part of Denmark? Creeping Sharia, indeed…

  3. 3
    Marcus Ranum

    Let the Streisand Effect rule!

  4. 4
    bricewgilbert

    @Pierce Washington state.

  5. 5
    Physicalist

    Isn’t PZ from Renton? Makes you wonder . . .
    (I like Renton b/c they have free wi-fi throughout the town. Too bad about the cops.)

  6. 6
    386sx

    Wow, that’s not a very “hip” reporter. The cartoon isn’t “South Park style”, nor is the person who made them a cartoonist. Lol.

  7. 7
    brionhet

    I’m so mortified! I was born in Renton, and lived there my first

  8. 8
    brionhet

    I’m so mortified! I was born in Renton, and lived there my first 12 years. Now I feel kind of dirty…

  9. 9
    brionhet

    Okay, so that was weird. I swear I didn’t commit premature submission!

  10. 10
    felix

    Madison “Oh my god! They killed the constitution!”

    Jefferson “You bastards!”

  11. 11
    Midnight Rambler

    That reporter needs to get some glasses as well. The Youtube username is Mrfuddlesticks, not Mrfiddlesticks.

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