There is no question that the social media have become an influential means of communicating. I have a Facebook account – at least I’m pretty sure that I do – because I keep getting emails on a daily basis telling me that I have one message. Now if I could only remember the password I used to set it up, I might just check in to see who’s trying to reach me. But that seems like more work than its worth.
While my attitude might be an anomaly in this day and age, I realize that there are others (a great number of others), who feel as dependent on their Facebook accounts as a drug addict does on his next fix. They are probably a lot more savvy than I – and are certainly a lot younger.
Now if you Facebook or tweet, you should understand that people are going to see what you post. After all, isn’t that the reason for being on those sites in the first place? So it should have come as no surprise when a few days ago a teenager in the far north Chicago suburb of Zion was apprehended after he tweeted the following:
“If Zimmerman leaves free Imma shoot everybody in Zion causing a mass homicide, an I’ll git away wit it just like Zimmerman.”
Currently charged with a felony for this bit of communication, I suspect that if you polled everyone in the country, at least 20% of us would agree that his apprehension by law enforcement was the appropriate response.
But I would like to bring to your attention another bit of communication which got someone in trouble. This time it was Facebook which was the platform of choice. Perhaps you are familiar with the story of the young, former Marine who got in a whole mess of trouble because he expressed his views on how the government of the United States was being run and suggested that some of Washington’s finest “should be arrested.” His name is Brandon Raub and the story goes back to August of last year.
Mr. Raub suggested that the government was lying about the events of 9/11 (the first one). He was also critical of the government’s increasingly obvious circumvention of the Constitution.
Mr. Raub served honorably two tours of duty with the Marine Corps – one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq and was honorably discharged from the Corps. He is thought of as a good citizen in his Virginia community and owns and operates a small business there.
On the morning of August 16, 2012, some FBI agents came to his door. They wanted to speak with him and they did converse with him through the screen door. Mr. Raub, wearing only some short pants, was persuaded to come outside and was almost immediately handcuffed. The agents refused to allow him to put on any additional clothing. He was taken to a hospital for “psychiatric evaluation” and was ordered by a judge to remain there for a 30 day observation period.
What follows is a telephone conversation with a local radio host and Brandon Raub while he was still being “observed” in the hospital. You be the judge of how sane or insane he sounds:
Mr. Raub was released from the hospital where he was held against his will beofre the full 30 day evaluation period, thanks to the efforts of his attorney. But under Virginia law, the provisions for having someone committed for “mental observation” are loose enough that about 20,000 people in the state have that happen to them each year.
I suspect that most of these detentions occur because relatives, friends or neighbors see some erratic behavior and are concerned both for the individual as well as for those with whom he or she might come in contact. But that was not the situation in Mr. Raub’s case.
His neighbors consider him a good neighbor, always willing to help out and he is thought of as an asset to the community. So who “turned him in?”
My guess, and it is only a guess, is that with the now-admitted spying on U. S. citizens and others in this country by the NSA, it might well be that Mr. Raub’s comments were picked up by that agency and they initiated his arrest. That is also what Mr. Raub thinks. And subsequent to this event, we do know that the IRS profiled and held up the exemption applications of hundreds of Tea Party organizations.
It should be clear, though disturbing to anyone who wants to think about it logically, that this administration sees pursuing the government’s agenda supercedes the rights of the individual.
It does give one pause and make one wonder if anyone in the administration has read the First Amendment to the Constitution – or can comprehend it – or most importantly, is willing to uphold it as they swore to do.
As I reflect on all of this, I think I better try to recover my Facebook password and check out that lone message which was left for me. It might just be the government letting me know that, “they’re here to help me.”