August 19, 2009

Arrested For Blogging

Every so often I come across a story upon which I don't have a clear opinion.   This is one of those stories:

A 34-YEAR-OLD woman, the mother of a 12-year-old girl, has been locked up in a Virginia jail for three weeks and could remain there for at least another month. Her crime? Blogging about the police.

Elisha Strom, who appears unable to make the $750 bail, was arrested outside Charlottesville on July 16 when police raided her house, confiscating notebooks, computers and camera equipment. Although the Charlottesville police chief, Timothy J. Longo Sr., had previously written to Ms. Strom warning her that her blog posts were interfering with the work of a local drug enforcement task force, she was not charged with obstruction of justice or any similar offense. Rather, she was indicted on a single count of identifying a police officer with intent to harass, a felony under state law.

It's fair to say that Ms. Strom was unusually focused on the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement task force, a 14-year-old unit drawn mainly from the police departments of Charlottesville, Albemarle County and the University of Virginia. (Her blog at, expresses the view that the task force is "nothing more than a group of arrogant thugs.") In a nearly year-long barrage of blog posts, she published snapshots she took in public of many or most of the task force's officers; detailed their comings and goings by following them in her car; mused about their habits and looks; hinted that she may have had a personal relationship with one of them; and, in one instance, reported that she had tipped off a local newspaper about their movements.

On the one hand, all she was doing was exercising her right to free speech and that should never be an arrestable offense if not for its own right than that it may lead to a slippery slope of increasing government censorship.

On the other hand, I am deeply uncomfortable with the idea of a person broadcasting the location and activities of law enforcement officers engaged in very dangerous situations.  Her blogging could clearly cost the lives of police officers who were doing nothing more than their jobs.

On the other hand, the drug war is bullshit for the most part and is clearly involved in some of the most egregious personal freedom encroachments in the history of the Republic.

On the other hand, if this information is so secret and well guarded how the fuck does she know about it in the first place?  I'm inclined in that aspect to advise the police to tighten their lips a bit. 

I'm leaning toward saying that what she is doing shouldn't be remotely criminal so long as she is not intentionally privy to any secret information that may be dangerous in the wrong hands.  Being that she knows the information anyway, it seems that the real security breach is not her blogging but the fact that she knows it in the first place.

What do you Morons think?

Posted by: Moron Pundit at 03:43 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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