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ACLU Says Fake Facebook Page Mocking Rep. Guthrie is Free Speech

Letter calls upon AG to drop investigation.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has sent a letter to Attorney General Peter Kilmartin urging him to stop investigating the fake Facebook page that was created by Coventry Sen. Nick Kettle to mock political rival Rep. Scott Guthrie.

The ACLU said in a release that the now-deleted Facebook page was "a clear exercise of free speech."

In the letter to the Attorney General, RIACLU Executive Director Steven Brown said that the continued criminal investigation into what he called political satire “can only cast a pall over the exercise of First Amendment rights and the lawful ability of members of the public to criticize or caricature public officials.”

“While it may be discourteous and even offensive, the Facebook page is not by any stretch of the imagination a criminal enterprise,” the letter continued. “Satirizing public officials, however coarsely, constitutes a well-worn application of free speech rights.”

The ACLU noted that public officials are satirized online, and on televisions and newsstands every day, and that the courts have set a very high standard for public officials to pursue even civil actions against political criticism.

Given the First Amendment implications of a criminal investigation into any protected political speech, the ACLU said any need for additional review of this case should be categorically rejected, and called on the AG to immediately close the case. 

A copy of the letter is available at www.riaclu.org.

Jackster February 08, 2014 at 08:14 AM
It may be wrong, But can we leave it alone just this once? It is so fitting...
Bill Overdeaux February 08, 2014 at 08:28 AM
Hey bobi, if you read my last statement I believe my parting words were in reference to politicians period! It would be nice if we returned to "statesmanship" in the political arena but alas, I don't see that happening. ... I see your from East Greenwich and seeing how this is all tied in with CCFD, please explain why your former Fire District became a municipal Fire Department after 217 years? You have any qualms with that? Are you here to stump for your dung pile GOP agenda? Please expand, and as the Collegiate Exam usually requests "Compare and Contrast" when filling out your "Blue" book essay! ...old and informed... who was the RI Governor during the 38 studio debacle? What RI Governor has done prison time?... And why are Judges left unscathed by pension reform? There is somewhere in the realm of 12% organized labor in the state... you are you saying 12% dictates to 88%? Informed in what subject matter? Plenty of blame to be shared by all. Educate yourself some more as you age and you can become even more "informed"!
BOB I February 08, 2014 at 08:59 AM
the democratic general assembly should cover most of your questions.
Bill Overdeaux February 08, 2014 at 09:24 AM
As suspected, the "I" in BOB I .. would be for reference to "Incapable" or perhaps "Incompetent" your choice. The RI General Assembly has nothing to do with aforementioned questions to you regarding the East Greenwich Fire District/Department.
Bill Overdeaux February 08, 2014 at 09:48 AM
'please explain why your former Fire District became a municipal Fire Department after 217 years? ...democratic general assembly ... You have any qualms with that?... democratic general assembly... Are you here to stump for your dung pile GOP agenda?...democratic general assembly . Makes no sense. And as usual, we are off topic in regard to the story line. This is about the creation of an impersonation to do harm. Anyone who claims satire needs to explain the satirical elements when any party who made inquiry to the fake posting, received an answer with no disclaimer. At that point, I believe we are looking at identity theft. Identity theft is a form of stealing someone's identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity, usually as a method to gain access to resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name. That is what has occurred and that is a criminal action.
Charles Geney February 08, 2014 at 11:02 AM
How in the world is this free speech but the twitter teacher at Coventry High School is not freedom of speech. He was found innocent this week yet its not in the patch its not in the news or on the CPD website. I feel that this story is much more flagrant and he got dragged thru the media and charged where this case isn't being charged.
THE Reporter February 08, 2014 at 11:16 AM
He was not found innocent.... He just wasn't charged.... Maybe there is more to come.... Why else would someone lose their job for letting him create it on their computer... About him Being dragged through media.... isn't this the same Senator that showed up at someone's house with the media making accusations.... As the Kettle squealed earlier rough and tough politics of Coventry... But seriously how tough can he really be...
Amanda Lynn February 08, 2014 at 11:17 AM
It's not that complicated...Political satirizing may be protected under the First Amendment BUT creating a FB page using an email account created under another person's identity is not. Why was the page removed if it falls under the First Amendment? My guess is because it was created using another's identity. And that IS a criminal offense.
BOB I February 08, 2014 at 11:34 AM
bill overdeaurx you seem to be making a lot of statements you know little about. I was commenting on the second half of your commet .
harleyrider8272 February 08, 2014 at 12:38 PM
Bob I (IDIOT) Your out of your league!
harleyrider8272 February 08, 2014 at 12:40 PM
I hope Guthrie reads this..Take it all the way to the supreme court for identity theft!! Grind this putrid little coward into the ground!!!!!
harleyrider8272 February 08, 2014 at 12:42 PM
Old but stupid...Still spewing the same right-wing (American Taliban) attitude?? What a joke!!
Bill Overdeaux February 08, 2014 at 12:44 PM
Bill Overdeaux <-------------------<< is unaware of any commet (-2 sp.) comet named after him. I make statements I know as much as I can learn about. You at no time referenced any second half, and this is not a game. I directly asked YOU about East Greenwich. You seem to follow the "Tea" party mantra. If it is truthful or adversely pertinent. IGNORE IT! Try again?
BOB I February 08, 2014 at 12:50 PM
8272 and what league might that be?
BOB I February 08, 2014 at 01:00 PM
and I said you made a comment you know little about.
Bill Overdeaux February 08, 2014 at 01:02 PM
Talk to Chuck! ...... Oh that's right "Chuck has left the building". I am guessing he will be leaving his GOP Chairmanship soon also ! Is it true that GOP now stands for "Goofy Old People"?
Bill Overdeaux February 08, 2014 at 01:27 PM
No bobi you said "statements" plural. We can play this game all day long. Now go back and answer the The Questions presented to you!
BOB I February 08, 2014 at 01:37 PM
how's this seeing they were solvent ,from all reports, I guess the town wanted the bank account, happy now,
Randy February 08, 2014 at 01:50 PM
Bill Overdeaux If East Greenwich Fire Department celebrated it's 100 years of servive in 2003, please explain how they became a municipal Fire Department after 217 years?
Realistic Taxpayer February 08, 2014 at 03:04 PM
Mr. Randy, the information you seek can be found at www.egfiredistrict.net or simply by doing an internet search "history of the East Greenwich Fire District". There is a very well written article my Nancy Allen Holst.
Bill Overdeaux February 08, 2014 at 04:11 PM
Randy, The independent fire district — which started with able-bodied firefighters pulling their apparatus themselves before the department owned a horse — was founded by the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1797. So we take the year 2014 (that would be the current one) and we subtract the year 1797 which will give us 217 years. So in exact figures the district entity was actually created 216 years ago. We get that figure by subtracting 1797 from 2013 ( that was last year). Hey BOB I did it ever occur to you that maybe legal fees and perhaps the RI Inter local risk management trust might have come into play? Fire Districts do not participate in RILRM and the town has a Solicitor retained so try savings?.... Excellent Realistic Taxpayer...Nancy Allen Holst First female Fire Chief in the US. Cedar Hill Fire Department, I believe what is now the Cowesett section of Warwick.
Bill Overdeaux February 08, 2014 at 04:17 PM
Hey Randy. On May 10, 2003, East Greenwich Township celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the East Greenwich Fire Department. ... In East Greenwich Township, NEW JERSEY! Your nothing but a dumb ass shit stirrer. Now screw!
BOB I February 08, 2014 at 04:40 PM
you know bill your just a wealth of information. maybe you could us tell why the "super district" went belly up.
Bill Overdeaux February 08, 2014 at 04:58 PM
It went belly up because people wanted and designed it to fail. That is why it needs to be placed under town control and one QUALIFIED Chief!............ Now once again, follow the bouncing ball....................ACLU Says Fake Facebook Page Mocking Rep. Guthrie is Free Speech............. Let us get back to the "Headline" subject matter!
BOB I February 08, 2014 at 06:36 PM
for once they may be right.
Charles Geney February 08, 2014 at 07:27 PM
Here is the point Gillheeney was charged with cyberstalking with no mention of a name or a motive or direct contact with any of the people he was charged with cyberstalking. In this case the "harassment" is clear and it would seem the CPD would have to charge with cyberstalking based on the precedent they set
Charles Geney February 08, 2014 at 07:32 PM
Also why did the Coventry Patch not follow through with the trial of the teacher on twitter being as it has freedom of speech implications is precedent setting and occurred in Coventry. Why report on a story but not follow through with the results?
Charles Geney February 08, 2014 at 07:45 PM
Im just saying they are comparative and the Patch should finish their reports and find the links between these stories
Bill Overdeaux February 08, 2014 at 07:48 PM
Excellent points Charles. To bobi... ok then what? Identity theft is Identity theft....based on what occurred, we have a case of Identity theft.
Charles Geney February 09, 2014 at 11:07 PM
Ask and you shall receive

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