March 5, 2013
In a Christian Science Monitor article covering the case of Cameron D’Ambrosio – the teenager who supposedly made terroristic threats on his Facebook page – a New York cop is quoted as saying government needs to implement a zero tolerance approach to online speech after the Boston bombing.
“If you’re not a terrorist, if you’re not a threat, prove it,” he said. “This is the price you pay to live in free society right now. It’s just the way it is.”
“[Expletive] a boston boming wait till u see the [expletive] I do, I’ma be famous rapping, and beat every murder charge that comes across me!” D’Ambrosio had rapped.
The 18 year old high school student faces 20 years in prison and is currently held on a $1 million bail pending trial. Police admit D’Ambrosio’s “threats” were not made against a specific person.
D’Ambrosio was turned in as a result of a “see something, say something” snitch program. The Department of Homeland Security initiated the stool pigeon campaign.
“Once again we have to commend the Methuen High School Student who came forward, we always say, if you see something, say something, and that’s what this student did,” said Methuen Police Chief Joe Solomon after the arrest. “We also want to commend the school safety officers and the administration for bringing this to our attention immediately. Threats of this kind of violence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, not in Methuen they won’t.”
“I do want to make clear he did not make a specific threat against the school or any particular individuals but he did threaten to kill a bunch of people and specifically mentioned the Boston Marathon and the White House. The threat was disturbing enough for us to act and I think our officers did the right thing.”
Obviously, the teenager’s alleged threat does not fall under the “incitement to imminent lawless action” standard followed by U.S. courts and does not constitute a true threat. After Boston, however, this standard is no longer in effect, as Sgt. Ed Mullins insisted when he said the new standard is that a defendant must demonstrate he or she is not a threat instead of the government proving in court that an individual is a threat to other individuals or society.
Prior to Boston, an Illinois appeals court threw out the conviction and five-year prison sentence against a rapper who prosecutors said threatened to engage in murder after a note was discovered in his car. If the court had ruled after Boston, there is the possibility the conviction would have remained in place.