Freedom’s tasty, ain’t it? Let’s hear it for the First Amendment. That beautiful guarantee of the ability to think muse, opine, ideate, fantasize, imagine, guess, wonder, dream. To wax perhaps obscene or sexually demented in sick reverie. Fine. Think away. Just don’t act. Don’t carry through. Just think. Well, the thought police and the mindless bands of feckless, impuissant, atesticular, spineless Ted Baxter sockpuppet, echo chamber, cookie cutter, bumper sticker, presstitue pantywaist media types don’t care much for that freedom biz.
What took this Judge so long? I’d have granted the JOA motion instanter. But justice delayed is not necessarily justice denied. The Court was spot on in seeing through the danger of this verdict.
“The evidentiary record is such that it is more likely than not the case that all of Valle’s Internet communications about the kidnapping are fantasy role-play,” Manhattan Federal District Court Judge Judge Paul Gardephe said in a 118-page written opinion. “No real-world, non-Internet based steps were ever taken to kidnap anyone.” Well played, sir.
“No one was ever kidnapped, no attempted kidnapping ever took place, and no real-world, non-Internet -based steps were ever taken to kidnap anyone,” he further brilliant noted and wrote. “Dates for ‘planned’ kidnappings pass without comment, without discussion, without explanation, and with no follow-up. The only plausible explanation for the lack of comment on inquiry about allegedly agreed-upon and scheduled kidnappings is that Valle and the others engaged in these chats understood that no kidnapping would actually take place.”
What does this do to “To Catch a Predator” crimes? Alone have I been in calling attention to my Constitutional incredulity over the idea of busting people for thinking they’ve arranged for an illicit rendezvous with the imaginary virtual minor. The idea that you think you’re contracting illegally. You think. Imagine a blind feller thinks someone’s in front of him and he pulls out a revolver and demands “Stick ’em up!” Can he be rightfully charged with armed robbery? No, of course not. But he thought there was someone there. If we were to extrapolate the notion of thinking crimes, he should certainly suffer criminal exposure.
By analogy, In 2002 Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, addressed the issues of virtual crime and the language is most pertinent here. The issue addresses child pornography and like cannibalism, the horror of the crime tends to short circuit rational thinking.
The CPPA [Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 (CPPA), 18 U. S. C. §2251 et seq.] prohibits speech despite its serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. The statute proscribes the visual depiction of an idea.
The mere tendency of speech to encourage unlawful acts is not a sufficient reason for banning it. The government “cannot constitutionally premise legislation on the desirability of controlling a person’s private thoughts.” Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U. S. 557, 566 (1969). First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought.
To preserve these freedoms, and to protect speech for its own sake, the Court’s First Amendment cases draw vital distinctions between words and deeds, between ideas and conduct. See Kingsley Int’l Pictures Corp., 360 U. S., at 689; see also Bartnicki v. Vopper, 532 U. S. 514, 529 (2001) (“The normal method of deterring unlawful conduct is to impose an appropriate punishment on the person who engages in it”). The government may not prohibit speech because it increases the chance an unlawful act will be committed “at some indefinite future time.” Hess v. Indiana, 414 U. S. 105, 108 (1973) (per curiam). The government may suppress speech for advocating the use of force or a violation of law only if “such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U. S. 444, 447 (1969) (per curiam). There is here no attempt, incitement, solicitation, or conspiracy. The Government has shown no more than a remote connection between speech that might encourage thoughts or impulses and any resulting child abuse. Without a significantly stronger, more direct connection, the Government may not prohibit speech on the ground that it may encourage pedophiles to engage in illegal conduct.
It is beyond axiomatic. Thoughts are protected speech. Period. It’s a part of our freedom the terrorists hate, remember? If we ever lose those rights, it won’t be from those desert-dwelling terrorist types who are always prone to monkey bars. No, we will give them up and hand them off. I fear us.
My prediction proves true. Again. This was my commentary from March 5 of last year detailing precisely why the cannibal cop wasn’t guilty of anything. It denotes the differences between cognizable albeit inchoate crimes versus what this schlub was convicted of.