Recently, the Department of Justice stated that they will use the full extent of federal law to investigate and prosecute any postings on the internet that violate the civil rights of Muslims.
To translate that, any documents or pictures posted on Facebook, any post on Twitter or any email sent that might be violate the civil rights of Muslims in some form will be prosecuted by the federal government.
The ball has been set in motion. Bill Killian, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, is scheduled to appear at an event which is sponsored by the American Muslim Advisory Council of Tennessee. At this event he will “provide input on how civil rights can be violated by those who post inflammatory documents targeted at Muslims on social media,” according to a report in the Tullahoma news in Tennessee.
The ball set in motion evidently reaches not just to the state level, but the federal level as well. The Obama administration said that it is holding “educational outreaches to let people know that internet postings that violate civil rights are subject to federal prosecution.”
The use of educational outreaches was verified by Judicial Watch, a political government watchdog group. They reported that the Obama administration reached out to personally reassure Muslims that the Department of Justice is watching over them.
Some individuals have a habit of posting their lives on Twitter, or “Liking” their friends’ pages on Facebook. The “harmless” reporting of one’s life or commenting on one’s friend’s pages sounds reasonable.
But when the barometer is subjective, how does one discern going too far?
Most individuals would not even think to post something inflammatory about Muslims, quite reasonably so. But cyber bullying is a relevant example here. There have been a number of incidents, one rather recent, in which bullies tell jokes online that go too far. What about a joke about Muslims? Is that going too far? Would it depend on the joke, or is a barometer simply the fact that the joke was told and thus prosecution is set in motion?
Some people will argue it is a violation of the First Amendment, and that as long as it does not display a “clear and present danger” to society or any individual, then the barometer on “violation of civil rights” should not apply. For reference, the “clear and present danger” was a Supreme Court ruling that has been used as precedent law throughout multiple years in cases on the First Amendment.
It is an interesting time to live in, for if the “violation of civil rights” rule of thumb on federal prosecution is, for example, taken to the Supreme Court to hear a ruling, people today will witness a great shaping of the United States Constitution and federal law.But for the time being, just be careful on Facebook.