Friday, August 5, 2011

Prosecutors Seek To Jail Cartoonist For Mocking Cops

Oh, brother. City prosecutors in Renton, WA are trying to jail a cartoonist for posting videos that mock the Renton police department. Prosecutors have served Google with a warrant forcing them to reveal the identity of the poster known as Mr. Fiddlesticks. KIRO television reports...

The Renton City Prosecutor wants to send a cartoonist to jail for mocking the police department in a series of animated Internet videos.

The "South-Park"-style animations parody everything from officers having sex on duty to certain personnel getting promoted without necessary qualifications. While the city wants to criminalize the cartoons, First Amendment rights advocates say the move is an "extreme abuse of power."
The series of web-based short cartoons feature a mustachioed street cop and a short-haired female bureaucrat. The dry, at times, witty banter between the two touches on some embarrassing insider secrets, some of which seem to match up with internal affairs investigations on file within Renton PD.
We asked attorney Venkat Balasubramani to review several parody videos and the court documents. He's an expert in cyber-law and constitutional issues.

“The cyberstalking angle doesn't pass the laugh test," Balasubramani told KIRO-TV.
The odds are prosecutors know they have zero chance of getting a conviction in this case. Or even an arrest. But they can get Google to out Mr. Fiddlesticks, who is very probably a police department employee. IOW, it's a cynical effort to stamp out free speech using intimidation and job threats.

Video of KIRO story, including clips from the cartoons and links to documents filed by city prosecutors, at the KIRO website...

The original cartoons are still up on YouTube. Here's the first of nine...

UPDATE: The ACLU has offered to defend "Mr. Fiddlesticks"...

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