February 23, 2006

The MySpace Kid

Say Uncle has a post about a kid who posted pics of himself with handguns on the net.

Here's the initial story that prompted his post. It only says that after being ratted out a kid was arrested because he posted pics of himself with guns on the net. No mention of any violation of a specific law.

In a more detailed (& I use the term loosely) article that Uncle later linked to in the same post, it casually mentions that the firearms in question belonged to the kid's family.

In the last article it mentions several captions of the pics in what seems to be an effort to create a disturbing portrait of another would be mass murderer caught in the early stages.

"In one of the photos, the teen was surrounded by nine rifles and was holding two handguns with a caption that read, 'Angel o' death on wings o' lead."

"In another picture the teen was holding a handgun with a caption that read 'Rally round the family with a pocket full of shells."

K, the "angel of death..." thing seems silly but the photo (shown in the article) has him laying down with the rifles spread out like the framework for wings. I'd view that as more of an artistic pun than something to get worried over. It’s certainly no more troubling than someone walking around with a “Death From Above” t-shirt.

The "rally round the family..." line is from a song by Rage Against The Machine called Bulls On Parade. Rage Against The Machine is a left leaning hard rock group. Most of their politics revolve around anti-corporation, anti-imperialism &/or anti-government oppression. This song in particular is lamenting the tactics of the American military & the money that could have been spent on food, shelter, clothing & libraries. So while misguided there’s really not anything nefarious in using the quote he used. Course he could have just thought it was a neat gun related line & not known of the songs meaning or he could have intended it as a slam against the song’s message. In any case political speech is usually protected by the 1rst Amendment.

"In another photo, the teenager was wearing a trench coat and holding a gun."

So he invoked an image from Columbine's infamous school shooting? I've seen plenty of people in trench coats with firearms. The majority of which are on the SASS circuit. Course maybe if we just ban trench coats...

"In the 'about me' section, he wrote of his dislike of people, deserving to die and disdain for authority."

& this makes him different from how many thousands of kids how? That "disdain" for authority is, or at least was a natural part of growing up. Around the same time puberty starts doing its number on your hormones you tend to get a little rebellious. Disliking people is not particularly abnormal, especially if you've ever dealt with them before. It's unclear whether he wrote that he thought he deserved to die or that other people deserved to die, though I can see rational, non-mass murderer in the budding explanations for either.

"In another excerpt, the teenager explained his love of music as the 'difference between a good day and me holding some stupid person at gunpoint in the frozen food section."

I'd consider that hyperbole, but then again unlike the usual "zero tolerance" crowd I have a sense of humor. Course if they're shocked at that turn of phrase they'd be positively terrified if they read the many times I've suggested a PTF (politician, tar & feathers - politican sold separately. Some assembly required).

The darling but deadly miss Nicki also has a post on the story of the dreaded MySpace Kid. In it she links to this article that claims the kid will be charged with 3 misdemeanor counts of juvenile possession of a handgun.

According to Colorado law it's illegal for a minor to possess a handgun without their parents’ permission.

Colorado Statute 18-12-108.5 establishes the "crime" of juvenile possession of a handgun & the exceptions:

Possession of handguns by juveniles - prohibited - exceptions - penalty.
Statute text

(1) (a) Except as provided in this section, it is unlawful for any person who has not attained the age of eighteen years knowingly to have any handgun in such person's possession.

(b) Any person possessing any handgun in violation of paragraph (a) of this subsection (1) commits the offense of illegal possession of a handgun by a juvenile.

(c) (I) Illegal possession of a handgun by a juvenile is a class 2 misdemeanor.

(II) For any second or subsequent offense, illegal possession of a handgun by a juvenile is a class 5 felony.

(d) Any person under the age of eighteen years who is taken into custody by a law enforcement officer for an offense pursuant to this section shall be taken into temporary custody in the manner described in section 19-2-508, C.R.S.

(2) This section shall not apply to:

(a) Any person under the age of eighteen years who is:

(I) In attendance at a hunter's safety course or a firearms safety course; or

(II) Engaging in practice in the use of a firearm or target shooting at an established range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction in which such range is located or any other area where the discharge of a firearm is not prohibited; or

(III) Engaging in an organized competition involving the use of a firearm or participating in or practicing for a performance by an organized group under 501 (c) (3) as determined by the federal internal revenue service which uses firearms as a part of such performance; or

(IV) Hunting or trapping pursuant to a valid license issued to such person pursuant to article 4 of title 33, C.R.S.; or

(V) Traveling with any handgun in such person's possession being unloaded to or from any activity described in subparagraph (I), (II), (III), or (IV) of this paragraph (a);

(b) Any person under the age of eighteen years who is on real property under the control of such person's parent, legal guardian, or grandparent and who has the permission of such person's parent or legal guardian to possess a handgun;

(c) Any person under the age of eighteen years who is at such person's residence and who, with the permission of such person's parent or legal guardian, possesses a handgun for the purpose of exercising the rights contained in section 18-1-704 or section 18-1-704.5.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2) of this section, a handgun is "loaded" if:

(a) There is a cartridge in the chamber of the handgun; or

(b) There is a cartridge in the cylinder of the handgun, if the handgun is a revolver; or

(c) The handgun, and the ammunition for such handgun, is carried on the person of a person under the age of eighteen years or is in such close proximity to such person that such person could readily gain access to the handgun and the ammunition and load the handgun.

(4) Repealed.

Note that an exception is on the parents’ real property with their consent to possess a handgun.

So assuming that since the MySpace Kid had access to the firearms that he had his parents consent, then I see no reason why he was arrested. I could understand a cop approaching his parents about it to make sure he had their permission - well if I agreed with the damn law in the first place that is. But arresting him is just another example of "zero tolerance" in practice.

The comments in the various articles all see firearms as an evil implement.

"That's pretty disturbing, a kid with guns you know,' said a student at the teen's school."

"When you see pictures of real guns, it leaves doubt in your mind as to how safe you are everyday,' said another student at Evergreen."

"At Evergreen High School, some of the students were seen wearing t-shirts in support of the youth.
'They're friends with him and they don't think that he should be disciplined,' said a student."

That discipline would be his current suspension & possible expulsion from the school in addition to any charges the local DA thinks he can whip up.

But notice even images of a firearm make one alleged student scared. Another supposed student claims that any kid with a gun is disturbing. A third possible student says that any protest is merely his friends not wanting him to get punished.

The last alleged student bothers me simply because it couldn't occur to him/her that maybe the kids who are protesting the MySpace Kid's treatment think it's wrong or immoral to punish someone for free expression.

Make no mistake about it - this is not merely a firearms issue. The MySpace Kid is being punished for freedom of expression. He has been jailed & suspended from school & may be expelled. His words were taken as disturbing & his pics as offensive, even frightening. Hence he is being disciplined.

"School spokesman Rick Kaufman said parents were calling with concerns and some kept their children home after photographs posted on the boy's profile on MySpace.com, a social networking Web site, began circulating through the community."

Parents keeping their kids at home because someone was photgraphed with a firearm? I wonder what their reaction would be if they found out that there were high concentrations of hydrogen hydroxide (which can form hydroxic acid if it interacts with simple carbon dioxide) in the schools?

Now there is a chance that the MySpace Kid did make some sort of threatening statement. Actually threatening, not just threatening to those without spines or logic. But it seems to me that if that were the case mention of it would have been made. Instead we get the following:

"The photos were very disturbing, and while the content was not a direct threat, we just felt it was important for us to take appropriate disciplinary action,' Kaufman said, adding the student could be expelled."

There ya have it; he's metering out punishments for free expression because he's disturbed. Very disturbed. Just the type of person we need for our kids to look to as an example isn't it? I wonder if it'd be illegal to show him or the parents that kept their kids at home a picture of a gun if you met them walking down the street? Or would that be attempted armed robbery? At least brandishing I'm thinking.

There's something deeper going on that I'll tyr to address in another post. But my conclusion based on what I've seen so far is that the MySpace Kid was & is being treated abhorently because of the petty fears of others. Since it's a public school it's a violation of his 1rst amendment Rights to boot. What's even more damning on the school is that this was not activity that even occured at school or on school grounds.

I hope the MySpace kid gets a lawyer. A smart & perpetually pissed off one at that.

Posted by Publicola at February 23, 2006 09:44 PM | TrackBack

If his school is anything like my kids', they would have - tried in my case - to get the parents to sign a form saying they agree to the student handbook and will support it. One of the things in the handbook is a statement saying that the rules will apply 24/7.

Posted by: mt at February 24, 2006 06:24 PM

I am the MySpace Kid as you have referred to throughout this article and I'm glad that you see the political b/s that has conveniently surrounded my non political case. I can't begin to tell you how many times the DA's office have completely destroyed any trustworthyness I ever had in them or the legal system throuhout this ordeal. Not to mention the numerous times the "Fine Law Enforcment of Evergreen" have broken the law just to attempt to incriminate me. It seems that all of Colorado is convinced that anyone who owns guns is going to imitate a Columbine. Evergreen High School is more worried about getting rid of the kids that they deem "Columbine Possobilities" than they are trying to get rid of the harrassment and assault that goes on everyday at the school which is the source of the "Colombine Kids". I have actively participated in the "Tolerance Club" and written articles in the newspaper identifying and attempting to stop bullying and harrassment at the school. In fact if you want it I would love nothing more than to have the article I wrote in an effort to get rid of the "Columbine Source" that was repeatedly denied publishing by the Principle for not being fair to administration and was ignored by administration once it was published. This school is a breeding ground for all the things they don't want to happen and they turn their heads the other way untill a parent makes a complaint and holds their kids home for dramatic affect. Please feel free to contact me back with questions because you are fully correct in your conclusion of violations on my rights.

Posted by: Robbie Hill (The MySpace Kid) at April 18, 2006 08:50 PM

After reading all this, i think its extremely obsured! I know robbie! I went to school with him. This kid is such an artistic person that by simply expressing himself on the internet you seem to find a way to relate it to Colombine and arrest him for it! I could not agree more with robbie in his persuit to stop the bullying and harrassment in schools.

Posted by: Kevin at May 11, 2006 07:40 PM