A pseudonymous blogger by the name of Elisha Strom has been locked up by Charlottesville police and is being held on rather shaky charges for the contents of her blog. Her last post: “Uh-oh, They’re here..”
Elisha Strom, who appears unable to make the $750 bail, was arrested outside Charlottesville on July 16 when police raided her house, confiscating notebooks, computers and camera equipment. Although the Charlottesville police chief, Timothy J. Longo Sr., had previously written to Ms. Strom warning her that her blog posts were interfering with the work of a local drug enforcement task force, she was not charged with obstruction of justice or any similar offense. Rather, she was indicted on a single count of identifying a police officer with intent to harass, a felony under state law.
Strom has bee blogging the activities of the Jefferson Are Drug Enforcement task force including photographs, for a while now. They told her to stop but she did not. Apparently, all the information she blogged was publicly available.
Now, before you start looking for the PayPal button for raising money to get Strom out of jail, consider the following:
Ms. Strom is not the most sympathetic symbol of free-speech rights. She has previously advocated creating a separate, all-white nation, and her blog veers from the whimsical to the self-righteous to the bizarre. But the real problem here is the Virginia statute, in which an overly broad, ill-defined ban on harassment-by-identification, specifically in regard to police officers, seems to criminalize just about anything that might irritate targets.
It should not be a crime to annoy the cops, whose raid on Ms. Strom’s house looks more like a fit of pique than an act of law enforcement. Some of her postings may have consisted of obnoxious speech, but they were nonetheless speech and constitutionally protected.
I wonder if supporters of blogospheric pseudonymous no holds barred in your face angry criticism will be taking up a collection to get this clearly wronged white supremacist out of jail? Or will their strongly held opinions wilt in the face of … an actual situation.