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Webcomic Author Deemed a Terrorist Threat

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the now-that's-just-silly dept.

Censorship 486

CaptainCarrot writes "Writer/IT contractor Matt Boyd, formerly the man who made up the words for webcomic Mac Hall and who now does the same for his and Ian McConville's new comic Three Panel Soul, was recently fired from his government job. His conversation with a co-worker about a gun he intended to buy for target shooting was overheard by someone in a nearby cubicle. As it was unfortunately the day of the Virginia Tech shootings, the eavesdropper panicked and reported him to management. That was bad enough. But when he used the comic to document the meeting where the reason for his firing was explained, he was visited by representatives of local law enforcement investigating him on suspicion of making a "terroristic threat" using the Internet. No charges have been filed. Yet. FLEEN interviewed Matt about the incident."

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"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (5, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005057)

The term "terroristic threat" has been around a long time, and has nothing to do with "terrorism" or a "terrorist threat", as it is used in the vernacular.

The term and legal notion of "terroristic threat" has been around for a long time, and has nothing to do with the "war on terror", 9/11, the Bush administration, or censorship.

Also, he is a contract employee who can be released at any time for any reason, even moreso than a normal at-will employee who also can be released at any time for any reason.

Even Boyd himself in his interview [fleen.com] correctly notes that "a terroristic threat is an old legal concept".

He is also not charged with any crime (though technically he could be), but that's always true. He says the "detectives at least seem satisfied" that he was "harmless", and showed samples of his work to one of the detectives.

It would be better to read his interview [fleen.com] , instead of believing someone thinks this has anything to do with "terrorism" or a "terrorist threat" (no one does; remember, "terroristic threat is a legal concept that has been around a long time).

Actually, I take that back. There are people painting this as allegedly being thought of as "terrorism". It's people who want to get all indignant about it [dieselsweeties.com] .

By the way: anyone who thinks Virginia Tech could have "prevented" this shooting somehow, this is exactly what you get [slashdot.org] .

Re:"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (0, Troll)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005111)

what the fuck are you doing? are you new here? this is slashdot. half the shit that is posted either does not make sense or is a dupe of something that does not make sense.

Without linking it to webcomics and making it a vehicle to mock the war, there is no way this would be posted. The funny part is the guy is a gun owner and got in trouble for talking about it. That is hardly a position the current administration and the NRA would support.

Basically this guy got fired for exercising his rights under the second amendment and then the first amendment,

Also (2, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005127)

Unless you know everyone around you, this [threepanelsoul.com] probably isn't an appropriate conversation for the workplace, which Boyd says is a verbatim transcript [fleen.com] of what got him fired^H^H^H^H^Hreleased from a contract position that he can be released from at any time.

And this [threepanelsoul.com] , even if joking, is probably not, all things considered, the wisest response. Only he, or people who know him well, knows he's not serious, frankly. Yeah, it's funny. But he already got fired for talking about how many times you'd have to shoot someone in the face with a .22 to kill them, and then makes light of it to the point where someone got scared again. Do you think the police are monitoring his comic? Someone obviously complained, and it's the police's job to follow up, who then determined he's not actually a threat, according to his own description of the meeting with the detectives.

Can we find something else to get all in a huff about? I'm sure there's another story we can run about how the 2004 election was stolen.

Re:Also (1, Insightful)

dynamo (6127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005397)

Um, this is worth gutting all in a huff about. The government is supposed to defend freedom, not take it away. He might have been stupid to say those things, but NONE WERE THREATS of any kind. nor was the comic. No one accused him of mental problems or being likely to hurt anyone.

The lack of intelligence in law enforcement is no excuse to trample on civil rights. The worst he should have gotten was probation.

Re:Also (2, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005485)

Huh?

He didn't "get" anything. If you mean probation with respect to his work, that's between him and his employer. It most absolutely is not the government's role in a situation like this to mandate that he keep a contract job that he can be removed from, legally, at any time.

Re:Also (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005535)

I hate to tell you this, but you can not fire people, even contractors, for just ANY reason. The reason you don't tell them why you are firing them is because there are so many ways to that firing someone is illegal.

Re:Also (4, Informative)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005741)

I hate to tell you this, but you can not fire people, even contractors, for just ANY reason.
True, you can't fire people based upon age, race, gender, sexual orientation (in some states), or one of a few other reasons commonly referred to as "protected classes". In most states, employment is "at will", meaning you can be fired for any reason other than being a member of one of these protected classes. Owning a gun or talking about buying a gun is, as far as I know, does not qualify you for a protected class.

Re:Also (4, Interesting)

Dredd13 (14750) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005759)

This depends a great deal on where you live. In a lot of at-will states, it is sufficient to simply say "you are fired." You don't need a reason of any kind. It can be "because you wore a purple shirt today," and unless "purple shirt wearing" is a protected class against discrimination (hint - it isn't), it sticks. Every jurisdiction is different, but this is the way it actually works in a lot of locations. I know I've heard human resources attorneys in my state (NY) tell me this on multiple occasions.

Gently down the slippery slope (5, Interesting)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005737)

Like many other crimes these days, it is the implication that you might do the crime that is becoming illegal, or in this case punishable. Like the virtual rape in second life http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/04/15 25222 [slashdot.org] . Or things like prosecuting someone who thinks they are flirting with a minor. Sure things like murder, pedophilia and terroism aren't going to have any vocal champions, but it grows into things like outlawing marijuana flavored candy.

http://www.reason.com/news/show/119442.html [reason.com] "Several jurisdictions, including Chicago, already have banned cannabis-flavored candy; Georgia is on the verge of prohibiting sales to minors; and legislators in other states have proposed their own restrictions or bans. Before the whole country is overwhelmed by the urge to prohibit anything that tastes like pot, let's pause to consider the aim of such legislation. Ban proponents do not claim the candy itself is dangerous. Rather, they object to the ideas it represents."

Let's face it, ideas and presumed intentions are becoming criminal. George Orwell called it.

Re:Also (3, Insightful)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005523)

Only he, or people who know him well, knows he's not serious, frankly.

Well, I must be some kind of psychic then, because I've never met him and yet I was somehow convinced that he wasn't planning to murder people when I saw that comic.

Can we find something else to get all in a huff about?

Are you serious? The "presumed an insane killer until proven otherwise" attitude from his employers and the local police isn't enough to get in a huff about?

Re:Also (4, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005653)

Well, I must be some kind of psychic then, because I've never met him and yet I was somehow convinced that he wasn't planning to murder people when I saw that comic.

*Sigh*.

Ok, I'll explain this to you.

Without respect to his comic at all, someone at his place of work overheard him talking about how many times you'd have to shoot someone in the face with a .22 to kill them. A coworker, who most likely didn't know him, or know him well since he's a contractor, reported this incident to their supervisor.

He was released from his contract position (which the employer has every right to do) for the incident.

If you can't understand that was a stupid or at least marginally unwise thing for him to do, then I don't know what to say. Of course it sucks that he got "fired"/released from his contract position for it, but then, this is why we say that actions have consequences.

At this point, the comic isn't involved. At all.

Are you serious? The "presumed an insane killer until proven otherwise" attitude from his employers and the local police isn't enough to get in a huff about?

Uh, I couldn't possibly care less about his employer. They acted correctly, given the complaint and the situation. You just simply don't say something like that unless you know everyone around you knows you're joking.

Remember, the web comic still has not come into play yet.

AFTER he was fired, he humorously recounted it in his comic, which someone at some point must have seen, and in which he made what someone determined to be a threat, even if it was 100% in jest and humor. The police followed up on said complaint, which it is their JOB to do - no "guilty until proven innocent" yet - and then determined there was no actual threat (which again, is their job).

Words and actions have meaning, and consequences. Yes, there is all sorts of nuance, but we can't have this "have it both ways" collective mentality we do where we think "gee, maybe we could have stopped the Virginia Tech shootings" but then allow people to make what can be interpreted by some to be verbal or written threats. Yes, I get the comic. Haha, funny, etc. But his phone conversation about shooting someone in the face multiple times with a .22 to kill them, which was a gun he just bought, was interpreted by someone who probably didn't know him to be a threat. Which she reported. While it would be great if the employer could parse through things and say, hey, we realize you were joking, it's possible his employer didn't know him that well either, since he was a contract employee. And frankly, they can release a contractor at any time regardless, so that point is moot.

This is a non-story, and yes I'm serious. But people started confusing "terroristic threat" with "terrorism", so I'm sure this will have a nice, long life on many a blog.

blacks ftw (-1, Troll)

Dick McBeefy (1098175) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005227)

we have your women. soon we will have the white house. he.

it's our time now.

Re:blacks ftw (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005517)

Bad news: Obama isn't a real negro.

It's Giuliani time.

Re:"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (1)

notque (636838) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005299)

Obviously it has nothing to do with terrorism, or terroristic.

Unless the targets he planned on shooting were to urge a political change. Or he told the paper targets before hand that he was coming to get them unless they used recyclable paper.

Maybe the person who told on him wasn't actually a person, but instead of a picture of Osama Bin Laden with a bullseye over the nose.

Re:"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (0, Redundant)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005351)

A "terroristic threat" has zero to do with political change.

Did you even read my post? Or maybe do a little research?

"Terroristic threat" doesn't really have anything to do with "terrorism" or "terrorist threats" as we talk about them. Yes, they're very similar words, but from a legal standpoint, "terroristic threat", which is codified in many states, doesn't have anything to do with the modern usage of "terrorism". When someone makes a threat against another person, or calls in a bomb threat, or threatens to perform an act of violence, etc., that is, in many jurisdictions, a "terroristic threat", and has been classified as such for a long, long time.

Re:"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (1)

notque (636838) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005839)

I read your post. I have done research on the topic. It didn't change a single bit of what I was trying to say.

I was elaborating on what would be a silly concept of if it was actually literal to our current meaning of terrorism.

It's called humor.

Re:"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005349)

Wow. Grammar Nazis are now getting modded up to 4 Informative.

Re:"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (0, Redundant)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005537)

Uh, it doesn't have anything to do with grammar. "Terroristic threat" is a very old and specific legal concept, and when someone is suspected of issuing a "terroristic threat", it doesn't mean someone thinks they're a "terrorist" or planning anything related with "terrorism", as we talk about those in the modern vernacular. They are unrelated concepts. It's actually unfortunate that "terroristic threat" was codified in many jurisdictions with those words in particular, because whenever anyone is suspected of committing such a threat, it always gets misinterpreted as someone thinking it is "terrorism", which no one does (except the people who blog about it).

And yes, these obviously all root from the same words, but when we say "terroristic threat", those are the exact words that define a behavior where someone is, or is suspected of, threatening another person with violence, calling in a bomb threat, etc. It is NOT what we think of as "terrorism" (e.g., a suicide bombing, 9/11, etc.), and no one thinks it is.

Re:"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (1)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005609)

It is NOT what we think of as "terrorism" (e.g., a suicide bombing, 9/11, etc.), and no one thinks it is.

Technically, the posts you're replying to prove you wrong on this point. Not to be pedantic or anything.

Re:"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (0, Redundant)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005695)

Sorry, I should have said "no one in government or the state" thinks it's "terrorism". The only people who think anyone believes this to be "terrorism" are bloggers who don't understand that "terroristic threat" and "terrorism" or a "terrorist threat" are legally not the same thing. And, at this point, no one thinks it's anything at all, since the police investigated it (correctly following up on a complaint of a threat), and found there to be no threat.

So yeah, when I said "no one thinks it is", I meant "no one who actually has the power to charge him with a crime", not bloggers who want to ride it as another example of how the "post 9/11 war on terror world" has gone so horribly wrong, when it's utterly unrelated.

Re:"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005547)

'By the way: anyone who thinks Virginia Tech could have "prevented" this shooting somehow, this is exactly what you get.'

That's ridiculous. And I'm even pro-2nd amendment.

The comic writer didn't threaten anyone. The impetus for the investigation was an overheard conversation about a gun purchase. Neither is cause for an investigation of this level and a firing.

Compare that to the VA Tech horror--if you remove entirely Cho's writings (which is not a good level of judgment anyways), he should have been stopped during the purchase of his one gun at a gunshop, as he lied about being mentally incerated and such info is in the state's own judicial system which could have been cross-checked with answers when purchasing that gun. In fact, this past week, I believe the legislature of VA removed that roadblock; the law was fine, the implementation sucked.

Second, imnsho, and this isn't popular, I think the police HUGELY dropped the ball in the VA Tech situation (and by that opinion, the University is far less contributory through indifference in the 2nd shooting site deaths). If a police officer had been shot in the foot, they would have gone after that guy wholeheartedly, just as they did earlier in the year with a person who allegedly shot a deputy upon escape. The police dropped the ball--even they admit they were investigating another person who they "knew" had killed the first 2...oops, except he didn't. See, if a couple of kids get shot, you're not part of the FOP, it's thrown into a "domestic dispute" craphole where they go after the nearest; investigation is separate from correctly ascertaining threat, which comes full circle in demonstrating why the handling of web comic thing is so incorrect.

btw, I've never understood the whole firing thing in any case--besides clearly not a threat, you want to make the person even more out of their luck and prone to do something? Amazing how the US becomes more and more like China these days (China is far worse, but the approximations seen over the past 6 years in stories makes that gap narrower).

Re:"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005571)

His employer might not have broken any employment rules, but the people is his office and the people who let him go are acting like a bunch of jackasses. I mean, do these people still cry when they spill some milk?

Re:"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (3, Funny)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005601)

Also, he is a contract employee who can be released at any time for any reason, even moreso than a normal at-will employee who also can be released at any time for any reason.

Ah yes, he was a contract employee, well it's all good then.

Re:"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005707)

Yeah, it is.

As a contractor, he can be released with even less cause (read: basically any cause, or no cause at all) than any other kind of employee, some of which themselves can be released with nearly no cause.

So yeah, it's "all good".

. . .

Re:"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (2, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005803)

The term "terroristic threat" has been around a long time, and has nothing to do with "terrorism" or a "terrorist threat", as it is used in the vernacular.

To my knowladge, "terroristic" isn't even a real word, except in the sense that even engrish words that come into common usage do get promoted to the OED or somesuch publication.

Basically, people who use the word "terroristic" sound like an eight year old exclaiming "meanienater" when they're told to go to bed. So I kind of doubt that the term has been around all that long. Under that name at least.

I could be wrong. American is a very strange dialect.

Re:"Terroristic threat" != "terrorist threat" (1)

cortana (588495) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005877)

And there was me thinking that "terroristic" was just a word mistakenly used by the illiterate.

yro? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005081)

The office coffe room is now online?

Be careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005099)

what you say in this thread about terroristic threats.

You might get in trouble for making terroristicish threats or something.

Sing along ... you know you want to! (4, Funny)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005121)

Matt Boyd Matt Boyd
Watcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do
when they come for you
Matt Boyd, Matt Boyd
Watcha gonna do, watcha gonna do
when they come for you

Re:Sing along ... you know you want to! (2, Funny)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005221)

Watcha gonna do, watcha gonna do
when they come for you


Well, he's going to make a comic about it... duh.

Re:Sing along ... you know you want to! (4, Insightful)

notque (636838) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005273)

First they came for the web comic artists, and I did not speak out.

Re:Sing along ... you know you want to! (1)

SuluSulu (1039126) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005557)

First they came for the web comic artists, and I did not speak out.

You just did.

chilling effects? (2, Interesting)

scrain (43626) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005123)

Regardless, the comic was at worst a vague veiled show of frustration against the establishment, not a threat to man or corporation.

As someone who is part of the organization of another major webcomic, things like this are frightening. I like to keep my jobs, personally.

Oi (1)

Shabadage (1037824) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005129)

Stupidity of this level makes my head hurt. I understand that he could be released at any time for any reason as a contractor; but they chose THIS TIME AND THIS REASON; which is complete bullshit. It sucks that he has no legal recourse; but outright stupidity like this really needs to be brought to light (as a lawsuit would no doubt do) to the rest of the world.

Re:Oi (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005583)

Actually, I'm not sure he could have been released at any time for any reason. There are still some grounds that could give him cause for retribution. Imagine if he was let go because the new department head didn't like black people and he has a relative that is black. Imagine he was let go associating with a Democrat (or republican) presidential candidate.

There are such things as free speech, right to keep arms, and several other things. Now, This was a government job and with a crafty lawyer, it might be possible, that not only does something not sit well with his civil liberties but the continued harassment because of the notification to the law enforcement agencies and how the situation could have been presented to them, he might have some grounds for a case. Of course far more details are needed and a qualified lawyer in that area would need to determine if it is worth pursuing, but i don't think a summery dismissal of the situation because he signed some agreement is appropriate. He should have legal council simply because the cops are talking to him about possible violations, He should also be looking at how legal everything is that is happening to him (including being let go).

I'm not normally one to run and sue everyone. But neglecting to use the legal system when it is coming after you isn't very wise. I think something needs to be set straight about it, and something needs to be done so the next angry look you have because the printer jammed again or someone took the last cup of coffee without making another batch or refilling the water bottle at the cooler doesn't get you fired when a co worker who doesn't like you anyways says they got scared. This is complete bullshit and something needs to be done about it.

Re:Oi (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005829)

There are still some grounds that could give him cause for retribution. Imagine if he was let go because the new department head didn't like black people and he has a relative that is black.
Race is specifically listed as a protected class for which you cannot fire someone. Talking about buying a gun and shooting people is not, regardless of it being a joke.

What is this country coming to? (1, Troll)

kjzk (1097265) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005151)

The person who reported him deserves to be shot anyways. /end terroristic threat

So what get over it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005159)

Nerds shouldn't talk about guns in public. Ever since Cho's rampage in VTECH, many people are concerned about nerds packing heat. Right now I am training the local police to squash the armed nerd rebellion with the most severe wedgies that will cause severe anal bleeding.

In before all the Bush whining about "terrorism". I'd vote for Bush if he ran for President next election if it was possible or he amended the law to allow it, which would be an excellent idea.

Re:So what get over it (1)

zrobotics (760688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005691)

I don't want to feed such obvious flamebait by responding in kind.

It just makes me sad that there are people so lacking in any form of self-respect or dignity that they have to resort to trolling. This lonely person, conveniently hiding behind his mask of anonymity, has chosen to make remarks that he/she (most likely a he) knows will either disgust or anger nearly anyone who reads them. He isn't even expecting a response. It's enough for him to imagine the reactions of the people who read his comment and are momentarily offended. Once one stops to think about the tragedy of this desperate cry for attention, it's difficult to dismiss him as unimportant. The fact that, even in a place where it's always possible to make a new account and erase any past mistakes, the only way anyone will pay attention to him is if he is so blatantly offensive that anyone reading his comment is offended. Either that, or his sense of humor is so mal-adjusted that he would be amused if his own parents were brutally murdered. Tragic in either case.

Ah yes... (0, Troll)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005169)

... the Land of the "Free".

Re:Ah yes... (1, Flamebait)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005219)

1. The government didn't do anything to him.

2. He was released from a contract position that he can be released from at any time for talking about how many times you'd have to shoot someone in the face with a .22 to kill them, probably within earshot of someone who doesn't know him personally, on the day of the nation's worst mass shooting no less.

3. The police followed up after receiving a complaint when he recounted his firing in his comic implying that he now would have a reason to "go postal" (even if it was 100% a joke), which is their job, and determined that there was no threat, which he himself says in the interview.

4. Get a life.

Re:Ah yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005457)

4. Get a life.

Says the man who regularly trolls Slashdot by first-posting controversial positions.

Re:Ah yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005699)

Do not mark this comment as a troll..., I was thinking the same thing.

Paranoia is hitting your country and self-censorship ruines all your freedom which you had left.
 

On a scale from one to ten (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005177)

"Fleen: Okay, on a scale of one to ten, are you more a) pissed; b) surprised; c) depressed by this turn of events?

Boyd: Gonna have to go with b) surprised."


I'll go with d) confused...err... 4) confus... 10) conf.. I dunno

If you think about this (3, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005193)

It gets kind of ridiculous.

If the VT shootings hadn't happened, this whole episode wouldn't have happened.

If nobody read his comics, this whole episode wouldn't have happened.

There are many reasons that this episode shouldn't have happened, but people are afraid and over-react to 'err on the side of caution'. For many, better safe than sorry is the catchphrase of the week. They don't stop to think, or try to figure out what might be the level headed way to handle things.... like ask why they are talking about guns at work!

Now, why is it that the US in particular is so fearful? That is the better question, not 'is this guy going to shoot people?' For fscks sake, my retired mother has a 9mm which she uses at the gun range. I don't think that anyone will fear that she is a terrorist. Why should people think anyone that talks about guns is going to go on a killing rampage. If they were going to go kill people, the probably wouldn't be talking openly about guns!! There are millions of guns in the US and save for a few whackjobs, they generally are doing no harm to anyone. (street/drug/mafia crimes not counted) The point is that not everyone with a gun is a murderer. Not everyone from the middle east is a suicide bomber in training.

Yes, please: think about this (2, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005297)

"Terroristic threat" != "terrorism" or "terrorist threat" [slashdot.org]

It's not the "US" that's fearful. Someone overheard him talking about how many times you'd need to shoot someone in the face to kill them with a .22. Someone who probably doesn't know him personally at all (or at least well) overheard this and reported it. On the day of the biggest mass shooting in the US to boot (which was admittedly why he was even talking about it in the first place).

Then he got released from a position that he can, as a contractor, be released from at any time, for any reason.

Then he humorously recounted his "firing" the next day in his comic, which someone felt threatened by, and which they reported to the police. It is, in turn, the police's job to follow up on such a complaint, which they did, and after which he himself said the detectives determined that he wasn't actually a threat, and viewed samples of his work.

And yeah, there were a bunch of things that coalesced to make this happen, but all that means is that actions have consequences, and no matter how unfair you might think they are sometimes, it doesn't make it any less true. The government didn't do anything to him, he is not charged with any crime, and no one "censored" him (as is especially evidenced by the fact that the comics are exactly where they've always been: still up on the web).

Come back down to reality, here. Whenever there's a school or workplace shooting, everyone always rants about the "warning signs" and "why didn't anyone call the police when they guy was talking about shooting people in the face on the phone the other day?" (and NO, no one will necessarily know that he's joking, especially if they don't know him personally - that's stupid to talk about in a setting like work at all, much less one where you don't know everyone around you personally).

What difference does that make? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005593)

Then he got released from a position that he can, as a contractor, be released from at any time, for any reason.

Um, yes, it's easier to fire a contractor. What the hell difference does that make?

Whenever there's a school or workplace shooting, everyone always rants about the "warning signs" and "why didn't anyone call the police when they guy was talking about shooting people in the face on the phone the other day?"

Yes, buddy, that is EXACTLY the problem. People ask why completely impractical solutions like firing everyone who has a bad day and vents about it don't happen all the time, instead of when people are being stupid about an unpredictable incident.

Re:Yes, please: think about this (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005755)

It is, in turn, the police's job to follow up on such a complaint, which they did, and after which he himself said the detectives determined that he wasn't actually a threat, and viewed samples of his work.
Uhhh, since when? Back before 9/11, such a 'complaint' would be met by the police with contempt.

"Has he committed any crime that you are aware of?"

"No? Then I'm sorry, the police can't get involved."

"Well, I'm sorry you're afraid, but he has a right to talk about whatever he wants."

Now that half the population consists of cry babies and worry warts, the police are being called in for every little thing that might be an indicator of some crime. Kinda makes you wonder how they are managing to police all the actual crime. Oh yeah, that's right, massive budget increases and unconstitutional powers.

Re:Yes, please: think about this (1)

Guuge (719028) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005785)

There might not be anything he can do about getting released and investigated, but that doesn't justify either event. People in his position have a right to be upset about frivolous firings, and citizens have a right to complain about police resources being wasted on obviously false leads.

Re:If you think about this (3, Insightful)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005369)

There are many reasons that this episode shouldn't have happened, but people are afraid and over-react to 'err on the side of caution'. For many, better safe than sorry is the catchphrase of the week. They don't stop to think, or try to figure out what might be the level headed way to handle things

If everyone isn't terrified, you can't justify a war on terror.

Re:If you think about this (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005411)

If nobody read his comics, this whole episode wouldn't have happened.

He would've still gotten the sack for no reason.

Re:If you think about this (4, Interesting)

basic0 (182925) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005467)

Why should people think anyone that talks about guns is going to go on a killing rampage. If they were going to go kill people, the probably wouldn't be talking openly about guns!!

Good point. You ever notice that the real nutjobs out there that walk into some public area and spray bullets all over the place are always described as "quiet" and "shy" and "oh my, he never talked about guns" and "gee, it's so surprising because he was a really nice boy" etc etc..

I can't remember one time when they talked to people who knew one of these mass murderers after the fact and they've said anything remotely like "well, he did talk about guns a lot" and "he went to the shooting range every week".

I mean seriously, if you were planning to commit such a terrible crime, or any crime for that matter, would you let any details out before you did it? Why would you risk getting busted before the fact? Don't they teach "think like a criminal" to law enforcement anymore?

Actually, I don't suppose they could...then they'd have to march every new graduate right off the dais and into a paddywagon for "criminal thoughts".

One word : S U E (5, Funny)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005263)

Additional words : t h e H E L L o u t t a t h e m

What the heck... (3, Insightful)

EvilGoodGuy (811015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005275)

I'm really starting to get worried about our government, and the common American. All of this terrorist crap is turning into one big witch hunt. I don't like my neighboor, maybe I should report him and have the men with the black bags take him awawy...

Re:What the heck... (2, Insightful)

1000StonedMonkeys (593519) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005521)

So let's see...

1. Guy makes webcomic talking about going postal
2. Someone gets spooked, calls the Feds
3. Feds investigate, find nothing, no charges are filed

Yeah, we're turning into a real fscking police state here.

RTFA (1)

EvilGoodGuy (811015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005561)

Maybe you didn't read the article, but he got fired from his job for talking about a gun.

Re:RTFA (1)

1000StonedMonkeys (593519) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005697)

I read TFA, I also read your comment, where you seem to equate being fired from your job (as a contractor) for saying something that upsets your coworkers to being taken away in black bags.

I think any manager that resolves a situation like this by firing someone is probably only qualified for government work, but losing one's job and losing one's liberty are two entirely separate things. The government investigation concerning his liberty seemed to be handled responsibly and come to the correct conclusion which was to file no charges.

Re:What the heck... (1)

ebonum (830686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005689)

True indeed. In one way this is a great opportunity. One not since Chairman Mao was leading the cultural revolution have we seen this. Use something small to paint someone you don't like as a terrorist and they will be investigated, publicly humiliated, lose their job. It's great! To quote Steve Martin "Oh, common sense, we don't get that here" -Roxanne

Real terrorists (3, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005323)

Will the real terrorists please stand up? Yes, you, the one who intentionally works to incite fear in people. And you too.

Just one more step to global domination (1)

Cheezymadman (1083175) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005343)

I, for one, welcome our overbearing, gun-fearing, far-right, Heston-hating overlords.

sweet graphics (1)

kharchenko (303729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005357)

Current situation aside, I am jealous of how precise and effortless his graphics looks. Guy definitely has talent.

Re:sweet graphics (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005607)

He don't be the fella that do the drawing.

Re:sweet graphics (2, Informative)

tacroy (813477) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005847)

Matt doesn't draw them, Ian Mconville draws them. www.machall.com

So...? (0, Troll)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005365)

Someone hasn't even been arrested. They've not been fired. Someone heard them talking about buying a gun and told the police, who investigated it. I don't see the story here. What would have happened if nothing had been done and he'd gone all shooty? Better safe than sorry, right?

Re:Better Safe Than Sorry? (1)

JrOldPhart (1063610) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005459)

The only way to cure random violence is lots of neutron bombs.

RTFS (1)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005533)

Someone hasn't even been arrested. They've not been fired.

Um.

Read the fucking article.

Hell, read the fucking summary.

Re:So...? (5, Insightful)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005719)

His "interview" with the detectives will now show up on every background check, which are common with job applications, whether disclosed or not, so his ability to earn a living has been compromised. He will also end up flagged for airline travel, be abused and humiliated by TSA every time he flies, so his freedom to travel has been compromised. It is possible that his passport, if any, could be revoked or refused renewal, as well. The grounds for that are not disclosed, so it's hard to tell. Apartment rental agreements also often include background checks, so he may not be able to live where he chooses. This man will be "punished" for the rest of his life, regardless of whether he is ever arrested, or not. Even if he is arrested and is judged "not guilty", the record of his arrest is not expunged, nor is his cost of defense reimbursed, so he is still punished. Meanwhile, the persons who set this upon him walk unimpeded. If there were any justice, they would rot in hell for violating the Commandment against false witness.

"Better safe than sorry" is an expression of cowardice. Life is a series of risks beginning with the genetic selection at conception. Given the odds that some child conceived, somewhere, will have a genetic defect (not to mention prenatal difficulties, post-natal trauma, disease, ...), should we all stop having them? Get over it.

Re:So...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005727)

He lost his job and he's still under investigation, so no not better safe than sorry. Sorry was losing his contract job over someone's insecurity.

First and Second Amendment (2, Interesting)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005381)

...fired from his government job [CC]. His conversation with a co-worker about a gun he intended to buy for target shooting was overheard by someone in a nearby cubicle.

I'd be interested to hear the NRA's response to this.

Nothing new (3, Insightful)

bm_luethke (253362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005391)

This type of thing has been going on since at least the Oklahoma City bombing and I assume it wasn't new even then.

Back then I had given a friend that is interested in making primitive weapons a printout on how to make his own black powder. This was a day or two before the Oklahoma City bombing, he had another friend at work (on of the national labs) that did the same thing and brought it in to him - this was the day after the bombing. A co-worker saw it laying on his desk and decided he was getting ready to blow everything up, called the FBI, and started about a two month long investigation. Obviously it led nowhere.

A few years later someone in our college set off an "incendiary device" (the detectives later told me it was acid and aluminum foil in a plastic jug) and I was, once more, investigated for all sorts of nice things. Again, nothing came of it as there was nothing there. I do not recall now what they accused me of, I assume it would now be "terrorist" but back then there was some other hot-button label for it.

And you might as well have been whatever the most despicable thing you can think of if you were in a gun club during the mid-90's and the great crusade against "militias" (not to mention almost every single incident was somehow their fault). There was almost no one anywhere defending you then - you were an evil gun-toting maniac. It was MUCH more endemic than the current "terrorist" thing - and at least there *are* terrorist out there that want to do us harm even though we are over reacting.

After any event there are people that fly into a panic of stupid things, call someone, and it gets all blown out of proportion. Most law enforcement thinks it stupid and - like the Duke non-rape case - you will sometimes get a political position decide it is time to show the people they are "doing something" and you get to be the one screwed. If you are unlucky you get Nifong as the prosecutor, this is the local prosecutor being an ass.

Guilty until proven innocent (1, Offtopic)

jonfr (888673) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005403)

In the Police state of the U.S.A everyone is guilty until proven innocent. Not the other way around.

Re:Guilty until proven innocent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005647)

Correction: everyone but the Bush administration and their corporate puppeteers.

Re:Guilty until proven innocent (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005873)

In the Police state of the U.S.A everyone is guilty until proven innocent. Not the other way around.
I won't argue the general point, but it doesn't apply to this situation. "Innocent until proven guilty" applies to criminal charges, not employment. There were no criminal charges filed.

poor choice of topic in workplace conversation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005405)

In the first strip he talks about how hard it is to kill someone with a .22. A .22 is used in the Virginia Tech massacre.

I absolutely hate it when people talk over cubicle walls, as depicted in the strip.

If his name is associated with this strip, he's gonna have a hard time with future employment if anyone bothers to do a background check (google search) and finds out about this debacle.

Re:poor choice of topic in workplace conversation (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005519)

If his name is associated with this strip, he's gonna have a hard time with future employment if anyone bothers to do a background check (google search) and finds out about this debacle.

No. All he has to do is move away from the Fascist States of America. He's welcome over here in Europe. We're just that much smarter.

Re:poor choice of topic in workplace conversation (1)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005715)

Provided any country will let him in after this. Which is doubtful.

Re:poor choice of topic in workplace conversation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005761)

Uh. No. Seriously. If you believe that you really need to move as well. Other countries couldn't care less - he's free to bring the comic to his employment interview if he wants to.

You live in a fascist country, where you're kept in a controlled state of fear. Wake up.

Just an excuse for office politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005409)

If he's got any balls he's going to own that company and the dumbass civil servant govvies who got him fired.

And the visit from law enforcement is what he gets for living in the People's Republic of Maryland.

In other news... (1)

commisaro (1007549) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005433)

...27 people were brutally killed today in a [i]barrage of caustic wit and irony[/i]. Prime suspects are satirists Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.

Its simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005469)

America, on the whole, has completely fucking lost it.

that is all.

I got it figured out.... (5, Funny)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005527)

everyone is a terroristic threat, except those who aren't.

Oh I feel so much safer now....

Amendments don't enter into it. (1)

Rhesusmonkey (1028378) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005539)

Regardless of how silly I think the reaction was, the right to free speech and right to bear arms don't apply when you're employed on someone else's time. You can polish guns, talk about anything you want, and generally be free when you aren't being payed by someone else to sit in thier little box under thier little rules. Would this be news if he'd been discussing mysoginistic or sexist plans and was relieved of his position? Of course not, thier box, thier rules. As if anyone under the thumb of corporate America has any delusions of freedom anyway, jeez.

Re:Amendments don't enter into it. (1)

fmobus (831767) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005673)

Yeah, but the corporation we are talking about is the government itself. Funny, eh?

Re:Amendments don't enter into it. (1)

ebonum (830686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005793)

Sorry, but I bet if you read his employment agreement, it says, "Sexist talk = you get fired." I sincerely doubt it say anything about talking about buying a pistol. This is an item that can legally be bought in the US. Just like an HDDVD. He certainly didn't threaten anyone. Now if your rule is: "You may not discuss _anything_ not related to work on company time" Then fine. Fire they guy who talks about buying a HDDVD and this guy under the same rule.

Ridiculous... (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005595)

Surely he has a case for unfair dismissal...
If guns are legal to own, then they have absoloutely no right to fire him for buying, or intending to buy one.

Thanks, left. (-1, Flamebait)

The AtomicPunk (450829) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005613)

Yet another firing brought to you by the open-minded, tolerant, freedom-loving left.

Re:Thanks, left. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005661)

Ugh. Hand it to some strident lunatic to turn this into left/right issue.

Re:Thanks, left. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005805)

It's that right that has the record for firing people for differences of political opinion, or for having the wrong name. It's the 'Right' that created 'Homeland Security', the 'Patriot Act' and in general encourages this paranoid state of mind with in the US because it allows for better manipulation of the populace. The people who reported him as a terrorist, used methods put in place by the Right.

Re:Thanks, left. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005851)

"The people who reported him as a terrorist, used methods put in place by the Right."

He knows this. He is just making a preemptive strike on the left to deflect criticism of his beloved right.

jeez (2, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005651)

...and here we are back in the McCarthy era again.
Has anyone called him a communist yet?

Re:jeez (1)

thomasa (17495) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005833)

Got it backwards. It was the
communists that got him fired.

after columbine (4, Interesting)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005657)

immediately after columbine, back when I was in middle school (I guess that was quite a while ago) I remember a lot of kids getting expelled because for no particular reason other than that they were problem kids, had ADD, were loners, acted out a little, etc. If they made the administration nervous, they'd chuck them out the door. School and government bureaucrats tend to fear people who stick out more than anyone else.

In context it's kind of hilarious because our school had a problem with gang violence (it was the suburbs and middle school, so this wasn't exactly the stuff you see in the movies, but it was pretty bad), that the administration more or less ignored.

It's the world we live in today (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005687)

I've found it better to be quiet and not say much at any job I have today. If I have a private life, I keep it at that. It's too bad, because it would be nice to got to work as myself and feel I fit it in. Instead, I put on the face of yet another zombie trudging through my daily tasks. Don't dare mention anything that may be construed as sexual harassment, bias against any race or minority, or implying anything even remotely related to violence. The power is in the hands of the people who play the "victim" card, and I only count the days until something better can come along. Things can't always be this bad........

I'm Going To Write A Comic (2, Insightful)

Skeetskeetskeet (906997) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005709)

Where I drop a 20-ton safe on Paris Hilton.

Is that a terroristic threat? Or a mercy killing?

I wonder (1)

saikou (211301) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005743)

Will NRA provide any help to him? A lawyer, perhaps? A big compensation and all?
After all, if people will get fired left and right because they were talking about weapons, that'd pretty much kill NRA, no?

I guess (2, Interesting)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005775)

he [threepanelsoul.com] had [threepanelsoul.com] it [threepanelsoul.com] coming.

Hoplophobes (3, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005815)

In many government agencies, a large percentage of the new people in upper management are hoplophobes. They've never served in the military or lived in an area where gun ownership is common and accepted. They've probably never touched a firearm in their whole life. This causes problems when they are asked to make rational decisions about personnel or firearms policy and their kneejerk reaction is that "guns are evil" and "all gun owners are potential mass murderers". Instead of thinking, they let their fear dictate their actions.

that's funny (0, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19005867)

i always thought the problem were hoplophiles

shrug

to each prejudice it's own lexicon of reinforcement i guess

Just like China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19005841)

Reminds me of China's Cultural Revolution, when everybody informed on everybody else.
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