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2006 March 04 — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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Who Is Guilty?

As Atrios and others have noted, Bill O’Reilly went ballistic when a caller to his Westwood One radio program mentioned Keith Olbermann.

Mike from Orlando, Florida was told that Fox Security would take care of him, and Mike apparently received a call from a guy who identified himself as Fox Security and implied that Mike was in trouble.

As I former law enforcement type I thought I check to see what the law said.

Mike is in Florida, so he has to abide by the Florida Statutes:



784.048 Stalking; definitions; penalties.–

(1) As used in this section, the term:

(a) “Harass” means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose.

(b) “Course of conduct” means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of “course of conduct.” Such constitutionally protected activity includes picketing or other organized protests.

(c) “Credible threat” means a threat made with the intent to cause the person who is the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety. The threat must be against the life of, or a threat to cause bodily injury to, a person.

(d) “Cyberstalk” means to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.

(2) Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of stalking, a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

Mike made one call to a program that solicited calls, so there’s no way to establish this as a “pattern” or to argue it occurred “repeatedly”. The case for “substantial emotional distress” is based on a the test for a “reasonable man”. I don’t see it.

On the other hand, Mr. O’Reilly is in New York, and his decision to have a representative of Fox Security to call someone about something that occurred on Westwood is odd and not a great idea under New York Penal Law.

Chapter 40 Of The Consolidated Laws
Part Three–Specific Offenses
Title N–Offenses Against Public Order, Public Sensibilities And The Right To Privacy

Article 240–Offenses Against Public Order

Section 240.30 Aggravated harassment in the second degree.

A person is guilty of aggravated harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, he or she:

1. Either (a) communicates with a person, anonymously or otherwise by telephone, or by telegraph, mail or any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; or (b) causes a communication to be initiated by mechanical or electronic means or otherwise, with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, or by telegraph, mail or any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm.

Aggravated harassment in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.

I see a case for Mr. O’Reilly having the call made with the intent to “threaten” and “annoy” Mike. It’s only a year in jail and/or a $1000 fine, but if Mike wanted to go to New York and file charges the Penal Law says he has a case. I’d probably just file a complaint to the telephone company that Westwood One uses.

March 4, 2006   Comments Off on Who Is Guilty?

What Failed?

Since most people don’t understand the difference and the MSM doesn’t bother to explain I located a diagram of levee construction around New Orleans. If they aren’t high enough water might go over the top, but they don’t normally breech.

This is a picture of the structure that failed, a floodwall.

The pumping system in New Orleans could have handled the levees being overtopped, as it has in the past, but it had no chance when floodwalls broke.

The decision was made to construct canals between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi years ago and rather than using levees a decision was made to use floodwalls, which are inherently weaker structures even when properly constructed.

The quick and dirty solution would be to block the canals while new structures are being built, and before the next hurricane strikes, but that would affect shipping interests and businesses along the canals that have come back.

As it stands now, the people who return can only hope New Orleans doesn’t get hit again and store nothing of value on the first floor.

March 4, 2006   Comments Off on What Failed?


State representative David Sater of Cassville in southwestern Missouri, sponsored a resolution to make Christianity the official religion of the state to “protect” Christians from persecution.

Lab Kat, Bobby, and Michael were rightfully upset with an effort to establish a state religion in violation of the First Amendment.

I was getting ready to scream about this when Anne pointed me to The Mix.

I have stopped and thought about it. Given their history of building strawmen on the Christmas issue, I’m coming to believe this is probably a decoy designed to rile the base for the next election cycle.

As Americans United for Separation of Church and State points out, this is a resolution, not a law, and therefore has no force in law. That also means you can’t overturn it in court.

Let’s just chalk it up as another expression of bigotry by a group that lacks the courage to wear their Klan robes in the legislature. This has nothing to do with their religion and everything to do with their desire to get elected.

March 4, 2006   Comments Off on Decoy

No One Could Imagine

I agree with Mimus Pauly at skippy: this strip from This Modern World is absolutely dead on and prescient, since it was originally published on April 1st, 2003.

March 4, 2006   Comments Off on No One Could Imagine