Friday, August 24, 2012

Brandon Raub: Freedom of Speech Issue or Public Safety Issue?

Brandon Raub, 26, is a decorated Marine, who served two tours of duty as a combat engineer in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a former straight-A student, and has been awarded medals for his military service. He was questioned several days ago by a group of law enforcement officers and agents including Chesterfield County, Virginia  police, FBI and Secret Service agents. Ultimately, he was taken away in handcuffs at the recommendation of a mental health professional for a more lengthy mental health evaluation. To be clear, he was handcuffed because he resisted being taken away for the longer pysch eval, which is perfectly legal under Virginia State law. There are no criminal charges pending for him.

At a hearing Monday at the end of the three day evaluation to decide if Raub should be held for a longer, more thorough evaluation, it was determined that he should remain an additional thirty days. As of yesterday, August 23rd, 2012 - a circuit court judge over-ruled the decision to hold Raub longer and ordered his release. The substantive reason the judge ordered his release is laid out in an excerpt from the decision:

"The government's power to involuntarily admit an individual for evaluation of a mental illness is a creation of statute. Because an order providing for such admission deprives a citizen of his liberty, to protect citizens from an overreaching government the Virginia legislature has created a specific, detailed procedure, set forth in Virginia Code  § 37.2-800, that must be followed before an individual can be involuntarily admitted. In the present case, that procedure was not followed. As such, the District Court's August 20, 2012 order is void."

The Government appears to have acted within its rights initially, but then failed to follow proper procedural requirements that the circuit court judge then corrected. Put another way, the government then corrected...

Brandon Raub feels quite strongly that the United States Government and our elected officials, including President George Bush are basically enemies of the State. He believes that our Government was behind the 9/11 tragedy. He believes a revolution of sorts may be the only way for us to reclaim our rights and liberties. In the last few weeks, he has posted several comments on his facebook on his belief that our government has betrayed us. What sort of comments? Here are a few...

July 28, 2012If you are my friend, you deserve to know the truth. This world is secretly run by a shadow organization of people who among other things enjoy raping children. Some of leaders were involved with the bombing of the twin towers. It was a sacrifice and a complete inside job. Also the Bush's are very sick twisted problems. I believe they have a secret Castle in Colorado where they have been raping and sacrificing children for many years. Think I'm crazy? Think again.

August 5, 2012
If you are unaware of the great amount of evil perpetrated by the American Government I suggest you take your head out of the sand. The day of reckoning is almost at hand.

August 9, 2012
This is the part where I tell the Federal Government to go f*** itself. This is the part where I tell Generals, training our young men to fight Americans, I am coming for you. The Veterans will be with me.

August 10, 2012
Im starting the revolution. Im done waiting.

August 12, 2012
Do you know why the American people will win the civil war that is coming? Because we are Americans.

August 13, 2012
Sharpen up my axe; Im here to sever heads.

Here is a longer from post dated November 11, 2011, titled "The Truth."...

Most of us have seen posts on facebook like this before from conspiracy theorists. Generally, these people have shaky credibility at best as most conspiracies have been debunked long ago. Rarely are these people taken away on an involuntary psychiatric evaluation hold. What was different about Raub? Many, many websites are posting stories that suggest that government/President Obama is suppressing free speech and Raub's detention is proof that if your cross the government, you run the risk of being apprehended, detained and possibly eliminated from society. Most of us have read George Orwell's 1984 and the notion of "big brother" isn't a concept most people walk around in fear of on a daily basis. Does the government over-reach sometimes? Sure. Does the government sometimes screw its own citizens into the ground? You bet. Does the average American wish the government would back off in some cases? Of course. Those things may be realities, but scores of missing dissidents isn't. You can wring your hands about government at times but I've yet to hear a compelling case that its actually committing overt acts of treason against its citizens. We're not Iraq, Libya or Syria. While it may serve a political purpose to strike fear into the populace, its not a reality of life in the United States. It just isn't.

Is this really a freedom of speech issue or it it a public safety issue? We all appreciate our right to freedom of speech. On any given day, there are hundreds if not thousands of anti-government comments made or posted to social websites like facebook, message boards and the media, of course. Give a listen to Sean Hannity, Glen Beck or Mike Malloy and you'll hear what I mean. Some of these programs, and others often advertise emergency food supply storage for when the shit hits the fan and our government possibly attacks us. For all the anti-government rhetoric and over the top crazy talk aimed at both George Bush and Barack Obama, you rarely hear any story about a well known critic of either man being dragged away or assassinated like in other countries. Full stop. You never hear that kind of story, do you? You know why? Because it doesn't happen here...

Mr. Raub has a Constitutional right to post oddball thoughts on his facebook page. Absolutely. But, when your writings get reported by readers to the authorities and when professionals review them, and your words stand out among the crazy crowd, guess what? You're now a problem. You've morphed from some guy who just thinks he has something to say into a public safety concern. Depending on who or what you're writing about, you're likely to get a visit from a law enforcement agency. Maybe its just a local sheriff who sees you say you're going to kill so & so the next time they show up at a certain watering hole. Maybe its a state level official who's been alerted to your blog about someone oughta put a target on the Governor's head. You've hit the jackpot if you wind up getting local police, the FBI and the Secret Service all knocking on your door. Congrats. You better have all the right answers to their questions. Just ask Ted Nugent. Mr. Raub apparently didn't do so well with his answers. Given this Country's growing intolerance of public shootings whether they be directed at Congressmen at shopping centers like in the Gabby Giffords case or in the Batman premier in Aurora, CO just a few months ago, most Americans have had it up to here with people going crazy and killing our neighbors. If Raub isn't crazy and just playing "cute" with the law enforcement types, then its what you get. Mind you, it appears that if the local authorities had filed their paperwork sooner, he may very well still be under observation. Being evaluated by mental health professionals, which is fine by me. Obviously, if he is mentally disturbed, then isn't that exactly where society wants a guy like that?

It isn't free speech once it raises the ire of ordinary citizens and then fails to convince authorities you're not a threat to anyone. Its a public safety issue and most people realize that. Something Brandon Raub wrote or said got him special attention. Upon further review, we can conclude, he turned out to be considered more of a threat than Ted Nugent did. Now that he's a free man, maybe he'll enjoy the limelight that I'm confident is about to shine upon him. Maybe he'll start a movement or be embraced by the Tea Party. Perhaps Governor Romney will introduce him to the nation during the upcoming Republican Convention in Florida next week. (I doubt it.) His comments are far more damning of President Bush (who he accuses of raping and sacrificing children in secret castles in Colorado) than current president Obama. Unless you've somehow concocted a theory that as a favor to former President Bush, President Obama is leaning on this guy, there's no plausible explanation that makes sense.

So, why is the far right so worked up about this? Well, its pretty good scary-talk, I must admit and good scary-talk almost always work to fire up the fringes. Death panels, Bush pulled off 9/11, Muslims overthrowing our government from within, Shariah Law, etc. The fringes love this sort of thing. It sustains them. Far better to explain the complex world we live in with a wild, crazy impossible to believe fairy tale than do the hard, frustrating, time consuming work of understanding the nuance of our country. Its similar to the abuse President's receive while in office. Rather than read and learn about various policies, some prefer to rush to judgement and connect dots that could never, ever be connected.

We welcome free speech, which by definition includes divergent opinions. Its not about eliminating dissent. Not at all. (When Sean Hannity, Glen Beck and Alex Jones dissapear, then I'll listen.) Toned down, and a more Ted Nugent like response from Mr. Raub and he probably never would've been escorted to the mental health facility.


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