Rhode Island Cops Vigilant In Face of Scourge of People Making Fun of State Representative Scott Guthrie

Irksome, Politics & Current Events

Murder was the case.

No, wait. Mockery was the case.

Somebody was mocking Rhode Island state Representative Scott J. Guthrie. And not even because of his 'stache! No, someone put up a clearly satirical Facebook page about Guthrie, mocking him and attacking his political positions.

Guthrie, as an adult, a responsible citizen, and a government official who cares about the public fisc, laughed it off and talked to reporters about how it demonstrated that his ideas are right.

No, wait. That's the bizarro-America response.

This is the real America — the America of butthurt, the America of snivelers, the America of "I'm entitled not to be offended," the mewling o-help-me-nanny-state America.

So Scott Guthrie went to the cops, and the cops conducted a full investigation — including subpoenas — before realizing that putting up a satirical Facebook page is not a crime, even in a world where we have broad and vague and unprincipled "cyber-harassment" laws.

How extensive was the investigation? Consider the police report yourself.

It turned out that the satirical page was created by Republican Sen. Nicholas Kettle. Guthrie is a Democrat. Kettle, naturally, faced no official consequences; the young communications director who helped him make the page was fired. The communications director used legislative resources, a computer, to create the page, you see. There was no consequence for Guthrie using substantial law enforcement resources to investigate being made fun of.

Kudos are due to law enforcement for resisting the demands of a state legislator:

But on advice of a lawyer in Attorney General Peter Kilmartin's office, they concluded the creation of this fake Facebook page did not constitute "cyber-harassment."

After reviewing the case, "I was informed that a majority of the posts were constitutionally protected activity," and the others "would not have caused substantial emotional distress which is another required element of the crime," the lead detective, Kevin Harris, wrote in a report obtained by The Journal on Tuesday.

After speaking to Assistant Attorney General Ronald Gendron, "it has been determined that there is insufficient evidence to go forward with charges at this time," Harris wrote.

It would have been nice if they had come to that obvious assessment earlier, after a smaller expenditure of taxpayer funds. In their defense, they do far better than most.

But Guthrie may not be done:

But the case may not be over. Kilmartin spokeswoman Amy Kempe said Gendron provided an "initial assessment," but the attorney general intends to review the case. Guthrie said he may now take his complaint to federal authorities.

Scott Guthrie, you petulant, pusillanimous prat, you're a disgrace. You're a disgrace to adulthood. You're a disgrace to American citizenship. You're a disgrace to public service. Stop spending the taxpayers' money as an unguent for your butthurt and react like a grown up with some grasp of American values. Retaliate with a page about Kettle. It should be easy. Dude looks like a spotty douchebro.

(Hat tip to Nicholas Cote.)

Last 5 posts by Ken White

46 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Dan  •  Feb 5, 2014 @11:40 am

    You got me all outraged at Guthrie, but left me giggling with "spotty douchebro." Pretty sure that constitutes cyber-bullying in the state of Rhode Island, Ken.

  2. En Passant  •  Feb 5, 2014 @11:48 am

    Pretty sure that constitutes cyber-bullying in the state of Rhode Island, Ken.

    Rumor has it that he is posting from Outer Mongolia, which has no extradition treaty.

  3. Bear  •  Feb 5, 2014 @11:53 am

    "…the America of "I'm entitled not to be offended,"…"

    FIFY.

    Still … all in all, I wish I could get my state legislators to pay that much attention to me. (I can't get a canned email form letter out of "my" reps. If I want something done, or need info, I have to talk to a Manchester rep.)

  4. Jack B.  •  Feb 5, 2014 @11:55 am

    I don't see why anyone would want to make fun of Rep. Guthrie; I thought he was great in The Big Lebowski.

  5. I was Anonymous  •  Feb 5, 2014 @11:55 am

    I wouldn't be one bit surprised to find that Guthrie is in the pocket of the Pony Lobby. Same for Kettle.

  6. Matt  •  Feb 5, 2014 @12:00 pm

    Sheesh, grow up, report the page to Facebook, be done with it.

  7. stakkalee  •  Feb 5, 2014 @12:17 pm

    Say what you will about his petty, wasteful use of state funds, but Guthrie has one fine moustache; I'm man enough to admit I'm a little jealous. Spotty Douchebro could take some lessons – he looks like a middle school class treasurer.

  8. Conrad  •  Feb 5, 2014 @12:20 pm

    If you look at the comments on the coventry patch article there are a few people miffed about the misuse of government resources and childish behavior.

    Namely using statehouse computers to post badly drawn cartoons.

  9. Shelby  •  Feb 5, 2014 @12:39 pm

    Why no outrage about the pathetic mockery of a poor man who had a ferret die on his face?

  10. C. S. P. Schofield  •  Feb 5, 2014 @12:41 pm

    " And not even because of his 'stache! "

    Migod! What the ^&*&%$ is that!?! It looks like a squirrel crawled onto his upper lip, and died there!

  11. mcinsand  •  Feb 5, 2014 @12:55 pm

    >>This is the real America — the America of butthurt,…

    A painful lesson learned: laughter-snorted tangerine through the nose does not feel good.

    However, articles like this make me think that we should enjoy Reddit while we can. A post isn't meaningful unless the OP is thoroughly insulted in the comments at least once. I feel more insulted when I'm not insulted. On second thought, who would the OP sue: the person that insulted or those that didn't?

  12. Anton Sherwood  •  Feb 5, 2014 @12:57 pm

    It's a short step from violence to sarcasm.

  13. Tizzy  •  Feb 5, 2014 @1:06 pm

    At least Spotty was smart enough to not talk to the cops without an attorney. From the police report it states that the cops called him, he said he'll call back in 15 minutes. 5 minutes later his attorney called the detective and told the cops, "Spotty is not going to talk to you."

  14. nhrpolitic13  •  Feb 5, 2014 @2:10 pm

    Of course, the real leade here was "Rhode Island Reports 2013 With No Homicides, No Violent Felonies; Assigns Authorities To Address 'Quality of Life' Issues". But as usual, Ken, you have buried the truly important in the usual sensationalist drivel that today's media adore.

    So nice to see that the single person taking the hit for this was the "young communications director" – sounds like the appropriately powerless person to take things out on.

  15. Cat G.  •  Feb 5, 2014 @2:13 pm

    How dare a senator impugn the honor of a representative! (State, in both cases.) It's almost like they have no idea of how to politely tell each other to snort their own taints.

    What has become of the world that our elected officials can't take the kind of things that will only be guaranteed if they ever get elected to higher office? OH DEAR GOD (FSM), never let them get into a higher office.
    It's almost as if Guthrie believes people should respect him for being a State Rep… nah, he can't be that stupid. Maybe the 'stache is leach of some kind sucking all the sense of perspective out of his head?

  16. ZarroTsu  •  Feb 5, 2014 @2:36 pm

    B-but if he doesn't have access to taxpayer's money, how will he fund his grande latte urge?

    You're just a big stupid poopie-head, Ken! A BIG STUPID POOPIE-HEAD!!

  17. ZarroTsu  •  Feb 5, 2014 @2:38 pm

    I'm also suddenly curious; has anyone ever gotten sued for defamation over literally calling someone a 'poopie-head'?

    I'm not sure what my reaction would be.

  18. Patrick Maupin  •  Feb 5, 2014 @3:21 pm

    @ZarroTsu:

    Figuratively speaking, any good lawyer should be able to literally make the case in under 2 minutes that literally mean figuratively.

  19. Anton Sherwood  •  Feb 5, 2014 @4:14 pm

    Carl Sagan sued Apple Computer for obliquely calling him a butthead, so I'd be surprised if no one has been sued for hurling such an epithet more directly. As the proverb says, you can always sue anyone for anything; not having the suit thrown out as frivolous is another matter.

  20. Ken White  •  Feb 5, 2014 @4:28 pm
  21. Wick Deer  •  Feb 5, 2014 @6:15 pm

    Maybe the response satire page would deal with marijuana legalization.

    That way, the pot would be calling the Kettle . . .

  22. That Anonymous Coward  •  Feb 5, 2014 @7:23 pm

    I'll give you misuse of the computer as a valid reason to let someone go, petty but we need to set an example.
    I think the better example is a bill for all of the time wasted looking into this freaking morons butthurt claims being delivered to him.
    While a REAL crime might have been happening they were busy chasing down someone who made him feel bad…
    Perhaps if we stopped letting these things slide or get spun in the media and stuck to it we could end this type of jackassery.
    You wasted time, money, effort, and possibly let other people face danger… how are you a good example of a leader?
    Pay for your stupid witch hunt and set the example of eating humble pie for overreacting and dragging everyone else with you.

  23. nidefatt  •  Feb 5, 2014 @7:49 pm

    I'd like to have the beginning of this post corrected from "the real America" to "the east coast" or better "New England."

  24. CheshireLion  •  Feb 5, 2014 @8:03 pm

    Am I the only one that thought that Kettle guy is kind of cute and mount worthy? He doesn't have that creepy senator smile down yet.

  25. The Invisible Man  •  Feb 5, 2014 @8:34 pm
  26. AlphaCentauri  •  Feb 5, 2014 @8:41 pm

    Migod! What the ^&*&%$ is that!?! It looks like a squirrel crawled onto his upper lip, and died there!

    Seeing a man with a moustache that droops that low is a portent of a severe winter. If only he had been brought to our attention sooner ….

  27. Red Tonic  •  Feb 5, 2014 @8:43 pm

    @nhrpolitic13

    After a long day of handling terribly literal minded Rhode Islanders at work, I couldn't tell if your comment was sarcastic or not. Then I started giggling like a maniac. Good work, sir.

  28. Fasolt  •  Feb 5, 2014 @9:17 pm

    Comedy gold from the link Ken posted on the Sagan v. Apple case:

    "Plaintiff's libel action is based on the allegation that Defendant changed the "code name" on its personal computer from "Carl Sagan" to "Butt-Head Astronomer" after Plaintiff had request that Defendant cease use of Plaintiff's name."

    How in the hell did that case even make it that far? Did Sagan actually browbeat those attorneys into filing that? Did they tell him he had a case? Maybe Apple should have called him Beavis Astronomer instead. Of course, that might have been libel as well.

  29. Sami  •  Feb 5, 2014 @10:01 pm

    That 'stache is the Merv Hughes taken that one step too far for dignity.

  30. MrSpkr  •  Feb 5, 2014 @10:50 pm

    I learn so much from Popehat. For example, tonight I learned that the GOP in Rhode Island has no spine and apparently recruits its candidates from local middle schools. I also learned that Civentry, RI police are only half-morons and can be made to see truth. I also learned today long time elected RI officials like to misuse taxpayer resources and the criminal justice system to go after opponents.

    Most importantly, however, I learned that RI State Representative Scott Guthrie is suffering from butthurt in the first degree. I also learned that he can be reached at 31 Maplewood Drive, Coventry, RI 02816. Accordingly, as an act of Christian charity, I intend to send him, via Federal Express, a tube of Boudreaux's Butt Paste to use as a balm in his afflicted area.

    I also learned that Rhode Island has 74 (!!!!) state representatives. That's like one for every city block in the state, right?

  31. nlp  •  Feb 5, 2014 @11:59 pm

    I also learned that Rhode Island has 74 (!!!!) state representatives. That's like one for every city block in the state, right?

    I think it's one per cow.

  32. Jon  •  Feb 6, 2014 @12:53 am

    But you missed the most mockable thing about Spotty D: He still lives with his parents (according to the Patch article).

  33. 205guy  •  Feb 6, 2014 @1:11 am
  34. Clownius  •  Feb 6, 2014 @7:32 am

    @Sami

    Lay off Merv Huges. There was a time and a place for a 'stash like that. It was the porn industry in the 80's. He could also play cricket so hes forgiven for landing in the wrong industry.

    Wearing such a thing today suggests someone needs help.

  35. Darryl  •  Feb 6, 2014 @9:16 am

    You gotta love how judges speak. From the Sagan opinion: "the only remaining assertion is the bare statement that Plaintiff is a "Butt-Head Astronomer." Clearly this phrase cannot rest on a core of objective evidence."

  36. KeithB  •  Feb 6, 2014 @10:29 am

    Here is a case in australia.

    A Catholic archbishop is a "strong advocate for freedom of speech" except when his ox is being gored:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2014/02/06/christians-muslims-unite-for-censorship/

  37. sinij  •  Feb 6, 2014 @11:17 am

    Sheesh, grow up, report the page to Facebook, be done with it.

    Substituting corporate profit-driven censorship for government ignorance/malice driven censorship is such a drastic improvement for free speech.

  38. proofreader  •  Feb 6, 2014 @1:06 pm

    Addendum to the Providence Journal story:

    "The facts are not identical, but there is precedent for prosecution.

    John A. Leidecker, an assistant executive director of the National Education Association, was found guilty in September 2011 by a District Court judge of one misdemeanor count of stalking then-Rep. Douglas W. Gablinske, D-Bristol, in 2010 over the Internet.

    Leidecker has appealed Judge Stephen M. Isherwood's ruling to the Superior Court.

    That case involved Leidecker's creation of a fictional e-mail constituent named Walter Flatus, who corresponded via email with a fake Representative Gablinski, with an "i" instead of an "e."

    It thus appears Mr. Leidecker was not fortunate enough to be a politician, only a union representative.

  39. ZarroTsu  •  Feb 6, 2014 @2:38 pm

    @Patrick Maupin

    Supposedly, or so I've heard, they changed the Webster-defined definition of 'literally' to ALSO mean 'figuratively'. You may face-palm, unless I'm mistaken.

    @The Invisible Man

    See, if he won, I'd have to throw my computer out the window. Fortunately for the pedestrians outside, that is not the case.

  40. Piper  •  Feb 6, 2014 @2:56 pm

    @sinij

    Sheesh, grow up, report the page to Facebook, be done with it.

    Substituting corporate profit-driven censorship for government ignorance/malice driven censorship is such a drastic improvement for free speech.

    Actually, it's against facebook's ToS to do this. From the ToS: "You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission."

    Violating the ToS and being reported for it is not censorship in any way shape or form, and if you are a regular reader of Popehat, you should know that by now.

  41. Yon Anony Mouse  •  Feb 6, 2014 @4:08 pm

    Furthermore, reporting to Facebook doesn't waste taxpayer money.

  42. 205guy  •  Feb 6, 2014 @5:48 pm

    I dunno, before they found out who it was and that it was clearly satirical, there was somebody impersonating an elected representative. How should that have been handled, and by whom?

  43. CJK Fossman  •  Feb 7, 2014 @9:31 pm

    Actually, it's against facebook's ToS to do this. From the ToS: "You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission."

    CFAA anyone? If complying with the ToS is a precondition for using the site, then violating the ToS is a federal felony. Because unauthorized access.

  44. Pablo  •  Feb 13, 2014 @4:41 am

    The charge is a misdemeanor, and Lori Drew could tell you how it doesn't apply to TOS violations.

  45. proofreader  •  Feb 25, 2014 @8:00 am

    Slightly off-topic, a former Providence police officer, "injured" on the job and collecting a tax-free disability pension, shot a firefighter neighbor in the back during a dispute about a tennis ball hitting the policeman's car. The former cop was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

    Despite his conviction, the cop still receives $60K per year in jail while the firefighter's family has to make due with considerably less, even though the firefighter had seventeen years of service while the cop only worked on patrol for six months.

    Rhode Island justice.

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