Yesterday I was looking at our traffic on Woopra and noticed a huge surge of searches for Ashton Lundeby. Who, you may ask? You know, Ashton Lundeby, the kid who was arrested for interstate telephone threats and became the subject of an internet propaganda campaign suggesting that he was being detained without charges under the PATRIOT ACT, possibly in a FEMA dungeon someplace. They Greys may or may not have been involved.
In fact, Lundeby was not detained secretly under the PATRIOT Act; that was propaganda sourced to his mother. Rather, he was arrested and charged as a juvenile under pre-9/11 statutes, indicted and prosecuted as an adult once the relevant U.S. Attorney's Office secured a court order allowing them to do so under preexisting law governing federal juvenile defendants, and later entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 22 months time served. His mother later admitted she had made the PATRIOT ACT stuff up.
So why are people Googling him again?
Well, probably because another set of folks whose political agenda is served by the OMG BLACK HELICOPTERS routine — this time various folks who identify with the Occupy movement — have been pushing, uncritically and without even minimal due diligence, the bogus Lundeby-as-PATRIOT-ACT-victim story, two years after it was conclusively refuted, and even though the most minimal search reveals many sources showing it isn't true.
Now, you might criticize the Lundeby prosecution if you don't like seeing juvies prosecuted as adults, though quite frankly I think that as someone who staged multi-state bomb hoaxes he got off quite lightly. But making this about some sort of PATRIOT ACT abuse is willfully ignorant sloganeering. We criticize post-9/11 excesses and government abuse here all the time at Popehat, but we've also argued for years that badly-researched and credulous stories about government abuse are counter-productive and do not help the cause of vigilance against government excess.
Have I ever posted a story without doing my due diligence, or fallen for an exciting-sounding hook, or been credulous? Of course I have. But I am a blogger, and that gives me an unassailable right to pontificate about other people doing it without removing the mote from mine own eye. And therefore:
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