Sunday, September 02, 2007


New story about the lack of information in the Yuri Wainwright case today...

Here's what I wrote about it at the Hattiesburg American forum...

Stonewalling=Lack of guilt?

Wainwright has been rotting in jail for over four months. It is long past time for "the law" to bring a case against him or let him go. I've said it before and I'll say it again--there is no way that this case can be as complicated as Weathers and Hopkins have made it out to be. Either Wainwright made a threat on the Internet or he didn't.

The stonewalling of Weathers and Hopkins makes it pretty clear that Wainwright did NOT make a threat on the Internet. After all, if Wainwright had written something that was clearly a threat, no one would've had any qualms about publicizing what it was that he wrote that was so bad.

How do we know this? By comparing Wainwright's situation to that of Tosin Oduwole, a student at Southern Illinois University.

Wainwright vs. Oduwole: Contrast & Compare

The police supposedly found a note in Oduwole's abandoned car that said:

"if this account doesn't reach $50,000 in the next 7 days then a murderous rampage similar to the VT shooting will occur at another highly populated university. THIS IS NOT A JOKE!"

Not only that, Oduwole had recently placed online orders for semiautomatic weapons. Oduwole also had a loaded gun in his dorm room.

Note that what Oduwole supposedly wrote appeared in the very first stories about his arrest. That's because in America, when someone is hauled off to jail for engaging in a constitutionally-protected activity--in this case, exercising the freedom of speech--the public has a right to know how that constitutionally-protected activity crossed a line if in fact a line has been crossed.

Why This Concerns Every American

Everyone in America should be concerned about Wainwright's incarceration and the authorities' apparent lack of justification for it. I don't care if Bob Hopkins is a smart, likable guy as I've repeatedly been told. He owes the university, nay, the Hattiesburg community, nay--the people of the United States some concrete reason for putting Yuri Wainwright behind bars on $1 million bond.

If they can put Wainwright in jail for over four months with no apparent end in sight to his incarceration, what's to stop them from putting any one of us in jail merely on their say-so? Apparently all that has to be done to take a citizen's freedom is to make a vague accusation under a (probably intentionally) vague statute (in Wainwright's case, it's "Posting of Messages through Electronic Media for Purpose of Causing Injury to Any Person," which is from MS Code 97-45-17).

Is that the impression John Mark Weathers and Bob Hopkins intend to leave for the citizens of this city, state, and country? I sincerely hope not--but what other conclusion are we to draw?

What, exactly, is "injury?"

Read the statute--it went into effect in July of 2003. It's likely that it hasn't even been tested in court yet. The standard it uses--that a "message" must "have the purpose" of "causing injury to any person"--is so vague that it could apply to anything. In fact, if Bob Hopkins or John Mark Weathers were to read this post, they might try to argue that this "message" has the purpose of "causing injury" to them, or their reputations, or their feelings, or whatever.

After all, what, pray tell, is meant by "injury?" How can it be proved whether or not a message "has the purpose" of "causing injury?" As far as I can tell by just using Google, MS is the only state with a statute like this. That doesn't mean other states don't have similar laws, I just can't find them easily/quickly.

Not only on the Internet

But also take note, the statute in question here is not limited to only the Internet. It says if you purposely create a "message" that has the purpose of causing "injury" (physical? social? mental? all of the above? any of the above?) to "ANY person," you could be charged under this act if you use "ANY means of communication."

No comments: