University students who should have their whole life ahead of them are seemingly getting steamrollered all over the place these days in the US for doing what young people tend to do – express themselves, and make real or perceived “tonal” mistakes in the process.
Some “merely” get expelled because of a post on social media – but other times, they face serious criminal charges, apparently on no solid legal grounds.
One example is 20-year-old Lake Superior State University student Lucas Gerhard, who spent 83 days in prison before being released on bond, and is now facing terrorism charges that could send him to prison for up to the next 20 years of his life.
This is because Gerhard last August posted a photo of his at-the-time newly-acquired rifle on Snapchat, while also making a reference to “snowflakes melting” because of it – and adding, “snowflakes as in snow.”
Gerhard told a police officer that the common phrase “snowflake” was referring to those are politically liberal and that the phrase “melt” referred to their emotional reaction. He says that he did not ever intend to harm anyone.
Gerhard hails from Michigan, a US state that permits bringing weapons on campus if they are “registered and stored in the public safety department upon arrival” – and so Gerhard checked in his new weapon and ammunition as soon as he arrived there.
Therefore it looks highly unlikely that the weapon itself could have landed him in this serious trouble – he seems to have handled it legally. Instead, the inciting incident for this potentially life-ruining crisis was the comment that he made online – probably in the mistaken belief that Snapchat is some sort of safe haven for “disappearing” messages allowing users to say whatever, in jest, or a moment of bravado, or provocative inspiration – or all of the above.
Michigan House of Representatives member John Reilly is speaking up for the student, saying that the young man’s life might be ruined just because he was thinking he was making a joke among (Snapchat) friends – and adding, “It’s a travesty that the county prosecutor charged him with any crime, for something that is clearly and undeniably protected speech under the First Amendment.”
Reilly is at the same time pushing for changes to Michigan’s state legislation to draw the line between the crime of making an actual terrorist threat – and that of making a false report alleging terrorism.
But the legal case is proceeding – as a judge has decided to refuse dismissing the terrorism charges against the student.
“They are pulling out all the stops to make an example that there are no more core freedoms, only privileges that can and will be yanked away in a moment’s notice, in the new Soviet-style regime being instituted nationwide (US),” Big League Politics reported.