20-year-old Joshua Ryne Goldberg of Orange Park, Florida, was arrested and indicted today on charges of "distributing information relating to explosives," related to a non-existent bomb plot against the 9/11 memorial in Kansas City.Goldberg allegedly conveyed information that any reasonably competent junior high school student could figure out in about five minutes -- how to build a "pressure cooker bomb" -- to an FBI agent. There was never any actual plot. There was never any actual bomb. It was all security theater.
I had to look the actual charge up, because I didn't believe offhand that even the current crop of American legislators were stupid enough to put it in writing, or that any FBI agent would have the balls to investigate, or prosecutor would prove idiotic enough to prosecute, such a charge.
But I was wrong. It's in 18 US Code § 842:
It shall be unlawful for any person --
(A) to teach or demonstrate the making or use of an explosive, a destructive device, or a weapon of mass destruction, or to distribute by any means information pertaining to, in whole or in part, the manufacture or use of an explosive, destructive device, or weapon of mass destruction, with the intent that the teaching, demonstration, or information be used for, or in furtherance of, an activity that constitutes a Federal crime of violence; or
(B) to teach or demonstrate to any person the making or use of an explosive, a destructive device, or a weapon of mass destruction, or to distribute to any person, by any means, information pertaining to, in whole or in part, the manufacture or use of an explosive, destructive device, or weapon of mass destruction, knowing that such person intends to use the teaching, demonstration, or information for, or in furtherance of, an activity that constitutes a Federal crime of violence.
How stupid and evil is this?
Well, first of all, it's unambiguously in complete violation of the First Amendment.
And secondly, to any extent that it could conceivably in any way be illegal, it would already be so as an element of another charge: Conspiracy to perform some other illegal act.
Speaking of conspiracy: Every congresscritter who voted for this section of the US Code, the president who signed it, every law enforcement agent who investigates alleged violations of it, and every prosecutor who charges those violations, is also in violation of US law. To wit, 18 US Code § 241:
If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or
If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured --
They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
According to that section, US Attorney A. Lee Bentley III and his accomplices in the Goldberg affair should be standing by for arraignment right about now. But don't hold your breath. The law is for other people, see?