West Virginia Man Arrested For Posting Call for Police To Be Killed

Matthew-Furby-03102016There is a controversial arrest in Elkview, West Virginia where Matthew Lane Furby, 26, was arrested after posting a video on Facebook allegedly calling for police officers to be killed.  The police say that they were alerted to a video where Furby said “the only good cops out there are dead cops.” However, the anti-police comments raise questions over protected speech under the first amendment.  He has been charged with making threats of terroristic acts.

Kanawha Sheriff’s Office says that Furby admitted that he made the video because he was angry with law enforcement officers.  Okay, but that does not mean that it is not protected speech.

He also allegedly spit on police officers and is charged with assault. He was fitted a “spit mask” during his arraignment in Kanawha Magistrate Court 

Some of the comments are clearly offensive and hateful.  The post states: “Kill em all first, especially before they kill you while your hands are in the air saying don’t shoot I’m unarmed.”  He is also shown telling viewers that “the only good cops out there are dead cops. Everyone load up and be prepared to go to war because if we don’t take a stand now they’ll kill us all. Rise up, fight for your guns and don’t take no sh–. Don’t hesitate to fire because they won’t hesitate to fire on you.” He added that police “rape women while they’re handcuffed. Kill every one you see.”

Once again, I find Furby’s comments highly disturbing and reprehensible.  However, I have long been a critic of criminalizing speech.  If we allow the police to arrest people for anti-police rhetoric, it is hard to see where the line will be drawn by the government.  The result is a standard that is impermissibly vague and ambiguous.  Such standards create a chilling effect on free speech as citizens question what speech will be deemed criminal and what speech is deemed simply controversial or offensive.

What do you think?

50 thoughts on “West Virginia Man Arrested For Posting Call for Police To Be Killed”

  1. I should have guessed you were shooting from the hip Paul. Just admit it doesn’t exist. Your credibility will suffer much less.

    1. Randall Lee – I have signed them drugged and undrugged. I do not have any copies on hand. As I said, if it is really important to you check with your surgeon.

  2. Paul if you are not in the condition to read and understand what you are signing, then consent has not actually occurred. Either someone else, a guardian, etc. would have to sign, or such a document under those circumstances would be laughed out of court.

    Now if you are in the condition to read and understand the terms then it cannot be logically argued that anyone made you sign anything. You might feel that the totality of the circumstances and your fears surrounding those circumstances are in some way compelling you to sign in the hope that you can receive remedy, BUT NO ONE makes you do anything.

    I like how you have now attempted to avoid admitting the truth about the definitive meaning of “violence” by focusing on this point. Could it be that you are a lawyer?

    BTW, send me a copy of the particular waiver to which you are referring. I am curious to see if its language reveals its actual voluntary nature. I bet it does. If not it would easily be declared unconscionable and void.

    1. Randall Lee – I am sure your surgeon of your choice can give you one.

  3. Paul Schulte writes– surgery is legally sanctioned violence. One of the documents they make you sign allows the doctor(s) to do violence to your person without malice.

    Paul, this is a misuse of the term violence. Tragicly, many words are employed in ways that do not correctly reflect their true meaning or their root meaning. Where terms are used in a legal sense their meanings must be more specific. For instance Blacks’ Law Dictionary 4th and 7th ed. both define ‘violence’ as “The unjust or unwarranted use of force.”
    Nothing is either unjust or unwarranted with respect to the use of force in the example you cited.

    Bouvier’s 1914 Law Dictionary defines “violation” as “The result of an act done unlawfully and with force.”

    Blacks law 4th ed. defines “violation” as “Injury; infringement; breach of right, duty or law; ravishment; seduction.”
    All of these terms are indicative of the trespass against rights.
    Blacks law 4th ed. also defines “violently” as “By the use of force; forcibly; with violence.”

    As seen from these definitions “violence” cannot occur where there is voluntary agreement to allow some surgical procedure per your example. You used the terms “make you sign”, but in reality they ask you to agree and engage in some sort of limited waiver releasing them from particular liability..

    For all these reasons it is absolutely necessary that someones rights be violated before violence can ever actually occur.

    1. Randall Lee – make you sign is the right phrase when you are already drugged up and on the gurney. You are in no condition to read what is there and no one could ever read your signature.

  4. The most offensive speech requires the most protection, because it’s the most likely to provoke a violent reaction from those in authority. A wild rant, absent any activity indicating that the speaker was intent on turning his words into action, is insufficient grounds to disregard the Constitution. Investigate the guy, certainly; take precautions if police are called to his residence, absolutely; but going to arrest him solely on the basis that you really hated what he said may silence others who might speak out…but is more likely to convince him that the speaker just might have a point that’s not on the top of his head.

  5. IVe known matt since 2003,he went to high school with my brothers and used to come to our home. He got on pills and meth bad and for a couple years we didn’t see him. He got himself into a suboxone program and was sober doing good and started hanging out with my brother again,going golfing,fishing ect he was doing well. The reason he’s mad at cops is while he was picking up his suboxone rx one day he was pulled over and the officer claimed since he admitted he just took suboxone he was dwi and confiscated his rx,got him expelled from the program and he ended up back on drugs. He was high when he made the video,anyone who knows him can see that. He don’t own a gun,and the danger he poses is to himself. He needs a rehab program and help. I don’t agree or support anything he said in the video, which wasn’t made by a violent terrorist ,but a n addict high on drugs rambling .

    1. jay – I think the court appt attorney for your friend can point all this out in court.

  6. What’s missing from the story above is that no weapons were retrieved from the home of the man arrested. If he had any actual intent to terrorize anyone the absence of weapons makes it appear that he was without the means to do so. It’s hard to believe that if he had such weapons that it would not have been reported.

    But if he was charged with the statute that Darren pointed out in the second comment then “intent” isn’t even necessary.

    But if intent isn’t necessary then, his rantings were merely an exercise of free speech.

    And if intent isn’t necessary, then such an application of the statute is violative of the First Amendment. But then who really cares about that bothersome little First Amendment. The drones that arrested the man sure didn’t.
    Makes one wonder if they even read it before they took an oath to abide by it.

    After having his right to speak initially violated by authoritarian idiots relying upon pseudo-authority resting upon legal machinations, machinations that are inherently violent, this man was further insulted by being charged for assaulting those that initially committed an assault against him. Spitting upon these officers was nothing more than this mans’ recognition that he was being raped by a violent unthinking dronal system. This kind of law enforcement does nothing to help this man believe that some cops are different. In his mind this arrest will always operate to validate his original position that “the only good cops out there are dead cops”.

    In the same way that we have created an increased armed resistance in the Mideast by our interventions, the “us versus them” mentality has been reinforced in this man and increased in others. Many more will now empathize with his position.

    These are just some of the elephants in the room that no one wants to discuss, in the same way that the rationale of the video I posted above has been ignored. It’s understandable though. If we are to have a society organized by violence, we surely never want to recognize or discuss that fact. To do so many would have to admit their real nature.

  7. DavidM, u mentioned “legally sanctioned violence”. My question is why do we humans legally sanction the violation of the rights of others?

    Violence against another human is never lawful. Many here may not pick up on the distinction between legal and lawful. Violence against another may be declared legal but it is never lawful, and I have never heard one rational argument justifying the legal sanction of violence even though it is practiced daily by those who believe themselves to have authority. From whose arse did they pull this authority?.

    1. Randall Lee – surgery is legally sanctioned violence. One of the documents they make you sign allows the doctor(s) to do violence to your person without malice.

  8. Good to see DavidM back here. He is always bringing thought provoking comments.

  9. If there is no violence, then it is speech and is protected speech. I am surprised some people think this is a difficult case.

    If his rant has follow-up posts trying to rally together a violent riot to harm police, that is a different matter. But just expressing the opinion that police should not exist (kill them all), or government should not exist, etc. is something that can be answered with speech rather than answered with the legally sanctioned violence from government.

  10. fiver writes, “Not all violence is lawless (e.g. self defense and defense of others)”.

    Not so! All violence is lawlessness. In order for violence to even occur there must be the “violation of someones’ unalienable rights”. Inherent in the very concept of violence is the act of violating.

    The use of force to repel one who is violating your rights or others you have chosen to defend is merely the use of repulsive force and can never constitutes violence. You have every right to defend and therefore such a defense cannot be construed as the violation of the rights of another.

    Also if two fighters voluntarily agree to enter a cage-match and fight, even to the death, neither has violated any right of the other, and no violence has occurred.

  11. Kill all members of ISIS!
    The Illinois Society of Illinois Shooters is up in arms about this. Trump should be prosecuted.

  12. Well, for anybody following the Milo Yiannopolous story at Twitter, what the guy above said would NOT get him banned from Twitter. OTOH, panning a rotten, bad feminazi remake of Ghostbusters will get you banned. Go figure!

    BTW, the Milo-Twitter story would make a great post for here!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Squeeky – Milo’s review of Ghostbusters would make a great post.

  13. I don’t see this as a difficult case.

    Everyone agrees that threats and incitement are not protected speech. There seems facially to be sufficient evidence to justify a trial. Whether when considered in detail there is enough evidence to convict is a matter for the judge and/or jury.

    I don’t see in this case any significant legal issue (other than whether this particular guy is guilty). I’m disappointed in the decline in quality of the posts to this site compared to 2 or 3 years ago.

  14. DarkScholar82,

    When “adding fuel to the fire” becomes a crime, please let us know so we can have that statute struck down as unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous.

    As to the “distraction” of police brutality being more or less responsible for our current state of affairs than some nut on YouTube, I’m afraid we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    Have a nice day.

    1. Fiver,

      I was not trying to minimize the wrongness of police abuse, although I can see how my poor word choice could lead to that interpretation. However, I stand by my point that this is not a thread about police brutality. It is a thread dealing with one fanatic’s attempt to incite the killing of police officers. I suspect many who oppose police violence would be happy to see this guy locked up, if nothing else to prevent him from turning violent and causing further embarrassment to their movement.

  15. TIN, above, said it exactly right. But having slid way down that slippery slope with the absurdity of hate crimes it’s too late. Depending on where & what’s going on around him this good ol’ boy ought to be able to say whatever he wants about whoever he wants. But too late.

  16. Paul,

    Anything is enough for a grand jury 99% of the time – hence the old saw about indicting a ham sandwich. That’s why it’s impossible to believe the prosecutors in Cleveland and St, Louis (as only two examples) when they try to pass off the blame to a grand jury they control. It’s a naked attempt to sway the ignorant who think a grand jury is the same as a petite jury.

    GQ did an excellent piece on how Cleveland prosecutors rigged its grand jury to “exonerate” their child murdering officer. https://www.gq.com/story/tamir-rice-story

  17. DarkScholar82,

    Never said anything about “harsh”; never really even considered it. I was just trying to apply the Brandenburg test to the statements. Regarding that test, I will note that “a likelihood that he could inspire some lunatic” seems a fair bit short of “likely to cause imminent lawless action.”

    As to the unspecified recent events and “atmosphere,” I’m unaware of any kook on the internet causing any of it. Indeed, the root cause appears to be that police are killing people without valid reason and are literally getting away with murder.

    That used to be fine back when we could just take the cops word for it while we nestled in the comfort of the television cops we were taught to admire from childhood. Staying in our protected realm of television heroes becomes a lot more difficult, for most of us, after watching an “emotionally immature” cop who gets “distracted and weepy” around firearms gunning down a twelve year old two seconds after getting out of the car. Then watching a prosecutor explain that while his grand jury had no problem indicting two ham sandwiches and a tuna salad, it just couldn’t find any crime at all in the murder of a child.

    That’s far more inciting than any YouTube rant.

    1. Fiver,

      Nothing you said changes the fact that this lunatic added fuel to the fire. Your preference to distract from what he did by continually pointing to police misconduct – which does not justify what he was trying to incite – frankly makes me wonder.

  18. Would his actions (words) be considered more harmful or threatening if he had said them in person to a crowd of demonstrators? Or in a classroom? Does he appear to be expressing protected speech because his forum is live on Facebook and not live on the street? He’s not talking about the natural right to self-defense; he’s indicting every law enforcement officer, convicting them, sentencing them and then inciting others to carry out the sentence. Would you still want to protect this “speech” if he singled you and your family out to be killed?

    Gun control advocates point to the weapon and 2nd amendment advocates point to shooter. The “connect-the-dots” folks are very good at their job AFTER the shootings have occurred. Is this a case where they’ve connected the dots BEFORE the murders?

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