SWATING as more than revenge or a game.

In my last (public) post, I talked a bit about SWATing, mostly as a game and mostly from how I think police should handle it.  In case you don’t know about it, SWATing is the term used to describe when someone fakes a call to the police claiming a person has just killed someone and has at least one more hostage.  Police response is usually swift and in force.  It is a very dangerous thing to do, since it involves the police, with guns drawn, forcing their way into a home.  Many things could go wrong, since the person who is living in that home has no idea what is happening.  He may think someone is breaking in, he may shoot these people breaking in.  Which would cause an armed retaliation.  People could get killed.

In that previous post, which was mostly about how hackers and gamers use it for revenge on people who best them at hacking or gaming.  I’ve since learned that it is more common as something much worse.  Willful harassment and an honest attempt to get someone killed.  It is attempted murder with the cops as the weapon of choice.

Don’t believe me?  Ask blogger Patterico about it.  He was SWATed in 2011.  And it wasn’t simple revenge, it was part of a pattern of outright harassment filled with other harassing behavior.  Feel free to check in on blogger Aaron Worthing too.  He was also SWATed, quite possibly by the same harasser. But it isn’t just bloggers that get SWATed, P Diddy Combs, Rhianna, Chris Brown and so many celebrities that the LAPD will no longer publicize the incidents.

Side note:  SWATers with a death wish even tried to pull it on Dirty Harry star Clint Eastwood.  It failed spectacularly.  

Patterico, who is about as close as a blogger can get to being an expert on SWATing reported (in the same link as above) that SWATing is often part of a larger harassment campaign. Here’s what he had to say:

I met personally with the nationwide experts on swatting in December 2011: the FBI office in Dallas, Texas. They told me that swatting is an extreme form of harassment — and that swatters typically combine swatting with other forms of harassment, including: complaining to the victim’s workplace, defaming the victim online, “Googlebombing” the victim, publishing the victim’s address online, filing phony reports of criminal activity by the victim, and so forth.

Side note: I prefer the term SWATing and SWATers.  I’m weird that way.  Most people do refer to it as swatting, like Patterico does.

Don’t think this could happen to you?  Think again.  SWATing is surprisingly easy to do and hard for Police to make arrests.  Not that arrests don’t happen, just that they are rare.  They have also happened in small towns and big cities alike.  And despite the FBI’s claim to take SWATing seriously, the number of arrests… or even investigations… of SWATers is miniscule.

Again, I have to return to Patterico.  In his case, the blogger actually hired a forensic voice identification expert who, in a report, claims to have identified the original caller.  That information was presented to the FBI, but no arrest has been made.

Who is the real victim of SWATing?  Clearly the person who had the SWAT call made against them.  While no one has yet reportedly died as a result of a SWATing, the possibility is very real.  According to the FBI information on SWATing I linked to earlier, SWATing has caused victims to have mild heart attacks.  Medical issues aside, it is only a matter of time before a SWATing kills a victim because the victim responded to the event with perceived violence toward the police.

But the targets aren’t the only victims, I’d argue the police are victims as well. In that same FBI report, it is known that at least one officer was injured in a car crash while responding to the SWATing.  I’ve personally talked to an officer who was emotionally traumatized by the fact that he was part of a SWATing into the home of a family of five.  I’d argue that the police did everything a correctly and calmly as possible, but the looks on the young children who lived in the home still haunt this Officer.  He recently told me:

I see their faces every night.  This was a good family with a loving mother and father.  The kids were good kids.  And now, they are afraid of the police.  They are afraid of me.  I can’t fix that.  And I’m afraid of what that fear may grow into.

Not only are police victimized through there own mental and physical health, the department that responds may end up spending thousands of dollars and countless man-hours on the situation.

And that brings us to the last of the victims.  You and me.  Even if we aren’t ever the target of a SWATing, when anyone in our hometown gets SWATed, we end up paying for it out of our pocketbooks.  A recent SWATing in Long Island is estimated to have cost as much as $100,000.

A Solution To Swatting That’s Safe For Everyone

There is a nationwide trend, heavily in use among the gaming community, that is playing Police Department deficiencies against unwitting citizens.  It’s called swatting and is beyond repugnant.

The basic aspect of the game is that through one of several means, a phone number is spoofed and the prankster (a name that belittles the seriousness of this crime) calls the police and reports that some horrific murder and hostage situation is occurring at a specific address.  The goal is to get the biggest police response possible to the target’s house.  According to what the Long Beach Police Commissioner told the Huffington Post:

“In this … bizarre world of swatting, you get points for the helicopter, for the police cars, for the SWAT team, for the type of entry,” Michael Tangney, Long Beach police commissioner, told CBS New York. “It’s very sophisticated. Unfortunately, it’s very dangerous.”

I tried to find a website that had the so called rules and point system for this swatting game, but my brief use of Goggle found nothing. Not surprised, this isn’t really something those playing want the police to discover.

In a recent case in Long Island, the result of the prank was a $100,000 response of over 70 officers, a dynamic entry into a home, and terrifying a mother and her two sons. The prankster got points for just about everything but the helicopter.

This is not a game, at least not a game in the same way that Russian Roulette is not a game.  People can die in this game.  So far, I can’t find an instance where someone has, but the potential for things going seriously wrong is huge.  Consider the kid who answered the police knocking on his door with his game controller who ended up shot and killed. In this case the police officer who did the shooting is under a grand jury ordered investigation.

Frankly it seems to me that the problem is as much with the police policies as it is with the prankster asshats that call in the swatting.  Specifically how they handle these hostage situations. Keep in mind how these work, the asshat calls the police claiming murder and hostages at a specific address. He clearly WANTS the police attention.  From the police point of view, they arrive on scene and they have a couple of options. One shouldn’t be to kick in the door.

The first thing that I would expect the police to do is attempt to make contact inside the house. Talk with the neighbors, did they hear gunshots?  Do they have a land line phone you can call?  Do neighbors know their cell phone number?  Does the house look like it’s barricaded and ready for a police response? Does the house look like the homeowners are blissfully unaware of the growing army outside?  Then perhaps it’s time to make peaceful, respectful contact.  If there is no land line and no cell numbers found, do a ding dong ditch and leave a cellphone and a sign on the front porch and see if the door is opened and the phone is picked up.  In other words, make peaceful contact first.

That’s not really as radical as you think, and it has worked.  A swatting event in Huntsville, Alabama turned out just that way. As the police infiltrated the area, they quickly realized things were not as they seemed, and managed to put no one at risk, including themselves.  Because no-knock entry into a home is a dangerous thing for police to do.  The people inside have the constitutional right to fight back when an unknown force bursts through their front door.  And police SWAT teams will not respond kindly to being shot at.

The truth is that SWAT raids are a dangerous business, even when the SWAT is the correct use of force.  But lately, SWAT has been used to deliver more warrants than ever.  Even knock and announce warrants.  And that puts the public at danger.  Since 1981, use of SWAT style raids have exploded, and is partially to blame for the fact that police have killed more American’s than terrorists since 9/11. It’s all tied up with the further militarization of police.

A part of that militarization and why SWAT raids have become so dangerous is what a blogger known as ExCopLawStudent has written about extensively known as the first rule of policing. Basically, the first rule of policing is “Go home alive.”  As a result of this rule, Officer Safety is the number one excuse for any use of force, however outlandish.  A subset of this rule is the level of respect generated.  There was a time when the police actively worked hard to gain the respect and trust of the community they served.  Sadly, that is rarely the case today.  Instead, the respect (at least in the mind of the police) is generated because they have the badge.  As a result, they expect us to give them respect from the outset of an encounter, be that a traffic stop, a public arrest or a SWAT raid.

Personally, I do. Not because they earned it. And not because it’s the “right thing to do.” But because, on the street, like it or not, thanks to the first rule of policing, they have all the power.  I’m respectful and kind. I do what they tell me.  I’m not stupid.  I raise my rights, I don’t answer questions and I refuse to consent to searches, but I don’t argue. Because on the streets is not the place to plead your case.  Police are the brute force of the Government, militarized or not.  The place to plead your case, correct the wrongs (if any) done to you at the hands of the police, are in the courts.  Although that is a whole other bag of trouble.

But overall, I can’t help to think that if police went into every encounter not with the concept of shock and awe, but with the concept of de-escalation the system would be far safer for everyone.  Wouldn’t it be nice if reducing crime AND reducing arrests was the stated goal.  And if police action and use of force is determined by the best result for everybody and not just the police.  Then, maybe just, there wouldn’t be federal investigations into police brutality.


How much does it cost to educate the public servants?

The City of Chicago is paying a heathy fee for not being able to learn from past mistakes.  In the past ten years, the city has paid over half a billion dollars to settle police misconduct cases.  Yet in the past ten years, there has been little to nothing done about the root causes of the problem.  2013 was a particularly bad year for Chicago, they paid over $87 million but had only budgets $27 million. Why a city would budget to cover a problem that shouldn’t exist if they held their officers to the same standard that McDonalds holds their cashers to is beyond me.  It didn’t take long for the city to bust the budget.  They settled a single case for $22.5 million in January of 2013.  In August, another single case was settled for $12 million.

Chicago isn’t the only city with significant bills for police misconduct.  Cities around the nation are faced with higher and higher settlements and awards for the police abusing their authority.  And there is no excuse for it.  Police have qualified immunity, which means they can not be sued for doing their job and doing it correctly.  If they follow the law and their own policies, they would be immune from being sued.  That they are getting sued as often as they are means that judges across the country are agreeing that police are not following the law and are not following their own policies.   Municipalities are rapidly learning to settle cases once the veil of qualified immunity is pierced, juries are quite unforgiving once they are convinced that the police did wrong.  

What is sad is that the common public hold the belief that it is a few bad cops that are making the whole force look bad.  But when these so called good cops stand around and do nothing when the bad cops act up, they aren’t good cops.  Then again, perhaps police don’t call out other police action because of the very real retaliation their brother in blue will perform against them. But that retaliatory attitude is tacitly supported by the system police have built for themselves, and it is quite a system.  

Thanks to police unions and lobbyist, the laws and contracts of the police force is a powerful thing.  In the millions Chicago paid out, most of the officers who performed the misconducts didn’t get any punishment.  So much so, that not included in that $500 Million payout is the paid leave the officers got.  Once the complaint was filed, the police department does its own internal investigation.  It’s the police policing the police, and it doesn’t work.  And often leads to weird situations such as both defending and going after the officer at the same time.

A few things need to change, or you are going to see this payout to private citizens continue.  Police must stop policing themselves.  An independent, outside agency should handle all the complaints that come in against officers and departments.  Chiefs must be able to fire problem officers without interference from the union.  And cops need to stop covering cops who do bad things.  Until those three things are fixed, all the training in the world won’t stop the money bleeding out of departments around the country.


It’s not your right, it’s your obligation. So shut the ever loving hell up.

I bet you view yourself as a good person.  In truth, you probably are a good person.  Maybe even a great person.  Honest, usually trustworthy, mostly moral.  And why not, society works because most of us just really aren’t that bad.

But being a good person is not the same thing as being a not guilty person.  And in this day and age, being not guilty is the most important thing you can be.

Notice I didn’t say innocent.  Innocent people are often guilty.  And not innocent people are often not guilty.  There is no correlation between  innocence and guilt in a court of law.

And when it comes to staying not guilty, there is one thing you can do that is far more likely to increase your chance of a either never facing a jury or, if you do, hearing two words instead of one after a trial.

And that’s to shut the ever loving hell up.  

I’m completely serious.  I don’t care how sweet your tongue is with the opposite sex, it is worthless when it comes to the police.  I don’t care how clever you are, you aren’t clever enough when it comes to the police.  You are an amateur, they are the professionals, and you will loose if you open your mouth.  So don’t.  Shut it.

Well, not completely.  According to the Supreme Court of the United States, you must express that you are exercising your right to remain silent.  It is a  right you must assert, and you don’t want to sit still and just be silent with the police.  That might end you up in jail. So shut the hell up, right after you repeatedly tell the police you’re shutting the hell up.

The other part, is do it nicely.  So while you want to shut the hell up, you need to say it in very polite and non-threatening tones along the lines of “I don’t answer questions from the police without my lawyer.”  And keep saying it, as your only answer to any question.

Will this method of dealing with the police keep you from getting arrested?  No, it will not.  But, if you get arrested while exerting your rights, you were going to get arrested anyway.  Remember, we started this conversation on the assumption that you are a good person, so you didn’t just get stopped for running a red light with a dead body in your back seat with a quarter ton of pot next to it.  You’re getting arrested at that point, and nothing about you shutting up will prevent that.

But if you HAVEN’T done anything wrong, if you shut up you may still get arrested.  But, the likelihood of you getting arrested is no higher than if you talk.  To stop and talk to you, all an officer must have is reasonable articulated suspicion (RAS).  RAS is easy to arrive at, so basically an officer can stop and ask you questions pretty much any time they like.  Even if they don’t have RAS, they can still ask you questions.  The difference between having RAS and not having RAS is if you’re free to go.

Without RAS, the police can not detain you.  If you are asked a question by the police and instead of directly answering the question, you ask if you’re being detained and they say you are not, then you can walk away.  Don’t.  Ask if you are free to go.  If they say you are not free to go, then you need to shut the hell up.  Don’t argue.  Don’t try to be a lawyer, which you’re not (and neither am I) and prove they are doing something wrong on the street.  Just shut up.  Don’t say anything but “I’ve been advised by my lawyer to not answer police questions without him” and “Am I free to go.”

If the officer tells you you are free to go, then go.  Get the heck out of there and don’t look back.  If he tells you you are not free to go, ignores the questions or in any way attempts to continue the conversation assume you are being detained and say nothing.  (Nothing equals asserting that you’re not saying anything)  There is only one other thing that you should say to a police officer other than “am I free to go” and “I’m asserting my 5th Amendment rights.”  And that’s “I do not consent to a search.”

Again, none of this is going to keep you from getting arrested or being searched.  If you are arrest, do not resist in any way.  So much as accidentally touching a cop can become resisting arrest or assault.  Do nothing, follow every order (lawful or not).  Just submit.  You can’t win in a physical confrontation with the police.  YOU CAN NOT BLOCK THE POLICE.

Instead, you are doing your best to set things up for the only place you CAN beat the police, and that’s in court.  If they overstep their legal bounds, your lawyer will be working to get things dismissed and suppressed.  Lawyers can’t do that if you spill all the beans and gladly give the police the right to search you, your car, and your house.  So help your lawyer out, and shut the hell up.

One thing I purposely avoid in this article is the issue of Identification.  Rules and laws on who has to have identification and who must present identification vary from state to state… and very greatly.  In Alabama, once you’re detained you generally have to provide your name, address and birthday to the police. They can ask you where you are going or what your intentions are, and you have to answer.  You can be vague, and I’d be more and more vague.  “Walking, driving, out and about” is what you’re doing.  Follow up questions are “On the advise of my lawyer, I’m taking the 5th.”  

Why the War on Drugs is Eroding the Public Trust in Policing Efforts

ImageIn 1971, Richard Nixon first used the term War on Drugs and declared that Drugs were “Public Enemy Number One.”  Although that was, perhaps, the first major escalation in the war, it has actually been occurring since 1914 with the Harrison Narcotics Act.  Even earlier, local laws (some dating back to 1860) have been attempting to control American appetite for drugs.  Whenever you want to pin the War on Drugs along the timeline, it has done little to improve the public’s view of cops.

One of the low points for public support of police occurred during Prohibition.  Overnight one of America’s most profitable legal businesses went from legal to illegal.  The demand that made alcohol such a profitable business didn’t disappear just because a President stroke pen to paper and declared it to be illegal.  If legal businesses could no long fill the demand, illegal businesses would.  And as a result, the highly profitable business of distributing alcohol became even more profitable.  Expecting lowly paid street cops to not take a months pay for looking the other way on a single night was ridiculous.  Of course, it didn’t take but 14 years to see how badly prohibition hurt the police, the public and the economy and for the amendment to be repealed.

Skipping ahead to the modern day, and we have the full fledged war on drugs.  Yet, after over 40 years of this endless war, the cracks are starting to show.  States are legalizing marijuana, prisons are crumbling under the weight of incarcerated users, and police forces are stretched to the limit after years of crime stats manipulation to maintain the flow of suspects into the court system.

In addition to the increasing flow of newly minted felons into the prisons system, America’s ability to solve what most would view as the most heinous of all crimes, murder, has fallen dramatically, even while the actual occurrence of that crime has dropped off. According to recent studies, America’s murder clearance rate is around 65%.  In raw numbers, that’s 6000 unsolved murders a year.  Interestingly, in 1965 there was almost the same raw number of unsolved murders, but the clearance rate was around 90%.  So even though we’ve seen a massive decline in the raw numbers of murder (and adjusted for population, the reduction is even more dramatic) police solve far fewer murders in terms of real or percentage numbers.

Yet that doesn’t seem to have to be the case.  In 2006, Philadelphia’s murder clearance rate dropped to 52%.  In 2008, after two years of intensive focus on solving murders, the clearance rate rose to 74%.  In 2010, it had risen to 92%.  What made the difference? According to Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross, a veteran Philadelphia homicide investigator and major-case supervisor. “If you don’t work a job, then it’s not coming in. That’s the saying around here. So we make our guys work the jobs.”  In other words, it’s about where the police focus their efforts.

If you look at the national trends, it’s clear where police focus their efforts.  In 2010, the year our murder clearance rate fell to 65%, police made 11,200 arrests for murder.  That arrest figure includes arrests from murders years prior, and it does not include the 6000 unsolved murders of that year.  (Several where solved, but the murderer killed and multiple murders with one person arrested.)  Now when it comes to drug abuse violations, this is not drug dealing but drug use, police made 1,638,800 arrests in 2010.

One could look at the numbers and come to the conclusion that drug abuse is a bigger problem that murder in America.  One would be wrong, however.  In the category of Drug Abuse Crimes, there are no victims, these people are not selling, and they are users.  Whatever you may think of users, equating them as a bigger problem than murders is just stupid.  And before you think that users are also drivers, arrests for driving under the influence are broken out from drug users.  In 2010, 1,412,200 arrests were made for DUI, the vast majority alcohol related.

So why are police so focused on drug users and not murders?  The answer is sadly simple and follows one of the oldest axioms in the book.  Follow the money.  When police make an arrest on murder, a crime that is hard to prove more often than not and involves hours of investigation by people on the street, detectives and lab personnel, the cost per arrest is quite high.  When it comes to drug users, users are practically falling into police hands because, lets face it, users who are using aren’t always the smartest people on the planet.  Every arrest comes with evidence in abundance (or the arrest wouldn’t be made) and quick plea bargains.  Fines more than cover the cost of policing and with federal aid for “task forces” and civil forfeiture, departments make money on drug abuse arrests.

How does this erode public trust in police?  The biggest change is the public perception of marijuana.  As the public at large has grown more and more accepting of marijuana, the arrest of users has become less popular.  It’s all fine and good for your local police chief to brag about the thousands of arrests they’ve made this year, but that’s just a number.  Drug Abuse arrests have reached the point where one in 250 of us know someone arrested for drug use ever year.  Depending on the demographic, it can be much higher.  And since we know these people, know most of them don’t hurt anyone with their use, are usually good people, aren’t violent and typically cause no trouble in the neighborhood, we begin to question the validity of the arrests.

Oh, we all understand the use of drugs is illegal.  But when they arrest that kid down the street that mows your lawn and plays basketball with the neighborhood kids, you’ve got to wonder if police are focused in the right areas.

And that’s where we get into crime stat manipulation.  Using drug arrests to bolster the numbers, police departments can easily push up the number of arrests in a given year.  They can then say with confidence that the city is safer because of all the arrests. But if you look at the numbers, the percentage of total arrests for violent crime is fairly stagnant at 4% of all crime, even though more murders are going unresolved.  So while it looks like overall crime is down, and arrest numbers remain healthy… the truth is violence within the system hasn’t changed.  So when the police come to you and say we made “umpteen” thousand arrest last year, but you can’t remember the last arrest for violent crime and you can remember three or four arrest that were for drug abuse of nice people, you begin to wonder just what the job of the police really is.

From basic numbers, it is clear the job of police is less about solving murders than it is about arresting drug users.  And that really is a shame.  All that does it set up false numbers about serious crime that does little to support the police position, and provides large numbers of anecdotal evidence that police arrest good people for crimes with no victims.  When the numbers skew enough, public trust in police goes away.

The Facebook Police Are Watching You!

There is a new adage.  Never put anything on the internet you don’t want other people to see.  It’s good advice.  That picture from your college days where you streaked across campus?  Yes, I’m talking to you!  Not a good idea to claim on Facebook.  Or MySpace.  Or whatever your favorite social networking site may be.

But what about those pictures you don’t mind sharing, but someone else takes as offensive?  Or the comment you leave on someone else’s photo?  Just how “careful” do you have to be on the web?

The answer is, extremely careful or extremely thick skinned.

Let’s say that you went to Europe on a dream vacation, one you’d been saving up for years to go on.  It took you all over the old country, including Ireland, Italy and France.  And, as long as we’re dreaming, let’s say while in Dublin you go to the Shangri-La of Stout, the Guinness Brewery.  Now my attitudes on beer are fairly well known, so maybe I’m not unbiased.  But let’s face it, when in Rome and all that.

Now that we are on this mythical trip, and we’ve gone to the wonderful world of the chewy beer, can you really imagine not getting a pint at the end of the tour?  I mean really, they advertise their pubs based on the distance to this brewery.  Could you honestly not hoist a pint, even if just to hoist it?  Few of us could.

And isn’t that an absolute natural picture?  Hey, look!  I really did go to Ireland, and yes, I really did hoist a pint of that dark creamy goodness!  See!

But don’t put that on your Facebook.  Because your employer may find it and use it against you.  And that’s EXACTLY what happened to Ashley Payne.

Ashley Payne taught in Barrow County, Ga until this past August, when the principal called her into the office to discuss the photos.  Ashley went to Ireland, France and Italy.  While there, she had a few pictures taken of her with a beer at Guinness, a glass of wine in Italy and France.  She was told she should resign and that they would be bringing her up for suspension and possible firing.  She resigned.  Now she’s suing to get her job back.

There are a lot of legal aspects to this, including her mistaken resignation.  But the point remains, she should never have been called into the principal’s office to begin with.  She didn’t have a picture taken with students.  She wasn’t on a school trip and she wasn’t really doing anything untoward.  Her Facebook page is private and the pictures were only shared with people she approved.  But one of those people violated her trust and shared it with the principal, and the only reason to do that was to get her in trouble.

She even went on the trip with other teachers, some of whom had pictures on public pages doing the same thing.  But they didn’t get called into the principal’s office.

This brings up an interesting point to me.  I’m pretty open on Facebook and Twitter.  And I’m extremely open here in this blog.  My family is always getting on to me about how open I am, and a cute event happened the other night and my son told me “You better not blog this” which is killing me.  First that a six year old knows what a blog is, and second… it really was cute.  But I’ll respect his wish.

I’m also involved in a few volunteer activities, and a job hunt, that the people I volunteer with and my potential employers may be looking either here or on my Facebook account.  In fact, the second I post this, Twitter will broadcast that the post has been made, and Facebook will too.

Some of my friends are ministers or CEO’s or managers.  I’ve had those types of friends comment to me personally about my posts or status messages.  I asked them why they don’t leave me a comment online, and the response is the same.  Because they are afraid that an employee or church member will read their comment, take it out of context and use it against them.

So the Facebook Police are watching you.  But they aren’t working for Facebook.  Instead, they are your friends and neighbors, co-workers and employers and any one of them may try and use something you’ve written against you in the future.  It’s a chilling thought, that someone would take an innocent comment between friends and use it to hurt you.  In effect, it is worse than government censorship.  How do you complain that “Susan” read something you really did write, but is using it totally out of context to hurt you?

There are only two reasons I can think of that someone would do this.  Either they really are taking it out of context, because perhaps they are catching a conversation between two people who have a history and are talking in “friend code” to each other, and they are offended.  The other is that they know they are taking it out of context and are really trying to hurt you.

The later is just despicable.  If you’re really out to hurt someone, looking for dirt to bring up for the express purpose of hurting another, then you are among the lowest life forms I can think of.  And it’s one thing if you take something I write or post for public consumption and try and twist it into something hurtful.  I mean, I put it out there for everyone to read, and if I offend you then there is the chance that I intended to offend you.  So we should be able to dialog about it and see where we agree and disagree.  But to use it to hurt me?  Come on and grow up.

The other, where it wasn’t really a public post but a discussion between friends, is worse.  Friends do talk in code, and there may be a level or meaning you don’t understand about what is being said.  Then, not only are you taking it out of context, but you are misunderstanding too.

In either case, the intentional goal of hurting someone is low.  It’s one thing to snark, but another thing altogether to go after someone and hurt them.  If you disagree, have the guts to stand up and say so.  Don’t sneak around collecting posts and messages just to “build a case” and then take it to someone else.  Bring it up to ME and let’s work it out.

I know the Facebook police are out there.  I know that there are people reading my posts and my status messages just hoping I or one of my friends will say something they can use against me.  I know people are reading my posts and liking them, but refusing to comment because of those people.  And I know I say and post things just to get a rise out of people.  It’s who I am.

So if you don’t like what I said, tell me or please shut up.  And don’t use my conversations with my friends to hurt them.  Because I will call you out on it.  I wish this meant that more people would comment, but I’m not that naive.  I know that other people are less likely to take the hassle of standing up for something as insignificant as social media.  But hey, right now I have nothing better to be doing.

So game on!  I’ve decided I’m not going to self censor at a higher level online than what I would offline.  If I’m not willing to say it to your face, I’m not going to post about it here.  But I’m not going to hold my online writing to a higher standard than my personal life.  At least, not on a personal blog.  I’ve got a journalistic blog as well, and over there I will hold myself to journalist levels of writing (which, btw, is pretty freaking low right now).  But I’m not going to censor myself because someone out there is out to get me.  One, because I don’t want to give in to that paranoia.  And two, cause hey!  It’ll make for some fun blog posts.