Whatcom Chief Ferry: Urgent Questions
The Whatcom Chief, our Lummi Island ferry, has been running illegally over loaded. And the hull may be fatally corroded. County exec Louws is ignoring this dangerous situation.
Dave McEachran, our Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney, seems to have a problem with citizen freedoms. He is now prosecuting a nice normal citizen for some poorly worded blog comments - and intends to criminalize the guy and make him a felon. Dave, as most of us local political junkies remember, tried to bankrupt and shut down The Newstand a few years ago for selling some magazine he didn’t like. A few years before that he tried to criminalize some women for throwing mud balls onto a very sexist billboard. He was ready to wreck their lives over this.
Over the years he has shown a poor respect for the civil liberties of Whatcom County citizens. And a poor respect for minorities in our community and a blind eye to white collar crime. Now, on the other side of the record, violent criminals in our community have very short careers. McEachran has gotten guys who literally got away with murder in other places - like Bianchi. This is the wrong county to commit a violent crime - and we should be very thankful to McEachran for that. But that does not excuse his tendency to go after those who exercise their normal civil liberties - or who push the edges of those liberties a bit in the American tradition.
This month we have another example of his heavy handed prosecution. A commenter on a Bellingham Herald blog is being prosecuted for felony harassment. That’s right - for a blog comment earlier this month. Criminalize the guy and he could be sent to Walla Walla for 10 years. A person with no arrests or convictions - a clean record. But McEachran is going to nail a person who is not guilty of anything more than poor judgement in his choice of words on the Internet.
What did he write? At first reading you might think - omygawd - he should not have written that. But on Internet blogs, we have all seen comments that are very obnoxious, obscene, threatening and extreme. It is the blogosphere and we know it is just talk. He wrote in part: “Lola, shut up. Also to all of you who blame drugs. . . . . Shut up as well. You know what, I am going to go shoot up sunset square today. . . . Just for the hell of it. No drugs, no mental illness. . . . You can blame today episode on video games and George Bush’s example of “pay back” to society.”
You know, in my opinion, to make his point he could have changed a couple words so it read “…. What if I was to shoot up sunset square ….” as that is what he plainly meant. It was not something he intended to do. He was making a point about people blaming drugs and mental illnesses for bad actions. Maybe he needs to be banned from commenting on the Herald blogs. Of course, the Herald tolerates such comments online - and that is the nature of the wild Internet. The Herald obviously was not concerned as they left the comment up - and did not bother to notify the police. The more outlandish comments, the more readers and the more advertising revenue. Many absurd comments are posted on the Herald site. They like them and that is why they provide anonymity to commenters.
At worst, maybe someone in authority could say something to the fellow. You know what is the tip-off on how much this is a personal deviant tick of McEachran’s? Dave himself is prosecuting this case - even though he has 20 some attorneys working for him. He also personally tried to nail The Newstand - and lost big time.
Someone tell Dave that the wild world of blogs is full of stuff like this. Dave seems very concerned about the rights of free speech - concerned that they are being exercised in this community. He is very quick to twist a minor indiscretion into a major felony and wreck a person’s life and imprison them for years. And thus intimidate others against speaking freely. This should stop and Dave’s peers should have the courage to clue him in.