You can read the story here, but the gist of it is fairly easy to summarize. We have a young man with no real criminal record who grew up in an area with a large gang population. The young man knew members of the gang. He associated with them simply by living where he did and apparently communicating with some questionable people via Fakebook. He was arrested several times but never charged with a crime. Now a prosecutor wants to use a federal conspiracy statute to charge him and fourteen others for criminal actions of some of the members of the gang.
The idea is that these non-participants gained stature or, as they say, street cred, through the illegal actions of their friends or acquaintances.
There are law-and-order conservatives who think this is a great idea. You have to go after these gangs hard.
My question would be what happens if some Tea Partier that I know forgets to take his meds one day, goes off the reservation and attacks a St. Louis politician with a rubber chicken? Am I going to be arrested for conspiracy?
I always assumed that the bar was rather high when it came to proving a conspiracy charge beyond a reasonable doubt in court, unless there were signed contracts, video records or other substantial evidence. I have trouble grasping how "friending" someone on Fakebook is any different than asking how the wife and kids are doing when running into an acquaintance at the mall. If we use the same barber, does that make us conspirators? This is scary. An unscrupulous administration -- not that we've ever had one of those -- could very easily go after political opposition based on a "conspiracy by association".
Some of the bloggers that I read, including some I have in the sidebar, make what could be construed as incendiary statements. Most of the time I agree; sometimes I don't. One thing for sure, none of them are as bad as Jeremiah Wright or Bill Ayers. Some people that I link to have links to even more radical sites. I don't know that anybody out there is a felon, but they might become felons some day. Or their opinions might just run afoul of Obama's ridiculously thin skin.
This is a not slope I want us to start down.