Renton law enforcement are accusing an anonymous cartoonist—known only as Mr. Fiddlesticks—of criminal cyberstalking for making eight embarrassing, funny video parodies that appear to skewer the Renton police. Court documents state that the videos "did not mention a specific city or police department, but several comments made in the videos were linked to past sexual relationships, internal investigations, rumors, and accusations of sexual orientation within the City of Renton."
The videos—which have since been removed from Youtube.com—also mention "officers having sex on duty... sleeping while on duty, throwing somebody off a bridge." (KiroTV has two of the videos uploaded on their website.) Meanwhile, First Amendment law experts say the city's accusations of cyberstalking are dubious.
“The cyberstalking angle doesn't pass the laugh test," Balasubramani [a cyber-law and constitutional lawyer] told KIRO-TV. "It's a serious stretch and I'd be surprised if somebody looked at it and realistically thought these acts actually fit the statute and we could make somebody criminally liable."
When we asked about the more likely scenario, Balasubramani said, "I think they were trying to get at the speaker and they looked around for a statute that shoehorned their conduct into and sent that to Google and said ‘turn over the information.”
So this seemingly flimsy cyberstalking charge has put a spotlight on otherwise innocuous videos that never would've tapped the public consciousness (even as they made a few Renton officers' heads explode). "The department does not like laundry being aired in public," the cartoon bureaucrat states in one video. "We do a fine job of keeping dirt inside."
Apparently. What a fascinating fight.