A reader writes:
I saw this story yesterday, and I'm surprised at the uproar (well, not surprised at all in many ways).
1. People act as though Obama himself signed this ban. Highly unlikely. The FBI was the investigating office, and presumably they deal with a lot of abusive/complaining e-mail.
2. Nobody outside the loop - least of all The Sun! - knows exactly what was in the email, and what specific phrases were used. I am not sure why the kid has not published it, unless he was forbidden to by the FBI; or perhaps he was so drunk that he doesn't know where his outbox is.
3. He's not an American citizen who is being exiled for exercising his First Amendment rights; he is a foreign national who apparently made threats to the person or office of the President.
Non-Americans have no protected "right" of travel there that I am aware of: they are generally extended the privilege unless there is a reason to deny it ... a line this e-mail seems to have crossed. Everyone has latched on to "prick" as being the worst of the insults, and perhaps it is, but I doubt the FBI goes to these sorts of lengths for that level of insult, somehow. I also doubt that the UK law enforcement would be following up this way for something quite so minor. They have a lot more important things to do than track down teenagers calling people pricks, don't you think?
So, I'm giving some benefit of the doubt to law enforcement in this case, since I know that I don't know all the facts. Whether or not the kid should be held accountable in such a way for his drunken hooliganism is another matter. By the way, the melodramatic Palin allusion was a bit over the top!
Instead of addressing the story, you take shots at Palin. Let me be clear: I am a fan and I love your blog. I don't like Palin at all. But I hate the injection of the ex-governor in this way.
What I really wanted to know is what you thought of this story and those consequences. There are numerous questions I'd love to read your take on, such as: What does this story say about youth and information technology? What does this story say about what one can say to the president (any US president) in correspondence as a foreign citizen? If it is true that the worst thing this kid said in his email was that the president is a "prick," what does that say about protecting the leader of the free world? Etc.
Instead, I get what you think about Palin. Again.
I know you're trying to keep our eyes on the ball. But this felt kind of sloppy and I was just slightly disappointed as a humble, loyal reader.
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