Today, a Virginia judge ordered the release of Brandon J. Raub, the 26-year-old former Marine who was detained for psychiatric evaluation last week based on his conspiracy-minded, anti-government Facebook posts. Following a one-hour hearing, Prince George County Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharrett declared that the petition seeking to commit Raub for a month “is so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.” As Nick Gillespie noted yesterday, local police and federal agents came and took Raub away last Thursday in response to complaints about his Facebook posts, which mix laments about lost liberty and condemnations of tyranny with dark music lyrics, quotations from famous people (e.g., Napoleon: “Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily”), predictions of impending revolution (e.g., “the revolution is upon us,” “a new beginning is coming”), and loony but sadly familiar allegations about the government’s involvement in 9/11, along with less familiar (to me, anyway) claims about clandestine chemical drops and “a secret Castle in Colorado where they have been raping and sacrificing children for many years.” The scariest statement cited so far: “Sharpen up my axe; I’m here to sever heads.” Not rainbows and unicorns by any means, but not exactly a true threat either.
The Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group based in Charlottesville, Virginia, helped Raub win his freedom. Its executive director, John Whitehead, comments:
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This is a great victory for the First Amendment and the rule of law. Brandon Raub was arrested with no warning, targeted for doing nothing more than speaking out against the government, detained against his will, and isolated from his family, friends and attorneys. These are the kinds of things that take place in totalitarian societies. Today, at least, Judge Allan Sharrett proved that justice can still prevail in America.
Read more at Reason. By Jacob Sullum.