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National

The Man Arrested for Praising Jesus

Lester Packingham’s Facebook post is headed for the Supreme Court… Lester Gerard Packingham was having a really good day back on April 27, 2010. The North Carolina man had just learned that a traffic ticket against him had been dismissed, so he logged onto his Facebook account and gleefully told the world: “Man God is Good! How about I got so much favor they dismissed the ticket before court even started? No fine, no court costs, no nothing spent… Praise be to GOD, WOW! Thanks Jesus.” Full Article

Packingham v. North Carolina

Join the discussion

  1. DPH

    WHAT HAPPENED TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH?
    What about freedom of choice of Religion??
    What happened to the Bible Belt in NC? Did it fall off?
    What happened to OUR CONSTITUTION????

  2. American Detained in America

    The Bible Belt was loosened in the 90s, then fell completely off in the last 10 years. It’s a sad fact, but there is no freedom of speech on Facebook, or in a lot of other places. The new freedom seems to be the freedom to censor if you don’t like what others have to say.

  3. Bruce Ferrell

    While I agree with his fight, the article title is disingenuous and harmful. His religious proclamation isn’t at issue. It’s the violation of what I think is a terrible law in North Carolina.

    The plain and simple fact of the matter is that Facebook denies access to registered citizens. If Facebook, in any manner, becomes aware of an account operated by a register citizen, the account will be shutdown as a violation of the terms of service… And they actively perform searches to locate them.

    Nothing and no one seems to be interested in that currently.

    The language of the proposed California tiered registry seems to actually have language addressing this in that it seems to make broadly denying access to anything based on registry status a violation of law as opposed to only housing, employment and other civil rights categories.

    I know, who cares about Facebook. Like it or not, Facebook has become the defacto public commons and registered citizens are being systematically denied access to that.

  4. Joe123

    This, this is one of the reasons we are the Laughing Stock of other countries. They look at laws like this and cannot comprehend them. How Insane do you have to be to think that this is OK? How Disconnected with reality do you have to be to think that preventing a group of people (who already served their sentence) from using technology like the rest of the population will actually benefit society? These are Disgusting, Distorted and dangerous views. How about more PARENTS in this country do their jobs and teach kids something for a change such as how to be careful online? How about having a course in Middle School and High school regarding online safety? Where is the common sense in this country? If this potential Bill doesn’t outrage you, you may want to reconsider how disconnected and Passive you’ve become as a human being. I’m speaking as someone that moved to this country at a young age. I can see this from both sides, as an American and as someone who’s well aware of how people outside of the USA think and people LAUGH with disbelief at these stupid laws. I think the ACLU and organizations like ours could be a little more ‘Aggressive’ towards combating stupidity like this. Americans need to stop acting as if the Government is their ‘God’ and the ‘End all be all’. Take some PERSONAL responsibility for yourself and your kids! Teach them something so that they can fend for themselves. Just because you’re a bad parent who isn’t teaching their kids enough useful lessons about life, doesn’t make it OK for you to banish people they you don’t like. People should be enraged by Bills like this and should not be so politically correct when pushing back on them!

  5. G4Change

    GOD HELP US if the SCOTUS upholds this conviction! If you think the 2003 Smith v. Doe decision made our lives miserable, just wait and see what happens if this thing survives. God have mercy!

  6. Tobin's Tools 2.0

    Packingham involves a case invoking the petitioner’s First Amendment Right. I often question whether the California law barring registrants from looking at their own Megan’s Law profile — i.e., for a registrant to check its accuracy and/or whether one was either included or excluded from the website — is violative of the First Amendment. In my opinion, I don’t think the California law barring a 290 Registrant from looking at the Megan’s Law website would meet strict scrutiny:

    1. How can California argue that the prohibition of reviewing one’s own Megan’s Law profile meets a “compelling government interest?”

    2. How can California argue that the prohibition of reviewing one’s own Megan’s Law profile is “narrowly tailored?”

    3. How can California argue that the prohibition of reviewing one’s own Megan’s Law profile is the “least restrictive means” for achieving the interest of whatever the prohibition intends to meet?

    The First Amendment is one of the most protected — if not *the most* protected — Constitutional rights guaranteed to a citizen. Even for a registrant, I can’t ever see the above law meeting Constitutional muster.

    • Timmr

      When have registered citizens used the ML website to organize a crime? That’s the reason they give for the prohibition. Never, that I know of. But it has been used many times by people who want to commit crimes against registrants.
      There needs to be some sort of truth in government law, like “this product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer.”
      “California ___ Warning:
      This website has been known by the State of California to:
      -not prevent crime.
      -increase crime
      – cause unemployment and underemployment.
      -cause people to lose their homes.
      – lead to injury and death to those listed on this site, as well as family members, friends and those mistakenly identified as registrants and victims of crime whose family members are registrants.
      -give users a false sense of security and discourages crime reporting.”
      Anyone got any more items? I want to put it on a poster and flier to hand out to politicians.

      • Nondescript

        Don’t forget about the children! Children who have a parent listed on that shaming website suffer from harassment at school and alienation from social and extracurricular activities. This leads to depression, anxiety and low self esteem. Why should cohabitants in a home of a registrant be subject to such collateral consequences?
        Seems to me they have all their bases covered with longer prison sentences and civil commitments. And they already have the means in place to monitor an individual based on risk. It’s called parole.

    • David Kennerly, Still Radioactive After All These Years!

      The ban on accessing the “Megan’s Law” website is absolutely not defensible and utterly unconstitutional. I will not obey that law and routinely break it. I see it as a personal responsibility to do so.

      An unjust law is no law at all.

      • Tobin's Tools 2.0

        Looks like you just made an admission David. Though I doubt your hypothetical conviction would be upheld if it were to be appealed to higher courts.

        BTW, which quarterly meetings do you (David) and Timmr attend?

        • Timmr

          I attend San Diego, but I have gone to LA (means I have to leave home at 7:30 on Saturday morning, ugh). I believe you are nearer the Bay area?

  7. Chris F (Need intelligent answer)

    Sorry, I never change my sign in name but I need a real answer from someone who understands or researches this stuff.

    I’ve read ALL of the briefs in the Packingham case, and understand that over 1000 registrants have already been charged for accessing social media and fined or gotten jail time.

    NOWHERE, not media coverage, not in the briefs, and not in the oral arguments I’ve read, does it mention the fact that someone wishing to do harm to a child won’t care about this social media ban law. They will simply use a fake gmail account and fake facebook account to troll kids. No search by law enforcement will turn this up. None. At most they will get a few really stupid sex offenders that uses the email address he provides to law enforcement to troll a child on social media.

    So, in other words, the law only punishes law abiding sex offenders and does nothing to prevent its stated goals that its existence hinges on.

    My question is, how is it that no lawyers bring this up, no defendants bring this up, and no judges ask questions about this?

    I am tired of feeling helpless, so I at least made the effort to email every lawyer on the list of briefs on this case about that. I only got one response that thanked me for my input. I guess we’ll see if anything actually gets brought up in Oral Arguments on Feb 27th or if this is yet another nail in the coffin of the US Constitution.

    I’ve never been a “conspiracy theorist” but this reeks of it. It’s just COMMON SENSE.

    • Lovecraft

      The proper people have been alerted to this very thing. I wrote a long note asking for a 3 pronged approach with the oral argument. Sexual recvidism studies, Dr Elmans debunk of frightening and high, and the only people this will hurt are the law abiding ones. True “predators” as the respondent refers, are going to do this regardless of internet identifiers or social media bans.

      I have also read all the briefs and if you havent looked lately packingham posted his response brief a few days ago. While his brief doesnt come out and state that predators are going to do this regardless and only law abiding people will be hurt as succinctly as we state it it does touch on it. If you read through it you will see what im talking about.

      Glen Gerding who was packinghams lawyer also had a nice radio interview and he really thinks that we will have an overwhelming ruling in our favor the question to him is how much leeway will scotus give (if any) to nc to create a new law in the future.

      • Chris F (Need intelligent answer)

        That’s great to hear Lovecraft!

        I hope they also point out that the State refuted the brief that stated over 1000 sex offenders have been charged with violating the law saying it was an unreliable media source, yet the state didn’t provide the real numbers which it obviously has. The State also didn’t mention how many sex offenders caught were actually doing something nefarious. I imagine that is because it was zero.

        I hope the Justices notice these omissions by the State. The lack of what they provide says volumes.

        • Lovecraft

          From what Glen Gerding stated in the radio broadcast he has been unable to find even 1 case of “nefarious” activity associated with an arrest related to a registrant using social media. You would be surprised at how well rehearsed (from what I hear) the lawyer for the oral argument is involving this case. I cant promise he will use what i and others have suggested he use, but at least i tried. The oral argument should be posted by march 3rd so we can all listen to it.

  8. Tired Of Hiding

    When I first read the headline I thought good. Another strike against the stupidity of religion and then when I read that it was a post on FB it was clearly not anti-religious but a simple matter of someone with this damned label of “sex offender” who was caught violating the law of their particular state (and the FB TOS).

    They should have known that their account violated the terms of service one agrees to when using FB and regardless of how unfair that may be, it is why I do not have a FB account. I have read the TOS and sex offenders are not wanted by FB: https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms

    Sex offenders are NOT a protected class even though our status is something we can not change is for the vast majority something that will never change (much like skin color or one’s ethnicity) so FB is totally within their legal rights to do just what they have always done: Ban RSOs.

    • Lovecraft

      This isnt really about facebook. Its about it being a felony offense to excercise our 1st amendment rights using any media platform that allows minors to create profiles. The list is staggering: espn.com, webmd.com, google+, facebook, twitter, snapchat, cnn.com, nytimes.com, foodnetwork.com, instagram, youtube, I could keep going but basically any public forum, and about 80 to 90% of all websites. Trust me i know i live there. It is an abomination of a statute and if scotus cant get something as simple as this right i fear for all of us.

  9. mike r

    look how these damnnn judges spin this and find any technicalities in order to support the government and make it nearly impossible for someone without unlimited resources and can fight for decades before getting in front of the court again if at all.

    The North Carolina Supreme Court restored Packingham’s conviction. The state’s law did not infringe Packingham’s First Amendment-protected speech, the court’s majority concluded, it just restricted his conduct, the act of “accessing” the Internet

    guess what the guy can’t speak freely if he cant access the net because his” conduct” is illegal.

    wow…what a spinnn.

  10. Lll

    Persona non grata, were no longer citizens of the United States and should not expect the protections thereof.

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