Success Stories: Positive Outcomes
Prince George County Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharrett Frees Former Marine Brandon Raub From The Psychiatric Hospital He Was Sent To After Posting On His Facebook Page
Prince George County Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharrett ordered the release of former Marine Brandon Raub, who had been detained “for psychiatric evaluation” after posting anti-government messages on his Facebook page – according to Morning Sun. From Editor Betsy Combier: Thank you, Judge Sharrett!
Brandon Raub Facebook Fiasco: How Posting on Your Timeline Could Land You in the Madhouse
Prince George County Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharrett ordered the release of former Marine Brandon Raub, who had been detained “for psychiatric evaluation” after posting anti-government messages on his Facebook page – according to Morning Sun.
The judge said that the involuntary commitment order issued by a magistrate against Brandon J. Raub was invalid “because it contained no allegation or basis to hold him.”
“This is a great victory,” said John Whitehead, an executive director at the Rutherford Institute – a civil liberties organization defending 26-year-old Raub. “He’s a good human being. He just got caught in some weird bureaucratic meanderings and the judge recognized that there’s really no true facts to hold this man in a psychiatric ward,” Whitehead added.
Raub, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was released from the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center late yesterday and was on his way back to his home in the Richmond area. He had been taken into custody on August 16 after being questioned by Chesterfield County police and federal agents over the aforementioned Facebook posts.
The FBI said the interview was prompted by complaints from people who read his "ominous" posts, including some that spoke of a "pending revolution." Another post said “a day of reckoning” was coming, and an additional one said: “Sharpen my axe; I’m here to sever heads.”
However, witnesses of the arrest shot a video of Raub being taken away from his home in handcuffs. They later posted it on YouTube, where the video went viral prompting support for the veteran and criticism of the government – which online comments said it stepped on Raub’s civil liberties. Raub, however, was never charged with a crime.
“People a have right to go on Facebook or the Internet (and) say things that people might not agree with,” Whitehead said. “But that doesn’t mean they’re crazy or should be incarcerated for it,” he added.
Or, does it?
Brandon Raub and the Victory for the Bill of Rights
In a victory for the Constitution, specifically the First and Fourth Amendments, former United States Marine Brandon Raub was ordered released from a psychiatric institution by a federal circuit judge. Raub had been taken into custody on August 16 after a triumvirate of freedom-hating jack-booted thugs comprised of the Secret Service, FBI, and local authorities in Virginia questioned Raub about posts he made on his Facebook page. Apparently irked by Raub’s responses, the officials sent Raub, against his will, to a mental hospital.
Raub had no doubt made a series of bizarre statements on his Facebook page, including claims about an imminent civil war in the U.S., the government raping children, and 9/11 being an inside job. Though these opinions are ridiculous, ridiculousness is not illegal. In fact, thanks to the First Amendment, ridiculousness is quite constitutional.
This would include inflammatory speech, so long as the speech in question is not meant to incite imminent lawless action, as the Supreme Court outlined in Brandenburg v. Ohio. That the authorities in this case did not arrest and charge Raub with any crime, indicates they were well-aware that formal criminal action against him was not feasible from a legal standpoint. Instead, it appears Virginia has a very low legal threshold for institutionalizing its citizens. John Whitehead, Raub’s attorney, told Business Insider, “I could call [the police] right now and probably get you committed if you were in Virginia,” adding, “They can arrive at your door based on somebody's testimony or your Facebook page and take you away to a mental hospital.”
That is scary prospect. What’s even scarier is the fact that the federal and state governments appear to be trolling the Facebook pages of private citizens for posts that deviate too far from what they consider to be the acceptable range of opinions. Whether you agree with Raub’s crackpot theories—and hopefully you do not—it is vital to the perseverance of the Bill of Rights that all freedom-loving Americans denounce the illegal detention of Raub as blatant violation of the most fundamental constitutional principles of freedom of speech and freedom from unreasonable seizure.
In the days after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush insisted that the objective of the hijackers and those who sent them was to “change our way of life,” and that we mustn’t succumb to their volition. It saddens me to say that we have failed in this regard. We have allowed “terrorists” to become the government’s go-to excuse as to why we must give up a little freedom here and a few rights there. The ironic part is that Brandon Raub served in the U.S. military, which, according to established political orthodoxy, is the guarantor of our freedom. But if the current trend continues, we won’t need a military because soon there will be nothing left to defend.