The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on behalf of an Iowa man after he was charged with third-degree harassment over a profane Facebook rant about local law enforcement.
According to the lawsuit, Jon Goldsmith of Red Oak witnessed Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy Cory Dorsey stop a motorist and conduct a drug dog search on a vehicle at a festival in July 2018. No drugs were found. Goldsmith also said he saw Dorsey body-slam another man. When Goldsmith later saw the man’s mugshot on Facebook, he shared the picture in a post criticizing Dorsey.
Goldsmith called Dorsey out by name and accused him of being “butthurt” that the drug search was fruitless. He also called him a “stupid sum bitch” and offered to hire Dorsey to walk his dog and “pick up his shit” if he were fired over the incident.
That August, Sergeant Paul Hogan, Dorsey’s supervisor, filed charges against Goldsmith. An affidavit formally accused Goldsmith of intentionally writing “a threatening and vulgar statement about Cory Dorsey on Facebook.”
The charges against Goldsmith were dismissed in October after his attorney filed a motion to dismiss on First Amendment grounds.
“The actions taken against Mr. Goldsmith by Adams County are a textbook case of retaliating against someone for exercising their First Amendment rights,” said ACLU Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis Austen in a press release. “Police are not allowed to try to put people in jail because they annoy the police or say things the police disagree with—on social media or otherwise.”
Goldsmith’s situation draws interesting similarities to a Michigan case that was settled last year. When James Webb saw an officer handing someone a ticket in front of a gas station, he began to blast NWA’s “Fuck tha Police.” The officer ticketed Webb for a misdemeanor noise violation and later said he took issue with the word “fuck” being rapped in public, despite saying it himself several times prior. Webb faced a $500 fine and 93 days in jail, but was acquitted by a jury.
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