For the last three months, the Texas Rangers have been involved in a major investigation in Huntsville, Texas. What prompted their attention? Twitter accounts making fun of city council members.
The mock tweeters include one councilman's mustache publishing zingers that include, "(Councilman) Keith (Olson) likes to abuse his powers like I like to abuse his face." Another from the handle Laughable Loll cracked, "I shined my head extra special for tonight so the camera would reflect off of it."David Weeks, the DA for Walker County, felt that the situation required independent investigators. However, at least one legal expert thinks Weeks overstepped his bounds.
Not laughing is the local prosecutor. He says the tweets may run afoul of harassment laws and asked the Rangers to investigate.
David Anderson, a law professor and First Amendment expert at the University of Texas at Austin, said neither prosecutors nor the Rangers have "any business" investigating tweets if the content is simply parody or satire. He said that even a tweet implying that a council member committed domestic abuse — as one council member claims — would be a libel matter taken up in a civil lawsuit, not in criminal court.At least one of the tweeters finds something else ridiculous about it--it's a waste of taxpayer money.
"It's ridiculous," Anderson said.
"When I think of the Texas Rangers, I think of people who are committing felonies," said Katie Newman, who says she admitted to creating one of the fake accounts while being interviewed by a Ranger. "It would strike me as odd that a Texas Ranger would be involved in a parody account of council members in little Huntsville, Texas."Looks like everything is still bigger in Texas--including government waste.