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November 21, 2009

Failure to Tweet Leads to Arrest

I think the moral of this story is that if you get a few thousand stupid people together, they will behave stupidly.

Three thousand people gathered at a mall in Garden City to see teen pop singer Justin Bieber. I've never heard of him, but apparently he gets the the teenage girls hot and bothered. About two hours before his scheduled arrival, the gathered fans had a mass conniption and started knocking each other down and sending each other to the hospital.

Police arrested a vice president from Bieber's record label, Island Def Jam Records, saying he wasn't cooperating with attempts to disperse the crowd.

James Roppo, 44, of Hoboken, N.J., was charged with a series of misdemeanors, including endangering the welfare of children and obstructing governmental administration.

"We asked for his help in getting the crowd to go away by sending out a Twitter message," said Nassau County Police Det. Lt. Kevin Smith. "By not cooperating with us, we feel he put lives in danger and the public at risk."

In this country, failure to act is almost never a crime. As the old lawschool hypo goes, an Olympic-class swimmer can watch a child drown in a lake and not be legally required to do anything about it. (This example is also frequently used to illustrate the difference between imposed legal requirements and moral duties.)

Unless this record label guy had some legal duty to protect the gathered fans, a conviction will never hold up. The Nassau County Police should know better. The report says he's charged with several misdemeanors, so maybe there's something more to the story.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 09:17 PM

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