The Orlando Weekly Case

Here in Orlando we have a “police agency” known as MBI. I am not quite certain what MBI is supposed to do with the taxpayers’ money, but I can report on what they have done.

They recently raided the alternative newspaper, The Orlando Weekly, and arrested three of its employees for accepting advertisements from escort agencies. Quick, go grab your local newspaper and yellow pages and see if you can find the same ads… I’ll wait here….

Ok, you back? Yes, you found the same ads.

So, why has MBI gone after the Orlando Weekly? The Orlando Weekly claims that it is in retaliation for its negative press coverage of MBI. Their article detailing their claims of MBI’s record of corruption and ineptitude is here, and is a must read.

Rick Schreiber, publisher of the Orlando Weekly, staunchly defended his publication and his employees, and asserted that the arrests were made as a form of payback for negative coverage of the MBI that the Orlando Weekly has carried over the years.

“We suspect that the MBI has targeted our company because we are the only newspaper in the area that has been critical of the MBI in a series of investigative articles over the past several years,” Schreiber said.

In an article published following the arrests the paper describes the MBI as “an inept, inefficient police organization, answerable to no one.” (source)

MBI, naturally, denies that the carefully-staged raid (with TV crew in tow) has anything to do with the Orlando Weekly’s gadfly approach to covering the MBI’s misdeeds.

As a matter of Constitutional law, if the MBI’s charges stick, it will be an ugly day for the First Amendment.

“This case raises some significant 1st Amendment concerns,” attorney Lawrence Walters told XBIZ. “We’re talking about the government agency effectively shutting down a newspaper that was critical of its activities. There may be some extenuating circumstances in this case, depending on how the facts play out. But the prospect of a special law enforcement task force taking newspaper employees into custody on racketeering charges based on the content of its advertising is antithetical to the precepts of the free speech guarantee.” (source)

Perhaps the companies advertising in the Orlando Weekly were, indeed, offering illegal services. What if they were? If MBI succeeds, they will not only have succeeded in imposing a horrifying Singapore-esque chilling effect upon the media, but they will create a new precedent that all media companies should fear. If the MBI succeeds, if any publication (or website, for that matter) accepts advertising, it will be forced to investigate the advertiser’s business or worry that MBI will come pounding at their door.

I would like to remain somewhat objective on this case, but I can’t. MBI has not been the most impressive agency to date, (read this), but this is the most outrageous example of thugs targeting their critics that I have seen since the Nixon administration.

I guess this post may get me stuck on MBI’s “enemies list” as well. Nevertheless, all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to remain silent.

2 Responses to The Orlando Weekly Case

  1. kbrick says:

    After reading the entire article I was taken aback by the low life activities conducted by “orlando’s worst”. It sounds like pigs being pigs, the only difference is that most pigs enjoy rolling around in their own filth. Obviously MBI does not like being held accountable or criticized for their transgressions. I guaruntee every one of those gun totting neanderthals loves the second amendment, they seem to ignore the 1st and the 4th most of the time,just pick up any major national newspaper and one can easily find numerous accounts of police misconduct. The most frightening aspect of the article is that MBI is trying to silence its critics and humiliate them given the public nature of the arrests. If newspapers and similiar news reporting agencies are allowed to be bullied and arrested for some bullshit offense’s we are all in big trouble. The right to criticize our government is a crucial right in a free society and our forefathers saw to it that the right to free speech was number one when it came to the constitutuion. It seems as if the police forget that tax payer money pays their salaries, if we don’t like the job they are doing we can’t fire them find a new police force like you would fire an incompetent doctor or lawyer. If the police are wasting tax payer money and conducting illegal not to mention immoral conduct they need to be called out on it. Now I know there are some good cops out their that many of us owe our safety to, but if the good cops don’t want to be lumped in with their degenerate breathren then they better police their own more effectively. Society should treat bad cops like sexual predators, they both share the urge to weild their power over a helpless victim, while harboring feelings of inadequacy at the same time. They should be forced to wear a sign in a very crowded public place that states “You paid me to abuse my power as a police officer by doing xxxx” whatever crime they commited. The difference between them is that we the taxpayer support one and give them an arsenal and a badge with little more than a high school diploma to police our neighborhoods and a newfound sense of power. thats my incoherent rant, I am out

  2. […] I initially reported on the raid here: The Orlando Weekly Case. […]

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