Thanks to social media, the Miranda warning -- you know, the one you've heard recited a million times on TV cop shows -- is in serious need of an update. To wit:
You have the right to remain silent. If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say on Twitter or Facebook can be used against you in a court of law, or anywhere else the authorities maintain total physical control.
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Why do I mention this now? Because two U.K. tourists were recently stopped in Los Angeles and trundled back to Europe on a plane after tweeting they were on their way to "destroy America" and dig up Marilyn Monroe's grave. At least, so say the British tabloids.
According to The Sun: Last week, 26-year-old Leigh Van Bryan and his 24-year-old traveling companion Emily Banting were stopped by the Department of Homeland Security at LAX, detained for 12 hours, then put on a plane back to Paris.
Mr. Bryan confirmed that he had posted on his Tweeter [sic] website account that he was coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe. Also on his tweeter account Mr. Bryan posted that he was coming to destroy America...
Because terrorists always alert the authorities before they strike. It's the sporting thing to do.
Anyone not employed by the DHS might interpret "destroy" in a slightly different way -- as in, to enjoy a grand time by imbibing too many alcoholic-rich refreshments. Kids these days, they have a new word for everything.
Federal agents also allegedly searched the couple's luggage looking for the shovels they were going to use to exhume what's left of poor Marilyn. (That line, contained in another "tweeter," was a reference to an old "Family Guy" episode.)
This is where the story starts to sound just a little too outrageous to me. I can believe the DHS scans tweets and would stop someone who claimed to on a mission to "destroy America," if only for questioning. (I'm not saying they should, I'm saying I believe they would.) The bit about looking for shovels? I'm beginning to smell a rat.
The story was produced by a press agency called Small World News Service -- the U.K. equivalent of a wire service like AP or Reuters -- that routinely sells oddball stories to the British press. I called SWNS, which confirmed it had sold the story and the photos to the Sun, the Mirror, and other U.K. tabloids.