Wisconsin County Officials Attempt to Censor Speech about COVID-19

Screen Shot of Rusk County statement showing First Amendment threat, cropped and scaled by Dean Weingarten

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- On 30 March 2020, the Public Health Department of Rusk County, Wisconsin, issued a statement under the name of the County Sheriff and Dawn Brost, RN, of Rusk County Public Health. The statement appears to be a direct attack on First Amendment rights.  From the Rusk County web page:

The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office and Public Health Department take coronavirus infection (COVID-19) seriously. We are informing the public that making false statements and spreading rumors about COVID-19 is a crime and will be prosecuted.

No Wisconsin statute is cited. Wisconsin statutes have provisions for false statements or claims by a health care provider.  A search did not find a statute for false statements by a member of the public, not for spreading rumors.

Here is an image of the entire statement:

Screen shot of full Rusk County announcement, cropped and scaled by Dean Weingarten.

The problem with prosecuting people for spreading rumors or making false statements is it is not clear who gets to decide what is false or not.

There are often diametrically opposed statements made by different media, which cannot both be true.

The First Amendment protects speech, very widely. There are exceptions for inciting riots, slander, defamation or inciting the violent overthrow of the government. There is a provision for disorderly conduct.

None of that seems to apply to the Rusk County threat about false statements and rumors.

The First and Second Amendments are tied tightly together. Openly carrying a firearm is a strong, symbolic, political speech. It is difficult to protect your right to freedom of speech and the press, if you have no right to bear arms, or are not allowed to protect the property necessary to spread your message.

The Wisconsin Constitution has a very strong provision protecting the right to keep and bear arms in Section 25:

Right to keep and bear arms. Section 25. [As created Nov. 1998] The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose. [1995 J.R. 27, 1997 J.R. 21, vote Nov. 1998]

It also has very strong protection for freedom of speech, in Section 2:

Free speech; libel. Section 3. Every person may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right, and no laws shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press. In all criminal prosecutions or indictments for libel, the truth may be given in evidence, and if it shall appear to the jury that the matter charged as libelous be true, and was published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the party shall be acquitted; and the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the fact.

The threat from Rusk County to prosecute for false statements and rumors about COVID-19 appears to be in direct contradiction to both the United States Constitution, and the Wisconsin State Constitution.

On 28 January 2020, the Rusk County Board of Supervisors voted, unanimously, not to make Rusk County into a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.

The Internet is full of rumors about COVID-19. The media is full of contradictory rumors about the virus, its lethality, origin, infectious qualities, and possible treatments.

Rusk County Health Department was contacted;  Dawn Brost was not available and has not returned the phone call at this time.

The Sheriff's office was contacted; Sheriff Wallace has not returned the phone call at this time.

The statement may be an example of poor wording. At a minimum, a citation of a Wisconsin statute would do much to eliminate confusion.



About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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nobodyuknow
nobodyuknow
5 months ago

Tell the Rusk Cty., WI “officials” to STFU!!!

linkman
linkman
5 months ago

Does the sheriff want to arrest himself now for making a false statement or do the state police need to do that?

RoyD
RoyD
5 months ago

From your fingertips to God’s ears.

duh duh
duh duh
5 months ago

I feel so naked with only 6,000 rifle rounds .

nobodyuknow
nobodyuknow
5 months ago
Reply to  duh duh

duh duh . . . Gotcha’ beat! I got 15,000!

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
5 months ago
Reply to  duh duh

You gotta pump those numbers up..

RoyD
RoyD
5 months ago

This thread has fifteen posts and not one deals with the subject matter; color me surprised. What the “public officials” are talking about is that which is analogous to “raising alarm.” If you “raise alarm” falsely and thereby cause harm, be it real or mental, you have committed a criminal offense of one degree or another in every jurisdiction that I am aware of. This is what they are talking about.

Knute
Knute
5 months ago
Reply to  RoyD

RoyD: The issue of the article is the shutdown of free speech (the first amendment to the Bill of Rights… quite obviously! 🙂 ), and EVERY post is on that!
Reading comprehension. It’s a thing. Remedial reading classes are available free at most libraries (the buildings, NOT google. Duh!). I’d suggest to you that they would do you a lot of good. You only need get a “C” to pass. It’s not that hard. 9 year-old kids can do it. YOU can do it. I have faith in you!

RoyD
RoyD
5 months ago
Reply to  Knute

Knute: That’s strange because I was always taught that the first paragraph set the “topic.” In case you missed it, here it is: “On 30 March 2020, the Public Health Department of Rusk County, Wisconsin, issued a statement under the name of the County Sheriff and Dawn Brost, RN, of Rusk County Public Health. The statement appears to be a direct attack on First Amendment rights.” As you should be able to plainly see the “topic” is the “statement.” In fact that word “statement” appears twice in the first paragraph in case you can’t count. Perhaps you should take your… Read more »

Heed the Call-up
Heed the Call-up
5 months ago
Reply to  RoyD

Roy, you just proved your initial post wrong, and knute right.

Knute
Knute
5 months ago

Heed) Aren’t the sheeple amazing creatures? They can somehow justify, in their own addled mind, that the statement; “a direct attack on First Amendment rights” somehow isn’t related to the first amendment!
Perhaps he thinks the first amendment says “freedom to pet dogs”, or some other such childish nonsense? 🙂
In any case, I seldom get this big a laugh. I’d try to illustrate this absurdity by being even more absurd, but I just don’t see how that’s possible. 😀

RoyD
RoyD
5 months ago
Reply to  Knute

Knute: I have read this post of yours twice and do not see the substance of it. Perhaps you can summon up all of your knowledge and intellect and provide it for us. Or, most likely it is the best you can do as shown in many of your other posts. Oh well.

RoyD
RoyD
5 months ago

Heed: Perhaps you could elaborate on your contention and then again maybe not. Let us see not only your answer but also your work.

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
5 months ago

Maybe Roy is taking gaffe-ing lessons from Pedo Joe the Alzheimer’s Candidate.

RoyD
RoyD
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Flatt

Will Flatt: Since you have written about it three times now in this thread alone, I think it is something of which you yourself are an expert.

“Roy, you and Billy-bob are judging others by your own measuring stick. Look in the mirror. Look hard.”

And:
“You’re obviously incapable of introspection, congratulations. I’m not the issue here, you are, and your psychological projection screams volumes.”
So, Will Flatt, who is really doing the projecting here? Most of us know the answer to that and it is not me. But do carry on, it amuses us.

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
5 months ago
Reply to  RoyD

– In other words you’re saying “Not me, you” or “I’m rubber you’re glue everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”

You’re a mental juvenile, Roy. Go back to the kids table where you belong and leave the adult discussions to the rest of us.

Knute
Knute
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Flatt

Note that he also uses the “royal plural” as in; “it amuses US {emp. mine}”. Do you think he actually sees himself as the royal one, in charge of the whole planet… or is he talking about his supervisor walking back and forth behind him like a pit boss in a casino?
IOW, Do you think he’s a simple nut case, or a career criminal?

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
5 months ago
Reply to  Knute

– He’s just butthurt that I hit the nail squarely on the head, because truth hurts. But his senitive snowflake ass couldnt let it go. Hemmor-RoyD is one of many trolls that have taken up residence here now that Ammoland is one of the top internet websites.

Knute
Knute
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Flatt

And the paid trolls show up only when the sites popularity warrants it. That’s what makes me suspicious that his use of the word “us” wasn’t because he’s crazy as a loon (although he’s probably that also 🙂 ) but a fruedian slip. He might have had his supervisor suggest that whole post (notice that the writing style is his… but the cut and paste thing is new for him…), and so he used US, meaning both he and his slightly superior officer. If that’s the case he’s probably getting a severe dressing down right now for that little blunder.… Read more »

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
5 months ago
Reply to  Knute

– That he is a paid Bloomturd or Soros troll working from his momma’s basement, I have no doubt.

AggregatVier
AggregatVier
5 months ago
Reply to  RoyD

Does this interpretation lead to the criminalization of violating “safe spaces”?

JPM
JPM
5 months ago

Looks like these idiot sorry excuses for LEOs are going after the 1st Amendment along with the 2nd now. Please explain exactly what the “Truth” regarding COVID 19 actually is as opposed to the bullshit being spread by the media and government.

Catatonic
Catatonic
5 months ago
Reply to  JPM

The “truth” is that they really don’t know anything. The majority of questions are answered with, “We don’t know. More research is needed.” Everyone is flying totally blind and trying to make it up as they go. Unfortunately, many of them, like the Rusk County people, seem to think that any response is better than no response.

CourageousLion
CourageousLion
5 months ago

Maybe we need to turn off 5G for 180 days and see what happens instead of shutting the world down. https://www.naturalnews.com/2020-04-06-5g-alter-hemoglobin-coronavirus-patients-oxygen-deprivation.html

Doszap
Doszap
5 months ago

This crap has to stop, NO ONE has a right to threaten legal proceedings against anything you say if it’s not a SO called BS hate crime.Free Speech covers all else this Sheriff needs hos ass kicked.
The 1st Amendment is not YOURS to define or penalize butt-head!.

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
5 months ago
Reply to  Doszap

To them, might makes right. They want to play by Waco Rules. Do as we say or we burn you down! Those that do the burning down try to absolve themselves of responsibility by saying “we were just following orders” and “the law is the law”. On the other hand we will play by Nuremberg Rules. When we bring them to justice, there will be NO plea deals, NO clemency, NO parole. They will be judged for their actions and “I was just following orders” will not be a valid defense. Punishment will be swift, it will be ultimate, and… Read more »

CourageousLion
CourageousLion
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Flatt

Maybe they will end like these two did.

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
5 months ago

Well it is all coming into focus now, isn’t it? Under the COVID-19 martial law lockdown, the USA has become Gulag Amerika and all the freedoms you once too for granted are now GONE! No more freedom of assembly, worship, speech, redress of grievances; no more right to keep and bear arms soon, due process is out the window, warrantless door to door searches of every home, troops on the streets, 24-hour curfew, it’s all gone. And yet the people, in cowardice, aren’t seeing this “crisis” for what it really is: the deconstruction of liberty and human dignity because the… Read more »

Doszap
Doszap
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Flatt

This will pass as soon as the virus is abated,or else we will have a Revolution.

Knute
Knute
5 months ago
Reply to  Doszap

I don’t see this lock down as ever ending. I project that it will continue… until they announce a vaccine for it. Then, you will either take their unknown, untested, “emergency” jab, or else be placed under house arrest forever. As a danger to the flock, OFC. The tyrants know they need to make up an excuse that the sheeple will tolerate.

Bill
Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Flatt

Hey Will, wake up, I’m ready. Who else wants to help wake Will up?

CourageousLion
CourageousLion
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Flatt

I’ve been ready to boogaloo for the last 40 years. Now I’m REALLY getting an itch on my right index finger.

RoyD
RoyD
5 months ago
Reply to  CourageousLion

You are, as they say in Texas, “All hat and no cattle.”

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
5 months ago
Reply to  RoyD

Roy, you and Billy-bob are judging others by your own measuring stick. Look in the mirror. Look hard.

RoyD
RoyD
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Flatt

WF: I don’t have a problem looking in the mirror, even looking real hard. How about you?

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
5 months ago
Reply to  RoyD

You’re obviously incapable of introspection, congratulations. I’m not the issue here, you are, and your psychological projection screams volumes.

schwit
schwit
5 months ago

“We are informing the public that making false statements … will be prosecuted”

It seems that they are making a false statement by insinuating that they have the authority to overrule the 1st amendment.

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
5 months ago
Reply to  schwit

Precisely why ordinary people need to go and arrest these scofflaws, and toss them in the jail. Since the polticians have let the inmates walk away scot free, there’s now plenty of room for these politicians… and for their Bluecoat Hessian mercenaries.

Doszap
Doszap
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Flatt

Bingo, perform a citizens arrest in a group of three or four, otherwise you would be arrested by these GESTAPO tactic arseholes.

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
5 months ago
Reply to  Doszap

Nope, 3 or 4 would probably be just enough to get you gunned down dead. You’d need a team of 16-17 at least. Better yet, make it 22, three squads, call it a short platoon. Cops and soldiers seek force protection during missions by bringing overwhelming force. Patriots would have to do at least that, maybe more. Otherwise you get bogged down, then fixed in place, then they kill you.

No. Thank. You. If you gotta start physically taking custody of tyrants, you need to bring enough manpower to overwhelm their dutiful mercenaries.

Knute
Knute
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Flatt

While the weight of numbers is what’s really needed, a group of nine could do a lot. Three, three man teams. Three pairs could even get a mission done, One active pair with two more for cover. But that means any one casualty negates the whole team, since someone would be alone, and sheeple cannot function alone. Three short squads (5-6) WOULD be the minimum to have success, other than with a quick, hit and run raid. IMO the real SHTF will occur when thousands of sheep get awake enough to take action, all simultaneously. Like in France circa 1700’s,… Read more »

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
5 months ago
Reply to  Knute

Quantity, they say, has a quality all its own. We outnumber them 5,000 to 1. For that reason, I’m stealing CourageousLion’s meme and reposting it here.

Knute
Knute
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Flatt

While I get the reference, just FYI, blue was worn by the colonial army (distinctly separate from the militia). The Hessians wore green and white with giant jackboots up over their knees. It was Hessians that Washington crossed the Delaware river to attack at Trenton. In an interesting aside, guess who brokered the deal between Hessia and King George? None other than one Jacob Rothchild. That finder’s fee was the beginning of their fortune today. The best history is the stuff that ISN’T in the textbooks! Its all there, it just got omitted from the school books. Every. Single. Time.… Read more »

Knute
Knute
5 months ago
Reply to  Knute

Mostly Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a wholly owned Rothchild subsidiary. As for who’s higher, that’s complex. Rothchildren are just one thirteenth of the “Council of Thirteen” (The Conspirators’ Hierarchy: The Committee of 300, by John Coleman, former MI6 operative). Theoretically, The Bushs, the Windsors, the Bronffmans, etc., are all co equal…. but not in actual practice. But none of them are THE one, because the whole council is under the Eye of Horus. They are the top row of bricks, under the eye at the top of the pryamid, on the seal of the United States. The Committee of 300 is… Read more »

badlands
badlands
5 months ago

The upside of the current situation is that all the two-bit tyrants are outed. We get to finally hear them, see them, and hopefully fire them.

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
5 months ago
Reply to  badlands

Unless they cancel the election like Tyrant Blackface Northam did in VA, other states are following suit. Besides, when in the last 120 years has an election definitively removed all the tyrants? They’re like ticks on a hide, dug in deep. No nation has voted their way out of tyranny with traditional ballots.

Doszap
Doszap
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Flatt

That’s because we haven’t lit a match and held on their butts and backed them out.

Will Flatt
Will Flatt
5 months ago
Reply to  Doszap

Problem is, no one wants to light THAT MATCH.