Tahlequah Daily Press

April 16, 2013

Faking ‘evidence’ hurts their case


TAHLEQUAH — Sometimes activists, in their determined attempts to advance cherished causes, can do more harm than good. That’s what could be happening in the case of the pit bulldog killed with an arrow by a local high school student.

In early February, Caisen Green shot the animal, an apparent stray that had wandered onto his family’s property. Later, Green told authorities he took action because the dog had been acting sick, and he feared it might harm his younger siblings.

No evidence exists to refute Green’s claim, so to the understandable chagrin of animal rights advocates, there’s no proof he committed any crime currently on the books. He did post a photo of the dead dog on his Facebook wall, from which it quickly went viral.

Authorities investigated the case for several weeks, though their efforts were repeatedly diverted by dozens of threats against Green and his family. These threats were not “phantoms” invented by officials as an excuse to avoid prosecuting Green. Press staff members and others visually witnessed a number of these pledges of violence against the Greens. Dozens of Internet comments featured language not suitable for publication, and they went well beyond the “torture” many people suspect Green may have visited upon the hapless pit bull.

When Assistant District Attorney Jack Thorp announced that, regrettably, he could find no crime with which he could legitimately charge Green, it seemed the furor might die down. Logic also suggests Green would have learned his lesson, and that the negative publicity aimed at his family would have had a punitive effect on him.

But some folks won’t let the matter rest, and have become so obsessed with this case that they may be willing to impersonate Green to get their point across.

Last week, the Press was notified that a video of a dog being tortured and killed had been posted on Green’s Facebook page. Links were provided to the Press, but they were quickly removed by the poster. On the heels of this incident, authorities and the Press began receiving phone calls, emails and Facebook posts from outraged activists, and the cycle of threats began anew.

If Green did what he’s being accused of, the public could certainly make assumptions about his character. But evidence suggests that in an attempt to get Green into hot water again, some other troublemaker created a fake Facebook account and posted the video. As it turns out, Thorp has been monitoring the situation. He says the video of the dog-killing was made several years ago and did not appear on Green’s actual page.

Falsifying evidence and impersonating other people – in an attempt to incite public outrage, or to make authorities to jump through hoops in pursuit of leads to nonexistent crimes – are violations of the law. Not only that, they waste valuable resources, just like fake bomb threats at courthouses or high school campuses. And they place the perpetrators on the same level as the animal rights advocates have placed Green.

For many people across the nation, the Green case unquestionably came to an unsatisfactory conclusion – but it came to the only conclusion the law would allow. Contriving inflammatory material to besmirch Green’s character further than he’s already harmed it himself will only damage the credibility of the well-meaning activists. Indeed, it could have the opposite effect they intend: It could make Green a sympathetic victim, and turn the tide of public sentiment against those who sincerely seek justice and an end to animal cruelty.

We are confident Thorp and others will keep an eye on this case, and unless we are given reason to believe otherwise, we’ll trust that any hint of animal cruelty, or the flouting of authority, will be dealt with swiftly.