The webcomics blog about webcomics

Breaking News

Okay, we linked to the funnybook version on Monday, but what’s happened to Matt Boyd is more tragic than humorous.

From what I’ve gathered things were, if not exactly good, then at least no-hard-feelings for Boyd on the part of those that used to be his bosses; they understood it was a stupid overreaction on the part of people that he worked with, they didn’t personally hold it against him, and they were willing to give him good references. Couple weeks of unemployment benefits, grab a new job, all good.

Then the cops showed up on his doorstep.

Details are sketchy at this time, but it appears that making a comic about his experience counts as making terroristic threats. I realize that by this logic, me reporting on the making of a comic that’s seen as a terroristic threat may count as lending support to terrorists. If I wake up in Gitmo, tell my wife that I love her, and I’m sorry I’m not there to help walk the dog.

In the meantime, the best information appears to be from Rich Stevens (story on the front page now, here eventually); more on this as it develops.

Edit to add: interview just conducted with Boyd, to run tomorrow.

Wow. I had a friend who was fired for similar reasons, but the COMICS = TERRORISM aspect takes it to a whole new level of suck.

A few years from now it may all end up as a funny story for him to tell, but right now, that’s got to be a pretty scary ordeal to go through.

I would think it would be more logical not to piss off a potential terrorist threat by firing him. It would probably be safer to give him a raise and bring him doughnuts every morning.

I seriously hope something comes of this. In the lawsuit sense. I’m sick of the people who are using the ‘fear’ of ‘others’ to do stupid things like this.

Has anyone forwarded this to boingboing? they may follow it up (as they did with the kid in florida harassed for fiction) and with their readership, could spark something with people local to Mr. Boyd.

the war on terror has become the bare minimum. rough up citizens, treat people like criminals but don’t do anything to effectively catch real terrorists. Last I read the TSA in NJ airports missed 80% of the mock threats when tested.

great job guys.

This is ridiculous. If I were in a cynical mood, I’d say these two arrests (Matt Boyd and Allen Lee) are nothing more than boondoggles to give the appearance that the police are taking steps to prevent gun violence.

Pure idiocy.

Sent it to Xeni the moment I sent it to Gary:

http://www.boingboing.net/2007/05/03/webcomic_artist_fire.html

Jesus Christ – what the hell happened to the first ammendment? Can people not understand sarcasm or humor anymore? I mean, yes, common sense died years ago, but this is red-god-damn-diculous.

Crap like THIS is why I am afraid to live in the United States. At least in Canada, I’m not afraid of being fired or arrested just for making casual comments. I like every American I’ve ever met, but I have to say it: Americans, your country scares the crap out of me.

This steams my peaches. It’s so ridiculous. He didn’t even make a joke threat. He made a joke of a joke veiled threat at worst. As long as he’s not labelled an “enemy combatant” though, I think he’ll have a pretty darn good case in court.

At least he’s getting a lot of sympathetic publicity over this.

[...] three panel abortion of justice FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS A LIE. [...]

[...] Gary Editor’s note: Matt Boyd was kind enough to talk to Fleen about his recent experiences; what follows is a lightly-edited transcript of a Gmail Chat session. Matt Boyd: Heya. [...]

[...] BoingBoing, Fleen, Comixpedia, Journalista and Diesel Sweeties have reported on this already, so I’m guessing you’ve already seen it, but it’s possibly a big enough deal to at least mention here, no matter how belatedly: Matt Boyd, one of the creators of the popular webcomics MacHall and Three Panel Soul, was recently fired from his government job for making a joke about guns. He was later visited by police for making another joke, in a webcomic, about the situation. [...]

[...] Matt Boyd is a webcomic artist who was fired from his job because he talked about purchasing a .22 rifle for target shooting while at work. Naturally, he made a webcomic about what happened. Equally naturally, someone again overreacted and the police ended up on his doorstep claiming he made “terroristic” threats. [...]

[...] Fleen, and an Interview with Boyd via Fleen [...]

[...] Borderline Terroristic (Updated) BoingBoing, Fleen, Comixpedia, Journalista and Diesel Sweeties have reported on this already, so I’m guessing you’ve already seen it, but it’s possibly a big enough deal to at least mention here, no matter how belatedly: Matt Boyd, one of the creators of the popular webcomics MacHall and Three Panel Soul, was recently fired from his government job for making a joke about guns. He was later visited by police for making another joke, in a webcomic, about the situation. [...]

My first reaction to this story is that the real terrorists actually may have won. Isn’t this exactly what they want?

[...] Breaking News [...]

Actually one of my friends was fired from work for the EXACT same thing. He was sick for a week and a spiteful coworker started a rumor he was going to come to work with guns so he too got canned. It’s stupid that someone can get fired for someone else wanting to live in their perfect innocent/ignorant bubble life.

[...] Another event happened which I think is just sad. Matt Boyd of Three Panel Soul was fired from his job just for talking about a gun for paper target practice. A gun that he picked because it was very hard to seriously hurt anyone with it. And to top it all off, he was visited by the police because he joked about it in his comic! Have we reached a point where we must continuously dance around all these over-sensitive people because they are ill-adjusted to deal with the harsh realities of life? Well they are being insensitive to my insensitivity!! Take that! I should not have to worry about my life being messed up just because I have an opinion about something, or enjoy a legal hobby that some might think is unconventional. First amendment FTW! [...]

[...] Another event happened which I think is just sad. Matt Boyd of Three Panel Soul was fired from his job just for talking about a gun for paper target practice. A gun that he picked because it was very hard to seriously hurt anyone with it. And to top it all off, he was visited by the police because he joked about it in his comic! Have we reached a point where we must continuously dance around all these over-sensitive people because they are ill-adjusted to deal with the harsh realities of life? Well they are being insensitive to my insensitivity!! Take that! I should not have to worry about my life being messed up just because I have an opinion about something, or enjoy a legal hobby that some might think is unconventional. First amendment FTW! [...]

You have gotten in trouble for even TALKING about gun ownership? And you’re running to liberal First Amendment types?

Wrong wrong wrong.

You gots to tell the NRA. Right-wing people who will get plenty pissed at… the right-wing people who they helped elect.

An unlikely ally, whom I’m willing to bet you hadn’t thought of, and perhaps you might be loath to call on… but tell me, doesn’t the irony seem a little bit tasty? Mmmm irony.

A few quick points:

1) “terroristic threat” has nothing to do with any legislation related to GWB or the War on Terror. It’s an old concept that goes back at least as far as CIVIL RIGHTS laws in this country originally passed to allow the cops to arrest Klansmen who made various threats (including the ever-popular flaming cross) to keep blacks and black-sympathetic whites out of the political process in the South.

2) Brian, while you’re dead-on to note that most first amendment and even general “civil liberties” groups are shameless hypocrites when it comes to the 2nd Amendment, surely it’s occurred to you that someone can be against gun control without being a conservative or “right wing”? Just to use one example you have the Pink Pistols (a gun-toting GLBT group with the motto “Armed Gays Don’t Get Bashed”).

This happened because certain political idiots have made ALL guns into demons that will rear up and attack without warning, and all gun owners are demon-lovers just waiting to kill you.

Stop demonizing guns and gun owners and this kind of idiocy – which was prompted by the “unsafe in the workplace” complaints against Matt – won’t happen. Don’t even get me started on the coddling of morons who use the “I don’t feel safe in my workplace” rules to try to re-shape the world.

This was all avoidable 20 or 30 years ago, but alas, we’ve brought these things upon ourselves by allowing gun control to become an emotional issue and letting busybody idiots dictate workplace behavior.

Wow, well at least he’s moving to good ole SF soon. Maybe they’ll leave him alone here?

Car control would save more lives. Irresponsible driving kills about five times as many Americans each year as gun violence. There are no “accidents” with cars.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
Political Correctness is a form of Terrorism. What’s worse, it is probably the most effective method out there.

Terrorists FTW?

I’m not a conspiracy theory nutter, and I try hard not to be a knee-jerk reactionist. But this seriously makes me sick to my stomach. For the first time in my life, I’m actually concerned in a big way about serious fundamental changes to First Amendment rights and the US moving to a heavily-censored state. And that’s not hyperbole.

If you haven’t seen Penny-arcade mentioned this in their podcast for today, and linked to it in their news section at the bottom Under the “Downloadable Content” section. Thats why I’m here. Story is getting around, there isn’t much I can say that hasn’t already been said on these boards, except go Matt, fight the good fight, you have support.

I can’t believe that you people are flipping out over this. Let me explain why:

1. The First Amendment applies to government, not private employers. A visit from the police is just that — a visit — and they would have been alerted by the employer who was monitoring said website after termination. If the police had arrested him, or a court had convicted him of “speech crime,” that would possibly be a First Amendment issue. This, no.

2. As correctly noted by another commenter, this has nothing to do with “terrorism” and everything to do with managerial interpretation of how to deal with “terroristic threats” which is entirely separate from capital-T terrorism as an issue. It’s easier and safer for an employer to get rid of an employee with a big flappy tongue than to get sued by another employee for “maintaining a hostile work environment” or what have you.

This could also have been the cherry on top , i.e. the final straw for someone in management to terminate his employment for a variety of other reasons. We can’t really be sure.

3. Talking about firearms at all, even in the most innocuous terms, in the average office has been verboten for a long time. I think it’s stupid, too, but there ya go. See #2.

4. Talking about shooting people in the face falls under the category of “a very bad thing to talk about,” for good reason, even “in jest” in the workplace. I have talked to a number of co-workers in both a managerial and “I’m your pal but hey dude that isn’t cool” capacity about “humorous” discussion of violence against other people, whether fellow co-workers or imaginary people, on a number of occasions. Talking about shooting people in the face, period, is a seriously bad idea in the workplace and a breach of social etiquette in extremis. Take the average drone who is terrified of the thought of guns and add these comments to a conversation about buying a firearm and yes, most people will fire you. Get used to it/over it.

My rule is — at work, don’t talk about anything relevant that isn’t work-specific. There are people that would love to get you out of their way, for all kinds of dumb reasons, so never hand them the rope to use to hang you.

I used to run a website called Quietwaterweb.org with 3 other friends of mine. It was a webcomic/blog/something and I have suffered this fate for nearly 3 years now. first I was fired from my job, then I was barred from law enforcement based on the “blog information” and a “police report”, and then my concealed weapons permit was revoked…. on top of that I had numerous other jobs fall through because I was then labeled a threat… all because of a blog.

By the way… do you know a police report can be taken by law enforcement agencies as FACT… even if no information is verified? I had a police report filed against me based on my blog… and then when I took my case to court they brought up the police report and used it as fact… even though I could refute the entire thing, AND on top of that I had an assistant chief of police and all three other bloggers say it was a fictional blog… BUT, police reports can be filed by ANYONE, on ANYONE, and dont have to be verified. they are just “record” and can be used in “future investigations.

Now, this paints a very sad picture because say you had a blog, everything was innocent, and just someday you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time… and all the sudden these “reports” are coming up and being used as fact to condemn you with no regard to actual fact or freedoms.

Wow, me anda my co-workers use the slang “shoot people in the face” to denote playing FPS games like BF2 and BF2142. We say it all the time at work like “So what are you going to do this weekend shoot people in the face?”. We always meant it jokingly because the statement is such a ludicrous over the top thing to say what person could possibly hear this and think anyone saying it was serious about it? Not to mention I work at a company making games, so my company is a little more liberal than most.

I understand sensitivity is important in the workplace and there’s a time and a place for things, but is free speech going to end up becoming something that you can only do in the privacy of your own home? The guy wasn’t making threats, he was kidding around. Last time I checked Americans were allowed to “joke” and be “social” when in the work place. It’s what makes this country great, as opposed to working in a prison for instance, where their freedoms have been taken away because they chose to waive them.

That company should be ashamed of itself.

I think it’s appalling, and in violation of Matt’s First Amendment rights. I’d have to think artistic expression – humor included – is one of the things the First Amendment protects, and protects vociferously. Something tells me Matt probably won’t want to go through the hassle of suing the police department over it, but one wonders if he’d have a case.

[...] It’s a sign of our times that the guy who writes that comic was fired because he dared mention a gun while at work.  It’s even more shocking that he was visited by the police because he wrote this comic strip and posted it online.  There’s a slightly more comprehensive article here. [...]

Censorship is bad! (oh wait… I think the terrorists win when I say that.)

> rough up citizens, treat people like criminals
> but don’t do anything to effectively catch real terrorists.

it’s kinda hard to catch real terrorists when they don’t exist. For all years of “war on terror”, if I’m not mistaken, the best government’s effort to present a terrorist was Jose Padilla. Not even a single attempt to have a serious trial.

So, where did he work?

[...] A rather unhappy story of our paranoid times is that of Matt Boyd, who got into a conversation in his office about a gun he wanted to buy. But he did it the day of the Virginia Tech shootings (before he had even heard the news) and one or more coworkers who had heard the news and overheard him freaked out and reported him to management. He was fired. Now, normally, that would be all, but Matt is the co-author of, not a blog, but a bloggy “personal journal” webcomic titled “Three Panel Soul”, so, obviously the incident was the subject of a short series of strips. And a couple days after their weblication*, he got a visit from investigators from the State’s Attorney’s Office regarding what they considered a “borderline terroristic threat” (the investigators’ own words… Mr. Boyd tell the whole story here). [...]

[...] A rather unhappy story of our paranoid times is that of Matt Boyd, who got into a conversation in his office about a gun he wanted to buy. But he did it the day of the Virginia Tech shootings (before he had even heard the news) and one or more coworkers who had heard the news and overheard him freaked out and reported him to management. He was fired. Now, normally, that would be all, but Matt is the co-author of, not a blog, but a bloggy “personal journal” webcomic titled “Three Panel Soul”, so, obviously the incident was the subject of a short series of strips. And a couple days after their weblication*, he got a visit from investigators from the State’s Attorney’s Office regarding what they considered a “borderline terroristic threat” (the investigators’ own words… Mr. Boyd tell the whole story here). [...]

I hate to say this, but I think that Matt needs to consider the possibility that he made an enemy who specifically exploited things to cause him grief– after all, clearly the person in question was MONITORING his blog to see how he responded (given that a fan would not turn him in for ‘terroristic threats’)

Of course, given that Matt specifically drew a woman with a surprised look on her face in the comic in question, I think that he probably has an idea of who it was that got him fired, and had that guess confirmed when the police showed up at his door.

Somebody needs to tell that pathetic person that life is not a soap-opera that they star in.

[...] was the subject of a short series of strips. And a couple days after their weblication*, he got a visit from investigators from the State’s Attorney’s Office regarding what they considered a “borderline [...]

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