In March 2020, Waylon Bailey posted a joke on Facebook about how a Louisiana parish’s sheriff office would shoot people infected with COVID-19. It was framed with a reference to the movie World War Z from 2013. The sheriff’s response was to send a SWAT team to his home, and arrest him on felony terrorism charges, without a warrant. Fast forward to this week, when the 5th Circuit just found his bad taste in jokes to be exactly that… and therefore protected speech under the 1st Amendment. I’d heard of this case a while back, and it disappeared on me, but I’m glad he prevailed.
His attorney had messaged him the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Three judges ruled that Bailey’s Facebook post — which joked that the sheriff’s office had issued an order to shoot people infected with the coronavirus — was protected speech under the First Amendment and that he shouldn’t have been arrested.