A Seattle man was arrested for posting death threats on the Facebook page of openly gay Seattle mayor, Ed Murray.
Employees of the mayor’s office found over twenty anti-gay posts on the mayor’s social media page; authorities were notified, and Mitchell Munro Taylor, age 32, was arrested on Thursday, January 16.
The Seattle Times reported that one post stated, “Mayor, meet Harvey Milk.” Milk was an openly gay politician and leader of the gay rights movement in San Francisco, where he was shot and killed in 1978. Taylor also posted, “death to socialist council member,” which police believe is in reference to Seattle’s first socialist City Council member, Kshama Sawant.
Taylor was arrested with a bail set at $600,000 on the basis of two accounts of cyberstalking, as well as two accounts of malicious harassment.
Defense lawyer Eric Lindell announced that Taylor has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, and had been neglecting to take his medication, requesting that his bail be lowered to $10,000 after deputy Prosecutor Gary Ernsforff attempted to set bail at $1 million.
Many comments have been made on this case, who criticize the defense lawyer for using “lack of medication” as an excuse for his client’s actions.
In December 2012, the Autism Society put out a press release in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, stating that “There is absolutely no evidence or any reliable research that suggests a linkage between autism and planned violence. […] Stereotyping an entire group of individuals because of the actions of one individual is wrong and unacceptable.”
A commenter on CNN, listed as oblivion328, agreed: “I have Asperger’s, a very mild form of autism. Though as an adult I no longer exhibit any of the associated behaviors aside from some manageable social anxiety, I recall very well having tantrums as a child. I sincerely doubt if you put a gun in my hand during such an episode I’d start shooting people.”
As of the release of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, in May 2013, Asperger syndrome is no longer used as a separate diagnosis; it was instead folded into autism spectrum disorder.
Taylor’s lawyer reported that he works for “an aerospace company” and resides with his parents. It was also reported that Taylor has no history of criminal activity.
According to the court’s affidavit, Murray reported to the police that he was offended by the comments and believed that some of them were death threats. The affidavit also indicated that Sawant was worried about her personal safely as well as that of her family.