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Craigslist rant may put man in jail

A man trashed his ex and her attorney on Craigslist. Now they are taking him to court for criminal libel, citing a Colorado law passed in the 1880s.

J.P. Weichel claims he was "venting." But his alleged comments in Craigslist's Rants and Raves section might now lead him to a room where the vents let in a chilling draft.

Colorado prosecutors have decided to bring a case of criminal libel against Mr. Weichel.

CC A Cloudman

Apparently, the state has a law, dating from the 1880s, that says you can be prosecuted for "blackening the name of one who is dead." Or for exposing "the natural defects of one who is alive, and thereby to expose him to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule."

This leads one to wonder whether The Onion is published in Colorado--or whether anyone there has publicly expressed an opinion about the new Guns 'N Roses album.

Mr. Weichel is alleged to have said some fairly unflattering things about his ex and her lawyer. Court documents show posts that suggested she bartered sex for legal advice. And that child services had paid her a visit because of an injury to a child.

Today, my local Craigslist has Rants and Raves by people who hate their jobs, including one worried person who claims that his or her boss is continually manipulating his private parts. And I confess to being a little lost as to why Mr. Weichel might have chosen this particular medium rather than, say, a street corner or a local bar. But this quaint little Colorado law carries with it the prospect of 18 months of unpleasant confinement.

One does wonder why this particular case of alleged libel has taken on a criminal bent. Perhaps readers in Colorado might know a little more.