A Weld County man is suing Greeley police for seizing the computer on which he publishes an online newsletter called The Howling Pig, which takes satirical barbs at a vocal university professor.

Thomas Mink, of Ault, a 24-year-old English major at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, said police have warned that he likely will be charged with criminal libel because The Howling Pig makes fun of Junius “Jay” Peake, a Monfort Distinguished Professor at UNC and a specialist in financial markets.

The Howling Pig, online at, says its editor, founder and spiritual leader is “Junius Puke,” an apparent play on Peake’s name. The newsletter describes Puke as a former roadie for the band KISS who is taking time off “from his well-earned, corporate endowed sinecure at a small western university in order to assist in the publication of The Howling Pig.”

A disclaimer states that Puke is not Peake. It goes on to describe Peake as “an upstanding member of the community as well as an asset to the Monfort School of Business where he teaches about microstructure.”. . .

According to Mink’s lawsuit, Greeley police arrived at his home Dec. 12 with a search warrant because Peake complained to police after the third issue of The Howling Pig appeared.

This seems quite absurd to me. The ACLU, happily, is on the case. I think that the United States Department of Justice should look into this to see if civil rights laws have been violated.

UPDATE: First Amendment expert Eugene Volokh says that the statute in question is almost certainly unconstitutional, and observes:

[M]y sense is that these sorts of criminal libel prosecutions, seizures, and arrests almost invariably involve favoritism on the part of the government. Seriously, what do you think the average Joe’s chances would be of getting the police to seize a computer that was being used to say nasty things about him?