On Thursday Panther Racing CEO and managing partner John Barnes posted this on his twitter account. @Jbindy4: "Today is the day to resolve TURBOGATE! I hope @IndyCar gets their act together. It has been embarrassing." Apparently IndyCar officials didn't care for the tweet and today they placed Barnes on probation through the end of the year and fined him $25,000. IndyCar says Barnes broke rule 22.214.171.124 of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook: Using improper, profane or disparaging language or gestures in reference to Officials, Members or actions or situations connected in any way with INDYCAR, the IZOD IndyCar Series or any Event. Barnes may contest the penalties pursuant to the procedures and timelines detailed in the rulebook. A protest/appeal may result in an increase, decrease or no change to the penalties. Panther Racing released the following statement from Barnes: “Nobody cares about open-wheel racing and the Indianapolis 500 more than I do, and therefor I’m very passionate about all the decisions that are made – right or wrong – that affect our sport. I’m not the first person who has disagreed with a sports league or sanctioning body’s decision and I certainly won’t be the last to get fined for doing so. While my passion for this sport will never waver, I should have chosen a more private forum to voice my opinions. Even if we don’t always agree, I respect the authority of the IndyCar Series and its officials and will continue to abide by their rules and regulations.” Also in the team release it was stated they had not decided whether to appeal the probation or the fine. I've heard from a number of people who wonder how IndyCar can take the action it did against Barnes without violating his first amendment rights. So, time to review the first amendment. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." The Supreme Court has been called upon a number of times to review various cases involving first amendment rights, however as best as I can tell, it has not considered a "Twitter" case yet. But, it will probably happen one day. In Barnes' case the first amendment most likely wouldn't apply because IndyCar has rule Rule 126.96.36.199 (see above), which spells out the conduct that is expected by willing participants in its racing series. That rule leaves IndyCar with a broad scope of power in determining what its officials interpret as breaking that rule. This "incident" is yet another reminder to all of us to think before we tweet. Barnes' comment seemed innocent enough, but IndyCar took exception to it and he's now paying the price.