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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Supreme Court To Decide When Online Rants Cross Line Into Criminal Threats

If I go on Facebook and tell someone in Florida that I am going to beat him into a bloody pulp and maybe kidnap his kid for good measure, I’m in violation of federal law. But does it matter whether I actually intend to do any of these things or if I’m just ranting with no intention of getting up from my comfy couch to do anyone any harm? That’s the question the Supreme Court will soon have to decide.

Earlier today, SCOTUS agreed to consider the case of Elonis v. United States, which involves a series of allegedly threatening Facebook posts made by the petitioner during what would politely be called a low point in his life.

A Lonely Guy & His Computer Do Not A Good Pair Make

The case goes back to 2010, when the petitioner’s wife of seven years left him and took their children with her… and then he lost his job. That’s when he started writing things on Facebook, using Eminem song lyrics as his inspiration.

And as anyone who is familiar with the oeuvre of Eminem is probably aware, things can get a little unseemly and violent. Take, for example, this couplet: “Slut, you think I won’t choke no whore/ Til the vocal cords don’t work in her throat no more?”

But the petitioner claims he added disclaimers to these posts that he was using a fictional persona for “therapeutic” purposes.



Anonymous said...

Stupid. There are real gangsters to worry about. Internet gangsters are humorous and harmless. I'd pay attention to crazy types that talk about mass killings

lmclain said...

I'll bet money that the Supreme Court (lackeys) will find that anything ---- ANYTHING --- that the police or any government official deems to be "threatening" in any way (they get to decide...remember that) will be actionable.
By "actionable", I mean 20-30 black masked, full-armored and heavily armed agents of real terror will be kicking down doors, shooting dogs, destroying property, and killing anyone not "compliant". You know, in order to stop any dangerous dissent.
Nothing like a Supreme Court rubberstamping more and more real terrorism.
Keep cheering.