Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Free speech to rap about harm to ex-wife

I mentioned this case in June and Oct. 2014, and now we have a decision:
The Supreme Court has reversed the conviction of a Pennsylvania man who said violent messages he posted on Facebook were therapeutic, not true threats. Anthony Elonis was arrested by the FBI, which had been monitoring his posts.

At issue is the standard by which a lower court viewed rap lyrics and messages from Elonis, who often posted graphically violent language along with disclaimers that he was merely asserting his First Amendment rights. ...

Here's one example of Elonis' Facebook postings, quoted by the Supreme Court on Monday:

"Fold up your [protection-from-abuse order] and put it in your pocket
Is it thick enough to stop a bullet?
Try to enforce an Order that was improperly granted in the first place
Me thinks the Judge needs an education on true threat jurisprudence
And prison time'll add zeros to my settlement . . .
And if worse comes to worse
I've got enough explosives
to take care of the State Police and the Sheriff 's Department."
This seems much more threatening that of fellow angry dad Dan Brewington, who served 3 years in prison for blogging about holding public officials accountable.

The decision did not resolve some of the technical legal issues.

I do not approve of threatening to kill people, but rap lyrics on Facebook are unlikely to be followed by violence, AFAIK.

I am glad to see the Supreme Court side with free speech. Because prosecutors have shown their willingness to quote opinions out of context to intimidate citizens into silence, I want broader free speech protections.

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