I’ve been slacking off today (err this morning? It’s 3:20am EST), but there’s a couple stories I have to cover from yesterday. One of them is especially noteworthy, because it deals with supposed threats on the Internet. If you’ll recall, I had a ton of people in my ear recently telling me that RogueStar was in legal jeopardy for his bad joke. I told them this was laughable, but they wouldn’t listen. Well, the Supreme Court listened. They ruled that a victim viewing an online message as a threat is not enough to actually make it a threat. Let me excerpt a piece from this article (from Gawker’s Gizmodo…it’s archived) and explain further:
This means no matter how abusive, misogynistic, violent, or otherwise reprehensible a Facebook rant is, the Supreme Court says it’s not criminal speech unless the author intended it as a threat and understood that others would take it as such. Elonis’ case is a bellwether for how courts treat internet speech….
The Supreme Court on Monday made it harder for prosecutors to convict those who make violent statements on Facebook and other social media, saying it is not enough that an ordinary person would find the rants threatening.
In its first examination of the murky rules regarding conduct on the Internet, the court moved cautiously while throwing out the conviction of a Pennsylvania man whose postings, delivered in rap-lyric style, suggested killing his estranged wife, federal law enforcement officials and even a kindergarten class.
[J]urors must focus on the intentions of the speaker, the court ruled. A defendant can be convicted if he meant to threaten someone or knew the communications would be viewed as a threat, Chief Justice Roberts said…
And here’s our good friends at The Huffington Post trying to throw GamerGate into the discussion:
The decision arrives as social networks have come under fire for facilitating threats made against women and minorities. During “Gamergate,” for example, women who spoke up about sexism in the video game community received death and rape threats online. In response to these kinds of complaints, social networks have attempted to beef up their anti-harassment policies, but problems continue.
On Monday, prior to the decision, Jamia Wilson, executive director of Women, Action & the Media, told HuffPost that “the cultural impact for this case is potentially groundbreaking.” She added, “It’s offensive that the infliction of pain on girls, gender non-conforming people and women … is common, and considered entertaining and acceptable.”
The National Network to End Domestic Violence said that it was disappointed by the ruling. “We expect that it will become more difficult to protect victims of abuse from threats,” the group said in a statement Monday.
You can see that the WAM idiots are pretty bummed out about this one. I’ll role with the ACLU every single time over those fascistic bastards. This is also why I wasn’t too concerned about RogueStar going to jail over his joke. The guy in this case actually did have to go to jail for three years, and he may still be retried under the new standard. But the Supreme Court has repeatedly shown that it protects speech vigorously. Today was just another step in that journey. I only wish they would have went a bit farther than they did. Still, I’m satisfied with the decision. Look at how the other side is acting. How could you not be?