You won't believe what the Supreme Court is regulating now. Facebook posts that threaten to harm or kill someone may stray into the criminal intent arena, which would bring the police to your door.
In the case of Facebook threats, a man named Anthony Elonis was ruled to have crossed the line by two federal courts when he made threats to kill his estranged wife and other people. This included an FBI agent who was investigating his online activity. I'm all for free speech, but this kind of thing is getting out of hand.
"Did you know that it's illegal for me to say I want to kill my wife?" he wrote in one of many posts. "It's illegal. It's indirect criminal contempt. It's one of the only sentences that I'm not allowed to say."
Who in their right mind would share this on Facebook? Elonis' lawyers argued that he never intended any actual violence when his case appeared before the Supreme Court. What the Justices have to decide is whether any "reasonable person" would feel threatened by his posts, regardless of intent. The original precedent for this case was Virginia v. Black, a 2003 case that argued against a law that stated that cross-burning equaled intimidation. The Supreme Court ruled that "not all cross-burning was meant as a threat."
"Since then, lower state and federal courts have split on what constitutes a threat — the perpetrator's subjective intent to threaten, or anyone else's objective interpretation. Most but not all courts have agreed it's the latter standard, used to convict Elonis.
The Supreme Court has refused to get involved in such disputes. Last year, for instance, it denied a petition from a man convicted of threatening on YouTube to kill the judge in his child custody case."
What do you think? Does Elonis have the right to say whatever he wants wherever he wants? Or should the Supreme Court take a tougher stance in this case? Let me know in the comments below!