Skip to comments.Teenagers' Death Threats on Facebook Are Subject of Free Speech Lawsuit
Posted on 04/26/2012 8:25:57 PM PDT by ConservativeStatement
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against an Indiana middle school for expelling three students who allegedly threatened to kill other classmates on Facebook. The ACLU suit says the girls' right to free speech was violated and the use of emoticons and "LOL" showed they were only joking.
(Excerpt) Read more at abcnews.go.com ...
(In before the “I can't believe I agree with the ACLU!” posts.)
So funny I forgot to laugh. Kind of like using a plastic gun, imho. It SEEMS like you mean business, and better safe than sorry. I stand with the Admin on this one. It would be a whole lot worse if they knew about it and did nothing, and then — it WAS real.
What does the ACLU think of the New Black Panther bounty on Zimmerman?
Well I guess not, because there were no computers. But people and especially kids are such moronic idiots these days. So what if they added "LOL" to the end? What kind of a joke is it to say you'll kill someone? Is that polite? What ever happened to plain old common courtesy.
I fail to see the first amendment violation here. They where allowed to speak.
They where rewarded for their speech.
Since when is it the school’s business what kids say on their own time? This is monstrous. This is the USSA, 2012.
Sorry, putting LOL behind threats to kill someone they personally know and are around all the time, and COULD potentially kill rather easily, does not make it a free speech issue. It makes it a potentially credible threat with a LOL behind it.
If you put it in the above context there is a real potential it could be a genuine threat. And don’t tell me because it’s girls it couldn’t be. Please.
They are putting it out there for the whole world to see. They are public statements. Anyone can see them including the school folks. It isn’t a question of WHEN they post it.
There is already well established case law (albeit with no SCOTUS precedents and varying slightly from one Appeals Court circuit to another) about what constituted a “true threat” and thus might be subject to criminal sanction (or administrative sanction by state-run schools) without violating the First Amendment protection of freedom of speech or freedom of the press. (I think posting on Facebook or any other online medium is the latter, since one is publishing text, not speaking.)
All of the standards require that the speaker (or writer) have the means to carry out the threat, and that one of (here’s the variation among the different Courts of Appeals) a reasonable speaker (reader), a reasonable hearer (reader) to whom the speech (writing) is addressed, or a reasonable hearer (reader) to whom it is not addressed would interpret the speech (writing) as actually conveying the real intent to do harm to the person(s) addressed or referred to.
If the context is such that the emoticons and LOLs would lead the reasonable person of the sort used by whatever Court of Appeals deals with Indiana to conclude that there was no actual intent to harm, or the girl lacked the means to carry out the threat, the ACLU is on solid ground on this one and the girl will win whatever case is at issue. If not, whoever called her on the purported threat will win.
Police also spend time out on facebook. They have found criminals who have bragged about crimes and even posted photos of themselves with stolen goods. Are the police not supposed to go arrest these people because they have a free speech issue?
What if a troublemaker says he or she is going to kill someone, LOL or not, and the cops come across it? Are they not supposed to do anything?
What if they say they will commit a crime, gonna get some dope or drugs later from someone, or are going to rob a place later that night, nobody can do anything because they posted it on facebook and stuck a smiley face behind it?
In this instance, there were three girls. Could a potential concerted effort strengthen the case against the girls — compared to say a singular individual — in the example you presented?
Oh wait, it's funny if YOU do it! The girls should have their lives ruined. Got it.
I think you need to re-read my post. I agree with what the school did. I’d agree with the police doing it as well.
I have no idea who you are. I have no idea where you are.
I prefaced this specifically that context needed to be taken into account. These girls knew the girl they were threatening, went to school with her, and could actually carry such a thing out.
Are you really such an idiot not to understand the difference between a tagling and a credible threat? I’m not saying every instance deserves an equal reaction. Common sense and context of course come into play. The fact you cannot figure that out shows me you msut be a proponent of zero-tolerance logic. I strongly suggest you are a fantastic TSA candidate. Apply now.
I actually wasn’t slamming you, I was agreeing with you, extending the case you started. Sorry if it came across that way.
No worries.. I am running on 4 hours of sleep that ended 18 hours ago. My coffee cup ran out 2 hours ago..
I probably missed the obvious in your post.
This whole world sees everything in black and white, nary a shade of gray. Only it’s all flipped. What was black , is white, and vice versa (like homosexualty, adultery, etc). Oh well, we were told that a day would come when men would call good, evil, and evil, good.
Irrelevant really, but I felt like adding it :)
I as a big an advocate of free speech that there is alive today. I am the “I may not like what you have to say but I will defend to the death your right to say it” kinda guy.
But this is out of bounds. Let’s do an experiment. You go ahead and threaten to kill or describe how you want to kill a local, state, or federal politician that lives in your state or near you. But make sure when you post it that you put a cute little smiley face and some LOLs near it. I’m sure that the FBI or Secret Service will find it hilarious and not bother to visit you soon after you post it.
This is no different that they plethora of death threats from ignornant people on twitter concerning George Zimmerman. A death threat is not protected speech anywhere.
I guess I’d then be allowed to say, I’d like to see ACLU offices being blown up all over the country, LOL? Actually, that might be pretty funny.
No, I reread it and I can see where you were coming from. I wish we didn’t lose so much information just using only the written word - you don’t get any verbal tonal info, or facial info like when you talk face to face.
Maybe they see the death of fellows students as funny and there for the emoticons.
While being stupid is not a crime if you commit a crime because you are stupid, you should have to pay the piper.......
Of course, there is taking a look at the whole picture and adding some common sense. It should not have been difficult to discern the difference between 12-14 year olds bantering and a real threat.
On the ability to carry out the threat portion of the standard, the fact there were three would make the girls’ case that it wasn’t really a threat harder to prove. On the other part of the standard, not so much.
So the girls were liars? Is that their defense?
"Oh judge we were just lying about wanting to kill her but we are being honest now fursur."
When someone issues a death threat then the public should show them the respect of believing them.
Okay, using your criticism of my tagline, what is more a real, potential threat, a tagline of someone posting to you who does not know you or know where you live, or pre-teens/teens making a death threat to another girl they do know, do know what she looks like and can actually physically carry out the threat?
Bottom line is they brought this on themselves for posting stupid comments out in public. The fact they know the girl and could actually carry this out if they desired, make it not a harmless happy little post.
From the article, this was just not one sentence saying “I’d like to just kill such and such.” This was a discussion over a couple hours of postings where the girls talked about who they’d like to kill and also how they would do it, if they had the opportunity to do so.”
I am sorry but they screwed themselves posting this online. There are consequences for posting threats against multiple people you know and describing in detail how you’d kill them, if you had the opportunity. Happy faces and smiles at the end of such posts don’t mean jack.