Appeals Court Rules Cyber Bullying Not Always Protected by the First Amendment

A California appeals court has ruled that “cyber bullying” is not protected by the first amendment if the messages appear to contain the legitimate threat of physical violence. The appeal was the result of a case brought by a Westlake-area boy who was harassed online after launching a website attempting to promote his acting career.

The LA Times has more:

Incorrectly deducing that the boy was gay, classmates and others who visited the website left threatening and insulting messages, saying they wanted to “pound your head in with an ice pick” and declaring the boy “wanted dead or alive.”

“The students who posted the threats sought to destroy D.C.’s life, threatened to murder him, and wanted to drive him out of Harvard-Westlake and the community in which he lived,” the appeals court concluded in denying the motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by one of the defendants on the grounds that the postings amounted to constitutionally protected speech on a public issue.

D.C.’s parents withdrew him from the school and moved to Northern California after Los Angeles Police Department detectives and the district attorney’s office declined to pursue charges against the students, saying their “annoying and immature Internet communications did not meet the criteria for criminal prosecution.”

God. We here at FBLA realize this ruling could potentially be misused to prosecute legitimate free speech, but we still can’t wait for some filthy, spoiled mean girls/boys to get locked up for a couple of years behind it.

H/T LA Observed