Watch Your Mouse: Threats Made Online Not Protected As Free Speech, L.A. Court Rules

A state appeals court ruled this week that online threats, specifically in comments posted on the web, do not constitute protected free speech. The 2nd District court of appeals downtown ruled that a 15-year-old's case against a schoolmate who posted on the plaintiff's site that he would "rip out your ... heart and feed it to you" and "pound your head in with an ice pick" can go forward.

After the unidentified Los Angeles-area high school teen set up a site to promote a prospective pop music career, peers weighed in with anti-gay sentiments (though the teen says he's not gay), according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

One 16-year-old defendant taken to court by the plaintiff claimed that the suit infringed upon his freedom of speech. But the state court, with one judge dissenting, disagreed. A lawyer for the 16-year-old argued that no one would interpret the postings as serious threats.

The attorney said the teen's family is ready to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.


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