Saturday, June 18, 2022

Deeply Offensive Words

If a post-Constitutional American highwayman were to waylay a traveller with the threat of, "your money or your life!" and he (or she) were to be subsequently brought to trial, the First Amendment would not be a defense.

While you --or I-- can say deeply offensive words that hurt feelings, and vex the listener and our horrible speech is protected by the First Amendment, a threat to kill someone as an inducement to comply with a demand is not protected speech.

The opinion of the United States Court of Appeals Third Circuit with regard to an appeal of a conviction under a cyberstalking statute was filed on June13th, 2022. So, it is recent and topical, and probably relevant to other spoken and written threats in circulation.

The convicted cyberstalker hoped that he could successfully argue that the cyberstalking statute (under which he was convicted) was unconstitutionally broad... over broad.

Read the opinion here:

In my opinion, the opinion is extremely well written, clear, and interesting. The details of what the cyberstalker did are also steamy stuff, and possibly worthy of a subscription television mini series. 
I once received an early morning telephone call from a random stranger who wanted phone sex. He had the wrong number, and was polite, but would have liked my participation in a discussion nevertheless. I did not encourage the conversation, and luckily, it was long ago, before caller id or automatic redial.

That was a "fat finger" accident. In a very small way, it leads me to empathize powerfully with the victim of the cyberstalking in question.

Legal blogger Kristin Bryan of global law firm Squire Patton Boggs provides her analysis and expectation that this decision may affect future federal cases of cyberstalking, online bullying and harassment (one way or another). 

It is also a compelling read.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 


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