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Online Call To Shoot President Ruled Free Speech 395

Posted by timothy
from the just-a-few-words-in-a-certain-order dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "USA Today reports that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the conviction of a man who threatened to shoot President Obama, saying his Internet message board comments amounted to free speech and ruled that prosecutors 'failed to present sufficient evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt' that the man 'had the subjective intent to threaten a presidential candidate.' Walter Bagdasarian was found guilty two years ago of making threats against the presidential candidate in comments he posted on a Yahoo.com financial website after 1 am on Oct. 22, 2008, as Obama's impending victory in the race for the White House was becoming apparent. Bagdasarian told investigators he was drunk at the time. The observation that Obama 'will have a 50 cal in the head soon' and a call to 'shoot the [racist slur]' weren't violations of the law under which Bagdasarian was convicted because the statute doesn't criminalize 'predictions or exhortations to others to injure or kill the president,' said the majority opinion, written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt."
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Online Call To Shoot President Ruled Free Speech

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  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by Haedrian (1676506) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @08:34AM (#36861998)
    • by impaledsunset (1337701) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @08:49AM (#36862058)

      It's very extremely illegal, but it doesn't appear to be working. Perhaps someone should copyright the phrase?

      • It's very extremely illegal, but it doesn't appear to be working. Perhaps someone should copyright the phrase?

        No this is Slashdot. Perhaps someone should patent the phrase. Hate to say it but "fixed that for ya".

  • by ThunderBird89 (1293256) <zalanmeggyesi@ya ... m minus math_god> on Sunday July 24, 2011 @08:38AM (#36862014)

    All I can say is "You did the right thing, judge(s)!".

    If the US lauds itself as the freest (did I spell that right?) country of the world, as its founding fathers imagined, then it should be all right to say " Obama 'will have a 50 cal in the head soon'". In my books, such a line only amounts to a threat if there's a reasonable possibility of its execution.

    • Charles Manson (Score:4, Insightful)

      by elucido (870205) * on Sunday July 24, 2011 @08:58AM (#36862098)

      He didn't kill anybody, but he's in prison for life because people believe he gave the command.

      When someone says a sentence like that how do we know it isn't a command coming from a militia leader? Remember Hal Turner?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by LordLucless (582312)

        That's what the judges said - if you want a conviction, present evidence there was a reasonable expectation that it was a command, and would be carried out as such.

      • I don't, but if it was a command, and Obama does get shot, then the investigators can look up this guy again, and question him in light of the new facts to determine whether it was a command. That's the way it should work.
        Maybe he'll get a background check now as well, to covertly see if there were any illegal connections, but that should be it.

        • by pnewhook (788591)

          I don't, but if it was a command, and Obama does get shot, then the investigators can look up this guy again, and question him in light of the new facts to determine whether it was a command. That's the way it should work.

          So basically what you are saying is if someone utters a death threat to someone else, like a guy to his ex-wife, then it's ok if the police don't do anything since they can arrest him AFTER she gets killed. Yes, that seems like the way it should work.

          • Apples and oranges: threatening your ex is something you can conceivably follow up on, unlike threatening the president himself. You can't reasonably compare the two.

      • Unless they can prove something happened, I couldn't care less.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        And I'd say that both of those cases just show how fucked this country can be, as both were pretty obviously seriously mentally ill. Manson thought God told him he would be a future leader after a race war and Turner believed every conspiracy theory ever written and thought China was secretly gonna be given the USA and was being used by the FBI as a mole against the white power movement which just fed into his delusions.

        Sadly too often in this country we take those that are seriously mentally ill and put th

        • To suddenly put people into mental health programs because they need them runs counter to the policies we've had for years. Uusally, the best policy idea government's been able to "think" up has been to put people into institutions, then close the institutions and let them fend for independent benefit approval processes on their own, which they can't do, and therefore decreases the monies spent by government. Then, they can shoot that KGB person (e.g. act out their psychosis), and get back into an instituti

        • by timeOday (582209)
          Whether somebody is criminally insane or just "evil" doesn't make a huge difference in what happens to them though. It just determines whether they're locked up in an asylum or a prison (and taking antipsychotics either way). Even if a crazy violent person isn't culpable, society has to protect itself from them.
      • by TheLink (130905)
        I think the criteria should be whether a reasonable person would believe that that guy had the power and ability to actually do it.

        So even a specific threat like "I'm going to kill you with my rifle, two weeks from now" might not count for much if it comes from a quadriplegic.

        Whereas a nonspecific threat by a US President like "We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority." has to be taken quite seriously especially if it is followed by certain action
    • by teh kurisu (701097) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @09:13AM (#36862146) Homepage

      I agree that that the '50 cal' prediction should not be illegal, although it was badly worded and left the guy open to prosecution. But the "call to 'shoot the [racist slur]'" was clearly unacceptable and should have been illegal. In the UK this would be incitement to violence and incitement of racial hatred.

      This is the problem with constitutionally guaranteed free speech - not only that this kind of speech is deemed okay, but the fact that the guy didn't feel the need to stop and think before (metaphorically) opening his mouth.

      • by causality (777677) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @09:35AM (#36862242)

        This is the problem with constitutionally guaranteed free speech - not only that this kind of speech is deemed okay, but the fact that the guy didn't feel the need to stop and think before (metaphorically) opening his mouth.

        It's deemed legal, meaning it's not the state's role to add a consequence to it. Often, that's all this means.

        That isn't the same thing as "okay". I am sorry if you really believe that legal and okay are the exact same thing. There are higher modes of moral/ethical reasoning [wikipedia.org] than that.

        Though it has been deemed legal, there definitely are consequences. This man is now famous for wishing violence and making racist statements. Though we often glorify violence, "racist" is one of the worst stains on your reputation available these days. It is a great way to make sure that decent people don't want to have anything to do with you. Since he did not actually victimize anyone, this is sufficient.

        People will judge him accordingly and he will have to live with that for some time to come. It's not something easily forgotten. This is what free speech is all about. You say what you like and then accept the way it will change how you are perceived and treated. A law regulating speech is not only a wrong-headed desire to control disguised in "save the children" type packaging, it's also unnecessary. It appeals only to those who recognize no authority and no consequence other than that enforced by government.

        • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @11:36AM (#36862972) Journal

          It's deemed legal, meaning it's not the state's role to add a consequence to it. Often, that's all this means.

          I feel like you didn't RTFS, much less the full FA.
          The asshat's words were deemed legal because the law used to prosecute him did not cover that type of speech.
          If the prosecutors had used the regular laws covering threatening language, it would have been illegal.

          You fundamentally misunderstand what's being discussed if you think "it's not the state's role to add a consequence" to the man's words.
          Congress can amend the law in a heartbeat and the next guy to say those exact words will go to jail.

          A law regulating speech is not only a wrong-headed desire to control disguised in "save the children" type packaging, it's also unnecessary. It appeals only to those who recognize no authority and no consequence other than that enforced by government.

          I don't think you appreciate just how much laws regulating speech do for you on a daily basis.
          Have you ever read the label on a food item? It's accurate because of laws regulating speech.
          Have you ever read/seen/listened to an advertisement? They can't lie to you because of laws regulating speech.
          Have you ever made an oral contract? It's enforceable because of laws regulating speech.
          Have you ever been stampeded after someone shouted fire in a crowded theater? Probably not... because of laws regulating speech.
          Lying to the police is a crime. Perjury is a crime. Our legal system works because of laws regulating speech.

          I could go on, but I hope you get the idea.
          It's one of those What have they ever done for us? [youtube.com] questions.

          • by brobins8 (2012422) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @11:53AM (#36863076)
            From the article:

            "Given any reasonable construction of the words in his postings, those statements do not constitute a 'true threat,' and they are therefore protected speech under the First Amendment," the majority wrote in a 2-1 decision.

            So no, Congress cannot simply write a new law to get around that in the 9th Circuit (~20% of the population) or any Circuit that is likely to rule the same way. The observation that they didn't even charge him under a law that criminalized what he said (and if it did, it would be unconstitutional) was essentially just icing on the cake.
            • by TubeSteak (669689)

              "Given any reasonable construction of the words in his postings, those statements do not constitute a 'true threat,' and they are therefore protected speech under the First Amendment," the majority wrote in a 2-1 decision.

              The majority is hanging their logic on the semantics of what was said.
              The dissenting Judge looks at the full picture and notes that the guy saying
              "will have a 50 cal in the head soon" and "shoot the nigger" happened to own a 50 caliber weapon.

              Both are an appropriate approach to the law, I just happen to think that the bigger picture is more important in a case like this.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dbet (1607261)
        I don't know. It's illegal for me to hit you, but if I said "someone ought to hit that asshole" it's not illegal.

        Take it further. If I said those words, and someone (not me) hit you, would I be in trouble? Unlikely.
      • under such a "racial hatred" law. which is why it is better to have freedom of speech, than to have a bunch of laws about 'inciting racial hatred' and so forth and so on. throwing X in jail over his speech would have been absolutely pointless and counterproductive.

        we have a first amendment because the tradition in monarchies was to outlaw any "slandering of the king". . . i.e. the state was the master, and the 'servants' (people) were not allowed to 'talk back' to the master. in the new nation, this idea wa

      • by rotorbudd (1242864) * on Sunday July 24, 2011 @09:50AM (#36862340)

        This is precisely the type of speech that the
        Constitution protects.
        It's not a matter of whether you think that the statement is rude, crude, or socially unacceptable.
        In my opinion freedom of speech is the most basic right written into the Bill of Rights

        Take a look at Hitchens trying to explain it. ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3Hg-Y7MugU [youtube.com]

        • by teh kurisu (701097) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @10:14AM (#36862476) Homepage

          My point is that this is precisely the kind of speech that your constitution shouldn't protect. That document was written in an age of slavery, and I'm sure that the fact that racist speech was protected wasn't seen as a problem at the time. Not that I think that racist speech should be a criminal offence on its own, but it should be an aggravating factor when inciting violence.

          Nor is it necessary to protect free speech in a constitution when you have a society that values it, and is democratic. Americans seem to be prone to seeing things in black and white, but it's not the case that a lack of de-jure free speech protection is widespread censorship and silencing of dissent. And as I pointed out in my original post, it leads to the unfortunate scenario where people don't seem to give due consideration to what they're actually saying, before they say it.

          • My point is that this is precisely the kind of speech that your constitution shouldn't protect.

            Why?

            Nor is it necessary to protect free speech in a constitution when you have a society that values it

            It's necessary when someone tries to censor certain speech. And that is easily possible.

            it leads to the unfortunate scenario where people don't seem to give due consideration to what they're actually saying, before they say it.

            I wouldn't call that "unfortunate."

            • by inpher (1788434)

              My point is that this is precisely the kind of speech that your constitution shouldn't protect.

              Why?

              I'll take a guess, the following is not reflecting my personal philosophical or political point of view on the subject though These are however my thoughts on the matter:

              We have laws against negligence where if some person fails to take proper precaution to protect the safety of someone else, the negligent person can be found guilty.

              We have laws that require us to follow certain security standards (e.g. radiation, pollution, tire pressure, how bridges should be built, fire protection) that protects someone

              • Can speech influence behaviour?

                If someone chooses to be influenced by it, yes. What they do is up to them. If someone is so easily influenced that they do whatever someone else tells them to, then I think that's just unfortunate (for them and anyone they happen to hurt). But I think it's ultimately their fault.

                If we think that the answer to that question is yes then the natural question to follow up is: Are we allowed to put another person (or her/his possessions) in danger?

                "Are we allowed to put another person in danger indirectly?" That would be a better question, in my opinion.

              • by russotto (537200)

                We have laws against negligence where if some person fails to take proper precaution to protect the safety of someone else, the negligent person can be found guilty.

                This only holds when the person who didn't take proper precautions had some duty to protect that other person's safety.

                Then, we have the philosophical question: Can speech influence behaviour?

                Of course it can; it's not much of a question. Ask any Internet troll.

                If we can agree that one person's speech can influence another person's actions, can

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            Pretty awkward convicting a black for racist speech against whites though. Or against blacks for that matter, since a lot of rap music talks about shooting niggas. The Kingdom of England is also pretty much the first modern totalitarian state in the west, so it is not much of a democratic counter-example to the simple-minded and backwards USA.
            • by Tim C (15259)

              The Kingdom of England is also pretty much the first modern totalitarian state in the west

              I have to assume that you've never even been here, let alone lived here. Either that or you really don't know what totalitarian means. (Incidentally you're also the first person in my 36 years that I've heard refer to it in that way, except in a historical sense; it sounds weird.)

          • My point is that this is precisely the kind of speech that your constitution shouldn't protect

            Well we don't have a choice - out govt was (theoretically) founded on the concept of individual sovereignty. If we own ourselves then we own our speech. The only way for the govt to limit our speech would be through force, which would render it illegitimate.

            That said, using your speech to take away someone else's right would make it subject to limiting, but a racial slur on a Yahoo financial forum at 2 am is hardly going to do anybody any harm.

          • by thesandtiger (819476) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @12:27PM (#36863254)

            There are a myriad of problems with this contention of yours. Let me go through them:

            1) What is "racist" speech? If I say someone is "ghetto fabulous" is that racist? If I say someone is a "redneck" is that racist? Or let's say I call someone a nigger - is that racist? If any of these are racist, what, exactly, is the cut-off point? At what point do we decide a term is worthy of prosecution vs. something that's offensive but not illegal?

            1a) What would be the value in criminalizing speech from point 1? I agree that racism is incredibly offensive, but so what? I find a ton of things incredibly offensive - some, actually, much more so than racism - but I don't think that things that are *merely* offensive should be criminalized. In fact, I think that criminalizing these things actually winds up harming society because it drives the people who think and feel that way underground where they can be vastly more harmful because they can play into all kinds of persecution complexes outside of the light of day.

            2) You are insane if you think it isn't necessary to constitutionally protect free speech in a society that values it and is democratic. Since 9/11, the US (which isn't actually democratic) has gleefully given up all manner of things that, previously, had been held as important and valuable, all because of fear.

            Even worse, it is extremely easy for groups with money to shape public opinion and modify values over time so that what was previously taken as one of the fundamental rights is ... not. Without constitutional protection fundamental rights would be stripped away in a heartbeat with NOTHING to stop them. With constitutional protection we at least can *try* to appeal to that document, though there is erosion - erosion that is at least slowed by the constitution.

            You want to talk about Americans seeing things in black and white - that just isn't the case. It's more that we know ourselves and the world we live in, and I absolutely know that without the fundamental protections of our constitution, we would be even more in the thrall of moneyed interests than we already are. I have absolutely zero doubt that, if we didn't have such protections you would see things like Newscorp spending billions to make it a crime to denigrate Fox "news," service providers making it a crime to complain, publicly about services, etc.

            3) What's the value in trying to scare people into thinking about what they say before they say it? As I said above, I would *much* rather have some racist asshole feel perfectly free to mouth off about how much he hates everyone who isn't just like him than I would have a culture where people are more circumspect and go underground and get much, much worse.

            Speech - ANY speech - is fine as long as it is just speech. When it becomes a call to action, or turns into action, that's when it crosses a line.

            The moron that this article about has basically wrecked his life by showing for ALL the world to see what a racist asshole he is. Oh, I suppose he'll find some "support" amongst people who think like him, but they, too, are marginalized because of their beliefs. They imagine they're martyrs now because people don't like their views - don't suggest that they be made martyrs in fact when the law prevents them from showing all the world how asinine they are.

      • This is the problem with constitutionally guaranteed free speech

        Define "problem." I'm perfectly fine with inciting violence and racial hatred. The only time I want something to be stopped is when something actually happens.

      • But the "call to 'shoot the [racist slur]'" was clearly unacceptable and should have been illegal. In the UK this would be incitement to violence and incitement of racial hatred

        Clearly it was not clearly unacceptable, or it would not be subject of reversed court decisions and a divided court.

        What is at issue is that, yes, it is illegal to promote the killing of the president, but saying 'shoot the president', is not necessarily a call to shoot the president.

        "When our law punishes words, we must examine the surrounding circumstances to discern the significance of those words’ utterance, but must not distort or embellish their plain meaning so that the law may reach them," said the 2-1 ruling

        If the guy had been up on a pulpit delivering a speech to the Aryan brotherhood or something, the conviction likely would have been upheld. But instead he said it during an inebriated diatribe on an internet chat site. The 9t

    • Drake, etc, and all the other 'leakers' and whistleblowers who have been prosecuted for giving information to the media?

      • Free speech does not mean you can freely divulge secrets you are obligated (by oath or contract) to protect. Those would fall under the heading "Breach of Contract".

        • they were prosecuted for Espionage.

          and Drake in particular felt his Oath to protect and defend the constitution (he was in the Air Force) was more important than any agreement between him and the NSA to not give out information.

          besides, the information he gave out was not classified.

    • So, its OK to exhort people to shoot the president, but not to shoot you?

      What happens if Obama stops being president next year, and his security detail gets smaller? The statute of limitations is still in force...

      • So, its OK to exhort people to shoot the president, but not to shoot you?

        I never said anything to that effect.

        What happens if Obama stops being president next year, and his security detail gets smaller? The statute of limitations is still in force...

        So what? It's still just as illegal to shoot him when he's president as it is when he's not. Do you have a point to make here?

    • by Sinthet (2081954)

      The problem is, what if he owned a 50 cal. rifle? Does that constitute a threat, even if he had no actual intention of shooting him? I'm leaning towards that being enough to investigate, but then again, you'd have to be pretty stupid to actually want to go through with something like this and post about it on yahoo.

      • by fafaforza (248976)

        It's the job of the Secret Service to investigate the guy. Saying a sentence shouldn't automatically get you prison time. You probably know how many trolls there are on the Internet, saying dumb stuff to elicit a reaction. Our prison system is already overgrown without adding this group to those jailed for nonsense crimes and extended sentences.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        If he has the weapon, makes a threat and has any proximity to the President at all that would likely be sufficient to send him to prison. You can threaten to kill the President, and such threats are relatively common, but they don't typically try to prosecute it unless there's evidence of capability and intent.

        Of course they'll investigate and possibly ruin your life in that way when they go around looking for evidence, but they're not typically going to arrest people over idle threats.

    • by houghi (78078)

      How about "Fire" in a cinema? For me "Free speech" is about voicing your opinion and yes it will be a fine line between saying "will have" and "should have".

      The INTEND is the big difference.

    • by honkycat (249849)

      Yes indeed. Unfortunately, this is the 9th circuit court, so odds are better than chance that it gets reversed on appeal.

  • Fox News would be going on 24/7 about liberal violence. But when it's directed at a black Democrat, then both sides need to tone it down.

  • Everything seems to empower the Tea Party. Every court ruling, every law passed, even after the US government defaults this would also benefit the Tea Party.

    When are we going to accept that the Tea Party is a domestic terrorist group that fantasizes about having another civil war?
    Their policies are straight from the old south. The for profit prisons, which mean prisons are now the new plantations where corporations can have the cheapest possible labor force. These corporations also write our laws. Check out

    • by monoqlith (610041) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @09:22AM (#36862200)

      I wouldn't say that. What the Tea Party is: a successful re-branding of the Republican Party. There is no "Tea Party." It's the Republican Party.We've allowed the Republican party to effectively change its name after being poisoned by the Bush years, without asking any questions of any kind about its democratic legitimacy (such as whether or not it is actually grassroots and not a magnificent example of astroturfing). It allows Fox News to continue to create the illusion that the Republican Party is a sufficient vehicle to channel the democratic impulses of the right-wing working class, and to keep people with actual libertarian or conservative impulses inside the Republican tent. In fact, the Republican Party is just as corporate as ever, and has no intent on working to shore up its relationship with the working-class in actual policy measures.

      • Right, the Tea Party members in Congress do not have enough power to actually decide agendas. They can have influence as a block, but in the end they're going to pass a debt ceiling increase, for instance.

        I don't agree with them on many issues (personal liberty ones, mostly) but at least their policies would be preferable to the establishment [R,D] corporatism.

        Then again, even if they're successful, all they can really do is postpone the collapse. Maybe it's just better to get it over with.

        Politicians nee

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Corporatism? The Tea Party is the leading proponent of corporatism at this time. They're the ones that are fighting the hardest for tax breaks for corporate entities and spending cuts for services that individuals use.

          Remember the Tea Party is basically just the extremist wing of the Republican party mixed liberally with those too naive to know what they're in with.

      • This is completely wrong. The Republican Party is terrified of the Tea Party, which has repudiated Republicans such as John Boehner and Lindsey Graham. In fact, the Tea Party has threatened Republicans who have tried to make a deal with President Obama over raising the debt limit [cbsnews.com]. Furthermore, the extreme positions of the Tea Party has undermined Republican efforts to reach out to the mainstream and independent voters. TP Michelle Bauchmann claiming that slavery was good for black families is not what the Republican Party needs at this juncture. There is probably nothing more the Republicans want at this point than to be separated from the Tea Party.

        • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @01:36PM (#36863660)

          TP Michelle Bauchmann claiming that slavery was good for black families is not what the Republican Party needs at this juncture.

          What she said was tactless and foolish, but she didnt say what youre claiming she did.

          In fact, she didnt actually say it at all, it was a pledge she signed, and the controversial language was
          Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American President
          Which is to say, it was lamenting the state of family values, and trying to emphasize its point with hyperbole.

          It would be much the same as if someone had said
          Even under Hitler, people had more speech rights
          A rational interpretation of that statement will not read an endorsement of the Nazi regime into it, but rather a gross and insensitive use of hyperbole to emphasize how bad you think things are NOW.

          Although I suppose if the goal is to demonize your political opposition, it sure is convenient to simply call it racist, and to make the claim that republicans are hankering for the days of slavery again; and a fig to any reasonable attempt to use context and language skills.

        • by russotto (537200)

          This is completely wrong. The Republican Party is terrified of the Tea Party, which has repudiated Republicans such as John Boehner and Lindsey Graham. In fact, the Tea Party has threatened Republicans who have tried to make a deal with President Obama over raising the debt limit.

          Ah, you've never heard of the little game called "Good cop, bad cop"? This is just a variant.
          D: We want X
          R: You know, I'd like to give you X, but those scary bastards over there (T obligingly growls menacingly and froths at the m

    • Their policies are straight from the old south. The for profit prisons, which mean prisons are now the new plantations where corporations can have the cheapest possible labor force. These corporations also write our laws. Check out ALEC exposed to see the whole plan.

      Which may explain why they are so eager to criminalize homosexual behavior. Gays are, on average, much better educated than the general population and as a result tend to make more money than the average American. This is exactly the kind of
    • by LordNimon (85072) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @10:43AM (#36862636)

      even after the US government defaults this would also benefit the Tea Party.

      Actually, it wouldn't. The problem with the Tea Party is that they're all morons. It's a party of angry, stupid, middle-age white people who don't know anything about running a country. Defaulting on our national debt would be a disaster that hurts the poor and middle class the most, and hence will hurt the Tea Party the most. They just don't realize it.

    • by baKanale (830108)

      After the US defaults the Tea Party is planning to blame Obama.

      Let them try. Everyone knows that it's the Republicans and Tea Party who coupled the debt ceiling issue to the deficit issue, and they're the ones who refused to raise the debt ceiling limit to begin with. Sure, the negotiations on the issue(s) might sour you on Obama if you're opposed to tax increases for the "job creators", but in that case you're probably already against him to begin with. Even with some Republicans supporting the idea o

  • Good call (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Inf0phreak (627499) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @09:15AM (#36862160)
    Of course he's still going to be on every single government watch list for the rest of his life. And if he ever does anything you can bet they will throw the book at him.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      As well he should be. Individuals holding those views are potentially very dangerous. Just look at what's happened in the last few days in Norway. Or at the various bombings and shootings in the US by extremists over the last few decades. This isn't a matter of holding a legitimate and earnest opinion, this is somebody that stepped over the line and issued a death threat.

  • What a lame racist (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Sunday July 24, 2011 @09:16AM (#36862162) Homepage

    Who actually says "Shoot the racist slur"? What a lame racist. A real racist would have called him a nigger. Nigger. Its ok to write it, its just a word. It is especially ok to write it, when quoting someone else who said it.

    I mean do we really need to edit what a racist said to make it more genetic and palatable? I mean seriously.... of all the things to PC up....
    I am sure he isn't embarrassed to be known as the guy who called Obama a nigger.. if thats even what he said...since he obviously wasn't quoted correctly.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by vlm (69642)

      The obvious explanation is the reporter is passively supporting the guy's beliefs, by covering up his more inflammatory comments. In other words an agreement in principle, but disagreement in practice. /. videogame analogy: If you want to show grannie GTA3, you show her the start where you ride a bicycle thru the streets and alleys; its cool and peaceful, mostly. Don't show grannie the "hot coffee" mod, just casually mention there's also some "adult content" besides the bicycle thing.

      • It's the PC media being PC. Oh, you can't say "nigger" even if it's necessary to report what this moron said. They have to say "the N-word" or "racial slur" because they don't want to be caught saying "nigger" on TV.

    • by meburke (736645)

      LOL..but you have a point: A lot of people will overlook the fact that the reporter is "interpreting" the facts, or "judging the facts" instead of "reporting the facts"as they really occurred. By loading the report, the reporter tries to influence the readers into accepting a negative viewpoint without thinking. (It works both ways: How many complaints have we heard from the Right that the "liberal news media" slants their content? ..and the same complaints in earlier posts about Fox News?)

      Well, none of the

      • by unitron (5733)

        "Ooooh.. Logic is so HARD! Why don't we all just vote Democrat and rest our brains?"

        And apparently being able to tell a noun from an adjective is too hard as well. Especially when the intent is to use the noun, not as an identifier, but as an epithet.

    • Louis CK summed it up the best.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dF1NUposXVQ [youtube.com]

  • I am really surprised he is the only one, I think everyone thought that he had a good chance of getting shot and really I would not have thought too hard about posting about it, but then I would not have called him any racial slurs or expressed anything but regret at that occurring.

  • by PacoSuarez (530275) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @09:54AM (#36862356)

    > The observation that Obama 'will have a 50 cal in the head soon' and a call to 'shoot the [racist slur]' weren't violations of the law [...]
    That sentence alone implies that in the U.S. death threats are protected free speech, but you can't use the word "nigger". I love it.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      What's deeply disturbing about this is that various white supremacist groups in recent decades have taken to calling out hits by just issuing contact information of the target with the understanding that if somebody were to put a bullet in this particular head it would be a good thing. Basically a way of allowing the leadership to order hits without having to accept any sort of responsibility for the ensuing assassination.

  • by Meeni (1815694) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @02:28PM (#36864002)
    It is probably very hard for the American public to understand the necessities of racial hatred and murder incitations speech laws. The root of such laws in Europe do not come from royalty slander, as some have postulated here. It comes from the shock of what happened during WW2. In most of Europe, then legal racial hatred speech have driven perfectly normal and decent people to act as monsters, inhuman, immoral mass behavior from the average Joe. That, was the definite proof that if you let some ideas prosper, some horrible things happen as a result. Call for murder of a human being should be illegal, being the president or not. Call for bullying trough violence elected bodies should also be illegal, as this is a shortcut for particular interests to force their political agenda against the will of the majority. If so many of your presidents got shot dead, it is also because so many speeches inviting to killing are aired, making it "ok" to kill. Finally, you do not need the freedom to call publicly for murder to excerpt control on your government. You can still call for a new constitutional assembly, which is exactly what you are talking about, and is free speech, even if you do not have the right to call for murder.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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