The US Supreme Court announced that it will hear the appeal of Anthony Elonis, a man convicted and sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison for making threats over Facebook — threats that were often in the form of rap lyrics — according to The Morning Call, the local newspaper covering the case.
Elonis claims his threats to kill his wife, slash an FBI agent’s throat, and kill a class of kindergartners were just rap lyrics and not indicative of future actions, nothing we haven’t heard from rappers like Eminem, and he should be protected by the First Amendment.
The US Supreme Court says it will decide “whether, as a matter of statutory interpretation, conviction of threatening another person under [federal law] requires proof of the defendant’s subjective intent to threaten.”
Should you go to jail for posting seemingly threatening comments on social media, even if they may be sarcastic? Should intent be considered? Could your sarcasm land you in jail?
As it stands today, you may want to think twice about that brilliant idea of posting the lyrics to “Cop Killer” on Facebook. Although your intentions may be pure (as much as they can be whilst posting the lyrics to one of the most notorious songs in the last 30 years), someday soon it might land you in jail. [SCOTUSblog via Recode]
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