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Blogger's Case Tests Limits of Free Speech

pickens (49171) writes | more than 5 years ago

The Courts 0

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post has a report on the pending trial of internet "shock jock" and white supremacist Hal Turner charged with threatening the lives of three judges on the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit after he posted photographs on his blog of the appellate judges and a map showing the Chicago courthouse where they work, noting the placement of "anti-truck bomb barriers" and wrote "Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed." Turner's case is likely to test the limits of political speech at a time when incendiary talk is proliferating on broadcast outlets and the Internet, from the microphones of well-known commentators to the keyboards of anonymous netizens. "He gave an opinion. He did not say go out and kill," says Turner's defense attorney Michael Orozco after unsuccessfully seeking bail. "This is political hyperbole, nothing more." Joseph Persichini Jr., chief of the FBI's Washington field office, says that "law enforcement's challenge every day is to balance the civil liberties of the United States citizen against the need to investigate activities that might lead to criminal conduct. No matter how offensive to some, we are keenly aware expressing views is not a crime and the protection afforded under the Constitution cannot be compromised." First Amendment scholar Martin H. Redish adds that much of what Turner wrote is protected by the Constitution, including his declarations that the judges should be eliminated but says that Turner probably crossed a line when he printed information about the judges, their office locations and the courthouse. "I would give very strong odds on a thousand bucks that once he said that stuff, it takes it out of any kind of hyperbole range.""

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