A scorned Pennsylvania man posted a series of horrific rants about his estranged wife on social media and now will serve a 44 month prison sentence for his remarks. His conviction is the first of its kind for his use of free speech in the digital age and has brought about what could be a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court, where statements made on social media can constitute criminal threats.
After Anthony Elonis’ wife left him and took their two children with her, he expressed his anger within several graphic and violent posts on Facebook back in 2010.
“If I only knew then what I know now, I would have smothered your ass with a pillow, dumped your body in the back seat, dropped you off in Toad Creek, and made it look like a rape and murder,” one such rant read according to a brief filed with the court.
A third status update said, “I used to be a nice guy but then you became a slut. Guess it’s not your fault you liked your daddy raped you” and “Fold up your protective order and put in your pocket. Is it thick enough to stop a bullet?”
Elonis claimed that he is an aspiring rapper and his sentiments were just song lyrics he had written, but jurors didn’t buy it and convicted him on the grounds that his violent posts were equal to threats, the Daily Caller reported.
John P. Elwood, Elonis’ attorney, argued that not only was his client just kidding about the messages he portrayed in his posts, but that it’s his First Amendment right to say what he wants on social media. When speaking with reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington Monday, Elwood indicated that he wants the court to overturn their decision to ensure protection of vile and threatening rap lyrics posted on social media under the First Amendment.
In describing specific ways that Elonis said he would physically harm others, including slitting the throat of a FBI agent and shooting up a kindergarten class, there is no question that his words are offensive — but is it criminal? In this day and age, where attacks by enraged individuals frequently take place across the country, such language must be considered as actionable credible threats, since there was arguably clear intent and motive. This man’s words were used to terrorize others, and it’s a poor excuse for inappropriate behavior to say his comments were an artistic expression when it came time for him to face the music.
Courtesy of Mad World News