One of the ploys used by people who post hate-filled messages online is that it is free speech. There is the assumption that these postings are protected by the constitution.
A California state appeals court has ruled otherwise:
“… In a 2-1 ruling Monday, the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles said the violent language of the message – threatening to “rip out your … heart and feed it to you” and to “pound your head in with an ice pick” – conveyed a harmful intent that is not protected by the right of free speech.
The dissenting justice, Frances Rothschild, said no one who read all the messages posted on the Web site – in which youths tried to outdo the others in outrageous insults – would interpret any of them as a serious threat.”
While this ruling many result in some frivolous litigation, it does give protection to those individuals who are threatened online. What is said online may have legal consequences.