We love beating the Cyber Bullies who live in the morass of their false sense of anonymity online and who try to claim their spewed public hatred is protected speech under the First Amendment. A California appeals court just ruled 2-1 that you can’t say just anything you please online. You must own your words and you will face punishment if you intentionally try to inflict harm on someone.
A state appeals court says a 15-year-old boy whose Web site was flooded with anti-gay slurs and threats can sue a schoolmate who admitted posting a menacing message but described it as a joke.
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.
We applaud this first step in the long effort to dismantle the Wild West notion of the Web where anything goes without consideration or the personal editing of thoughts and threats.
The ancillary rage expressed online is disarming human testimony against the disaffected and the disinvested.
“The students who posted the threats sought to destroy D.C.’s life, threatened to murder him, and wanted to drive him out of Harvard-Westlake and the community in which he lived,” the appeals court concluded in denying the motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by one of the defendants on the grounds that the postings amounted to constitutionally protected speech on a public issue.
Does a child learn to express hatred from their parents or their circle of friends?
How did we so quickly tumble into the tar pit of “anything goes” on the internet while, in our ordinary and identifiable lives, we have generally kept close the idea of teaching our children to get along with others and to lead by modeling a proper example and not demonstrating bad behavior?