We live in a world where everything is digital. And where killers post on Facebook before they kill their wives. The US Supreme Court is deciding a case where a killer husband’s Facebook posts are being called into question and the court has to decide if the man’s posts represent a criminal threat or were just harmless vents of rage.
In today’s age, where we use social media for a myriad number of things, venting anger on Facebook or any other platform is easy and very instinctive. This case that is being fought now could have a huge implications for free speech in the virtual world. Anthony Elonis, the man at the heart of the crime was given a four year long jail sentence and the high court now has to decide whether it was completely lawful to do so.
US govt. says posts are a breach of law
The prosecutors for the US government say that Elonis’ posts represent a breach of law regardless of whether he meant what he wrote online or not. Elonis talked about killing primary school children in his post. But his criminal defense attorneys say that his messages and posts were a rant much like the rap lyrics that singer and tremendous artist Eminem uses to portray his thoughts about the world.
Elonis’ wife moved out of their home in Pennsylvania in 2010 breaking up a seven year long marriage. She also took their two kids with her after the separation. Very soon after this, Elonis started using online portals as a way to vent his rage against his wife’s leaving. His messages were often violent in nature. In one of the posts, he makes a reference to how there are a thousand ways to kill someone. He also spoke of not resting until his wife’s body was full of small cuts and soaked in blood. Wow, that is strange for sure!
Wife had a restraining order against killer
His wife had even asked the court to grant her a restraining order, but Elonis continued his tirade against her on Facebook and he spoke openly of wanting to kill her. What type of friends does this person have? Were they blasting his disgusting comments?
His messages were often composes as self-styled rap lyrics, and in one of his most bizarre posts ever he spoke about going to the elementary schools in a ten mile radius and letting loose in a kindergarten class. His exact words were, “hell hath no fury like a man in a kindergarten class.”
However, his criminal attorneys draw attention to the fact that he always followed up his violent musings with a disclaimer that said his lyrics were the works of his rap alter-ego who he liked to call “Tone Dougie” and that they had no real meaning.
It’s just rap, says accused
Tone Dougie’s rap has got Elonis in deep trouble though. He wrote about wanting to slit the throat of an FBI man who came to his house and this led to an arrest for making threats. Elonis told the court that his passion for rap helped him heal after his wife left him, and it was never meant as a reason to intimidate anyone. It looks like logic and morality left Elonis years ago too.