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IPFS News Link • Free Speech

Man's call for Obama assassination is free speech, not crime, court rules

• LA Times via

A La Mesa man who posted racial epithets and a call to "shoot" Barack Obama on an Internet chat site was engaging in constitutionally protected free speech, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in overturning his criminal conviction.

Walter Bagdasarian was found guilty two years ago of making threats against a major presidential candidate in comments he posted on a financial website after 1 a.m. on Oct. 22, 2008, as Obama's impending victory in the race for the White House was becoming apparent. Bagdasarian told investigators he was drunk at the time.


2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Powell Gammill
Entered on:

The statement that Obama “will have a 50 cal in the head soon” was a prediction that conveyed no explicit or implicit threat on the part of Bagdasarian that he himself would kill or injure Obama. The  “shoot” statement was an imperative intended to encourage others to take violent action, if not simply an expression of rage or frustration. The threat statute does not criminalize predictions or exhortations to others to injure or kill the president.  Bagdasarian’s statements did not constitute a threat and did not fall within the offense punished by the statute.

Comment by Powell Gammill
Entered on:

Here is the PDF of the 40 page decision (h/t LA Times):

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