Free speech is something we Americans value. Most of us would die for this basic right. However, when our Founding Fathers included this in the Constitution, they weren’t thinking of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Instagram etc.
They had in mind verbal speech and written speech via literature such as pamphlets which were popular at the time, as well as books and the like.
Now that we’re in the 21st century, free speech is in question again. Is what we post in the cyber world considered “free speech?” This is what the Supreme Court of the United States of America will be deciding on in June of 2015. A case involving a Pennsylvania man – Anthony Elonis – is in the works and being debated by the Justices. This man was convicted and sent to prison for posting threatening posts or statements regarding his wife, FBI and police, as well as others.
According to Elonis, the statements or posts are “rap lyrics” and were not meant to be taken seriously. Nevertheless, one can see how the words clearly depict threatening messages. Justice Samuel Alito said of the defense, “This sounds like a roadmap for threatening your spouse and then getting away with it.”
He has a good point! How many times have harassing, threatening and libelous statements made online gone unpunished and led to consequences in real life?
I myself am being targeted by several atheists via Twitter, Facebook and blogs.
On Twitter, do a simple search for “Sacerdotus” and you will find the same accounts constantly bringing me up, claiming I am someone else or a collective of Twitter accounts and what not. They are not shy about their libel and even promote it.
These people are mentally ill and use the apparent sense of anonymity to do these things. This has been a big problem ever since the internet became public. I remember AOL used to suspend accounts for harassment. People often say things online that they will never have the nerve to say in real life. This cowardice brings out these big bad trolls online who collectively harass others and many times go unpunished by Twitter etc. Well this all can change if the Supreme Court clarifies how free speech applies to social networking. I have been in communication with several law enforcement agencies from the United Kingdom as well as here in the United States regarding these people who are targeting me. So far I have their IP addresses and other information, but will need more details after filing papers and forcing their ISP to hand it over in order to see what is the next step since IP addresses do change and are not static.
I support freedom of speech. We all should say whatever we want, but we must remember that their are consequences to what we say. If freedom of speech is used to disparage, slander and threaten others, then there has to be consequences. These consequences are not censorship because you have a right to say whatever, but you don’t have the right to dictate the consequences. Nations should not have to police the behavior of its citizens. Each citizen should know how to use the gift of freedom of speech intelligibly and in a way that is civil. However, since some citizens don’t know how to behave, then their speech must be penalized whenever it is used to violate another.
I truly hope the Supreme Court will set a precedent that will stop or prevent people from using freedom of speech as an excuse to harass and threaten others online. In regards to the trolls targeting me, I will make an example out of them.