Inquiry on Chat Room Legal Issues
whoooo26505 at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 5 09:33:49 PDT 2006
As I understand it, the supreme court has never decided the issue. The closest analogue is the Paladin Enterprises case. Paladin had published two books that were basically technical manuals for hit men who were functioning as independent contractors for hire. One book showed how to make and dispose of a silencer. Another was actually titled as "a technical manual" for hit men. The 4th circuit allowed a wrongful death action to be brought against the publisher (the killer of the victim had read the books). The Supreme Court never took the case.
Here is what I believe to be an accurate statement of the law from the case: "The law is now well established that the First Amendment, and Brandenburg's "imminence" requirement in particular, generally poses little obstacle to the punishment of speech that constitutes criminal aiding and abetting, because culpability in such cases is premised, not on defendants' advocacy of criminal conduct, but on defendants' successful efforts to assist others by detailing to them the means of accomplishing the crimes."
In short, if showing someone how to make a bomb constitutes aiding and abetting, free speech should no more protect that as it would protecting language that constitutes an assault. Of course, mere advocacy of the idea or desirability of death, destruction, terrorism -- or even advocating that someone kill the president or whomever -- should be protected under Brandenburg.
Robert Bradley <rbradley at ilstu.edu> wrote:
A couple of questions raised by a student that I would appreciate getting
responses to from list members. Is it permissible to discuss bomb making
techniques in a chat room along as advocacy of crime is not part of the
discussion? [are there any other conditions that would impact the legality
of the discussion?] Is it permissible for the government to monitor those
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Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Penn State University
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