Jul 31, 2022 • 42M

A Thousand Ways to Kill You

He called it artistic expression. The government called it a threat. When does free speech go too far?

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Appears in this episode

Matthew S. Schwartz
Michael Vuolo
Celebrating the accidental guardians of the First Amendment. For regular updates on the legal stories that shape our lives, visit unprecedented.substack.com.
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Anthony Elonis wrote a series of Facebook posts describing gory fantasies of revenge, often in the form of rap lyrics, against his estranged wife and others. He was later convicted of violating a federal law that prohibits such threats and was sentenced to more than three years in prison. Elonis claimed he was merely venting and using an established art form — just like Eminem — and that the First Amendment protects violent speech. When does free speech go too far? Listen to the Season 1 finale of Unprecedented.

Prefer to read this episode? Click below for a transcript!

TRANSCRIPT: A Thousand Ways to Kill You
NINA TOTENBERG: I see a lot of cases involving somebody who commits a horrific crime against his wife and/or children. And there are lots of warning signs and these are the warning signs. Language like this is the warning sign. How do you balance the right to free speech — in this very typical situation involving domestic, at least terror if not violence — and try to make sure there isn't a murder…
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