Drawing the Line Between Free Speech and Terrorism.

I live in Michigan. And I am a little puzzled and perhaps dismayed by recent stories in the news of high school students, no less, charged with terrorism. It is a 20-year felony. These young foolish men are not even legal adults. Yet they could literally have the rest of their lives ***destroyed ***.

Anyway, I am not going to debate the morality of what they did. It was plainly foolish, and they never should have done it. But I am a bit confused, as I said, about the First Amendment implications.

It has been a while since I took high school government class. But even now, I clearly recall, the Supreme Court usually makes a distinction between the hypothetical, and a “clear and present danger” ( the Constitutional term, BTW).

“I think the school should be burned down” is protected. While “burn it down!” usually isn’t.

So what an I missing in some of these cases? Just to give you some background, usually the threat is judged not to be credible. Oftentimes, the idiot kid just wants to close school down so they don’t have to take a test. Many times it is even a joke.

So why do these kids still face holy heck for what they do? And while we’re at it, does the fact the courts are getting more and more conservative have anything to do with it?

Thank you in advance for all your replies:)

:slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

What did they do?

It is hard to copy and paste news links from my smartphone. But I will certainly try, if necessary.

But as I said: usually the threat is later determined to not be credible, or even a joke. Searches of the home turn up no weapons.

This is one recent case from Michigan.

The relevant section of Michigan law notes that “It is not a defense to a prosecution under this section that the defendant did not have the intent or capability of committing the act of terrorism.” So it is irrelevant that the kids charged in thE above linked report did not have access to weapons.

Have not checked out linked stories yet, but am willing to take an immediate guess that the “young foolish men” the OP is concerned about are non-Muslim, and most likely white.


Him too.

Looks like you just did, and this reads to me as a blatant attempt to not have to defend your position. I find it hard to believe this was accidental, given that you failed to mention why they are being charged with terrorism, which is because they threatened to shoot up their school.

As for the 1st amendment implications, The Supreme Court has held that “advocacy of the use of force” is unprotected when it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action.” Seems pretty straight forward to this Canadian.

I have to admit favouring the “flog them in the public square” approach, in which it is made clear that the behaviour was unacceptable, but after the intense punishment is over, you let them get on with their lives. I don’t see the value of an extended jail term in response to stupidity.

This kid had weapons.

I don’t see any First Amendment issue here. The only question is how long and how far their asses will be kicked. If they are ever permitted to own firearms, I will be disappointed.

I had a trio of friends in high school that were out making mischief a couple of days before September 11, 2001. They put some dry ice in a 2-liter bottle and stuffed it in someone’s mailbox. They got caught a few days later and were initially charged with some flavor of a “terrorism” felony, but the lawyers got it bartered down to a guilty plea to some minor misdemeanor that ended up requiring community service. My assumption is that prosecutors knowingly over-charge their suspects so that they can get the victim to plead guilty to a lesser charge and they don’t have to go through the expense or trouble of an actual trial, and I suspect that’s what’s happening here, that it’s essentially a bluff to get the defendant to go for a plea deal. If the kids actually get convicted and sentenced to some lengthy prison sentence, I might be more concerned. ETA: if that were to come to pass, an appeal on free speech grounds would probably be interesting to watch.

I can’t remember, are you one of the ones that’s already disappointed that the rest of us are permitted to own firearms, or is this really a case where you support the 2nd Amendment in general but think their actions are severe enough that they ought to be deprived of that right?

I’m one of the ones who, upon looking into a mass shooter’s past, does not want to find he once threatened to shoot up a school, yet we sold him a high-powered semi-automatic rifle. Nikolas Cruz, despite numerous red flags, purchased his weapon legally; I want to change that.

You sold him a high-powered semi-automatic rifle? I didn’t sell him a high-powered, semi-automatic rifle. Police and school authorities had more than enough opportunities to have that monster appear before a court-ordered, mental health evaluation. If they don’t actually put these psychos into the system, the system will fail to help them, or to protect the rest of society.

I’m not seeing a problem here. They have yet to be convicted, so are currently presumed innocent, but remind me, how many school shootings have there been in the past year?

Would you favor adjudicating these two as mentally impaired on the basis of their threats?

Or would you defend their right to own firearms?

We are going to wait until they’re convicted (or at least adjudicated) to strip them of their rights, right?

I thought the new plan was to take the guns first, and have some due process second.

It’s an easy question. In your opinion, in the absence of any other evidence, does threatening to shoot up a school constitute a mental illness or any other legal obstruction that could be used to prevent them from buying firearms?

It certainly wasn’t my new plan. For that matter, it’s not all that new as the concept of GVROs has been around for a while now. Anyways, I covered that when I wrote “(or at least adjudicated)”.