You can say a lot of things and stand behind First Amendment protections. Saying that you’re going to kill the President on Facebook is not one of those things, according to a Florida jury.
A Florida man has been convicted of making death threats against President Obama and is now awaiting sentencing scheduled for April.
According to the court, Christopher Castillo posted the threats to his Facebook page in November, just days before Obama was reelected for a second term. The posts reportedly said that he if reelected, he would hunt down and kill the President. Castillo also added that he would “watch the life disappear from his eyes.”
According to the Secret Service, they visited Castillo shortly after learning of the threat from a citizen. He reportedly admitted to posting the Facebook statuses.
“(Castillo) was given every opportunity to back down and say it was a joke and he never (backed down),” said Assistant U.S. attorney Shawn Napier. “It wasn’t sarcasm. It was a threat to kill the president.”
Castillo’s attorney argued that the man who notified the Secret Service of the posts was a noted internet troll who had provoked the comments from Castillo, and that Castillo simply said some things he didn’t mean. He also argued that the comments should be protected as “political discussion” under the First Amendment.
A jury disagreed.
As this case and many others prove, things you say on Facebook hold just as much weight as things you would scream out front of the White House. Don’t threaten to kill the President, and especially don’t do it on a public forum like Twitter or Facebook.