What threats are bluster protected under the First Amendment, and what threats are "true threats" that may be the subject of criminal sanctions? It turns out this is the sort of question that makes money for lawyers — there's no easy answer and the caselaw is jumbled. Via How Appealing, The First Amendment Center has an interesting and informative discussion that summarizes the problem thusly:
Many lower courts have struggled with the Court’s decision in Black because it is unclear what level of intent is necessary for a speaker’s utterance to be considered a true threat. In other words, must a speaker subjectively intend to intimidate or threaten others? Or is it sufficient if the speaker makes a comment that a recipient reasonably believes is a threat? Should true threats be interpreted under a “reasonable speaker” or “reasonable recipient” standard? Is there a difference between a true threat and intimidation or is intimidation a special subset of the more general category of true threats?
Well worth reading if free speech issues interest you.
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