Man’s call for Obama assassination is free speech, not crime, court rules

The opinion can be read at

A La Mesa man who posted racial epithets and a call to “shoot” Barack Obama
on an Internet chat site was engaging in constitutionally protected free speech,
a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in overturning his criminal

Walter Bagdasarian was found guilty two years ago of making threats against a
major presidential candidate in comments he posted on a financial
website after 1 a.m. on Oct. 22, 2008, as Obama’s impending victory in the race
for the White House was becoming apparent. Bagdasarian told investigators he was
drunk at the time.

Comment by: Powell
Gammill (#13871)

Entered on:
2011-07-20 11:03:06
The statement that Obama “will have a 50 cal in the head soon” was a
prediction that conveyed no explicit or implicit threat on the part of
Bagdasarian that he himself would kill or injure Obama. The  “shoot” statement
was an imperative intended to encourage others to take violent action, if not
simply an expression of rage or frustration. The threat statute does not
criminalize predictions or exhortations to others to injure or kill the
president.  Bagdasarian’s statements did not constitute a threat and did not
fall within the offense punished by the statute.

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