If someone posted a death threat to your Facebook page, you’d likely be afraid. If the person posting was your husband – a man you had a restraining order against, a man who wrote that he was “not going to rest until [your] body [was] a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts” – then you’d be terrified. It’s hard to imagine any other reasonable reaction.
Yet that’s just what Anthony Elonis wants you to believe: That his violent Facebook posts – including one about masturbating on his dead wife’s body – were not meant as threats. So on Monday, in Elonis v United States, the US supreme court will start to hear arguments in a case that will determine whether threats on social media will be considered protected speech.