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Editorial: ‘Joke’ at your own risk in terms of free speech

From The Charleston Gazette-Mail:

The United States guarantees a right to free speech under the 1st Amendment, but American society has generally agreed that right only extends to the point where it infringes on the rights of others. That’s not unreasonable.

What someone says or how they might say it has brought certain peril in times of tension throughout this nation’s history, and the U.S. finds itself in that territory of heightened awareness today perhaps more than any other time in the past.

Take, for instance, the case of former West Virginia University student Zachary Ryan Johnson. According to the Dominion Post, Johnson was acquitted by a jury last week on charges of making terroristic threats and threatening communication by use of an electronic device.

Johnson admitted to sending a message last year while a student at WVU via the social media platform Snapchat, in which he proclaimed he felt “like doing a mass shooting.” Johnson said the message was a joke that, in hindsight, was not a good idea. …

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