An online rant is not a death threat

February 21st, 2010 at 9:53 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Death threats for Libby killer

The teenager who was yesterday unmasked as Liberty Templeman’s murderer has received death threats on the .

Tall (1.9m) Hermanus Theodorus Kriel, known as Theo, posted a webpage in July 2008, four months before he killed 15-year-old Liberty.

Within hours of a judge lifting his name suppression yesterday, dozens of angry messages appeared about the boy.

One person wrote: “You are going to find out what HELL is like you sad little selfish disrespectful murdering lying prick.”

Another comment said: “I hope he rots in hell.”

A third person said: “Hope you get a cell with a big smelly gangster who makes you his ass bitch.”

The media like labelling things as death threats, but to my mind, these are not death threats. They are, shall we say, strong expressions of (understandable) anger.

In my mind, you need two elements for something to be a death threat:

  1. It should actually make a threat of death. There is a difference between saying I hope you die, and saying I will kill you.
  2. It should be communicated to the individual by phone, post or e-mail etc. A rant on a Trade Me forum is not a threat, for example.
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9 Responses to “An online rant is not a death threat”

  1. the deity formerly known as nigel6888 (856 comments) says:

    true, but then it wouldnt be an exciting breathless headline for the Herald and they couldnt put it prominently where it will sell papers.

    Of course the Herald is wetting itself for the day when someone actually carries out a death threat. But it will then pontificate about how the Gummint must do something to crack down on the unregulated internet, rather than look in the mirror and consider what the word “incitement” means.

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  2. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    Perhaps you should also point this out to the police and the Burnside HS principal.

    People who joined in a vicious online attack against a new Christchurch principal will be prosecuted, police say.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/3326318/Charges-likely-after-Christchurch-Facebook-threats

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  3. Johnboy (13,371 comments) says:

    “An online rant is not a death threat”

    Just as well or many regular Kiwiblog commenters would be behind bars. :)

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  4. Murray (8,835 comments) says:

    There’s no death threat in any of those comments, just as there’s nothing of substance in johnnys little nappy wet.

    Leftrightout making a comment that you intend to hand someone from a tree IS a death threat. do you people every bother to find out what you are talking about or are you getting paid to talk shit because there’s really no excuse for the appalling degree of factual absence in for comments.

    Kiwiblog gets more comments than any other site but clearly quantity does not equal quality which is why so many of us can;t arsed doing anything more than crapping all over stupdity of the sad drippings of the trolls here.

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  5. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    ” do you people every bother to find out what you are talking about ”

    Desperate deranged attention seeking losers without a coherent comment on any subject. Much more at home on the Trade Me forums.

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  6. MT_Tinman (2,790 comments) says:

    Thank you Murray (11:20am) and Redbaiter (11:28am).

    I woke up this morning feeling down, not really wanting to go out to work and face the world.

    I can now happily assure everyone that a bloody good laugh does set a man up for the day.

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  7. Rex Widerstrom (5,124 comments) says:

    A rant on a Trade Me forum is not a threat, for example

    I totally disagree DPF (provided the “rant” meets your first criteria).

    A restraining order case I’m handling at the moment centres (among other evidence) on a comment on a woman’s “LiveJournal” which described a plan to kidnap her, take her aboard a light plane (the guy has a pilot’s licence), rape her and then throw her out.

    Now the guy is clearly insane (he can’t decide whether Catholic Jesuit agents or Satanists are the ones manipulating everyone against him) and rant it may be, but that is clearly a death threat.

    The reason I take such strong objection to your statement is that the local Police seem to agree with you. Even though it’s obvious who’s posted the comment, any actual detective work involving tracing IPs etc is too much like hard work, so they argue it’s “only” a “rant” on an online forum.

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  8. Robert Black (423 comments) says:

    It’s a fine line I think and a case of the law having to adapt to the technology.

    I mean there is a difference between sending someone a letter saying you are going to kill them and a drunken sm sent on your phone or even perhaps a chat message or perhaps even a drunken e-mail.

    Or a comment on a website.

    Yeah I think that Christchurch case is a total over-reaction.

    What will they be charged with?

    Harrassment?

    But what if the guy doesn’t have a computer or chooses not to surf facebook or other sites?

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  9. tvb (3,938 comments) says:

    Such as easy target which brings out all the freaks who can have a self indulgent biff at this scary scary teenager, His parents much wonder what the hell they created. A tragedy for them as well as for the victim’s family.

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