We’re talking FBI heat. Internet radio talker and blogger Hal Turner was arrested after posting an internet entry “…threatening to assault and murder three federal appeals court judges in Chicago in retaliation for their recent ruling upholding handgun bans in Chicago and a suburb.” This is the second run-in with the law for Turner, who about a month earlier threatened violence against a pair of Connecticut state legislators and a state ethics official.
In the immediate instance, he made his threats against members of the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, including Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer.
“We take threats to federal judges very seriously. Period,” said Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (you may remember him from the Valerie Plame case).
In his blog, Turner said, “These judges deserve to be killed,” and cited an earlier case where a Seventh Circuit judge’s mother and husband were murdered, and commented, “Apparently, the 7th U.S. Circuit court didn’t get the hint after those killings. It appears another lesson is needed.” He then provided photos, addresses, phone numbers, work locations and other items for all the judges.
In the Connecticut case, he had threatened to publish contact information for his targets, and wrote, “It is our intent to foment direct action against these individuals personally. These beastly government officials should be made an example of as a warning to others in government: Obey the Constitution or die.”
If convicted, he faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250K fine. In a release, prosecutors reminded that he is innocent as of now, unless proven guilty.
RBR/TVBR observation: This case proves two things. First, there are limits to free speech, and second, that communication on the internet is beginning to get the same kind of scrutiny that broadcasters are used to dealing with. The more level the playing field when it comes to speech, the better.