Blogger's Case Tests Limits of Free Speech

Far-right critic remains in jail after calling for judges' deaths

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 15, 2009 1:46 PM CDT

(Newser) – When three federal judges rejected an NRA lawsuit, Internet radio host Hal Turner got angry. “These judges deserve to be killed,” he wrote on his blog. “Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty.” Then he posted photos of the judges, maps to their courthouse, and info on the building’s “anti-truck bomb barriers.” Now he’s in jail awaiting trial, in a case that will test the limits of free speech, the Washington Post reports.

“He did not say go out and kill,” his lawyer argues. “This is political hyperbole, nothing more. He’s a shock jock.” But the FBI and US Attorney’s office think Turner crossed the line by posting the judges' information. Turner, intriguingly, is an FBI informant, who occasionally provided information on right-wing extremists. More often, however, he was an “agent provocateur,” recruited to provoke violent public reactions from leftists.

This photo provided by State Capitol Police shows Harold "Hal" Turner in Hartford, Conn. Thursday, June 11, 2009.   (AP Photo/State Capitol Police)
In this June 22, 2009, file photo Harold "Hal" Turner from North Bergen, N.J., leaves Hartford Superior Court in Hartford, Conn.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)
Harold "Hal" Turner, left, of North Bergen, N.J., stands with his attorney during his arraignment in Hartford Superior Court, June 22, 2009.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
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These judges deserve to be made such an example of as to send a message to the entire judiciary: Obey the Constitution or die. - Hal Turner

I would give very strong odds on a thousand bucks that once he said that stuff, it takes it out of any kind of hyperbole range. I just don't see him being protected. - Martin H. Redish, First Amendment scholar at Northwestern University, saying posting the information was likely illegal

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