piranha: red origami crane (Default)
i see terms that have a fairly well defined meaning in legal terms get twisted all out of shape by overly exciteable people -- "stalker" is one of those, "death threat" is another. i don't really want to insert this into the current kerfluffle that brought these thoughts on because it'll create wank. so i'll write about it here.

when i worked LJ abuse, we got a lot of "threat" reports of this flavour: "i wish you DIE, DIE, DIE, you ugly &%$#", "i'd laugh if you got raped", "i pray god will rain the tortures of hell on you", "i can't wait for the day when you get your throat cut by somebody who's had enough of your crap". these are not actual threats; they're wishful thinking of the nasty kind. there is no sign whatsoever that these persons have real desire, a plan, and are willing and able to implement it. basically if it's expressing a wish that harm/death should come to the other by means of some other, often unnamed agency, it's not an actual threat.

also, if it's expressing some vague hypothetical, or unlikely condition, its actual threat value is questionable -- "if i lived nearby, i'd come over now and kick the shit out of you!" is just loudmouth show-off from somebody who lives on the other side of the continent. but depending on how likely, and how detailed this is, it might convey sufficient reason for the person threatened to believe the person might shift it from hypothesis into reality. "if you take my daughter, i'll shoot you" said during a nasty custody battle, that can qualify. i've seen one where the threat consisted of "loving" detail about dismembering the person, all prefaced with a hypothetical, and that one would have gotten me to call the cops. for the most part though, hypotheticals are braggadocio, and nobody in their right mind mistakes them for actual threats.

even if it's a direct threat, it needs to go beyond obvious fleeting anger or frustration into the realm in which the threatened person believes zir life is in real and imminent danger. "i'm gonna rip your lungs out!" is a threat, but it's also so overblown that there's no likelihood this will happen -- we even have a term for this: "idle threat". words said in jest, in a context that makes that obvious also fall into this category.

this is an actual threat: "I have a concealed carry license, i know when she gets off work, and i'm going to pay her a visit tonight." bonus idiot points: say it to an off-duty cop in a bar.

most threats people utter every day (and are stupid enough to email to people on whom they want to hate), aren't real threats that a reasonable person would take seriously, and aren't actionable.


piranha: red origami crane (Default)
renaissance poisson

July 2015

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