Twitter Harassment Protected Under First Amendment

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Twitter Harassment Legal?: A federal judge dismissed the criminal case against William Lawrence Cassidy who was accused by the government of harassing and causing “substantial emotional distress” to Buddhist religious leader Alyce Zeoli. Lawrence Cassidy had posted thousands of messages about Zeoli, including “weird horror-movie descriptions of what would befall her” and other cruel messages along the lines of “Go kill yourself.” Judge Roger W. Titus wrote in his order that “while Mr. Cassidy’s speech may have inflicted substantial emotional distress, the government’s indictment here is directed squarely at protected speech: anonymous, uncomfortable Internet speech addressing religious matters.” The judge did emphasize the difference between private communication like harassing phone calls or emails, versus public communication like Twitter. This is one of those sticky situations where the First Amendment protects questionable speech. NYT

The Age of Social Media Publishing: By now we are all familiar with the blogs-to-books phenomenon (see Stuff White People LikeTexts from Last Night, and most of the book selection at Urban Outfitters). As this article in the New York Observer points out, it’s gotten to the point where literary agents are scouring the Web to find the next funny/ironic/sarcastic/nostalgic blog or Twitter feed to turn into a popular coffee table book. However, books of this kind that are really successful are the ones that don’t just regurgitate the blog posts or tweets onto printed pages. For example, Justin Halpern and his literary agent turned his popular Twitter feed @shitmydadsays into a best-seller by using turning the tweets into humorous essays. Most take the “just add water” approach though, which means lots of gimmicky, fun coffee table books. Observer

Tweets of the Day: Some people have a hard time following the news, like these dummies who confused North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il with rapper Lil’ Kim. BuzzFeed

Video of the Day: It is that time of the year for “Best of” lists. Here is a compilation of videos of the “Best Fails of 2011” courtesy of The Daily Dot

Tumblr of the Day: Well since there won’t be any new pics of Kim Jong-Il looking at things, now his successor will have to take over that role. Here’s a new Tumblr to document Kim Jong-Un looking at things. Kim Jong-Un Looking at Things

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