Utah student arrested for threatening to detonate a nuclear reactor if we didn't beat SDSU

Disagree. True threats are specifically excluded from First Amendment Rights. A threat to detonate a nuclear device is advocacy of imminent lawless action.

But this isn’t a true threat. Nor is it incitement.

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The Tweet chain goes on to explain why this fails the objective test for whether or not this is a true threat:

/2 So remember a true threat requires, at least, that a reasonable person familiar with the context would interpret the statement as a sincere expression of intent to do harm. (That’s the objective test — let’s ignore the subjective intent requirement for now).

— ResponsibleDispatchHat (@Popehat) September 22, 2022

/3 So to me it’s patently implausible that a (1) college student (2) on Yik Yak (3) talking about a football game (4) can “detonate” nuclear reactor. Sounds to me like it facially fails the objective test, as no reasonable person would take it as a sincere statement.

— ResponsibleDispatchHat (@Popehat) September 22, 2022

Unless there is more to the story, I don’t believe a reasonable person would see this as a “sincere expression” as an intent to do harm. It seems like a joke and is therefore protected by the First Amendment.


On the bright side, the Utes win probability for that game was 96%. So there was only a 4% chance of nuclear war.


I hope they give this woman the nickname P-Ute-in for threatening nuclear fallout.


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