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MySpace posts constituted threats, court finds

A man who posted menacing lyrics on his MySpace page can be convicted of  communicating written threats, even if the alleged victim didn’t have a computer, the Court of Appeals has ruled.

John Holcomb used online rhythm and rhyme to broadcast his animosity toward his former girlfriend during a custody battle over the couple’s daughter. Charged with making threats, he argued his MySpace lyrics were not “communicated,” in part because the ex-girlfriend did not even have a computer to view his lyrical bile.

No matter, said the appeals court panel Tuesday, since Holcomb knew the girlfriend had access to her mother’s computer where she viewed the hostile messages.

The court also rejected Holcomb’s argument that his lyrics should not be considered “threats” in the context of other violent hip-hop rhymes.

“To the casual observer, the posts may have seemed somewhat innocuous, but the specificity of the posts relating to appellant’s tumultuous history with [the girlfriend] and her family makes clear that appellant’s posts were directed towards [the girlfriend] and not meant to be mere expression,” wrote Judge Larry G. Elder for the panel.

Felony conviction affirmed.

By Peter Vieth

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