An aspiring California rapper’s online lyrical rant targeting two rape victims has landed him in legal hot water in a prosecution testing whether his threatening lyrics were protected speech or a criminal act.

Anthony Murillo. YouTube

The case comes at a time of uncertainty over what constitutes a threat in the online world. For example, in June, the Supreme Court overturned a 44-month sentence of a Pennsylvania man whose Facebook rap lyrics threatened attacks on an elementary school, his estranged wife, and a FBI agent.  A Supreme Court majority, analyzing a federal threats statute, said the government must prove first whether the lyrics he posted online were produced with a mental state having a “subjective intent to threaten.”
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