The case, California’s first on the issue, concerns a University of
California student who ranted on her MySpace account about how much she
hated her hometown of Coalinga in the Central Valley. The Coalinga
Record, the local newspaper, published Cynthia Moreno’s “Ode.” She sued
the paper for invasion of privacy after members of the local community
allegedly ran her family out of town and threatened to kill them. The state appeals court, however, ruled
she had no privacy rights to her internet speech.--David
Kravets, Threat Level (Wired)
The student’s high school principal forwarded her MySpace rant to the local paper, which (re)published her essay. I don’t think the principal should have done that, but the court has ruled that what Moreno wrote was public, so re-publishing it with attribution was not, in itself, and illegal action. If its true that someone in the community fired a shot at the house and her father had to close his 20-year-old business over an angry rant, that doesn’t make Coalinga look very good.
But the reason I’m blogging this is to point out (once again) that the First Amendment right to free speech simply prevents Congress from passing laws prohibiting citizens from speaking. That right does not insulate the speaker from the consequences (professional, academic, or personal) of choosing to exercise that right unwisely.