After the SEC Championship basketball game, actress Ashley Judd was on the receiving end of some pretty nasty and potentially threatening tweets. The hateful social media posts directed toward Judd were followed by her claim that the Arkansas Razorbacks were guilty of “dirty play” during the game. A couple of days after said claim and the angry fans’ public retorts, Judd decided to take legal action and press charges.
“There are consequences for what you say, no matter where you say it,” Kitchens said. “People are sitting behind a keyboard or a phone, as the case may be, and they feel like they have a degree of anonymity that they simply don’t have.”
Some of the messages shared on Twitter were “so vulgar and inappropriate that [they] (CBS) can’t share them,” which allows room to assume that these tweets contained threats that flirt with actionable offenses.
“If someone threatens to kill you or cause grievous bodily harm or grievous property damage, that’s a D felony that you can serve zero to six in the penitentiary for committing,” Kitchens said.
By taking action and attempting to legally reprimand the offenders, Judd teaches a valuable lesson to anyone with a social media profile: words are not just words, and in the shape of a threat—no matter the forum it’s shared on—it is not to be taken lightly and can be a serious actionable offense.
“We’re not talking about comments, we’re talking about threats,” Kitchens said. “We’re talking about threats to kill someone; threats to rape someone.”