CINCINNTI (TDB) -- An Ohio blog appears to be advocating the murder of CNN talk show host Larry King because the cable news network is having a dust up with filmmaker/activist Michael Moore over the accuracy of Moore's move, Sicko. The blog may have opened the door to a legal question: Is it a crime in Ohio to post threatening statements on the Internet?
Four years ago, lawmakers took steps to include threats transmitted over the Internet in the criminal code.
Moore's movie depicts the flaws in the American health care system. Critics contend the picture presented in Sicko is unjust -- and so the debate rages. However, the blog took things to a detestable level but putting a target on King's head under a headline saying he must die. Ironic defense of Michael Moore, who made the movie Bowling for Columbine to state his disgust of easily accessible guns and gun violence.
Perhaps the Larry King Must Die blog post was a joke, a very sick joke, a joke that abused the First Amendment right of free speech. Calling for a person's execution over a purely political dispute -- over a movie review -- smacks of Fatwa. Advocating the death of people who transgress personal or cultural standards is the stuff of Dark Age Inquisitors, Nazis and skinheads, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah. It does not belong in the Ohiosphere.
That said, the death threat against Larry King quite possibly could be seen as a criminal act. Ohio has a statute, 2903.211, that criminalizes menacing by stalking. It says that no person should cause another to believe they will be subject to physical harm or mental distress. The law makes it clear that threats posted on the Internet can be prosecuted.
"No person, though the use of any electronic method of remotely transferring information, including but not limited to. any computer network, computer program, or computer system, shall post a message with purpose to urge or incite another to commit a violation of . . .this section.
"Whoever violates this section is guilty of menacing by stalking."
Up until now, most cases have grown out of domestic disputes. However, there have been suggestions it could be invoked to prosecute people who harass celebrities and political figures. Larry King's reaction to the blog post is unknown. He couldn't be reached for comment.
For the record, in addition to the headline with the target on King's head, the blogger wrote:
"As many of you know I'm moving to NYC this month, and I'll tell you I'm scared...if I run into Larry King in a dark alley I fear I will pummel him until his heart stops beating. He's so busy loving himself and his 50 years of intriguing interviews, that he seems completely oblivious to what's happening on his show. The man should really be put to sleep."