This article on legal action regarding AIM presents a real hard-case example of how digital technology and its uses are missinterpretted by a society that is slow to catch on.
“… Aaron’s conduct was purely out-of-school conduct, the undisputed evidence establishes that the icon was a threat to kill a teacher at the school, that Aaron circulated it among classmates for three weeks; that he had no reasonable expectation that it would not come to the attention of school officials; that when it did so, it caused a substantial disturbance at the school; that it is reasonable that it should have done so; and that Aaron had reason to expect that it would do so”
Anyone with familiarity with AIM would understand that for this very reason it was meant as a joke. Real, credible threats of violence are usually more meticulously planned and shared in private communities. The fact that the student put it as his buddy icon, to me, really signifies the sarcastic nature of his actions. I have a hard time believing that if the student screen printed a shirt with the same message it would be perceived as a “reasonable expectation” that the student had planned on carrying through with violence.
Then again maybe I’m wrong and the school board, teacher and judge are hacker elites.. I’m going to look U.S. District Judge Norman Mordue up on MySpace right now.