Prof. Kirtley Discusses Freedom of Speech and Incitement with Oregon Public Broadcasting

Professor Jane Kirtley was interviewed by Oregon Public Broadcasting for a story about criminal charges against Pete Santilli, an internet radio talk show host who was present during the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He broadcast hundreds of hours of live video from the site, and claims he was acting as a journalist. Authorities contend that he was a co-conspirator and that his speech amounted to incitement to violence. Most of the charges appear to be based on his speech. 

Prof. Kirtley noted that even if Santilli is considered a journalist, that alone would not insulate him from criminal charges. “The question is ultimately going to turn on whether his expressions could constitute a true threat or incitement to violence,” she said.“If he was making these statements with the expectation that people would come from far and wide, jumping in their trucks and loading up their families and coming, that’s not immediate,” she said. “That’s something that’s going to take some time, at least hours and maybe longer. So that too you see would be an impediment to arguing that this really is incitement."