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Alex Finnegan is currently learning why it's not a good idea to jokingly make threats.
After being denied multiple song requests by Bridgewater State University's campus radio station (WBIM), he allegedly threatened to "bring a gun and shoot up the station."
Campus police traced cell phone records, and now he's been charged with making a threat resulting in public alarm and making a murder threat.
He says it was all a joke.
Even if the threats were a joke, Alex Finnegan forgets that radio station employees were not in on the prank. Law enforcement thus has no choice but to take the threats seriously.
And these days, all threats of gun violence on college campuses are taken seriously.
Finnegan still has some hope at beating the charges, but it will be tough to prove.
Statutes that criminalize the making of threats must be tempered by the First Amendment. For this reason, states can generally only punish the making of true threats. A threat is "true" when the speaker intends to instill a fear of harm.
Prior to making the threat, Alex Finnegan had repeatedly requested a song by the band Rufio, according to The Enterprise. WBIM does not have the song.
As a recent alumnus and former DJ at the station, he was arguably aware of this. He could claim that the calls and threats were a funny attempt to get the station to update its archives. He could claim that the lack of Rufio was a longstanding joke between him and at least one other employee.
Whether a prosecutor, judge or jury will believe these excuses is up for debate. Either way, Alex Finnegan has a long legal road ahead of him for something he claims was a prank.