Fighting Words

Unit III

Chapter Nine:

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Review the “Fighting Words” article from the site provided.

a) Why is the context of the “fighting words” important?

b) How did the cases in the article shape the application of the fighting words doctrine?

2) 49 U.S.C. § 46302(a) attaches civil penalties for conveying false information of a bomb threat on an airplane. § 46507 (1) makes it a felony to convey a false bomb threat on an airplane if it is done “willfully and maliciously.” A flight attendant, upset with the ground workers servicing the American Airlines plane she was working on, tried to get them “in trouble” by writing on the back of a storage compartment door in one of the plane’s bathrooms “Bomb on Board! BOS-Mia”. She was charged under § 46507 with “maliciously” making the bomb hoax. The judge charged the jury that it should convict her if she acted “with an evil purpose or motive, or improper motive.” She was convicted, and she appealed. Should her conviction be reversed? Did she do what Congress decided constituted a felony bomb hoax? See United States v. Gray 780 F.3d 458 (1st Cir. 2015)

Chapter Ten:

3) What should a list of deadly weapons or instrumentalities include? Can there be a definitive list? How does your state statute define the term “deadly weapon?”

4) What if your state is considering eliminating the felony murder rule and you are asked to speak to the legislature? Would you argue for or against its elimination? Why?

5) What if you are driving your car 5 miles an hour over the speed limit and you hit an icy patch on the road, resulting in killing a five-year-old boy on the sidewalk. Should you be charged with a crime? If so, what crime should you be charged with? If not, what is your argument against charges?


View the video on Brent charged with manslaughter.

Based on the information in the video and the article, would you agree that the defendant is guilty of intoxicated manslaughter? Your response must be in third person. Discuss your opinion through the support of sources, not “yourself”. Do not include “I” anywhere!

Chapter Eleven:

7) How does Florida’s penal code separate “simple” assault from “aggravated” assault? How are the two crimes punished? Then review California’s penal code. Compare Florida’s statute to California’s statute. Are they similar? Are they different? Discuss.


Read the Victor Diego article talking about the assault of a gay/transgendered man in Hollywood. Answer the following questions in third person (i.e. no use of “I”). Use sources to support your opinion.

a) Do you agree that offenders should be punished more severely for committing crimes based on a person’s demographic characteristics, such as the person who was victimized in the story?

b) If you were a public defender charged with defending the person who committed this crime, what would you use as a defense?

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