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Petty controversy: Banned from the U.S. over an email?
An English teenager has been banned from America for life after sending a "threatening" message to President Obama. Was the punishment too harsh?
Firing off an angry email to the president? Might want to think again or else kiss your visiting rights goodbye.
Firing off an angry email to the president? Might want to think again or else kiss your visiting rights goodbye.
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T

he petty controversy: Luke Angel, a 17-year-old Briton, was forbidden from traveling to the U.S. after he sent an email to the White House "full of abusive and threatening language." Angel sent an angry message excoriating the president after watching a documentary about 9/11 conspiracy theories while intoxicated. Though Angel's recall of the message is dim, he's confessed that he called Obama a "prick." The FBI intercepted the message and contacted British police, who questioned Angel at his home in Bedfordshire. Although no criminal charges will be filed, Angel was slapped with a ban on travelling to the U.S. The unruly teen did not seem too perturbed, telling reporters: "I don't really care."
The reaction: "It’s perfectly legit to use e-mails sent directly to the government to identify threats," says Samuel Axon at Mashable. A drunk teenager like Angel "might not be a long-term threat" but "you can never be too careful." But what about freedom of speech? asks Rob Port at Say Anything. "If calling politicians dirty names is illegal, then, well, there aren’t going to be many of us who aren’t criminals." Either way, says Evan Gastaldo at Newser, there's a lesson to be learned. "Drunk emailing: Never a good idea, especially not when you're emailing the president."

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