Chico State University Employee Pleads Guilty of Hate Crime in Potential Violent Speech Case


There is an interesting case out of Chico State University in California on the criminalization of violent speech. Custodian Kerry Thao pleaded “no contest” last week to hate crimes after he advocated Asians “kill whites and blacks.” What was striking was the reports that the police fully investigated his past contacts and actions and found “no evidence that showed there could be any further threat to the public.” The question is why Thao pleaded guilty if that was the case since his views, while hateful and disturbing, would be arguably protected by the First Amendment. Indeed, professors have been making analogous statements for years without investigation, let alone criminal charges.

Google reportedly alerted the FBI about Thao’s comments.  Officials then moved under “Red Flag” laws to seize four rifles and three handguns. Thao voluntarily surrendered the weapons and fully cooperated in the investigation, including sharing all of his social media postings.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey focused on his statement that “Chinese need to commit mass shootings against America for xenophobia and betrayal. Come on my Chinese folks, white graduating is open season for y’all.”

That is legitimately concerning and chilling language. However, after being held without bail, police reportedly found nothing beyond his violent speech.

In Brandenburg v. Ohio, the Supreme Court ruled in 1969 that even calling for violence is protected under the First Amendment unless there is a threat of “imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

The comments of Thao do not appear to reference to any particular day or event or target. It is hard to see how it would meet the Brandenburg standard. Yet, he pleaded guilty to a hate crime. That would seem to convert the hate crime law into a hate speech law. While there may be additional information, the coverage suggests that there was no separate offense or violation beyond the violent speech itself.

Under Penal Code 422.55 PC, a hate crime as a criminal act committed in whole or in part because of the victim’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. What is not clear is the crime distinct from the speech. Otherwise, the prosecution would cross the Rubicon in charging speech as a hate crime.

Obviously, this is not about defending Thao’s views. I have defended faculty who have made an array of disturbing comments about “detonating white people,” denouncing policecalling for Republicans to suffer,  strangling police officerscelebrating the death of conservativescalling for the killing of Trump supporters, supporting the murder of conservative protesters and other outrageous statements. I also supported the free speech rights of University of Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis, who defended the murder of a conservative protester and said that he saw “nothing wrong” with such acts of violence. At the University of California campus, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.

Thao could have challenged his arrest under the First Amendment as well as the broad interpretation of the underlying state law. However, with a plea to time served, he may have simply wanted this case behind him and to avoid further delays and costs.

26 thoughts on “Chico State University Employee Pleads Guilty of Hate Crime in Potential Violent Speech Case”

    1. Cindy,

      LOL 🙂

      I seen your comments over the weekend.

      I wonder what type sink they throw at us this week?

      Regardless Tuesday is gone with wind as I’m about there.

  1. 61.6%

    Overall, 235.4 million people reported White alone or in combination with another group.

    The White alone population accounted for 204.3 million people and 61.6% of all people living in the United States, compared with 223.6 million and 72.4% in 2010.Aug 12, 2021

    1. 329.5 million [people] in America.

      – 235.4 million actual Americans

      = 94.1 illegal alien, foreign hyphenate invaders.

  2. Americans, you cannot be racist and you cannot defend yourselves from invasion, conquest and “fundamental transformation” of your country into a third world ——–.

    You all just keep allowing the breach of your borders, just keep on believing their lies, prevarication, propaganda and indoctrination…just keep on marchin’ down to the slaughterhouse with the silence of the lambs.


  3. I would not want to be in the position of determining whether a call to kill people was hyperbole or a real threat.

    Look at all the times mass shooters made threats against children. Or all the times a domestic violence perpetrator talked about killing his wife or girlfriend. People dismissed it as just talk, but then later everyone was outraged that nothing was done about it.

    I actually don’t dismiss the talk of professors who say to kill all the white people, all the men, or whatever other group they claim is the source of all evil. I think all such talk should be investigated. If it turns out to be hyperbole, then it’s free speech, but I’d never just assume it was without an investigation. This is especially true if you’ve sent your precious child to that school that employs such hateful professors who are bigoted against the group to which your child belongs.

  4. Sounds like maybe he just couldn’t afford to defend himself and wanted the case closed. It can get very expensive to defend yourself against Federal charges, no matter how improvident.

  5. Before digital social media came along, there was face to face combat.

    1. Loved Bruce Lee! I grew up a fan of martial arts movies in the era of bad dubbing and subtitles.

  6. I have additional questions: RE “Google reportedly alerted the FBI about Thao’s comments. Officials then moved under “Red Flag” laws to seize four rifles and three handguns.” How did THAT happen? Did he email Google with a threat? Was an email recipient threatened, who then contacted Google? Has Google’s AI actually become sentient? So many questions.

  7. Jonathan: Tomorrow is the next Jan. 6 hearing. In looking at my notes from the first hearing I wrote “pardons” when Jared Kushner was testifying. Kushner said re White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s threat to resign: “Like I said, my interest at that time was on trying to get as many pardons done as possible. And I know him and the team were always saying, we are going to resign…So I kind of took it up to be just whining…”. How is Kushner’s testimony significant? We know a number of GOP members of Congress sought pardons because of their participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection. Even John Eastman unsuccessfully sought a pardon. They all wanted “pocket” pardons in case they are prosecuted.

    Normally, a presidential pardon or clemency goes through a thorough vetting process conducted by the “Office of Pardon Attorney” in the DOJ. All prior administrations have followed this process. Trump issued a number of pardons to his cronies: Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon and even Kushner’s father, just to name a few. The Q is did Kushner go through the OPA when he processed pardons for Trump? The law doesn’t require a president to use the OPA. His power is absolute. He can use a cocktail napkin to issue a pardon. Trump offered pardons to people who had not requested them. Kellyanne Conway says Trump offered her a pardon after shortly after the 2020 election saying: “They go after everyone, honey”. Conway declined Trump’s offer.

    Perhaps the Jan. 6 Committee will flush out how Kushner processed Trump’s pardons. Did they go through a vetting process or were they just part of Trump’s corrupt attempt to reward his loyal friends?

    1. And yet none of the “pocket pardons” you claim people sought were ever granted.

      The real crime of Trump pardons is that those like Snowden and Assange he considered, died, because they were too dangerous facing faux impeachment deux.

      Regardless, do you really expect to make some case of Trump’s actual pardon’s ?

      Like typical left wing nuts – so many of your arguments are that something that did not happen was a crime.

      I have zero trust in your claim that all kinds of people sought pardons for J6.
      If they actually did – they did not get pardons.

      So your argument is nonsense.

  8. I hate big Mac burgers. I threw one in the gutter on television. I got charged with a misdemeanor for smacking a Mac.

  9. This Asian was misunderstood. He was just getting ready for celebrating Juneteenth

    “Louisville’s Democrat Mayor Gets Punched at Juneteenth Event”

    The mayor had participated in the “Race for Justice” in honor of Breonna Taylor and the “Kentuckiana Pride Parade” earlier in the day. In social media posts about the assault, the Louisville Metro Police Department released photos of the attacker and asked for the public to help identifying him. The suspect appears to be a black male.

    Louisville Metro Police Dept

  10. Truly strange. I agree that there may be more than meets the eye here. What the first two commenters say is legitimate but it’s unfortunate that he pled no contest to a hate crime with no obvious crime charged but the speech. Sounds like incompetent representation or possibly someone wanted this decision on the books just as a precursor to other charges in other individuals. Does this set a precedent since he pled no contest and not actually convicted. Sounds like he is in need of some good Pro Bono representation. Like F.I.R.E since the ACLU would never touch this.

  11. Maybe he pleaded no contest because he came through the southern border was long overdue for his hearing to stay? Does anyone return anymore?

    1. That is what occurred to me as well. For myself, his being punished at all is what stands out in the literal land of the woke, when others in his position have literally gotten away with murder in Los Angeles. But you see – those folks were homeless, not gainfully employed in a menial capacity. To each their own observations, it’s all good.

  12. Only academics get immunity, indeed. And others in the ivory towers of California. Can’t have ‘the help’ getting uppity though. His remarks were gross, to be sure, but ‘educated’ folks have said and do say and do far worse for far longer and receive literally zero pushback, let alone disciplinary action of any kind. Great example, Chico. 🙄 Stop sending your kids to these places. The damage they do is not easily undone.

  13. There is a popular misconception that an innocent person will receive a fair trial, be acquitted and return to the status quo ante.

    Being arrested is humiliating and socially ruinous.

    Being tried is a crap shoot (just look at the 1/6 defendants), especially with a public defender.

    Being held in jail means no income. Obligations like rent or mortgages don’t stop. Many defendants have lost everything that they own when evicted while in jail.

    The point is that the arrest/judicial process entails a significant punishment, regardless of the outcome.

  14. First Amendment? He doesn’t deserve it. Only the academics get that! You’d have to be blind not to notice the caste system of the Left. Thao isn’t at the top (white, liberal, ivy-league) or an activist member of any of the Left’s mascot groups: liberal Blacks, gays, alphabet soupers, illegals, criminals, freaks, losers, addicts, pedos, snowflakes, etc.So he’s out. The Left is only hypocritically “inclusive, diverse and welcoming.” What a joke.

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