The argument came in People v. Golb, which is primarily focused on the defendants’ impersonating a target in e-mail messages (messages related to academic controversies about Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship, of all things). Such impersonation, I think, is constitutionally unprotected and should indeed be punished, so long as the impersonation is intended to and is likely to deceive recipients (as opposed to being obvious parody). And it’s conceivable that even the criminal harassment charges in the case could be upheld, if the criminal harassment statute is read narrowly to apply only to unprotected categories of speech (such as impersonation that hurts the impersonated person’s reputation).
But the prosecutor would read the statute much more broadly, which reminds us of the danger — often noted on this blog — of broadly written harassment or “bullying” statutes.
Thanks to Ira Matetsky for pointing me to the transcript and video.