HELENA, Mont. -

The Montana Supreme Court has ruled a sexual slur spoken over the phone is not prohibited speech unless its intent was to threaten or offend.
    
The ruling came in an appeal filed by Randall Jay Dugan of Belgrade. He was convicted of violating the state's Privacy in Communications law for using a vulgar slur during an October 2009 phone call with a Gallatin County Victim Assistance Program worker.
    
A District Court judge denied Dugan's motion to dismiss, ruling his statement amounted to "fighting words," which are not protected free speech. The Supreme Court overturned that decision because Dugan was not talking with the woman face-to-face.
    
The court also struck down part of the law that said simply using obscene or profane language is proof of an intent to intimidate or offend.