Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Free speech must be curbed for the good of the chiiiiildren

Thanks to the email correspondant who sent me the link to an article at Tory-Politico, detailing another attempt to curb free speech—this time on the other side of the Pond.
The bill, proposed by Californian Democrat Linda T. Sanchez and 14 others could make it a federal felony to use a blog, social media, or any other web medium “to cause substantial emotional distress through severe, repeated, and hostile” speech.”

Here’s the relevant text of the bill: [UPDATE: see update at the foot of the post—DK]
Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both….

["Communication"] means the electronic transmission, between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user’s choosing, without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received; …

["Electronic means"] means any equipment dependent on electrical power to access an information service, including email, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones, and text messages.

The breathtakingly broad Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, named after 13-year-old Megan Meier who committed suicide after been bullied online, would obviously criminalise a wide range of speech protected by the First Amendment. The fact that this bill would stifle legitimate criticism of politicians, companies and prominent figures seems to be lost on the Representative from California.

I don't think that the fact that "this bill would stifle legitimate criticism of politicians, companies and prominent figures" has been lost on those people at all: I imagine that the significance of its implications has not escaped them in the slightest.

After all, how much better could they play it? They ram through a Bill curbing the right to free speech—using the world's most deceitful rallying cry: "it's for the chiiiiiiiiiiiildren: won't somebody think of the chiiiiiiiildren?"—and thereby protect themselves from the inconvenient depredations of those evil bloggers (and other media). As a bonus, they get some leverage—through favours owed—with the "companies and prominent figures" whom they would also be helping to protect.

However, the fucking thing has to be utterly un-Constitutional, surely? It's bad law and one would hope that it would never pass and, if it did, then one would hope that the Supreme Court would overturn it in approximately 0.000012 seconds.

We don't, unfortunately, have such safeguards in this country. But then, I believe that we have a number of cyberstalking laws, etc. already, do we not?

UPDATE: as Bella Gerens pointed out to me, the original of this Bill was killed off pretty quickly last year. However, it has been reintroduced and, unlike the first one, it has got to the Committee Referral stage (although it's worth noting that two of the original sponsors have disappeared).


FlipC said...

Hell no it would be nice to see this passed and have the government and various businesses charged with a felony for intimidation, harassment, and causing substantial emotional distress when demanding money (particularly when you don't owe them anything).

I mean what else would you call repeated demands with threats of bailiff or legal action?

Anonymous said...

Fuck the children. If you were a halfway decent parent, your children wouldn't be wasting their time online and getting bullied.

Someone should post this on 4chan and let the /b/tards go crazy. They've been needing a new target ever since they got bored with Scientology.

FlipC said...

Hell yeah Anonymous, let's fine non "decent parents" if their children get bullied on the internet, or by text, or in the street. Those parents should have been there supervising their children 24/7.

Exemptions of course for children of obviously decent parents, because those children already tell their parents everything that happens.

[sigh] typical conversation with a teenager -
"What did you do at school today?"
grunt shrug

Chalcedon said...

"substantial emotional distress". This is totally subjective. Who would determine what substantial means? These Democrat fuckers aren't very democratic. Also if it goes against their constitution it will be shouted down, quite rightly. These bastards are as bad as our bastards in trying to curb freedoms, acquired over centuries.

Anonymous said...


Go fuck yourself, you worthless cunt. In fact, please kill yourself immediately in an amusing way, possibly involving a few gallons of petrol, a nail gun and some matches.

I'm not interested in fining anyone. I'm not interested in policing people's parenting skills. I'm especially not interested in imposing online censorship because you are too fucking stupid to be a competent parent. What I am is sick to the backteeth of fucktards like you thinking that you can shit all over my rights, my liberties and my freedoms just because you don't know how to take care of your own fucking children.

Fuck off back to LabourHome, you statist cocksucker.

FlipC said...

@Anonymous - How charming did you look up all those big words in the dictionary yourself?

What I took exception to was your idiotic statement "If you were a halfway decent parent, your children wouldn't be wasting their time online and getting bullied" which I then carried to an extreme.

After all as we all know decent parents are fully aware of all their children's activities at every point in time, and the children of decent parents would never never use the internet to do something they shouldn't and therefore waste their time.

Because as we all know bullying is caused by a lack of decent parenting on behalf of the victim.

Anonymous why don't you go and... acquire yourself some wits; then again as a reader of 4chan I suppose that really would be a waste of your time.

Anonymous said...


Does adopting this facade of pseudo-intellectual pomposity make up in any way for the fact that you are a failure at life? By all means, keep on posting your drivel and keep on pretending that you actually matter.

FlipC said...

@Anonymous - Does your inability to engage in rational debate mean you should return to the 4chan boards?

Or perhaps you could explain why bullying is the fault of the victim's parents?

neilreddin said...

"two of the original sponsors have disappeared"

Fighting fire with fire, eh?

John A said...

I could understand one, or even two, sponsors for such idiocy. Congress has its share of eedjuts.

But fifteen??? I despair.

jonathan said...

Do you think this might do?

Fuck you Linda T Sanchez, Fuck you Linda T Sanchez, Fuck you Linda T Sanchez. Oh,and I hope you catch a horrible disease too you facist bitch.