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Bill Would Declare Your Blog a Weapon

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the can't-say-that-it's-too-severe dept.

Censorship 780

Mike writes "Law prof Eugene Volokh blogs about a US House of Representatives bill proposed by Rep. Linda T. Sanchez and 14 others that could make it a federal felony to use your blog, social media like MySpace and Facebook, or any other Web media 'to cause substantial emotional distress through "severe, repeated, and hostile" speech.' Rep. Sanchez and colleagues want to make it easier to prosecute any objectionable speech through a breathtakingly broad bill that would criminalize a wide range of speech protected by the First Amendment. The bill is called The Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, and if passed into law (and if it survives constitutional challenge) it looks almost certain to be misused."

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Covered By Twenty Percent of the Bill of Rights (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27833917)

Bill Would Declare Your Blog a Weapon

Sweet, the right to a blog would be protected by both the first and second amendments!

Re:Covered By Twenty Percent of the Bill of Rights (5, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834161)

All I want to know is who the hell is this Bill, and why does he hate my blog so much?

No, I couldn't be bothered to read more than the headline. Thanks for asking.

Re:Covered By Twenty Percent of the Bill of Rights (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834175)

It only protects you while its in place. They can remove those 2 amendments.

That is what they are trying to do in effect with this.

Re:Covered By Twenty Percent of the Bill of Rights (5, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834215)

No, they're not trying to remove the First Amendment. It's still there, and if this bill conflicts with the First Amendment (and I can't see how any reasonable person could say otherwise), its clear legally that the bill would be tossed out as unconstitutional.

Re:Covered By Twenty Percent of the Bill of Rights (2, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834217)

It's a good start, but lets try to get ALL the amendments!

Next up: the third amendment. You know, because calling a blog a weapon isn't much more logical than saying being forced not to blog is the same as being forced to quarter the armed forces. The fourth amendment, search and seizure shouldn't be as much of a leap. Getting it to qualify under the 5th is going to be the first real challenge.

I think we should stop at the 12th though. Don't really see how dates of presidential elections can be applied to blogs.

Re:Covered By Twenty Percent of the Bill of Rights (1)

htrn (125633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834327)

So would that mean if you wanted to commit a crime, you would want to admit to it since if the 5th amendment applied they would not be able to use your blog as evidence against you? Or are you speaking of abolishing these amendments as a part of a bill?

On a serious note, in order for it to be repealed within the judicial system it would need to be declared unconstitutional by the supreme court either directly (by the court itself) or indirectly (denial of appeal to the court).

Re:Covered By Twenty Percent of the Bill of Rights (4, Funny)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834373)

Getting it to qualify under the 5th is going to be the first real challenge.

You have the right to an empty blog. Anything you blog about can and will be used against you.

Benjamin Franklin would tend to agree with you . . (2, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834293)

Sweet, the right to a blog would be protected by both the first and second amendments!

He was not only a Founding Father and signer of The Declaration of Indepence and the Constitution . . . he was the first US American blogger. He not only wrote wacky and insightful stuff . . . he printed it himself as well!

If he were alive today, he would be writing a blog . . . and working at CERN . . . functioning as an ambassador . . . and doing Buckaroo Banzai stuff on the side.

Re:Covered By Twenty Percent of the Bill of Rights (5, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834475)

That is, unless you call someone names until you make them cry.

'to cause substantial emotional distress through "severe, repeated, and hostile" speech.

This law will further criminalize every teenager in America.

AKA the ED law (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27833939)

I'm pretty sure this law would shut down Encyclopedia Dramatica, and most of 4chan in a heartbeat.

That said, nothing of value was lost.

Re:AKA the ED law (5, Insightful)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834147)

That said, nothing of value was lost.

Aside from our freedom of speech, that is.

Re:AKA the ED law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834165)

4chan is already shut down. Well, sort of.

Classic ploy (5, Insightful)

shellster_dude (1261444) | more than 5 years ago | (#27833951)

I love how the bill starts with the classic, "for the children" clauses to rationalize the trampling of the bill of rights.

Re:Classic ploy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834207)

Established countries need legitimate ways to control the populace. Dictatorships are much more efficient in this regard -- and the end result is generally the same.

Re:Classic ploy (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834465)

I sumbit that our children don't want their free speech rights to be taken away. We need to protect the first amendment "for the children" who will someday be bloggers themselves. In fact many of them already are.

Re:Classic ploy (1)

PsychoKick (97013) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834537)

Totalitarianism usually worms its way into power by appealing to "strong father" imagery, but it's equally adept at exploiting "protective mother" emotions as well.

My Blog Is a Weapon (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27833959)

My blog is a big, phallic weapon.

I call it the cunt bomb

8==C=O=C=K==S=L=A=P==D

Re:My Blog Is a Weapon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834085)

Two times scale.

Re:My Blog Is a Weapon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834589)

Is that how big yours is?

Re:My Blog Is a Weapon (3, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834203)

I like to believe parent was not trolling but trying to point out, in his own way, that Slashdot's anonymous posting feature could come under fire if "objectionable speech" is criminalized.

Not too worried (4, Insightful)

captaindomon (870655) | more than 5 years ago | (#27833979)

This is just a clarification of "harassment" as it already exists. It's not an attempt to shut down blogs. If someone is obviously and intentionally harassing someone else, I have no problem with them having legal recourse.

Re:Not too worried (4, Interesting)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834051)

Until Apple find your criticism of the iPhone hostile.

Re:Not too worried (1)

Rary (566291) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834469)

Until Apple find your criticism of the iPhone hostile.

Apple isn't a person. It's not possible to illegally harass a corporation.

Corporations have waaaay too much power, but they don't have that much power (yet). And if someone tries to give them that power, well then, that's the bill we need to stop. Not this one.

Re:Not too worried (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834515)

And issue a DMCA notice.

Hey isn't it great how all these laws complement one another? It's almost as if it was all planned. Nah that's crazy talk - planning requires brains and few of our Congresscritters use those things. ("Read the bill? Before I vote for it??? Nah.")

Re:Not too worried (0, Troll)

ultrabot (200914) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834169)

This is just a clarification of "harassment" as it already exists. It's not an attempt to shut down blogs. If someone is obviously and intentionally harassing someone else, I have no problem with them having legal recourse.

Yeah, it seem a part of the internet subculture feels it their constitutional right to be a total asshole on the internet, and god fordib if someone complains about it.

Re:Not too worried (5, Insightful)

malchus842 (741252) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834277)

Complaining is one thing. Fining you and sending you to jail is a completely different thing. Free Speech pretty much guarantees that you are going to be offended by someone, somewhere, sometime. Deal with it.

Re:Not too worried (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834359)

So you think being an asshole should become a criminal offense? If I call you a mealy-mouthed anti-intellectual pompous turd-brained gutter rat with a Terry Schiavo-like IQ and all the sense one would expect from a decayed chunk of dog vomit, you think I should be fined or go to jail?

Re:Not too worried (1)

ultrabot (200914) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834481)

So you think being an asshole should become a criminal offense?

Pretty much, yes.

If I call you a mealy-mouthed anti-intellectual pompous turd-brained gutter rat with a Terry Schiavo-like IQ and all the sense one would expect from a decayed chunk of dog vomit, you think I should be fined or go to jail?

Depends on the context. Here, you are just making a point, which doesn't quite qualify you as being an asshole. But the fact that you like assholes (and probably all the assorted "moral relativism" that usually goes with your kind) so much just might.

Re:Not too worried (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834523)

It kind of is your constitutional right to be an asshole pretty much anywhere, for nonviolent, non-frauding, non-libel/slander, non-likely-to-cause-imminent-violence values of asshole.

Re:Not too worried (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834213)

its not an attempt to shut down a blog i agree, its a direct attack on ones ability to speak in a public forum unless its 'approved' by the government.

If you think its just an 'innocent clarification' you are sadly mistaken and naive.

Re:Not too worried (3, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834227)

On my website I directly attack those in the public eye--especially local politicians--using my standard colorful language choice, I link to a video of an interview where I appeared on a local public access TV show and was accused of being too harsh in my tone and language when I directly attack these people for wasting millions of taxpayer dollars [lazylightning.org] .

Being that this proposed law mentions nothing of the right of the people to directly attack public officials (protected speech, not harassment regardless of how many times I choose to talk about their poor choices at my expense) means that I could be held liable for this and imprisoned. How cute.

You specifically mention that this type of behavior towards the general public (not public officials) is already defined by preexisting harassment law. IOW, there is absolutely no need for this bill to be presented, discussed or passed. Why must politicians create unnecessary laws? Hey you fucking douchebags, stop wasting your time and our tax dollars formulating and discussing unnecessary legislation just so you can look better in the public eye. Assholes.

Yes, I purposefully used the language I did to make a point--I would be arrested and imprisoned under that proposed legislation for posting what I just did. I hope I made my point.

Re:Not too worried (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834349)

Why must politicians create unnecessary laws?

So that, during election season, they can proclaim that they were responsible for "tough new measures against...." It is a lot more impressive than "closed a few loopholes to make an existing law better." If they can get spin any opposition their opponent gave as being soft on crime/terrorism/child porn/etc, then all the better. In other words, they pass unnecessary new laws to help themselves out, not to help us out.

Re:Not too worried (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834285)

This is just a clarification of "harassment" as it already exists.

There's already a federal law against harassment? Citation please.

It's not an attempt to shut down blogs.

Dude, read the law: "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.". That would cover most slashdot posts! Never mind all the angry blogs out there.

Re:Not too worried (5, Interesting)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834303)

If someone is obviously and intentionally harassing someone else, I have no problem with them having legal recourse.

Oh really? Define "obviously and intentionally harassing" in a legalistic manner that is so clear cut that it cannot be abused, misused, or given an extremely broad interpretation? If I post a scathing blog indicting the Ku Klux Klan and a Klan member finds it harassing, can my blog be shut down? Last year, the Canadian government prosecuted someone for "hate speech" because they were critical of Islam, and some Muslims found it offensive. Do you really want to start down this road?

Folks like you scare me. You think just because *you* can easily define things like "harassment" that everybody else conforms to your definition of the word. You don't think beyond your own idea of the concept, and you're willing to trade First Amendment protections because of it. Frightening. Truly frightening.

Contacted my Senator (1)

jarrettwold2002 (601633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834397)

I contacted my Senator, him as well as his staff are incredibly responsive. I'm from North Dakota so the volume is slightly less to their office I think.

However, there is plenty of applicable law regarding harassment on local, state and federal level. I'm not encouraging the passage of this bill as the legal recourse is already available civilly and criminally.

I just requested that he talk to the people in the House and have them table it until they can get an expert panel drawn together for testimony.

Re:Not too worried (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834407)

This is just a clarification of "harassment" as it already exists. It's not an attempt to shut down blogs. If someone is obviously and intentionally harassing someone else, I have no problem with them having legal recourse.

But according to you, they already HAVE legal recourse - harassment is already against the law. The real heartache is that what happened to Megan Meyers while certainly evil, was not apparently illegal. therefore, since we don't want the Bad Thing happening again, we must pass a LAW!

Of course, it could be that the prosecution was simply incompetent, or that the case was more complex than a senator can form into a 20 second sound bite. But then Ms Sanchez wouldn't be getting the free campaign advertising she now has.

Oh, yeah - in keeping with the theme from another poster:

Ms. Sanchez, I believe you are a cunt. Pass your law, and you can arrest me for saying it, but that doesn't remedy your cuntiness one iota.

Language in bill (1)

Jabbrwokk (1015725) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834417)

As well, it appears to refer to "real-world" bullying is the real problem:

using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior

To me, it sounds like the bill is defining cyberbullying as something that happens in addition to "real-world" bullying. I think it would be pretty rare for bullying to occur only online, and I'm not counting anonymous forum drama.

Re:Not too worried (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834553)

Do we have separate laws for harassing someone by taping a "Kick Me" sign to their back? Or by leaving dog poo on their doorstep? If it's harassment, then prosecute it as harassment, there's no need to keep tacking on laws.

Only way to respond (3, Informative)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27833983)

Let me be the first to say "Fuck you, Linda Sanchez! Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!" There - does that meet your definition of severe, repeated, and hostile speech, you dumb bitch!

Re:Only way to respond (0, Offtopic)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834043)

In the House of Representatives, Linda Sanchez fucks YOU

Re:Only way to respond (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834243)

Let unequivocally state that I would not hit that! [house.gov] Well, at least not unless I was really, really, drunk, and I don't drink, so it is really unlikely. Heck, I'd even rather do my wife than her! There Linda... is that offensive enough for you yet?

Re:Only way to respond (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834497)

In the House of Representatives, Linda Sanchez fucks YOU

Sanchez represents "South Central" Los Angeles (e.g. the Watts neighborhood of "Watts Riots" fame). To quote Wikipedia: The name "South Central" had become almost synonymous with urban decay and street crime. Anyway, Sanchez does not generally represent an educated and intellectually sophisticated constituency - as much as making blog posting may seem totally crazy, she's probably just pandering to what, unfortunately, is her base.

Re:Only way to respond (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834237)

I think slashdot is becoming a very hostile site and might need to be considered a weapon.

Every single person who's gonna bitch here (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#27833997)

Write your congresscritters. If you fail to do so, you're complicit in whatever happens.

That said, it's a stupid bill.

Bang! (4, Funny)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27833999)

Oh, sorry. I didn't know it was loaded.

Repeated and hostile speech. (2, Funny)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834021)

.....make it a federal felony to use your blog, social media like MySpace and Facebook, or any other Web media 'to cause substantial emotional distress through "severe, repeated, and hostile" speech.' Rep. Sanchez and colleagues want to make it easier to prosecute any objectionable speech.....

Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
Rep. Sanchez is a dick.

Hostile enough for ya?

(Apparently, /. filters already limit repeated speech, as I need to add a bunch of crap in to get past the "postercomment compression filter", whatever the hell that is. So /. is a giant government conspiracy, implementing constitution-destroying legislation before it's even proposed....)

Re:Repeated and hostile speech. (1)

bit trollent (824666) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834063)

I'm going to have to agree with the /. repetitive comment filter on this one.

Re:Repeated and hostile speech. (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834209)

You completely missed my point.

I haven't RTFA, and don't care to, as I'm not in the US. But, according to the summary, my previous post would probably be a felony.

Stupid? Yes. But, what do we expect from nanny-state politicians?

Re:Repeated and hostile speech. (1)

htrn (125633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834361)

No, that's not enough...you have to include the other 13 that are behind the bill too.

the pen (1)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834033)

so this is that they mean when they say that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Re:the pen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834193)

so this is that they mean when they say that the penis is mightier than the sword.

Let Me Fix That For You...

Instead of making new laws (2, Insightful)

LuxMaker (996734) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834047)

Instead of making new laws, why can't they just enforce the ones already on the books? Yes, this is nothing but an extra power grab designed to keep you in your place.

A B C... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834055)

D D D

D is the missing letter when these Slashdot postings are made, but the R R R is nevR missing when the stinky shoe is on the other foot.

Dear Linda Sanchez (5, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834059)

If you don't like the things I say in my blog, wouldn't the most rational reaction be to simply don't fucking read it???

Re:Dear Linda Sanchez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834191)

But I have to read it to feel insulted by it before I can sue you. Don't you see how it works?

1. Read
2. Feel Insulted
3. Sue
4. Profit

Re:Dear Linda Sanchez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834231)

I believe this _Criminalizes_ said behavior. If that is so, you would have to wait until the state is finished prosecuting and hope there is something left to sue for.

Re:Dear Linda Sanchez (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834457)

Seems like you would have to read it more than once to qualify as "repeated" offensive speech. If you can't figure that out the first time you read it, then you really are a stupid twat. While I agree misrepresentation or fraud should be illegal (i.e. pretending to be someone you are not), saying that you think someone is an ass is and should be protected speech. I make the same argument that you can't be harassed through email -- the first time you read an email from me, you knew what my address was, and had every opportunity to block that address or refuse to read emails from that address in the future. Unless I change my source address each time, how can you complain about subsequent rude emails? If no one is forcing you, coercing you, or using fraud to get you to read the objectionable speech, and yet you continue to do so, then it sounds like you have a problem, not the author of the speech!

Grow up and get a life, Linda!

Re:Dear Linda Sanchez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834235)

Then how would they know how to go about "protecting the children"?

Re:Dear Linda Sanchez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834325)

In simplest terms yes, the problem occurs when others read and believe what you write. A good example would be the conservative news networks trying best they could to make Obama a terrorist in the run up to the election. I could ignore that and the harm would still be happening. The right to free speech should come with the requirement of responsibility not the right. Another example is you cant yell fire in a crowded public place.

End of /.? (1)

c0d3h4x0r (604141) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834075)

could make it a federal felony to use your blog, social media like MySpace and Facebook, or any other Web media 'to cause substantial emotional distress through "severe, repeated, and hostile" speech.'

So basically this would mean the end of Slashdot...

Re:End of /.? (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834185)

Judging from all the comments above yours I don't think it is a bad thing.

Re:End of /.? (1)

MaggieL (10193) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834245)

After all, the only purpose of a gun is to kill, and the only purpose of a blog is to troll.

How far does free speech go? (1, Interesting)

chris098 (536090) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834105)

There's always a fine line where free speech "goes to far". I think this bill is trying to clarify that line by imposing penalties. The bill restricts itself to situations:

"with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person"

The common argument is that free speech should always be free, no matter what. This bill goes against that by trying to establish some limits on free speech.

...but should someone be allowed to say they want to kill all members of [group X]? If so, do members of [group X] have the right to take that threat seriously and act accordingly by pre-emptively defending themselves against the threat?

Re:How far does free speech go? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834267)

Your question has already been answered. AFAIK, it's not a consipricy unless you take any action to implement said conspiricy. So in your case, those saying that group x should be killed don't cross the line until they get a weapon or start looking for a member of group x to kill.

Re:How far does free speech go? (1)

Unending (1164935) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834295)

If I give plans for committing some crime against you then it is evidence of conspiracy to commit the crime.
The speech itself should never be punished it's the crime that is indicated by that speech that should be punished.

Re:How far does free speech go? (0)

chris098 (536090) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834369)

I think this bill goes too far by trying to "protect peoples feelings". In my opinion, that's an infringement on free speech. But I also don't think people should be able to say whatever they want without consequences. Like you point out, if you say you're going to commit a crime, that could be interpreted as evidence that you're going to commit that crime. ...but that's just my opinion.

As written, I think this bill infringes on "free speech". But I don't think people should be allowed to say anything they want without consequences. At some point, hate speech can be interpreted as a real threat, and people have the right to defend themselves against real threats.

Re:How far does free speech go? (1)

Rary (566291) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834543)

The speech itself should never be punished it's the crime that is indicated by that speech that should be punished.

And this bill doesn't seem to be trying to punish speech. It's punishing the harassment that is indicated by the speech.

So what part of "Congress shall make NO LAW" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834389)

do you not understand?

All rights have legal limits (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834571)

Can't shout "fire" and cause a panic. You can't order someone murdered. You can't incite a riot or violence. Slander and libel have civil penalties.

The right to bear arms can be limited when someone is insane.

Rights are limited all the time.

Re:How far does free speech go? (4, Insightful)

malchus842 (741252) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834405)

There's always a fine line where free speech "goes to far".

Really? And what would that be? Something you don't like? Something your mom doesn't like? Something Senator Bedfellow doesn't like? Sorry, Free Speech means that you are going to be offended and hear lots of things you don't like.

but should someone be allowed to say they want to kill all members of [group X]? If so, do members of [group X] have the right to take that threat seriously and act accordingly by pre-emptively defending themselves against the threat?

An actual threat is one thing - and it's already covered in current law. So is a conspiracy to commit a crime. But saying that all XXX's ought to be killed? That's free speech. Acting on it or threatening by saying "I am going to kill all XXX's" is not.

Calling someone names is NOT, and should NOT be a crime. Ever.

Re:How far does free speech go? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834519)

Something your mom doesn't like?

Funny. Last night your mom said she really liked it.

Re:How far does free speech go? (1)

chris098 (536090) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834531)

So it sounds like we agree that there are some things that don't fall under free speech - threats and conspiracies to commit crimes. I completely agree with that, and I think that this bill goes way too far (trying to "protect peoples feelings", as I said in reply to an earlier post). ...but that's how I see the world. Some people, such as an earlier poster, appear to think that all speech should be valid - even threats. Other people, such as the author of this bill, seem to think that things like name calling should be a crime.

Re:How far does free speech go? (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834473)

But that's not the part that most people have a problem with, threats are threats, no matter where you make them. This law does nothing to resolve the "anonimity" of the internet threats, which seems to be the distinguishing factor of threats made online or in person. However, the language, as you quote, says "...Coerce, intimidate, harass..." which is what most people are pointing to as being overreaching.

Does Orac over at Respectful Insolence (Scienceblog) and his constant attacking of Anti-vaccine lunatics get to keep "harassing" morons who are peddling their Woo through unscientific claims? Do other groups get to constantly bring up issues, which are designed to Coerce and Harass companies and people who are more powerful than they are?

There are limits to free speech, but disagreements are not one of the limits, and the wording of the bill is vague enough to include disagreements. The intent of the bill is probably pure, but jesus it needs to be fixed.

Re:How far does free speech go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834579)

What I'm interested in is if this law passes, will I be forced to take down my previous harassing speech? Is speech on the internet 100% persistent and considered to be in the present? What about Ex-Post-Facto, how can I be brought to court for violating a law which was not a law when the supposed violation occurred?

Interesting questions indeed.

Good bill (1)

ezwip (974076) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834113)

This is a good bill. People like myself with bad karma are unlikely to overcome their handicaps. We should be segregated from society or sent to Australia. All we do is post insane theories and links to the new zombie virus. I don't see how we fit into society and the sooner we are kept down the better. I know that personally I offer nothing of worth and can't wait to be visited by the FBI for calling Cowboy Neal a homosexual.

The US is quickly devolving into a socialistic... (3, Insightful)

MrJerryNormandinSir (197432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834125)

police state! It's time to stand up for what we believe in. It's time for our voices to be heard. We can't be passive citizens anymore. As each week passes we loose more and more of our rights as American Citizens.

I think we should seriously design an underground internet, just in case we need it.

I'm going to a "tea party" gathering on July 4th.

Re:The US is quickly devolving into a socialistic. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834269)

You don't know what socialism is, do you?

Re:The US is quickly devolving into a socialistic. (1)

TheFlyingBuddha (1373717) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834415)

If you are a troll, good job, you've managed to raise my blood pressure. If you are sincerely bringing up socialism as anything other than a straw man, can you explain it's relevancy to the concept of the police state? And can someone with mod points for the love of god make this something other than "Informative?" Funny, maybe. Hell I'd even take insightful. But INFORMATIVE, it is not.

If you are sincerely bringing up socialism... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834513)

The socialism ref is a strawman.

But the American left is no less mad for federal power and full of as many good intentions to crawl up my ass, into my bedroom and into my brain as the American right.

I find the Ds and Rs equally scary.

Re:The US is quickly devolving into a socialistic. (1, Troll)

RingDev (879105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834471)

So where were your outcries over the last 8 years as we were being driven into a fascist police state?

Do you even understand the concepts that you are touting? Or are you just spewing Savage drivel?

-Rick

tea parties (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834573)

Where are all these 'tea party' people on election days? I keep seeing Republicrats getting voted in. It's like, every other November, these "tea party" people stop and say, "Well, we were just kidding and would actually prefer to keep the status quo."

If you don't vote, you deserve to lose.

Radiation bulling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834139)

So how about radiation bulling? Is that covered since the laser is just the communication medium and the signal is what causes distress and intimidation, harassment.

Admin... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834151)

Our current administration as was the three before could give a flying shit about our Constitution and Bill of Rights...all they currently care about is silencing the voice of dissent which should be part of a freedom we exhibit.

another chance to use the word STUPID

Thank goodness for the First Amendment! (2)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834157)

The word repressive was created to describe statutes like this. It's so stupid an unconstitutional that it's laughable. That woman is an enemy of liberty!

Looks like a congressperson wanted to get her name in the paper.

bit9pch (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834171)

obligated to care h4s ground to a something cool Show that FreeBSD

Weapon? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834229)

Interesting title, considering the bill does not include, anywhere, the word "weapon" (or, as far as I can tell, any synonym).

Blog post commenting on the bill seems to almost exclusively harp on the fact that many of the terms in the bill (particularly those addressing intent) are subject to interpretation. That's neither new or interesting when it comes to laws.

This blog is already a weapon (1)

YourMissionForToday (556292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834253)

Slashdot, a weapon of unbelievable pomposity and stupidity. You knuckleheads would be beating rocks together if it wasn't for me. For I am your God of the Laser!

Linda Sanchez D-CA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834259)

Since, once again, the political affiliation of a Democrat has conveniently been left out of the summary, I feel it necessary to do the job the poster and /. editors have failed to do.

Why Doesnt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834263)

Why doesn't the summary mention she is a Democrat/Socialist? ^__^

Not designed to help the little people (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27834281)

We're not looking to protect little Timmy here from people picking on them. Were looking to stop you dissidents from criticizing the goverment! The wording of something like this can be so vauge that it would be extremely broad, and you will no longer be able to criticize your goverment.

If something like this passes, I wonder how long before people give this whole Obama experiment an Epic Fail!

Can we apply it to the President please? (2, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834287)

because between his vilifying AIG employees to Chrysler bond holders I think he more than qualifies.

IOW - Sanchez and company want to stop certain speech on websites because many of their opponents have been very successful there. This will go great when they find a back door method to implement the "fairness doctrine" by other means (diversity in radio or some of the child act)

So it has come to this, because we have become so good at getting the truth out about what these people are doing in Washington they now think that since they successfully got McCain-Feingold to block us from timely disclosure during an election period that they need to cover the rest of the time?

Just when is change going to happen where something good happens? This shit doesn't just pop out of Congress without someone in the White House giving it approval.

Hell Bush only listened to what we were saying private, these guys would prefer duct taping our hands together and our mouths shut.

Do we have an open square and some tanks they can use? (in eight weeks they are making eight years of Bush look friendlier)

This might be worse than expected... (5, Interesting)

helbent (1244274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834297)

What usually happens with these kinds of unconstitutional laws is they are rammed through with the authors knowing full well they won't stand up to a constitutional challenge. Think about certain aspects of the Patriot Act, the laws regarding civil asset forfiture, and the Lautenberg amendment to the Brady Bill (AKA the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban [wikipedia.org] where you are denied 2nd amendment rights forever after having a restraining order lodged against you or being merely accused of a crime, even in absence of a conviction thereof).

What happens is the courts pile on the charges so high that defendants are forced to settle for a plea bargain, which is how 95% of all trials are resolved. Thus laws which blatantly violate the constitution are allowed to sit on the books forever with no effective challenge against them, generating eternal revenues for the state and ensuring that a long line of semi-innocents head off to the hotel-with-barred-windows for violating some petty legal technicality. The Branch Davidians were gassed and incinerated alive for nothing more serious than an unpaid tax or unfilled-out form regarding certain firearms laws.

The same nasty precedent set by the previous examples will be precisely how it plays out here. Not only will this law pass but it will be misused and abused left and right, and nobody will cut it off because that would stop the gravy train.

But my blog doesn't use SSL yet (4, Funny)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834353)

I have not yet deployed the munitions.

How about... (4, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834377)

instead of reducing the number of rights people have, we increase the responsibility that they must take for exercising those rights?

You want to cyber bully some one, go for it. But if that person commits suicide due to your actions, we'll hold you accountable for it.

Same with gun laws. You want a full auto machine gun? Go for it! You screw up with a gun, and we'll destroy your life.

Instead of teaching people not to do things, we should be teaching them that there are repercussions to the acts that they take. You have the freedom to f' up. But with that freedom comes the personal responsibility to not f'up.

-Rick

Seriously? (5, Funny)

AnalogyShark (1317197) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834383)

Someone is really trying to make trolling illegal?

Don't they realize that acknowledging trolls just makes them worse?

Re:Seriously? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834427)

If they didn't, simply reading the posts on this thread should remove all doubt.

There ought to be a law... (2, Interesting)

minsk (805035) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834411)

If I were going to propose one rule to be enshrined in a constitution, it would be banning any emotional appeal in justifying a law. This will, hopefully, get shot down. But we all know that anyone opposing it will be attacked with "they don't care about cyber-bullying".

Maybe there is actually a case to be made for restricting speech to prevent online bullying. We'll never know, because these nitwits took one unfortunate example and ran off in a fit of paranoia. Even a more reasonable compromise would still be tainted by this idiocy.

Between "save the children", "stop the terrorists", and "save the whales" (natural and financial), it is amazing that any freedoms remain.

That's worrying. (1)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834507)

If this goes through, I just might have to take my blog down lest I face prosecution for, I don't know...WAR CRIMES. While most of my posts are benign, god help you if you piss me off that day. Insert sarcasm tags where you see fit, because I couldn't give a rat's ass. :P

Man before his time... (2, Informative)

cagrin (146191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834525)

"Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." - George Orwell

everyone is talking past each other (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27834533)

this is what happened to meier: she was mentally and emotionally unstable. she was a minor. an adult, over an extended period of time, purposefully targetted her and assassinated her confidence with false friends and false romantic interests and outright suggesting she kill herself. then she committed suicide

obviously, no one here supports that. at the same time, those rightfully outraged about what happened to meier are proposing limitations on free speech which are too broad. what you need to do is take what motivates them and REDIRECT their free speech limiting efforts to not be so broad. just laughing and riciculing their efforts doesn't satisfy their motivations. and their motivations are real and vlaid, so you have to address them:

you can say anything you want online. unless you: 1. target one individual, 2. over an extended period of time, 3. who is a minor (nad you are an adult), 4. who is mentally unstable

those who want to fight bullying would agree with this. you, defenders of free speech, would agree to this. so stop just shouting down and ridiculing those who are fighting cyberbullying. just redirect their passions. what motivates them is real and valid: a teenage girl was hounded to commit suicide. there is a valid reason to protect her. there is a valid legal space in which new speech laws can exist that, again:

1. stand against targetting one individual
2. over an extended period of time
3. who is a minor (and the bully is an adult)
4. who is mentally unstable

the most hardcore free speech zealot understands why you cant shout fire in a crowded theatre. therefore, everyone recognizes that yes, there actually ARE limits to free speech. so take what motivates those who are angry at the meier case, and HELP them channel their anger into a SPECIFIC limit on online speech of the form of the 4 limitations above

you have to respect the legitimacy of what motivates those who are upset about what happened to meier. just laughing at or ridiculing their overarching efforts doesn't stop them from trying to right the injustive that happened to meier. you can HELP them, and HELP to retain your free speech principles by tailoring and redirecting their passions to a specifically worded area of what is obviously heinous cyberbullying and does not infringe on your free speech rights

imagine that, compromise, rather than a bunch of kneejerk zealotry like you find in other comments here, without any recognition that waht motivates those who are righfully outraged about wehat happened to meier

for those of you who care about your free speech rights: how do you protect the meiers of the world? you need to address that. if you don't, there will be continued attacks on free speech forever, because what motivates those who want to protect the meiers of the world is just as valid an impulse as those who want to protect free speech

sure, some of you could say the meiers of the world need to just toughen up. fuck them, people are cruel, get used to it

by the same token, i could say to you that some assholes want to limit your free speech so tough luck, just shut up about some of what you want to say... this statement is bullshit, i'm just demonstrating that if you don't show any sensitivity to valid concerns about cruelty to others, why do expect anyone to have sympathy for your concerns about free speech?

because, in the end, the principles and passions that support free speech are the same principles and passions that seek to protect the meiers of this world. you protect the rights and liberties of the weak in this world, or you merely help create a world of cruelty, in which limits of free speech are inevitable. limits on free speech are really just a form of cruelty that this cyberbully demonstrated when manipulating meier

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