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Raising Hell In Arizona

I know the state of Arizona has a reputation for not liking the US government.

I didn't know that included the US Constitution.

The Arizona state leg recently passed House Bill 2549.  It passed with bi-partisan support and needs just one more vote tweak before it gets sent to the gov for his signature.

So what is in this bill that has Peter so up in arms?  I thought you'd never ask.  The bill seeks to ban all "annoying, offending" language from the Internet.

Okay, some of you need some recover time.  I'll wait.

You're back?  That's good!  Okay, so here's the bullet points.  Anyone convicted of saying anything offensive or insulting on a message board, web page, chat, anything involving Internet communication, can be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor and be jailed for up to six months.  This means that, if you live in Arizona and write something factual like "Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a 'slut'," and someone gets offended by the word "slut", you're on your way to the Big House.

If you think I'm economizing with the facts here, I'm not.  It makes it a crime to "terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend" through any electronic or digital means, but provides no definitions or exceptions or anything.  The bill's language is so vague and overbroad, that is entirely possible.  No distinction is made for any circumstance.  It's just, someone's offended, so we will defend their delicate sensibilities at the expense of your Constitutionally protected Free Speech.  Potentially, Amazon could get nailed for listing the Al Franken book "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot" since it is an insult to Limbaugh.  Nice to see that the lessons taught by the passage of the DMCA are being ignored so thoroughly.

State Rep. Steve Farley is basically selling this as an accessory crime bill.  You know how, you get picked up for armed robbery, and you might also get illegal use of a firearm or something like that?  It's an additional crime tacked on just to tack it on to either up your sentence or use as a plea bargaining chip -- "We'll drop these charges if you plead guilty to just the armed robbery."  Farley says this is the intent of the bill.  It doesn't mean that the person is instantly going to be fined or put away.  But if the judge determines it relates to other circumstances in the case then they can use this as another tool to make that decision."  All those who believe that this will NEVER be abused by the morons on the Internet, please raise your hand.  Anyone?  Anyone?

Someone want to tell me how this is supposed to work?  If someone in Arizona reads my blog and I make some sort of joke they don't like, is Arizona going to try and extradite me?  Or try me in absentia, which is a violation of my civil rights?  How about someone from England?  They aren't signatories to the law, so their harassment is okay?  I hear a lot of shit about my religious beliefs, political leanings, everything.  Everyone disagrees with me about something at some time.  Does that mean I need to block Arizona lest some mouth breather doesn't understand these things are my opinion?  And if someone in Arizona writes something in my blog that I disagree with, can I have THEM charged with this?  How would I pursue this?

The only upside is that, if this does pass, the ACLU is promising to get it to the federal courts so fast it'll make your head spin.  There is no way on God's green Earth this bill will survive a Constitutional challenge.  I just hate that the lawmakers are more interested in passing laws than figuring out laws that work.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 7th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
I consider time spent passing laws like this something close to fraud. It is at the least egregious mismanagement of government time and/or funds. Not to mention the waste of tax dollars as AZ defends this crap in court.

And the AZ governor is a her. A rude one at that...
Apr. 7th, 2012 11:27 pm (UTC)
Oops. Thanks for the correction about the AZ gov's gender.

There's another possible reason for this now that I think about it, and it doesn't make the Arizona lege and the gov look any better. I've seen plenty of times where a law is passed that has no chance of withstanding a court challenge, but gets passed anyway. Why? It's an election year and makes the elected officials look all concerned and stuff to their constituents while also knowing that the courts won't allow their tampering with the Constitution to stand.

Not saying this contradicts what you said about fraud and wasting tax dollars. Just that this could be another motivation for them to do it.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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