Post an Opinion, Go To Jail

Goto_jail

There are times when I really don’t enjoy living in California, this is one of them.

The idea for a law, by  Rep. Linda Sanchez, Democrat, of California is sheer lunacy. She has proposed a bill that would make it a federal felony to use blogs, text messages, and Internet messaging (“electronic means”) to harass someone and cause them “emotional distress.”

So if my local paper, the Enterprise Record, posts a web story that “causes somebody emotional distress”, do the aggrieved  then just dispense a lawyer from a vending machine in front of the newspaper office and walk in with a lawsuit? There will be DMVesque line with a wait.

It’s coming to that it seems.

Linda Sanchez (D-CA) coming after bloggers

“Greg Pollowitz at NRO Media Blog sends the alert (via The Volokh Conspiracy) that Rep. Linda Sanchez, Democrat of California, has proposed a bill that would make it a federal felony to use blogs, text messages, and Internet messaging (“electronic means”) to harass someone and cause them “emotional distress.” Eugene Volokh pulls these snippets out of H.R. 1966:

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.

(h/t to Helogenic Climate Change)

Here is her official website where you can contact her and let her know what you think about this idea. Be nice.

http://lindasanchez.house.gov/index.cfm?section=contact

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148 Responses to Post an Opinion, Go To Jail

  1. Basil says:

    Well, if she were just after California, you’d have my sympathies. But she’s after us all. So we all should be afraid. Very afraid.

    I would hope that the unconstitutional nature of this (1st Amendment, anyone?) doesn’t escape someone.

  2. George Hebbard says:

    I’ve posted many messages with the sole intent of Harrasing, Intimidating and Causing (Al Gore) to Cease snd Desist from his insane ramplings about Climate Science.

    Am I a Felon? Give me a break. I wonder if China (where I have worked numerous times) isn’t a little freer than than the USA. Perhaps Congress should just offer to sell us to them to pay our $ 80,000,000,000,000 in unfunded programs. Might be an even trade, and if people like Sanchez continue if office, we may come out ahead.

  3. DaveE says:

    I think the key is “severe, repeated & hostile”.

    Bad enough but maybe not as bad as it seems.

    Probably open to abuse though.

    DaveE.

  4. Tim says:

    Sorry I just can’t say anything nice here…what a moron. As if California does not have enough REAL problems to be solving. Just shows the inane degree to which the incompetent clowns in the legislature will go in order to make it look like they are getting something done when in fact they are doing nothing but frittering away the state’s money while pushing an extreme agenda.

  5. Just Want Truth... says:

    Does Al Gore using the word “denier” on national tv constitute “intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person,”?

  6. Tim says:

    Ooops – I guess that last comment could potentially be outlawed.

  7. DennisJ says:

    Not to worry, because her hispanic surnamed constituents won’t let it happen. Hate to drag the good name of Gorebull warming into the realm of racism, but the same hysteria reigns….

    http://www.aztlan.net/

    The real problem is going to be the interpretation of the definitions, unless of course, the interpretations are one-sided.

  8. Just Want Truth... says:

    “Does Al Gore using the word “denier” constitute “intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person,”?

    Do death threats sent to scientists like Timothy Ball constitute this also? (I know he is Canadian, not a citizen of the US. I’m just trying make a point here.)

  9. adoucette says:

    She’s trying to add a “Cyberbullying” section to the US CODE that covers Extortions and Threats

    http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/usc_sup_01_18_10_I_20_41.html

    So I think its pretty clear this is not intended for use against blogs and general internet communication but at targeted use of the internet to harrasss and intimidate a specific person.

    Clearly the language of her bill as presented is way too broad and also a tad vague, but then the original language of bills often start out this way and then get modified as the flaws in the specificity (or lack there of) are pointed out.

    This attempt at making “Cyber Bullying” a crime is in response to what happened to Megan Meier, the 13-year-old girl who was allegedly CyberBullied until she committed suicide, and the fact that the adult (Lori Drew) who impersonated a schoolboy to bully her via a MySpace page could only be charged with accessing protected computers without authorization.

    In the end, because of a lack of a clear law that made what she did illegal, Lori Drew was only found guilty of three misdemeanors.

    Which brings up the potential need for a law to plug this gap.

    So the more relevant questions are:

    Was what Lori Drew did wrong?

    If so, was it criminal and thus should it be punishable by jail &/or fines?

    and if so, then the toughest question:

    How would you write a law that would make similar activities illegal, but at the same time not infringe on 1st ammendment rights of free speech.

    Personally I think it is wrong to do what Lori Drew did, but since I’ve yet to see a good answer to the third question, I have to stay with No on the second question.

    Arthur

  10. Adam from Kansas says:

    I read it could be abused to make it almost like it’s illegal to give critisism for anything. Not only crits. on why AGW theory is on a very shaky foundation, but also have extreme implications for the religious as well.

    Then again it could boomerang and cause havok for the left as well if it gets abused, at the worst the jails could literally burst with tons of new people getting booked.

  11. John F. Hultquist says:

    Can I sue her now? Her message and attitude distress me.

    Are there not laws that cover the serious sorts of issues she thinks are a problem?

  12. Caleb says:

    How about a law prohibiting POLITICIANS from causing us “emotional distress?”

  13. Sunfighter says:

    Democrats and lawyers tend to work together quite well. Whenever it is their turn in power a lot of laws get written to help the lawyers sue more. So this law really doesnt suprise me any.

  14. Robert M. Marshall says:

    David E

    Bad enough but maybe not as bad as it seems. WHAAAT!!!
    Have you read the other side’s commentary on this blog???
    Not “Open to abuse”… but a tool specifically designed for abuse.
    How long do you think it would take a $#@&%^ lawyer to call what I’m doing right now “severe, repeated & hostile”??? I intend it to be just that!

    Like all the recent high minded / anti-Darwinian (shield the weak) programs developed in recent months, this law uses a tragedy (don’t let a crisis go to waste) to relegate the Constitution to “Hate Speech” status.

    Not only no, hell no!

    Note: the use of the word hell is not, in this case, intended to be:
    curse – profane or obscene expression usually of surprise or anger; “expletives were deleted”
    expletive, oath, swearing, swearword, curse word, cuss
    profanity – vulgar or irreverent speech or action
    curse – an appeal to some supernatural power to inflict evil on someone or some group
    execration, condemnation
    denouncement, denunciation – a public act of denouncing
    anathema – a formal ecclesiastical curse accompanied by excommunication
    imprecation, malediction – the act of calling down a curse that invokes evil (and usually serves as an insult); “he suffered the imprecations of the mob”
    curse – an evil spell; “a witch put a curse on his whole family”; “he put the whammy on me”
    hex, jinx, whammy
    magic spell, magical spell, charm, spell – a verbal formula believed to have magical force; “he whispered a spell as he moved his hands”; “inscribed around its base is a charm in Balinese”
    curse – something causing misery or death; “the bane of my life”
    bane, nemesis, scourge
    affliction – a cause of great suffering and distress
    curse – a severe affliction
    torment
    affliction – a cause of great suffering and distress

  15. wws says:

    “Probably open to abuse”??? Gee, ya think???

    Astounding how few pols, and how few people in general, have any concept of what the 1st amendment means, and why the founders considered it so important.

    This, of course, is another attempt to legislate Correct Thoughts. How, after all, can you know whether or not someone intended “emotional distress” unless you know their thoughts?

    And of course, it’s a simple step from here to the obvious corollary – good thoughts (as defined by the government) will be legal, Bad Thoughts (again, as defined by the government) are to be a Criminal Offense.

    Of course, it will not only be legal but Highly Encouraged for all those who possess Good Thoughts to cause emotional distress to all the Bad Thought evil-doers.

  16. WestHoustonGeo says:

    “coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress” describes exactly what Gore and Hanssen have caused me. Waxman is harrassing me and causing emotional distress by attempting to tax my livelyhood – quite literally- to death.
    Lawyers, if you are interested in a front-line high-profile case (pro-bono, of course) post here ;-)

  17. Pamela Gray says:

    This is the result of parents giving children and teens access to the information highway and then blaming that highway for the stress it causes said children and teens. Children and teens do not need any other phone than the one that plugs into the wall at home or resides in a parent’s pocket. Neither do they need unfettered access to the internet. Dumb law. If this passes, maybe we should be able to bring suit against Burger King when parents buy 2000 calorie meals for their children 4 times a day, they get fat, and die of heart disease at 14. Oh wait, we already do that.

  18. Smokey says:

    DaveE:

    I think the key is “severe, repeated & hostile”.

    That will naturally get ratcheted to the point that a second occurrence is ‘repeated’, because that maximizes the legal profession’s income. ‘Severe’ and ‘hostile’ will likewise become less and less of a hurdle, as the bar is lowered with each subsequent conviction.

    But the real key is the subjectiveness of the complainant. Who is to say that a blog post will “cause substantial emotional distress”? Why, the person whose fragile feelings are injured, of course.

    The emotionally distressed “victims” themselves will be only too happy to testify about their inner feelings in the endless civil litigation that is bound to follow a vague law like this.

  19. Toto says:

    Someone on WUWT mentioned this quote recently: “If two people are thinking the same thing, one of them isn’t thinking.” I’ve found from Google that it is often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, but I haven’t found the exact wording of the quote.

    This is a useful quote in these times of consensus and political correctness.

    If you say something that doesn’t offend someone, you probably didn’t say anything important.

  20. h.oldeboom says:

    Dort wo man Buecher brennt, dort brennt man auch Menschen. This is a German explanation about what happened with non-accepted ideas of people in the dark Eurpean Middle-ages 9 and after) in Europe about what happened with them in those days. Read for Buecher = communicationn and for Jail = brennen. So the Californian USA people can expect something. Finally, why left these old-Europeans Europe and why did they go to America? Probably USA is going to be even worser than Europe because they are giving up LIBERTY!

  21. Katherine says:

    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

    I agree with DaveE. “Severe, repeated, and hostile” are the key words. Those would make the communication unprotected speech, rather like hate speech or death threats.

    So if my local paper, the Enterprise Record, posts a web story that “causes somebody emotional distress”, do the aggrieved then just dispense a lawyer from a vending machine in front of the newspaper office and walk in with a lawsuit?

    Not unless it’s libelous. Your example fails the “support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior” requirement, which implies targeted communication.

  22. John Boy says:

    The Hansen Haters section will be quiet large.

    The boy of John

  23. Tom in stress free Florida says:

    Does fear of being snipped by Charles the Moderator et al constitute emotional distress?

    [SNIP!]

    [Well, okay, you didn't say anything. But you were thinkin' it! ~ Evan the moderator]

  24. rafa says:

    I pressume Ms. Sanchez will send to jail my accountant. He communicates with me by electronic means and, believe me, what he tells me by e-mail these days causes me substantial emotional distress

    best

  25. Ric Werme says:

    [Anthony] So if my local paper, the Enterprise Record, posts a web story that “causes somebody emotional distress”, do the aggrieved then just dispense a lawyer from a vending machine in front of the newspaper office and walk in with a lawsuit? There will be DMVesque line with a wait.

    The law would be subservient (there’s probably a better legal term) to the US (and maybe CA) right to a free press.

    For people who aren’t press, you could always fall back to US Mail, though that comes with a few interesting restrictions.

    There are already libel laws that ought to be adequate. Note that if it’s true, it’s not libel or slander.

    This proposed law may also be “overbroad” and “vague” – both attributes that have scuttled other draconian laws.

    For those Emailing Sanchez, you might consider asking her about various realistic hypothetical cases and ask her why existing laws (libel, slander, stalking, criminal threatening, etc) are not adequate.

  26. William says:

    How can I contact the daft woman to give her some grief? Her website only allows for email from the USA and I am in Europe.Is she the future of American freedom of speech? if so you are all doomed

  27. Albert Coakes says:

    We in the west fought 2 world wars for freedom, including freedom of speech. Democrats in the U.S. Congress appear to wish to turn that over, what with successfully keeping Christopher Monckton silent.

    Your is a superb blog. lol, Bertie

  28. George Gillan says:

    See this article [http://www.reason.com/news/show/133221.html] for a Canadian experience.

    When it becomes law, this crap is real and will be used against people. We must fight it.

  29. Jim G says:

    Unfortunately,
    you can’t legislate good behavior. No law, will make someone play nice with others when they choose not to.

  30. Tim McHenry says:

    Katherine (12:45:51)

    The vaugness of the language would allow any activist judge to take it any direction they wanted. When the focus is on “communication” as opposed to actual acts or “personal threat to do bodily harm” or some other SPECIFIED language then you’re asking for trouble with a bill like this.

  31. Arn Riewe says:

    “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…”

    Hmmm… Lookout Joe Romm.

  32. Mr Green Genes says:

    Does this mean I’ll be able to sue Hansen? I work in the railway industry in the UK and his oft repeated remark about death trains is causing me severe emotional distress.

  33. Ron de Haan says:

    This is a a sinister and dramatic development, especially when you are in opposition of a political doctrine which is based on a religion.

    What do I say, it’s impossible.

    We have seen many, many times how they respond to a simple remark like: “There is No Consensus” to get them in a state of “substantial emotional stress”.

    I’m afraid we have to close down this blog. NOT

    Let’s stop this nonsense right now and write some nice mails to the Rep’s website.

    P.s Someone in the room whispered a remark in my ear which could soften the effect of such a Bill.

    How can anyone determine if a person living in the US has got into “a state of emotional distress” because of an e-mail or a blog posting, if half the population is living on a diet of Valium and Rohypnol already?

    There is now way to execute such a law without detoxing the population first.

    Traquilizer anyone?

  34. Jeff Alberts says:

    Tim (11:58:35) :

    Sorry I just can’t say anything nice here…what a moron. As if California does not have enough REAL problems to be solving. Just shows the inane degree to which the incompetent clowns in the legislature will go in order to make it look like they are getting something done when in fact they are doing nothing but frittering away the state’s money while pushing an extreme agenda.

    Mental distress! Mental distress!

  35. Halfwise says:

    I feel emotional distress caused by Sanchez. Who do I call to get her locked up?

  36. Paul Vaughan says:

    As DaveE (11:35:34) & Katherine (12:45:51) point out, the key is “severe, repeated, and hostile behavior”.

    A few years back I researched policy on harassment in relation to my (former) work (online education).

    Some of the policy statements are quite lengthy, with much attention to detail. The details, no doubt, arise from experience with past cases.

    I sensed no intent to hang innocent people; on the contrary, the policy wording seemed chosen with an acute awareness of the responsibility to guard against such possible abuses.

    I’d want to see the proposed definitions of the terms “coerce”, “intimidate”, “harass”, and “substantial emotional distress” before rendering judgement. In policy, such terms can be much more narrowly defined than in everyday use.

    Those incapable of cool restraint might be alarmed, but people conducting themselves sensibly probably have nothing reasonable to fear so long as some sensible people are keeping a close eye on the evolution of the wording.

  37. Purakanui says:

    I’m with Adoucette on this one; its a serious problem in New Zealand as well. There have been many instances of young people being text-hounded to the point of desperation by their class-mates, and others, and I believe at least one suicide has resulted. This is also a tactic used by the reptiles who cruise the web looking for vulnerable young people to prey upon.
    It looks to me as though Ms. Sanchez is trying to address this issue and make it possible to deal with Drew and his like. The problem, of course, is whether or not a well-meaning proposal can be diverted and mis-used to further far more sinister ends. That would never happen in America, I thought, but then a name – McCarthy, is it? – seems to be in the back of my mind.
    Light snow starting to fall in the hills around Dunedin, more forecast and massive dumps in the ski-fields inland. Well, it will be winter in three weeks, after all. Oddly enough, ten years ago we were worried that the ski-fields would rarely see decent snow; this weekend, still nearly a month from opening day, you can’t get up the access roads.

  38. Rob says:

    adoucette (12:04:59) :

    Clearly the language of her bill as presented is way too broad and also a tad vague, but then the original language of bills often start out this way and then get modified as the flaws in the specificity (or lack there of) are pointed out.

    I shouldn`t rely on it, here in the UK we have an anti terrorism act that is now used by some Local authorties to spy on residents that put their dust bins out to early.
    You in the US have the clean air act, you know where that has led.

  39. Well it looks like Steve McIntyre is going to be in trouble for causing repeated emotional distress to Mann, Wahl, etc.

    Pielke, Jr., could be in trouble for constantly correcting MunichRe which I’m sure constitutes harassment, as could Pielke, Sr., for causing emotional distress to all who swear by globally averaged temperatures, and refuse to consider land use/land cover change as important as CO2 forcing, at least regionally and locally.

    Then of course we have websites such as Gore Lied whose very existence I am sure may be construed to cause lots of emotional damage.

    On the other hand, RealClimate could be sued for causing emotional distress to all skeptics and deniers, and Joe Romm would be in trouble for harassing anyone who is not a true believer in the program (such as Hansen). And let’s not forget ExxonSecrets, whose very existence is designed to harrass.

    Ah, what a tangled web we weave … clearly Sir Walter Scott was ahead of his time!

  40. Steve Moore says:

    When next Ms Sanchez runs for re-election, her opponent will be able to sue any newspaper who endorses her more than once.

    By its very nature, a newspaper is a “communication” to “a person”.

    Sam Adams would be filing suit right now against The Oregonian and Willamette Week if this law was on the books.

  41. Ron de Haan says:

    Let’s cause some substantial emotional distress among the AGW crowd:

    1. http://heliogenic.blogspot.com/2009/05/graph-says-it-all.html

    2. http://www.seablogger.com/?p=14172

    Stop the Socialists
    politics by seablogger

    I think the carbon tax, whether it takes the from of cap and trade, or a sweeping new regulatory mandate, is essentially dead. Two forces have defeated it: blue dogs and a dim sun. You don’t need me to explain further, eh?

    3. AGW = DEAD

  42. rbateman says:

    This is what they said about the Patriot Act.
    Then we find out they were gathering info on everybody.
    How will this be used? As a dissenting opinion vise, to squash out anyone who says anything contrary to our “Rulers” agenda.
    You know there will be an exception for those in power. There always is.
    Executive and Legislative priveledge and all that.

  43. rbateman says:

    The Federalists would have been proud of this Sanchez law.

  44. There are two newly concocted crimes which are promoted by NGOs:

    -“Habeas data”:Which makes any (in this case any BLOG) “data” to be cosidered a proof.
    -“Mediate authorship”: Which makes any authority automatically guilty of “crimes against humanity”, as for example, a president or prime minister will be accountable for the crimes commited say by a soldier when fighting against terrorists (“progressives”-of course-) who attacked his/her country, blaming the authority of being the “Mediate author” of the crime.

  45. Mr Lynn says:

    Libel and harrassment are already illegal under various state codes. And there already is Federal law against interstate harrassment, which was broadened to include the Internet:

    THE US COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT OF 1996

    While the Communications Act referred only to “interstate or foreign communication (harassment) by means of telephone”, the amended version proposed in 1996 (called the Telecommunications Act) changed that text to refer instead to “interstate or foreign communication (harassment) by means of a telecommunications device.” This change was brought about directly by the rise of harassment on the rapidly growing Internet, and the subsequent lack of legislation to deal with it.

    Title V of this bill was named Obscene Or Harassing Use Of Telecommunications Facilities Under The Communications Act Of 1934. Section. 501 of this new bill named it the Communications Decency Act of 1996, and proposed to amend the Communications Act to make illegal the use of a telecommunications device (i.e. including Internet technology) that:

    makes, creates, or solicits, and initiates the transmission of, any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent, with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person

    -or-

    makes a telephone call or utilizes a telecommunications device, whether or not conversation or communication ensues, without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the called number or who receives the communications;

    -or-

    makes repeated telephone calls or repeatedly initiates communication with a telecommunications device, during which conversation or communication ensues, solely to harass any person at the called number or who receives the communication.

    These US Federal anti cyberstalking laws were passed in 1996. While other parts of the CDA failed to satisfy the US Supreme Court and were struck down as infringing on Free Speech, the anti cyberstalking sections were not challenged.

    The CDA text and associated documents can be found at The US House of Representatives Internet Law Library.

    http://www.wiredsafety.org/cyberstalking_harassment/us_federalstalkinglaw.html

    The wrinkle in Sanchez’s bill is the impossible-to-define “substantial emotional distress to a person”, an open invitation to litigation if ever there were one, and a blatant threat to the First Amendment by restricting even political speech if the object of such speech could convince a judge or jury that it caused “substantial emotional distress.”

    So if I were to repeatedly post on various blogs comments to the effect that this Rep. Sanchez is a vile woman who is nothing less than a domestic enemy of the Constitution, and she were to claim that these posts upset her, I could be sent to jail. This is not the beginning of a slippery slope toward tyranny; it is well down the slide toward the bottom.

    /Mr Lynn

  46. Roger Sowell says:

    This bill in its present form would be found unconstitutional, as it violates the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment. Among other things, it is overbroad, and likely void for vagueness.

    Specifically, it would be illegal under this bill to criticize a candidate for public office, or a holder of a public office, via the enumerated forms of communication.

    This bill is a grandstanding stunt, and will not see the light of day. If it does make it into law, it will be quickly challenged in court and overturned.

    Much ado about nothing.

  47. Move to Canada and make some sort of statement in print or online, in a group setting, on the street or over the phone about any socio-ethnic group and win a free session with a HRC (Human Rights Commission) tribunal. Where you can actually be banned from expressing your views on the offending subject ever again in your lifetime.

    This is what happens in a left of center country, if you want to see your future look North my American Friends.

  48. Mr Lynn says:

    Roger Sowell (14:23:35) :
    This bill in its present form would be found unconstitutional, as it violates the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment. Among other things, it is overbroad, and likely void for vagueness. . .

    This bill is a grandstanding stunt, and will not see the light of day. If it does make it into law, it will be quickly challenged in court and overturned.

    Much ado about nothing.

    Let us hope Roger is right. However, sentiment for ‘hate speech’ and ‘hate crime’ laws, which penalize distress to specific groups, is proliferating in supposedly democratic countries, not excluding the USA, and this kind of legislation, based on ‘emotional distress’, could easily be extended to the InternetWasn’t Mark Steyn tried in Canada for supposedly offending Moslems in magazine columns?

    “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

    /Mr Lynn

  49. ssquared says:

    Here is a valid 9 digit zip code in her district: 90703-2718.
    It is all you need to send this loon a message.
    Anyone who thinks this is limited to situations like Megan Meyer is naive.

    This is the first step by the socialist thugs in the White House and the Democrat side of Congress to stifle their critics. It has Rahm Emanuel written all over it.

  50. Ross Berteig says:

    Re: Roger Sowell (14:23:35) :

    “This bill in its present form would be found unconstitutional, as it violates the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment. Among other things, it is overbroad, and likely void for vagueness.”

    So should have been the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, but the court let that stand. I’d prefer not to take the risk, since you can bet that it would be signed by the White House if presented.

    Frankly, I’m not certain that anyone residing in DC for more than a few days is allowed to retain any common sense regarding the plain meaning of the constitution or for that matter common sense at all.

  51. Well, the law is just plain incompetent, as written. Sanchez is clearly not up to the requirements of her job. But then I could name others in Congress who are just as clueless, or more so.

    The woman who precipitated this, on the other hand, is total scum. She pretended to be a teenage boy, “Josh,” on MySpace, and ‘befriended’ a 13-year old girl who was a rival of her daughter. Drew obtained assistance in this from an employee and several others, three or more women ganging up on one 13-year old girl for revenge.

    After chatting up the victim over a period of time, Drew, as “Josh,” turned on her and sent messages saying things like “You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you.” The victim hanged herself a while later.

    Some call this a prank. I disagree. It was a hoax, yes, but no mere joke. There was nothing funny about it, though Drew apparently laughed when telling others about it.

    But the proposed law won’t bring the victim back. And I think one thing has been overlooked. If a US citizen vacations in Australia and sends an e-mail to a customer in NZ asking them to pay a debt, he’s broken this law. This law is extraterritorial. Such laws are based on ownership of the citizen by the state.

    The thing will never pass. I hope.

  52. David Segesta says:

    It seems the constitution doesn’t mean much to the Democrats. This bill violates the first amendment. They have an anti-gun bill in the house which would infringe on the second amendment, HR 45 . They also have a bill which would create a committee to determine if mandatory service can be imposed on Americans (i.e involuntary servitude). That bill is HR 1444. But don’t get me wrong. The Republicans aren’t much better. Another anti-gun bill HR 2159 was introduced by a Republican. And both parties supported the TARP bailout bill, an unconstitutional robbery of $700 billion from the treasury for the benefit of the crooked bankers who caused our current financial mess. Throw them all out and vote Libertarian.

  53. Mike Lorrey says:

    There is an old chinese parable, about a squad of militia marching to their mustering point. Their way is blocked by a bridge across a ravine that has gone out, so they are sitting by the road.

    Finally the lieutenant says to his men, “What is the penalty for being late to mustering?”

    “Death,” replied his men.

    “And what is the penalty for rebellion?”

    “Death,” replied his men, again.

    “Well men, we are going to be REALLY late for mustering.”

    So began the overthrow of an emperor.

  54. Robert Wood says:

    The website of Greenpeace causes me intense emotional distress; enough to put them out of business, I hope.

    The silly bint who came up with this didn’t have the wit that this censorship knife cuts both ways.

  55. AKD says:

    For those e-mailing Miss Sanchez, you might ask her why she referred to “so-called Free Speech” in her defence of this bill.

  56. Robert Wood says:

    DaveE (11:35:34) :

    I think the key is “severe, repeated & hostile”.

    Well, Dave, this applies to Greenpeace and Al Gore. They have repeatedly been hostile to my being, enough to cause me emotional stress.

    Remember the Greens DEMONIZE regular folk who don’t subscribe to their religion, rather like the …..

  57. Claude Harvey says:

    Just about every electronically transmitted thing I see, hear and read these days (except at this site, of course) causes me “emotional distress”, with the musings of “His Largeness, The Goracle” and the former royal sidekick, “Safari Hansen” (did you see that hat?) heading my personal list of harassers. This proposed legislation would appear to indicate that, with Rep. Sanchez at my side, I will be able to unleash the legal hounds on these miscreants. We’ll just take that pesky Constitution and shove it when the incoming shift of federal judges, who are encouraged to “rule from the heart”, side with me as they “feel” my obvious “emotional distress”.

    This will be great! What else can we change?

  58. Paul Vaughan says:

    Re: Robert Wood (15:46:36)

    Be wary of applying double-standards though …for example, let’s keep in mind the well-being of WUWT …but the proposal seems to be about attacks targeted on specific individuals, so all should be fine if cool watchdogs keep a sharp watch on the wording (and drag out deliberations indefinitely if there are issues).

    No need to lose any cool in dealing with fanatical cults – the best road to walk in dealing with them is the high one – i.e. let them be the ones freaking out & looking irrational. No need to sacrifice ground by stooping to their uncivilized level. That would only lead to a compromised position. The high-ground is the most strategic position to occupy. (The tide is turning.)

  59. cbullitt says:

    As you note Robert, this could backfire given the hostility of the left. However, I still find myself tempted to send her an email filled with invective; terms like Orwellian, totalitarian and Nazi come to mind, as do several hyphenated expletives.

  60. John Edmondson says:

    How could seeking to establish the truth and/or using rational arguments to falsify the non-scientific theories of others be construed as coercion, intimidation or harassment, capable of causing substantial emotional distress to a person?
    Logically to call someone a “denier” just because of a difference of opinion could be considered coercion, intimidation and harassment.
    However, the probability of causing substantial emotional distress is low. As a so called “denier” the pseudo-science of the AGW arguments poses no threat to cold hard facts.
    So there you have it. Let the other side resort to whatever tactics they wish to deploy, in the end they will fail. They can run from the truth , but they can’t hide the truth.

  61. Brett_McS says:

    Those quoting the “severe, repeated and hostile” proviso as if it mitigates the totalitarian nature of this bill completely miss the point. The point is: Who decides if the action meets these subjective criteria. Because it’s not really a law; it’s a means to take down political enemies using the state.

  62. CodeTech says:

    Well, everyone wants to be seen as doing “something”, and the case that brought this out clearly required “something”. Personally I think that woman should have been subjected to vigilante justice… but that’s just my opinion.

    There probably should be a law that prohibits deliberate and vindictive actions in online posting, but this isn’t it. I know many people who take this stuff pretty seriously. I don’t have a problem with the occasional expletive or even abusive post, but SOME people don’t know when to stop and get on with their own lives.

    I’m going to expose an experience that nobody here knows about: I spent most of last year with a young girl who got pregnant. She wasn’t my girlfriend, it wasn’t my kid (thanks for asking), but I took her under my wing. I was there when the adoptive parents got the baby (even her mother was MIA on that one), and it was an emotional time.

    UNfortunately, she’s not the brightest spark (obviously), and failed to consider that the father, and several ex-bfs were on her facebook, along with the adoptive parents. The father was FURIOUS that she put the kid up for adoption instead of marrying him and being with him, so he started posting with the adoptive parents. He convinced them that she had been threatening to kill the baby if she ever had the chance (not even remotely likely). As a result they were pretty much forced to get the law involved. Now she is prohibited from ever visiting, even though the adoption was originally set up as open.

    This was a deliberate and vindictive and HARMFUL act with absolutely no recourse. I can definitely understand the desire to have some tool for law enforcement to use for situations like this… but ultimately the best defense is to delete everyone you’re no longer friends with and sever ties… and don’t keep going places where everyone doesn’t like you (advice that one or two regular posters to here might consider ;)

  63. greg says:

    This is not about bullying or protecting kids; this is about shutting down free speech. Welcome to America, 3rd world dictatorship.

  64. F. Ross says:

    h.oldeboom (12:44:41) :

    Dort wo man Buecher brennt, dort brennt man auch Menschen.

    I think this would translate roughly as: “There where books are burned, there also is mankind destroyed.” Very apt analogy to the possible destruction of freedom of speech on the Internet.

    Ms. Sanchez proposed law is just the next step to eliminate free speech and individual thought.

    Anyone believe that, should this travesty become law, the ACLU will come out against it? Pardon the olde cliche, but not a chance of a snowball in hell.

  65. F. Ross says:

    Correction: Sanchez’

  66. Robert Wood says:

    I like this site for the science and observations. Unfortunately, there are times when I must be political:

    Paul Vaughan @16:26:45

    I enjoy your argument and hear what you say. Wise words to a wise man.

    Unfortunately, the Gorists have an intent, not secret, but not revealed either. That is, control of the global economy by themselves, under the excuse of “saving the planet”.

    These little “effers” should be put down.

  67. jlc says:

    Well, for me, lesson #1 has been STAY AWAY FROM FACEBOOK.

    Based on the justifying cases presented for this vile legislation, it would seem that a facebook presence is obligatory. in the estados unidos.

  68. Shawn Whelan says:

    California tax revenue down 39% in April.
    You would think the politicians would be doing something abut that instead of wasting their time restricting free speech. In Canada you better be careful what you write or you will be brought in front of a tribunal for a show trial.

    State of California
    April of 2008.
    Tax Revenue

    Compared to April 2008, General Fund revenue in April
    2009 was down $6.3 billion (-39%). The total for the three
    largest taxes was below 2008 levels by $6.3 billion
    (-40.3%). Sales taxes were $452
    million lower (-50.9%) than last April,
    and personal income taxes were
    down $5.7 billion (-43.6%). Corporate
    taxes were $142 million below (-8.6%)

    http://sco.ca.gov/Press-Releases/2009/05-09summary.pdf

  69. Mark N says:

    Check her expenses!

  70. Just Want Truth... says:

    “The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act, as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails today among human creatures.”

    -attributed to Abraham Lincoln

  71. Just Want Truth... says:

    “It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have these three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence to practice neither.”

    ~Mark Twain

  72. Buffalo Bill says:

    The Democrat “progressives” (fascist in practice) have controlled college students with political correctness codes. The organization called FIRE has worked against the fascist administrations. A sample is as follows:

    http://www.thefire.org/index.php/article/8597.html

    Under the program, students were required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and “one-on-one” meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs). The university also instructed RAs to ask intrusive personal questions during one-on-one sessions, including “When did you discover your sexual identity?” A student who responded, “That is none of your damn business,” was, according to the university’s own materials, written up—along with the student’s name and room number—as having one of the “wors[t] one-on-one” sessions.

    The program’s materials stated that the goal of the residence life education program was for students in the university’s residence halls to achieve certain “competencies” that the university decreed its students must develop in order to achieve the overall educational goal of “citizenship.” These “competencies” included: “Students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society,” “Students will recognize the benefits of dismantling systems of oppression,” and
    (note)
    “Students will be able to utilize their knowledge of sustainability to change their daily habits and consumer mentality.”

    And in the Office of Residence Life’s internal materials, the program was described using the harrowing language of ideological reeducation, including referring to the program as “treatment” and defining “learning” as “specific attitudinal or behavioral changes.”

    End of excerpt.

    Unfortunately, only a few brave students have been willing to risk their education by reporting the fascist tactics that are typically being used by the “progressives” that control America’s Universities.

  73. adoucette says:

    For all those defending the first amendment, remember that right is not absolute.

    Your speech can’t involve danger to the public peace or to the security of the state.

    You can’t stand on the street corner and advocate armed overthrow of the government.
    You can’t yell FIRE in a crowded theater.
    You can’t threaten the President
    You can’t use the right of free speech to extort or blackmail someone.
    You can’t hide behind the right of free speech to slander someone.

    Clearly there are some limits.

    Sanchez is trying to establish a new limit and apply it to the other than oral speech.

    The problem is that trying to specify what is clearly unlawful, while not infringing on what is not, is very difficult.

    Which is why the existing Title 18 – part 1 – Chapter 14 limits itself to a very limited and a very specific set of THREATS and EXTORTIIONS.

    In contrast her proposed clause:

    “harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior,”

    Is neither specific nor exclusive.

    The term “substantial emotional distress” is obviously subjective and the amount of distress is determined by the person receiving the communication, not the one uttering it.

    It makes no sense for someone to be able to be charged of a crime based on the lowest tolerance of anyone reading an internet communication.

    Likewise the second clause: “severe, repeated, and hostile behavior” is also similarly quite subjective as to what constitutes levels of severity or hostility, and repeated is simply more than once.

    While it might make legislatures feel good to pass these type of laws, they have to be much more specific to hold up to judicial scrutiny.

    Arthur

  74. J.Hansford says:

    [racist ~ charles the moderator]

  75. Paul Vaughan says:

    Robert Wood (17:13:58)
    “Unfortunately, the Gorists have an intent, not secret, but not revealed either. That is, control of the global economy by themselves, under the excuse of “saving the planet”.
    These little “effers” should be put down.”

    I get the arguments made here loud & clear – and the best way to deal with unruly folks is not always to get in the gutter & lowball with them. The tide is turning. Feel no fear. Suffer no emotion. The higher ground will be taken by objective fighters. Stay cool – and watch corrupt regimes defeat themselves. (It’s just a matter of time.)

    -
    Just Want Truth… (18:10:52)
    “The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act, as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails today among human creatures.”
    -attributed to Abraham Lincoln”

    This makes sense – and so the games go on ….

  76. Mike Bryant says:

    OT…
    Ed Miliband’s global warming law ‘could cost £20,000 ($40,000 US) per family’

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1177274/Ed-Milibands-global-warming-law-cost-20-000-family.html

    Reply: You haven’t looked at exchange rates in a while Mike, 20,000 British Pound = 30,472.0 US Dollar ~ charles the moderator

  77. Sam bailey says:

    To esteemed yet deluded Congress woman Sanchez,

    You have clearly demonstrated that a village Idiot can indeed achieve great things, even elected office.. however, it is incumbent upon me to ask you instead of focusing your attentions on a summary execution of our first ammendment rights, you might try something much more in line with those whom share your mindset,; though to do so would require time travel, or a clairvoyant, as hitler and stalin are currently unavailable.

  78. GK says:

    When communism died in 1990, the western world’s socialists realised that the teachings of Antonio Gramsci were true. He predicted the failure of communism in it`s 20th century form, and he laid out the plan for modern socialism to succeed. It would be done by the slow take over of teaching professions, the media and public institutions, and by the degradation of western christian culture. Not so much the religion part, he encouraged leftists to become priests to subvert christianity, it was more about destorying the whole christian “social” culture which is what makes our western cultures what they are (or should I say, what they were till now).
    The modern versions of Gramsci are people like Saul Alinsky and Bill Ayers – both of whom were two of the most important influences in Obama`s life.
    The goal of these people has always been to :
    1) Replace private ownership with collective ownership
    2) Replace faith in religion/eternal life with faith in nature & the vision of a here-and-now utopia
    3) Replace individual thinking with collective thinking/group speak
    4) Replace the emphasis on facts and logic with myth, imagination and subjective experience
    5) Replace a free, objective media with a controlled media, driven by the new vision of change and solidarity
    6) Replace individual expressions with politically correct sentiments using schools, entertainment, media etc.
    7) Replace privacy with government surveillance and tracking

    We’re heading there…

  79. layne Blanchard says:

    Now maybe some stalker has a blog designed to harass their victim from prison. The problem with our legislatures is their desire to create a rule for every eventuality…. yet the rules are very broad, and always have unintended consequences.

    With respect to climate, has everyone heard that California has shut off water to the central valley (A huge agricultural area) to protect a certain species of smelt? Will California melt down to show us the foolishness of environmental hysteria?

    The drought was blamed on climate change, but the lack of water may have more to do with environmental hysteria than weather.

    http://therealbarackobama.wordpress.com/2009/02/21/the-california-water-v-delta-smelt-war/

  80. Paul Penrose says:

    Whatever happened to “Sticks and stones?” Are we getting so sensitive now that we need the law to protect us from people insulting us? Where do we go from there, putting people in jail for breaking a date? I agree that children must be protected, but that is the job for their parents. It’s too bad that not all parents are as diligent in some regards as they could be, however eviscerating the first amendment is not the answer.

  81. Stealth says:

    no we shouldn’t be afraid, just to laugh at this [snip]- enforcing such nebulous categories as ‘emotional distress’ would lead to a very silly quagmire. We need to enjoy the humor of this y’all.

  82. Mike Bryant says:

    Thanks for the info, CTM.
    I thought you guys were just supposed to correct any mistakes that pop up! :)
    Mike

  83. Bill in Vigo says:

    I haven’t read all the post at this time so I may be overstating something that has been stated before. In my humble opinion this HR1966 is unconstitutional. That said it it should pass I feel that it will be challenged in court very quickly. By the way her site only lets you email if your are a resident of her district. She does provide links to find you representative and email them. I have sent my Rep an email and let him know my feelings about this proposed bill. In my opinion this is nothing more than an attempt to restrict free speach via electronic means.

    Tell your Rep to vote no.

    Bill Derryberry

  84. Claude Harvey says:

    I suggest additional language to the proposed legislation: A “grandfather clause” that exempts those of us who have already established ourselves as certified “heretics”. With carefully crafted language (we’ll use really big words that confound Rep. Sanchez). I believe I can easily establish the exempting credentials of everyone attracted to THIS particular island of electronic communication using language lifted right from leftest handbook of political correctness. That would leave us free to marshal our legal forces and blast The Goracle into a puddle of green grease without fear of dangerous recoil.

    “The man gave me migraines, Your Honor! Talk about serious distress!”

  85. DaveCF says:

    This leads to the law of unintended consequences. Canada has such a law (as does each province and territory), normally just called Section 13(1) and it has been hijacked by leftist activists to pursue anyone they dislike – normally white Christians (in fact, almost exclusively white Christians). There is currently a battle to repeal it and even the original advocates are now saying it has been misused. Check out http://ezralevant.com or, better still, buy Ezra’s newly released book ‘Shakedown’, ISBN 978-0-7710-4618-6. It portends a very grim future where freedom of speech applies only to those who enforce their own leftist views by quasi-legal means. Ezra Levant is a Jew who had the temerity to publish the Danish cartoons in his magazine and was dragged through Hell for offending a radical Imam. You don’t want or need that law!

  86. neill says:

    I understand what Sanchez is trying to do. I haven’t read the bill, so I don’t know whether that gets it or not. But in evaluating this, we need to look at her aim.

    This came about because someone had used the internet in a way that a teenage girl felt emotionally trapped, and committed suicide to escape.

    Is that worthy of doing something about? Maybe try to effect a change on an entirely new, potentially hazardous medium?

    Maybe the language of the bill has to change for it to be a worthy accomplishment.

    But, jeez, talk about throwing the baby out with the bath.

    P.S. At the same time, I’m in absolute agreement with GK (20:04:52) :

    When communism died in 1990, the western world’s socialists realised that the teachings of Antonio Gramsci were true………..

  87. Innocentious says:

    Okay look, believe it or not like with all things of this nature people are trying to do something good. In my opinion, for what it is worth, the moment you start limiting any kind of speech no matter how annoying it is you are going to start having idiots that move to every other kind of speech. We all wanted the ‘DO NOT CALL’ Law a few years ago and it worked it has pretty much silenced every telemarketer out there, all that are left are Charities and Political pollsters, So they will try to do the same thing on the internet. Impose fines, jail time, etc.
    Look when you start classifying speech then you get just that classified speech and people who don’t care administrating it.
    All I can hope is that this congress person does not get her way, I am offended on a regular basis on some of the AGW stories that I hear. To the point it causes me emotional distress ( I start cursing about idiots and how can they blindly swallow bunk ) after that distress I critically examine what is being said, try to glean any truth from it, sigh heavily, and get on with my life.

    BTW I hate telemarketers but I hate stupid laws more. I can hang up on telemarketers ( I have refused to put myself on the Do Not Call List ) and only know they are dying out because I never get called anymore. Such stupid laws.

  88. Gino says:

    The telemarketer comparison is a red herring. The sanchez law is a limit on personal expression, the do not call list is a self exclusion. One says the person cannot speak, while the other says I have a right to not listen. Big difference.

  89. Tough Enough says:

    I live in Southern California, and I’ve watched this woman for a few years now. Linda Sanchez is what some might call a “Reconquista.” The issues closest to her heart are those of illegal aliens that share her ethnicity. She would love to use this bill to silence those who criticize unlimited immigation, illegal immigration and amnesty/guest worker schemes. She’s a brown supremacist.

  90. Californian says:

    Sanchez’s proposed bill is causing me substantial emotional distress.

  91. E.M.Smith says:

    Ms. Sanchez’s bill is causing me substantial emotional distress too!

    (Where to I apply to collect my cheque?)

  92. neill says:

    (squints, after re-applying CYNIC brand contact lenses)

    reviewing my previous comment, and looking at the current composition of Congress, perhaps I was a bit too charitable. the current language will likely pass as is.

    gk:

    6) Replace individual expressions with politically correct sentiments using schools, entertainment, media etc.
    7) Replace privacy with government surveillance and tracking

    Sanchez will use that poor girl’s suicide the way Obama’s been using the financial crisis — purely in service, not to America, but to their ideology,

  93. E.M.Smith says:

    Smokey (12:40:09) :
    “DaveE: I think the key is “severe, repeated & hostile”. That will naturally get ratcheted to the point that a second occurrence is ‘repeated’”

    But the real key is the subjectiveness of the complainant. Who is to say that a blog post will “cause substantial emotional distress”? Why, the person whose fragile feelings are injured, of course.”

    Smokey, DaveE:

    I’ve read your comments 4 time now and I’m ever more distressed by them. Please send 4 cheques (2 hurdle x 2 re-reads) to me. Soon; or I’ll read your posting again… I’m feeling so fragile… maybe I’ll just remember it 2 more times…

  94. Ray says:

    “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….”

    hmmmm, let me think here… who does that? Isn’t that describs exactly what Governments and MSM do all the time? Are those guys shoting themselves in the food with introducing this sort of language?

    It has been proven clinically that there are people in mental distress due to all the crap they hear about global warming and how it is their fault??? Looks like we might have a law that will enable us to sue them to the bone marrow.

  95. Neil says:

    US citizens should fight this sort of thing from the outset, before you sleepwalk in to the INGSOC totalitarian state we have been living under in the UK since the arrival of Billy Liar Blair in 1997.

    The socialists have perfected “mission creep” , the EU being the classic example , creating a European superstate regardles of the wishes of the voters.

  96. E.M.Smith says:

    h.oldeboom (12:44:41) : So the Californian USA people can expect something. Finally, why left these old-Europeans Europe and why did they go to America? Probably USA is going to be even worser than Europe because they are giving up LIBERTY!

    Wir haben nicht die Freiheit en California. Wir sind Sklaven an den Staat.
    10% VAT (Umsatzsteuer) und 11% Einkommensteuer fur Californien.

    Ich möchte auf ein Leben frei, vielleicht in Lateinamerika?

  97. David Ball says:

    Mike Bryant and CTM, I think you both missed the fact that Mike is Canadian and was correct initially, as he was calculating from the Canadian dollar. :^] -Further to this post; “You have the right to free speech, as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it !!!” -The Clash, from the song “Know Your Rights”.

  98. Chris Schoneveld says:

    Freedom of Speech is not everywhere as sacred. The Amsterdam Appeals Court has sanctioned the prosecution of an elected parliament member for making a film critical of Islam. This was big news in Holland. The same parliamentarian was meant to address the British parliament last month but was refused to travel to the UK by the British government.

    Pat Condell has a sharp critical response to those two events (please be warned, Pat is quite blunt):


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW6PRABq4HM&feature=channel_page

  99. Steve Clark says:

    Thank you for pointing this out. The congressional e-mail system won’t let me write to anyone other than my own representative – John Spratt – the fat old guy hanging around Pelosi all the time.

    I did write him asking it Sanchez was an idiot of simply ignorant of our Constitution. Once I got started, I just couldn’t stop writing – I doubt he reads his e-mail anyway.

    I’ve been reading the Federalist Papers straight through for the first time rather than as a reference book. This in concert with our current political situation, actually a constitutional crisis, has me in a foul mood. Then, I see stuff like this and I go nuts. Why do we continue to elect idiots? We have to stop. This is all our fault.

    A friend refers to Pelosi, Reid and Obama as the “axis of stupid” and I think many more should go on that list.

    Anyway, thanks for the heads up on this so I could stay up ’till 4 AM writing to people.

    This can’t happen – it really can’t. It’s just silly.

    Sincerely

  100. Gillespie Robertson says:

    Anthony, I have been a great admirer of your work and have recommended your website to many people as source of serious and interesting scientific information and discussion which is both useful and appealing to commonsensical individuals, sceptics, or even agnostics wanting to understand the various factors influencing climate. I have also in general appreciated the way in which you show up the follies of many politicians and politically-inclined scientists in relation to the subject of the AGW theory/hypothesis. This time however I think many of the responses to the post on Ms. Sanchez show that your inclusion of it was unwise. While I agree that politicians try to write far too many laws addressing and attempting to conrol the minutiae of human behaviour and thus give the green light to the worst kind of lawyer trying to get money to compensate for supposed “emotional distress,” I think it is grotesque to equate (which many of your commentators seem to do) the sort of anger and frustration which many of us feel at the antics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hansen with the appalling mental damage inflicted on vulnerable people by internet bullies. The key point here is intent, and vicious intent at that. The law should indeed in my view punish deliberate and sustained cruelty of whatever nature. I suspect Gore and Hansen and Prince Charles for that matter have genuinely convinced themselves that they are doing good, however blind and foolish and even greedy we may think they are.

    Best wishes
    Senex

  101. E.M.Smith says:

    Katherine (12:45:51) : I agree with DaveE. “Severe, repeated, and hostile” are the key words. Those would make the communication unprotected speech, rather like hate speech or death threats.

    Katherine, with all due respect, any “hate speech” law is bunk. Thought crimes of any sort all fall to the same axe: They depend on some other party to define what offended them.

    Can a muslim call me “infidel” and it’s OK? (I am terribly offended by the notion that I am lacking in fidelity to God. Seriously.)

    Can a Jew tell me that I am not one of The Chosen People? ( I am terribly offended by the notion that God has chosen them, and not me. Not so seriously…)

    Can a Christian tell me that I am doomed to Hell because I have failed to heed Gods warning? ( They do, and it doesn’t offend me, because it’s probably true, but I could fake offense if there’s a cheque for me in it…)

    I’m sure that I can assemble a list of repeated, severe occurances of each of those. Hostile I can only guarantee for a few of them… but with a little posing on my part, I’m fairly certain I could get hostile out of each group.

    BTW, I’m also quite certain that I could get a repeated “Severe and hostile” communication via electronic means out of all three groups by professing support for various Nazi, Satanic, or certain sexual; practices. So I ask you:

    Will only some folks be allowed to be offended?
    Will only some folks be protected from offense?
    Who will decide what is offensive? What thoughts are OK?
    Who will decide what is severe?
    Is “gay marriage” a severe emotional distress? Is it hostile?
    ( I know folks to whom it most definitely is…)

    The only workable answer is for the government and the law to stay out of the issues of “hate” and “emotion”. Offenses must have real, physical manifestations, not emotional states, if they are to have any hope of a stable definition.

    Your example fails the “support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior” requirement, which implies targeted communication.

    And are not both sides of the “gay marriage” dispute issuing “targeted communications”? Are not both sides “severe” and “repeated” in their communications? Do not both sides have folks who would be described as “hostile” by the other side? How about abortion? (for both sides). How about tobacco consumption? Gun rights? ANY controversial issue for BOTH SIDES?

    At exactly what point does a strongly held true belief become a crime?

    Hmmm?

    Or does the government choose sides?

    And do those side change as the Republicans and Democrats swap power?

    As someone who is neither a Democrat nor a Republican, living in that schizoid world scares the hell out of me (to the moderator: Snip, if you must, but please retain the thought…)

    The only answer that makes sense if for the government it be neutral in the issue. For “Freedom of speech” to mean exactly that. Period.

    To quote Chomsky,: “Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”

    So the very concept of “Hate speech” is terribly broken.

    For example, I find your assertion that there can be protected vs. unprotected speech “hateful”, “hostile”, “Severe” and seriously offensive. Very very seriously.

    So please, pretty please, say it twice. That’s all I ask…

  102. E.M.Smith says:

    F. Ross (16:54:46) :
    “h.oldeboom (12:44:41) :Dort wo man Buecher brennt, dort brennt man auch Menschen.”

    I think this would translate roughly as: “There where books are burned, there also is mankind destroyed.”

    I translated it as more nearly: “Where people burn books, there will they burn mankind”

  103. E.M.Smith says:

    William (12:56:51) :How can I contact the daft woman to give her some grief? Her website only allows for email from the USA and I am in Europe.Is she the future of American freedom of speech? if so you are all doomed

    One can get a Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, etc. free account very easily and be a citizen of the cybersphere… At worst, you need AOL and to dial a U.S. phone number to get a U.S. IP address (though I’ve never had an issue using a different ISP and launching Gmail or AOL from it, as ways to look “normal” … not that I’m not normal normally ;-)

    FWIW, you can use Santa Clara, California 95050 USA as an address to tell the freemail accounts where you live. If they need a street address, either “El Camino Real” or “Pruneridge” are valid streets and any street number with 3 or 4 digits ought to work… Not that I’ve given this a lot of thought, mind you!

  104. UK Sceptic says:

    Linda Sanchez, “Ve haf vays of killing off anything ve do not agree vith…”

    The UK is already well down this appalling path, dragged there by a humourless, politically correct, fascist and extremely corrupt government. Said government is being rocked by charges emanating from the blogosphere which said government is desperately trying to silence.

    And the reason why we should not rise up and slaughter them all is…?

  105. Adam Gallon says:

    I can see what she’s trying to achieve, to get some statutory protection for people or businesses being subject to the sort of harrassment that would get a restraining order placed upon the perpitrator, should they be doing this in person, but the scope for abusing this is great. I can see lawyers and judges with a political motive queueing up to slap a few suites down.
    I note E.M.Smith (01:11:39)’s post, raising the spectre of religious and sexual-orientation issues, there’s a great area to start with!

  106. E.M.Smith says:

    Paul Vaughan (13:46:24) : Those incapable of cool restraint might be alarmed, but people conducting themselves sensibly probably have nothing reasonable to fear so long as some sensible people are keeping a close eye on the evolution of the wording.

    Paul, I’m sorry, but I must strongly disagree. This law is RIPE for abuse.

    Why do I say this? Experience in the jurisdiction.

    At a former managerial employer in California I was run through “Managers and the Law” EVERY 2 years to assure we didn’t get our asses sued off. (My boss still got sued, settled for $50,000, for nothing of merit.)

    ONE of the “offenses” we were specifically warned against was “Elevator eyes”. If you (assumed male, but not required) looked down to a woman’s shoes then back to her eyes that could cost the company thousands for sexual harassment (case law…). No joke. Didn’t matter if she had neon flashers on her shoes or was naked… Another specifically mentioned was to NEVER make any comment about hair (i.e. “I like what you’ve done with your hair” could cost the company tens of thousands… )

    Another case was that of a guy in a bar who picked up a lady and took her out on the town for the night. Even though he did not know she was an employee of the same company, and repeatedly asked if she was willing, and did not do anything without her explicit consent; she won a herassment case because “she felt pressured” even though she never said anything and he asked permission at every step of the “relationship”.

    At another company: a late 20′s “lady” had a suit against a guy she had seduced (in the same group) because (so she claimed) he had given her herpes. He had a counter suit claiming slander (I think it was) and that she gave him herpes. I, as the newly hired manager, learned to ask in future interviews “Are there any current or pending law suits in the group?”…

    She showed up at work ( week 1, before I knew about the suit and herpes) with a VERY tight top leaving her entire “midriff” exposed (business casual?) down to her low cut shorts… (This is in a “law office” type environment as a “professional”… ) I never looked below her chin and she got very irritated… (figure it out.. I’ll wait…) eventually going to my (newly hired after 2 weeks) female V.P. boss and complaining about The Evil Bad Boys… but had nothing on me because I didn’t look below her chin despite her wiggling and, er, “posturing” … ( you have no idea how hard it was to not look, her being really cute and well built, … but I’d been run through The Class with my boss at the other company every two years and watched my boss get reamed anyway…)

    End game? I got a several months severance package if I went away (no complaints from me, worked 3 weeks and got paid for 1/2 a year!) the V.P. got fired about 4 months later, and I have no idea what happened to the “couple”… but I’m sure the company paid for everything…

    (BTW, I now NEVER look below a woman’s chin and NEVER will make any behavior that could be interpreted as an advance toward anyone – male or female – as a result… so you can forget the notion of a “workplace romance”. On the job, I’m an emotional “dead fish”, like it or not. Women, if you are wondering why guys are ignoring you, well, think about it… at least in California, it’s a one way ticket to the poor house for the guy and the companies are beating everyone over the head about it…)

    So if that’s what happens when you have a sexual harassment law (that ought to have some sex and some harassment required, but in practical terms just requires somebody being grumpy) what do you think will happen when all that is required is the grumpiness ? Hmmm?

    Me? I started my own company and ran it for another decade or so. Then I left the business. I now trade stocks. I have no employees and no liability. At one time I had a corporation with 12 employees. No more. Kiss off 12 jobs and a $100,000 per month of turnover. I’m better off now than I was then. Some times I think about going back to work. With a thought crime law? No way…

    OK, now consider this: I’m not unique. California is now struggling with a $14 Billion deficit. Their answer was to raise tax rates. The result was an $8 Billion decline in revenues (tax beatings will continue until morale improves!) and an announcement that they are now projecting $40 Billion in deficits in the future….

    So how does this all tie together? Pretty simple:

    It takes one heck of a lot of work and ‘risk taking’ to go into business. You have a 50%+ monkey on your back from state and federal government taxes. Add in some liability for any employee who has any sex drive and THEN add a “grumpy tax” for anyone who feels offended? Guess what, it doesn’t cost me anything to lay on the beach in Florida and a six pack a day works out to about $4,000 a year, or less than the cost of legal and accounting fees to keep a corporation in existence … So which do you think I’m going to choose? I have no need to provide a job to anyone, and I already own a beach chair… And I like Pilsner…

  107. Alan the Brit says:

    I agree with UK Scepitc. I see he reads similar sites to me. Well done sir!

    I am not an Californian nor even an Amercan, (although having visited San Fran back in the 80′s I sometimes wish I was), but as a citizen of the province of the UK in the Peoples Democratic Republic if the EU, & therefore suffer a vast raft of legislation telling us how must live our lives, I feel I can contribute. I dare say the proposed law is very well intentioned (benefit of doubt given), but what I have found here is that function creep & abuse of the laws are used by the state provincial government, err sorry UK government. What we have seen are laws passed for one apparently legitemate purpose, yet soon find a small part of the law applied to penalise certain sections of the community. What we have also seen is money on the table for various “good” things, but small print shows they want something in return that will penalise us in the long term if we do not sway with the wind.

    So be warned, ensure the legislators tie the small print in tight so there can be no abuse or misuse of the law, should it be passed!

  108. E.M.Smith says:

    Ron de Haan (14:01:25) : and a dim sun.

    Dim sum – Hearts Delight… I like it!

    (yeah, I know “m” vs “n”…)

  109. Michael J Kubat says:

    Sad. [snip]. I caught this, too, via Wired, and scribbled a few thoughts at Cognitive Dissonance (http://cognitivedissonancefiles.blogspot.com/2009/05/megan-meier-cyberbullying-prevention.html).

  110. Tom in stress free Florida says:

    Gillespie Robertson (01:10:54) : “The key point here is intent, and vicious intent at that. The law should indeed in my view punish deliberate and sustained cruelty of whatever nature. ”

    The prolem with your key point is the question of who gets to determine what the “intent” is and what level the viciousness is. What you believe to be cruel, I may take as no big deal. I believe in free speech with the speaker suffering the consequences of that speech. I certainly don’t want anyone to tell me what I can say or cannot say. Look at the religions of the world. Many use the concept of blasphamy to control speech. I believe that is nothing more than another way to exert control over people. You may see it differently. Who is right? I believe in the old addage “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”. You may believe it is better to mandate a certain temperature for the kitchen. Do I want a cooler world, no, I like it warm and toasty. My brother, on the other hand, likes it cool. That’s why he lives in New England and I live in Florida. I believe if you don’t want people to text you bad things, stop using texting.

  111. Bill Marsh says:

    That, along with the latest insanity in LA of not allowing ‘black painted’ cars (mud Brown in okay) to fight ‘GW’ makes me heartily glad I do not like in the Peoples Republic of California, where up is down, left is right, and only right thought is permitted.

  112. Buffalo Bill says:

    The Democrat “progressives” (fascist in practice) have controlled college students with political correctness codes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_buffalo_incident
    Excerpts follow:

    The “water buffalo incident” was a controversy at the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. Student Eden Jacobowitz was charged with violating Penn’s racial harassment policy. He had shouted, “Shut up, you water buffalo,” out his window to a crowd of mostly black Delta Sigma Theta sorority sisters creating a ruckus outside his dorm. Others had shouted at the crowd, including several who shouted racial epithets, but Jacobowitz was the only one charged.

    On May 13, 1993, news anchor John Chancellor had the following commentary:

    “Eden Jacobowitz is a student at the University of Pennsylvania. His studies were interrupted by a noisy crowd of students, many black and female. He yelled out his window, “Shut up, you water buffalo.” He is now charged with racial harassment under the university’s Code of Conduct. The school offered to dismiss the charge if he would apologize, attend a racial sensitivity seminar, agree to dormitory probation, and accept a temporary mark on his record which would brand him as guilty. He was told the term “water buffalo” could be interpreted as racist because a water buffalo is a dark primitive animal that lives in Africa. That is questionable semantics, dubious zoology, and incorrect geography. Water buffalo live in Asia, not in Africa. This from the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Jacobowitz is fighting back. The rest of us, however, are still in trouble. The language police are at work on the campuses of our better schools. The word cops are marching under the banner of political correctness. The culture of victimization is hunting for quarry. American English is in danger of losing its muscle and energy. That’s what these bozos are doing to us.”

    Larry Moneta, a vice-provost of the University at the time,[1] is quoted in Kors and Silvergate book, “The Shadow University” on subject being asked on NBC if the statement was indeed racist, replied “The issue is not whether I have or not. The issue is also, you know, language in my mind is neutral. It’s a question of the context in which is language is used.” Later on, Kors’ and Silvergate report Moneta grudgingly said that at the University, “All speech is free.” [2] As of 2007, Moneta is now facing scrutiny while being sued by students at Duke University for First Amendment Rights violations during the infamous 2006 Duke University lacrosse case.

  113. Jim Papsdorf says:

    I posted this article earlier on WUWT. A lot of Michigan wine growers and eonophiles [wine lovers] are going to be very upset with the idea raised,i.e., Global Cooling means the demise of the Mich wine business. With this law on the books, will I get that special late night visit ?

    “Global cooling and Northern Latitude Wine Production

    Around some fantastic wines at a close friend’s home last night, I shared some of the theory and predictions behind David Archiblad’s “Low Sunspot activity= Global Cooling” idea.[We reside in Michigan].

    My buddy, one of the most expert individuals I know of on the topic of growing wines in Michigan as well as around the rest of the wine-growing world, indicated that if there were any significant decrease[ two weeks, three weeks ?] in our growing season, wine production would be dead.My two favorites, reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Zinfandel, would be especially vulnerable………..”

    {The rest of the article can be accessed at Archibald’s “Our current Minimum is more Maunder than Dalton.}

  114. Ron de Haan says:

    I would not have posted it again if it was not so damn important.
    It’s about a meeting in Germany where it is discussed if our democratic regimes (you read this correct) democratic regimes are suitable to push through the harsh climate regulating measures.

    Because many US organizations are involved you all have to take good notice what is going on here.

    It is a strong indicator that CO2 regulation is not about the climate but about abolut power and population control.

    “Democratic regimes are not well prepared for the level of participation that is required: Can free democratic societies cope with the effects of grave changes in the global climate, or might AUTHORITARIAN regimes possibly be better placed to enforce the necessary measures?”

    This is a link where you can download a flyer. http://www.greattransformation.eu/

  115. Roger Sowell says:

    Some appear fixated on the words “severe, repeated, and hostile.” Yet, the key phrase here is “with the intent to…”

    Proving intent is difficult. This is only one of the several failings of this draft bill. One could argue in defense that his/her conduct/speech/writings were not intended to coerce, harass, etc., but to bring a straying person back to the path of righteousness, peace, happiness, and salvation.

    If this defense is invalid, then just about every preacher/priest/rabbi on every Saturday/Sunday is in trouble, if he/she has reduced the sermon to an electronic communication means such as posting it on the internet, broadcasting on the radio or tv, or storing on tape, cassette, CD, or DVD. If the preacher spoke into a microphone and it was amplified over a public address system, he could be in trouble. When was the last time anyone heard a preacher NOT use a microphone and PA system?

    Btw, literally hundreds of Billy Grahams’ sermons are on the web, and on tape, CD, and DVD. Are we to arrest the Reverend Dr. Billy Graham? Are you serious??? Do you want to start a Holy War, right here, and right now? That man has more followers world-wide than can be counted.

    As to hate crimes, and hate speech, California (here we go again) has these gems in the Penal Code:

    “422.55. For purposes of this title, and for purposes of all other
    state law unless an explicit provision of law or the context clearly
    requires a different meaning, the following shall apply:
    (a) “Hate crime” means a criminal act committed, in whole or in
    part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived
    characteristics of the victim:
    (1) Disability.
    (2) Gender.
    (3) Nationality.
    (4) Race or ethnicity.
    (5) Religion.
    (6) Sexual orientation.
    (7) Association with a person or group with one or more of these
    actual or perceived characteristics.
    (b) “Hate crime” includes, but is not limited to, a violation of
    Section 422.6.”

    http://leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate?WAISdocID=9669116235+3+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve

    And, for 422.6, the Penal Code reads thusly:

    “422.6. (a) No person, whether or not acting under color of law,
    shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate,
    interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person in the free
    exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her
    by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or
    laws of the United States in whole or in part because of one or more
    of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim listed in
    subdivision (a) of Section 422.55.
    (b) No person, whether or not acting under color of law, shall
    knowingly deface, damage, or destroy the real or personal property of
    any other person for the purpose of intimidating or interfering with
    the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to
    the other person by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the
    Constitution or laws of the United States, in whole or in part
    because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of
    the victim listed in subdivision (a) of Section 422.55.
    (c) Any person convicted of violating subdivision (a) or (b) shall
    be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year,
    or by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by
    both the above imprisonment and fine, and the court shall order the
    defendant to perform a minimum of community service, not to exceed
    400 hours, to be performed over a period not to exceed 350 days,
    during a time other than his or her hours of employment or school
    attendance. However, no person may be convicted of violating
    subdivision (a) based upon speech alone, except upon a showing that
    the speech itself threatened violence against a specific person or
    group of persons and that the defendant had the apparent ability to
    carry out the threat.”

    http://leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate?WAISdocID=9669116235+2+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve

  116. VG says:

    OT but why is this
    http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst_anom.html
    so different from this?
    http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/data/anomnight.5.7.2009.gif
    They are 2 days apart but I don’t think this could account for the huge differenece in mediterrenean SST. Also notice spots on both Poles maybe satellite NOAA is playing up?

  117. pyromancer76 says:

    Anthony, you have greatly eased my emotional distress caused by material on your blog — you seem to have excluded the Google ads between the headline and the text. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I hope this practice continues.

    I could not comment yesterday because my response would have caused emotional distress to others. To see this blog, the Best Science Blog of 2008, accept the Google shill for “global warming” was more than I could handle.

    REPLY: Sorry to be a stressor. It’s experimental, I may or may not keep it. – Anthony

  118. VG says:

    There a problem with the snow cover one as well look at Arctic
    http://moe.met.fsu.edu/snow/
    Actually this site commonly seems to botch up the graphs and suspect AGW site anyway…

  119. Henry Galt says:

    Just saying “It has cooled off a little” to Joe Romm would fulfil both the ‘hostile’ and the ‘severe’ requirements. Of course, at his blog, there is zero chance of the ‘repeated’ part, but two out of three is a good start in litigation proceedings.

    Is it people such as he that this aims to protect?

  120. Jim Papsdorf says:

    If I say “Nuts!!!” to geo-Greenism do I get that late night police visit?

    Where do you think Friedman stands on this issue ?

    “Judging by the $75,000 speaking fee it paid to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has plenty of green to burn even in these lean times.

    Friedman spent about two hours with the group, including answering questions and autographing copies of his latest book, “Hot, Flat and Crowded” – in which he argues that a national strategy of “geo-Greenism” is needed to save the planet from global warming and to make the country more productive.”

    If I email you saying “This guy is nuts !” do I end up in jail with a $50,000 lawsuit on me when I get out ?

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/05/10/BA8517HE1E.DTL

  121. A “lack” of love is in her eyes ( not a “look”, of course ). When blankets become cold hate increases…(no heat, of course)

  122. realitycheck says:

    “…have you ever been a member of the AGW Skeptic movement, or knowingly been associated with a member of the AGW Skeptic movement?”

    McCarthyism Mk II would seem to be on its way….

    There is a steamroller quickly moving through our society, and most are blind to its presence.

  123. Mr Green Genes says:

    Let me expand on what has been posted by both UK Sceptic and Alan the Brit. Here in the the UK (home of the mother of parliaments!?!), we have something called the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. The avowed aim of this piece of legislation was so give the ‘security services’ the ability, under controlled circumstances, to put people they suspected of terrorism under surveillance so as to avoid another attack on the London Underground.

    Nothing wrong with that, you might think.

    Except that the organisations allowed to use powers under the Act, and the reasons they are allowed to use them, have actually been cast so wide and loose that they have been used to investigate such heinous crimes as putting the wrong sort of rubbish in bins or choosing to send a child to the school nearest to his or her home.

    I do not know whether or not the current US government or state legislatures are as demented as ours, but it seems that, with this piece of nonsense, they may well be. We have already been burned by intolerance here – I think it would be better if the US avoids it. Just say no, guys.

    I do enjoy visiting the Bay Area (and to cheer me up, I even saw the Raiders win last year). I keep coming back because it seems to me as a tourist that it is more relaxed than the UK. I do hope it stays that way.

  124. AKD says:

    At volohk.com you can find a good list of scenarios where this law could be invoked that proves its absurdity and unconstitutional nature. However, Sanchez has attempted to rally defense (she does not concede that any language in the bill should change) by invoking the standard rallying cry: “It’s for the children.” So taking Ms. Sanchez’s statements at face value, that this bill is about preventing teenagers from committing suicide because of communications they receive electronically, I offer the following scenario that hits closer to home:

    Sally, 18, decides to break-up with boyfried Billy, 17. Billy does not take this well and tries on multiple occasions to ask Sally to get back together with him. Wanting to maintain distance from Billy, Sally responds via e-mail, and with each e-mail her frustration increases. She becomes increasingly hostile and severe towards Billy as she sees that he does not get it that there is no chance for them to get back together. Feeling that she has no choice but to bring Billy back to reality, she relates in increasing detail with each e-mail the personal failings of Billy that make him undesirable as a boyfriend. She intends this to cause Billy severe emotional distress, as she thinks this is the only way she can make him realize she does not love him and want to be with him.

    Billy, a rejected and depressed teenager too emotionally immature to see his situation from a rational perspective, takes his own life. The police investigate the circumstances of his death and find the repeated, hostile and severe e-mails clearly intended to cause emotional distress on his computer. Sally is arrested and eventually sentenced to 2 years in state prison for her role in Billy’s death.

  125. Steve in SC says:

    It would seem that under this proposed bill, that moveon.org and a host of its clones would be outlawed. I guess it depends on who has the power.
    Alien and Sedition act anyone?

  126. Claude Harvey says:

    There is a knee-jerk reaction by many to propose a new law against any injustice they may observe. There is already a myriad of laws on the various books against libel and slander whereby anyone may seek relief in various courts of justice. What proponents of this latest proposal for criminal penalties under the federal code are missing is an appreciation of “the law of diminishing returns” whereby additional measures result in more rather than less injustice.

  127. Robinson says:

    Sorry I didn’t read all subsequent posts, so I’m guessing someone may have already pointed this out, but wouldn’t such a law violate the U.S. constitution, in terms of freedom of speech?

  128. Paul Vaughan says:

    Towards balance:
    1) Truth about context: Just Want Truth… (18:10:52) (liberty for wolves & sheep).
    2) Solid argument: adoucette (18:44:22) (“[...] they have to be much more specific to hold up to judicial scrutiny”).

  129. Frank Kotler says:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    I don’t find any reference to “fire in a crowded theater” (“AGW on a crowded planet”?). I can’t find the part that says “of course, none of these rights are absolute”, either. Maybe my copy’s defective…

    Best,
    Frank

  130. hunter says:

    Here is that pesky First Amendment getting in the way great legislative initiatives, once again.

  131. Roger Sowell says:

    Frank Kotler (12:05:13) :

    “I don’t find any reference to “fire in a crowded theater” (”AGW on a crowded planet”?). I can’t find the part that says “of course, none of these rights are absolute”, either. Maybe my copy’s defective…”

    Your copy is not defective. But, lawyers and judges have a way of making things complicated, while attempting to bring clarity. The link below has some cases and articles that explain how the First Amendment has been interpreted over the decades.

    Basically, each phrase was defined with reference to the intent of the Framers of the Constitution, then exceptions were carved out.

    As an example, ” Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…” “Congress shall make no law” is pretty clear, it’s referring to the federal House and Senate, and a bill signed into law by the President, or if he vetoes, then by the veto override procedure. “Abridging” is used in its meaning in 1790, to deprive, or to diminish in scope.

    But, what is “Freedom of Speech?” What is Speech? Is it only the spoken word, or does it include silent acts meant to express an opinion? If so, which acts? Can a law restrict the content of such speech or silent act, or merely the time, place, and manner of its delivery? Are there any exceptions that should be defined by law, for various reasons?

    And there are lots of exceptions, including speech that is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, inciting to riot, a threat to the President, a clear and present danger to the Government, interference with a war effort, or false advertising, and many others.

    Finally, to whom does this Freedom of Speech apply, and in what circumstances? Shall a prisoner have the same rights as a non-prisoner? Shall school children have the same rights while in-school as when out? What about observers in a court-room? Speakers at a public high-school graduation? Anyone in a government work-place? Can a government worker with a top-secret security clearance enjoy the same rights of Free Speech as his neighbor who is a private carpenter? What about aliens (non-citizens)?

    What is at issue with the Sanchez bill is whether a person can express him/herself in a manner described in the bill, or shall that form of expression be punishable by the state because of the harm that could result?

    see http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org

  132. Graeme Rodaughan says:

    How about training children in Cyber-Self-Defense.

    Why create a new law when you could simply empower citizens with the capability to distinguish threats from non-threats and therefore look after themselves.

  133. Frank Kotler says:

    Interesting link, Roger. Thanks!

    My guilt over my carbon footprint causes me emotional distress. I’m not sure if it rises to the level of “substantial”. Who decides? Me?

    The Sanchez bill doesn’t seem to mention “harm”. Should we prohibit behavior which “could cause harm”, or limit ourselves to “did cause harm”? If the former, how likely? Who decides? Mann or Hansen? :)

    Best,
    Frank

  134. Dave says:

    This law doesnt appear to be too bad.

    If bloggers concentrate on the issues in question, rather than the personalities, then I cannot see how they could fall foul of the law.

    Personal attacks are always unnecessary, and often counterproductive. Of course they are not so counterproductive if you have anonymity because no one knows who you are.

    The real point of the law is to stop people using the web to ‘bully’ people. We are not talking bullying the Al Gore’s of this world here, we are talking about the small people. Say an ex-spouse, subject to pernicious and vile hatred due to the twisted mind of a sorry and relentless individual.

    Of course there is latitude for such a law to be misused, but the courts are pretty good at distinguishing between wholesome intellectual debate and downright evil.

    The latter does exist, and those who dont like the law, have to say how they would counter the occasional evil actions of others on the internet.

  135. Mark Miller says:

    The bill made sense to me up until “emotional distress”. I agree that such a bill could be abused. It’s also qualified with “intent to cause”, not merely that it did cause such distress for whatever reason on the reader’s part. I think terms like “harass” have specific enough meanings that the rest of it wouldn’t cause problems for blogs.

    One plausible cause for the bill came to mind. Have any of you heard of Kathy Sierra? She was a prominent figure in IT and web marketing circles up until a couple years ago. She decided to cease those activities due to harassing, menacing, and threatening messages about her were posted on her blog (in comments) as well as other blogs. So I think the bill has some merit, though I agree that “emotional distress” is an ominous “catch all” provision that would leave the door wide open to abuse of this bill.

  136. Gary says:

    This bill is causing me emotional distress. This congress-critter is harassing me. Where do I sign up to sue? Hurry up and pass the bill! I need to sue Rep. Linda Sanchez!

  137. eric anderson says:

    I’m afraid that to tell the Congresswoman what I think and “be nice” are mutually exclusive propositions.

  138. CodeTech says:

    Graeme Rodaughan (22:35:24) :

    How about training children in Cyber-Self-Defense.

    Why create a new law when you could simply empower citizens with the capability to distinguish threats from non-threats and therefore look after themselves.

    I nominate this as one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time. We live in a culture specifically designed to keep us unable to distinguish threats from non-threats, where airliners full of people flown into buildings is somehow nothing to be too worried about and yet the un-measurable effect of a trace gas in the atmosphere is something to panic openly in the streets about.

    More examples abound… but I’m sure you get the point.

  139. Barry Kearns says:

    Jeff Alberts (13:39:10) wrote: Mental distress! Mental distress!

    Barry: Help! Help! I’m bein’ distressed! Come see the violence inherent in the system!

  140. Do you know what hysteria is?, no?, then, there you are!!

  141. What this is, is legislated political correctness. In a short time, anything that could possibly offend anybody at any time will not be allowed to happen, whether on the internet or not.

    In the future, we will all be shielded from any possibility of the least sort of mental or physical harm. How incredibly tedious the future is going to be.

    And all in the name of ‘saving the children’. We are saving them for a future of unending boredom.

  142. Pragmatic says:

    Unfortunately should this become law – the Ninth Circuit would uphold. Because what is forgotten is the inherent human ability to discern. Should we now ask government to discern for us that which may be offensive or “hostile?” And thereby discard the common sense that tells a man to shut the door when the rain comes in?

    “Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.
    Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

  143. Graeme Rodaughan says:

    CodeTech (08:38:47) :

    Graeme Rodaughan (22:35:24) :

    How about training children in Cyber-Self-Defense.

    Why create a new law when you could simply empower citizens with the capability to distinguish threats from non-threats and therefore look after themselves.

    I nominate this as one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time. We live in a culture specifically designed to keep us unable to distinguish threats from non-threats, where airliners full of people flown into buildings is somehow nothing to be too worried about and yet the un-measurable effect of a trace gas in the atmosphere is something to panic openly in the streets about.

    More examples abound… but I’m sure you get the point.

    CodeTech – Thanks, I was actually serious – but I get what you’re saying.

    Cheers G

  144. Glug says:

    Damn, there’s nothing I like better than to harass someone and cause them “emotional distress”, whatever that is, using electronic media. Nanny government has prevented me from using conventional means I won’t let them take away my last medium for concerted bullying efforts.

    It’s political correctness gone mad.

  145. Mick J says:

    This little diatribe against Environmentalists might well qualify the writer under those rules to an extended denial of freedom.
    A. A. Gill is a restaurant critic for the London Times. My attention was drawn to this article due to the title “Environmentalists are just not attractive”. Below is a portion of the statement all forming part of a restaurant critique. Bon appetite. :)

    The truth is, environmentalists are just not attractive. They’re not winning, engaging, amusing or empathetic. They are ranty, repetitive, patronising, demanding, deaf, weirdly bonkers and smelly. Environmentalists are the nutters with degrees in composting who sit next to you on the bus. But that’s not their real impediment. The real killer thing is the schadenfreude: the naked, transparent, hand-rubbing glee with which they pass on every shame, sadness and terror. No disaster is too appalling or imminent that the green movement can’t caper and keen with a messianic glee. Take George Monbiot, the Malvolio of the green movement, who, as I’ve pointed out before, would be a geography teacher if it weren’t for the amazing good fortune of imminent apocalypse. Every week, he sifts the minute details of demise, like a jolly self-congratulatory Scrooge. Most of us would rather drown with the polar bears and Bangladesh than get in a lifeboat steered by Monbiot.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/eating_out/a_a_gill/article6225761.ece

  146. Lucky Luciano says:

    Albert Coakes has a big ass and a small brain. The two wars he’s talking about never brought any democracy anywhere in the universe. World War I led to the installation of communism in USSR while World War II led to the expansion of communism. Eastern Europe, China, Vietnam, Cuba, etc. surrendered to the communist tyranny right after the end of that war. What democracy is Albert Coakes talking about?! He has a twisted mind which delivers non-sense. Poor lunatic.

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