Arizona Legislature Apparently Trying to Criminalize Being Annoying on the Internet

troll wishnik.jpg
pluperfecter.blogspot.com
"Trolling" on the interwebs could become illegal in Arizona.
Update 2: H.B. 2549 has been stopped.

Update: Anonymous advocates are sending Jan Brewer and legislators a "butthurt report form" in response to House Bill 2549. 

It has been brought to our attention that there's a bill cruising through the Legislature that, according to some critics, could cause people like myself and this blog's commenters to be thrown in jail for generally being jackasses on the Internet.

We understand that there's probably a healthy amount of people who wouldn't be entirely opposed to the above-mentioned situation, but critics to House Bill 2549 say this legislation could have some pretty broad effects.

According to a Senate fact sheet, HB 2549 "[p]rohibits using any electronic or digital device, instead of a telephone, with the intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend a person."

The Senate approved this one 30 to zip last week, but more critics are coming out of the woodwork to point out some problems the bill could cause.

The Media Coalition is labeling the legislation as a "bill to censor electronic speech," saying, "...H.B. 2549 would apply to the Internet as a whole, thus criminalizing all manner of writing, cartoons, and other protected material the state finds offensive or annoying."

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who runs the "Volokh Conspiracy" website, basically says being an asshole on blog comments -- which New Times generally appreciates -- could be a criminal act:

So, under the statute, posting a comment to a newspaper article -- or a blog -- saying that the article or post author is "fucking out of line" would be a crime: It's said with intent to offend, it uses an electronic or digital device, and it uses what likely will be seen as profane language (see, e.g., City of Columbia Falls v. Bennett (Mont. 1991)). Likewise if a blog poster were to post the same in response to a commenter's comment. Likewise if someone posts something in response to an e-mail on an e-mail-based discussion list, or in a chatroom, or wherever else. (Note that if "profane" is read to mean not vulgarly insulting, but instead religiously offensive, see City of Bellevue v. Lorang (Wash. 2000), then the statute would be unconstitutional as well.)

In this line of thinking, that would generally turn every comments section to a New Times post about the Hells Angels into a big bag of criminal evidence, since most of the comments are people calling each other pussies and meth-heads a few hundred times.

The Media Coalition notes several famous people who make a living doing the exact stuff mentioned in the legislation, as well as some common examples -- like sports fans talking shit to each other on the Internet, which is typically meant to annoy or offend fans of an opposing team.

The Media Coalition has sent memos to a couple of Senate committees showing a ton of examples of how possibly moronic and unconstitutional this law could be.

According to the vote history on the bill, through committees and floor votes, it hasn't seen substantial opposition anywhere.

Even Comedy Central writers have picked up on this one, writing on one of its blogs that there might be "a silver lining in this blatantly unconstitutional attempt to ban trolling."

"Though Arizona is doing its best to criminalize birth control and immigration, among other facets of the modern world, it still hasn't banned electricity," the post says. "In fact, Arizona legislators use 'digital device[s]' to draft legislation that is often plainly intended to annoy or offend anyone with a conscience.

"When Arizona legislators outlaw trolling, only outlaws will be Arizona legislators."

Even the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Vladimir Putin apologists are getting testy about Arizona's proposed legislation.

You can check out the Senate-engrossed version of the bill by clicking here.

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7 comments
LD19 Resident
LD19 Resident

And here we go again with more unconstitutional bullshit...

Arizona has become a complete police state. Is this what I hired and pay the numbskulls at the state Capitol for? Unconstitutional bullshit? This bill is as bad as the birther bill requiring presidential candidates to show their penises to get on the ballot.

I can't wait to see this disaster get struck down in court. Which it will, and the idiots know it.

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

I hear you. Know any good lawyers? I have a feeling that I would be in line to be busted for being opposed to AZ's power structure. Just like the fascist republicans to try and take away our rights to dissent, freedom of speech and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Nicholsdaves
Nicholsdaves

Our Rights:

The Government has Hundreds of Disguised Drone Aircraft's, and Helicopters with High Tech. Thermal Viewing, and Laser Listening on them that can see, and hear you inside your Homes, just like the Drone that was used to shoot a Somali Pirate right through the roof of a life boat.
These Drones are Disguised as phony Airliners, and little Private Aircraft's.

When Arpaio says he got a tip, he is lying , the Bastard can see, and hear anything he wants, inside our Homes.  Along with about seventeen Federal Agencies.

The U.S. Constitution has been Trashed!

It is in a "Homeland Security" Bathroom!

This is not a Joke, and it is surfacing now, this is why Congress just approve 30,000 Spying Drones.

They are trying to cover their own Asses, because they have already been flying over our American Homes for many years.

See my you tube post:  "Unreported Near-miss over Arizona".

These are two Spy Drones, a phony Piper Navajo, and a phony Southwest Airliner.

This is our out of Control Spying Government against "We the People", and our very Constitution.

America currently is a "Police State".

Our Founding Fathers would have lined up every Peeping Tom Pervert in these Out of Control Spying Programs in front of a Firing Squad.

These Cowards are very lucky our Founding Fathers are not around to Protect "Freedom"!

The Chemtrails are also Real, they spread out into phony cloud cover, in an attempt to lower the surface temperature of Earth.  Also Sprayed by Drone Aircraft's, except in China where it is shot up with Cannons, the People know of it, wear dust masks outdoors, and have a much lower Cancer, and Disease rate than "We the un-knowing People"

Lockheed Martin had a Commercial showing Satellite's, then Cloud cover over the Earth, and called it "Climate Control"..

Would "Honesty" Kill the U.S. Government?

To: Liberty.

We are Losing it Fast, and it dosen't Protect itself.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

 Better watch it LD19, Arpaio's cold dead posse will get you for talking like that.

You shouldn't use language which might offend the BRAIN-DEAD FUCKING MORONS RUNNING THIS STATE AND THE BRAIN-DEAD FUCKING MORONS WHO ELECT THEM.

SO.....Be nice.

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

BTW fuck those brain dead Fascist MORONS. That is right Tea Baggers I mean you jackasses.

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