Update: The below is mostly nullified as the bill was sent back to the House with amendments, but died anyway. Thank goodness. Of course, all the other non-trolling-related nonsense mentioned below still stands!
Well, if you happen to troll someone in Arizona, anyway.
Arizona House Bill 2549 passed both legislative houses last Thursday and is now awaiting approval from Arizona’s governor Brewer. The statute states that,
“It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use a ANY ELECTRONIC OR DIGITAL DEVICE and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.”
If the electronic devices and means are employed to stalk a victim, the penalty bumps up to a class 3 felony.”
Let’s never mind for a moment that there are existing laws against stalking, bullying and threats, and that there’s really no need to duplicate an existing law just to add “on the internet”, as though the internet was something other than a substratum of society itself. Let’s pretend for a moment that the internet is somehow a different thing. The wording of this law is GROSSLY overbroad, to the point where it makes it illegal to say anything that might offend anyone. As atheists on an internet full of religious folks who think our very existence is offensive, this should rightly give you the heebie-jeebies. Especially since the law states that the offense need only happen on Arizona soil. Could I, for instance, technically be extradited to Arizona to face trial for pissing off a religious nutter by saying Jesus probably never existed?
I mentioned yesterday that someone using slurs that expose bigotry are not censored from doing so, but we’re free to judge them for their choices. We can consciousness-raise, or we can walk away if it’s not a fight we can necessarily have right then, But neither action censors that person from doing this. Judging someone as being an asshole for acting like an asshole does not actually contribute a “chilling effect” to free speech — putting them in jail for being an asshole, on the other hand, does.
Man, what is it with Arizona lately? Stephanie just broke the news that history teachers are going to be forced to whitewash history, to the extent of banning and confiscating ethnic studies textbooks that might show that The White Man and their Manifest Destiny aren’t exactly historically the “good guys”. Never mind all the demonstrably evil things the White Man are doing to their slightly more pigmented bretheren in their very state.