Four New York State Senators, Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Carlucci and David Valesky (all Democrats btw…surprise, surprise), have all signed off on a proposal to turn your free speech right, a right that is inherent to all people by virtue of their being people, into a right that can be restricted.
Proponents of a more refined First Amendment argue that this freedom should be treated not as a right but as a privilege — a special entitlement granted by the state on a conditional basis that can be revoked if it is ever abused or maltreated.
That’s right. They wish to turn this right into a privilege, like a drivers license, that can be taken away if you’re a bad boy.
What is their reasoning for doing this? It’s because of an act that has been going on since pretty much the dawn of time, bullying:
At least half of all Americans have been bullied at one point in their lives. Whether it was teasing on the playground, taunting in the school yard, or tackling in the hallways, bullying has been part of “growing up” for generations. Not often did parents, educators, or legislators think of intervening; but times have changed. And if ever you have heard that “bullying is nothing but a rite of passage to adulthood,” think again.
With the rapid development of information and communication technologies, a new form of harassment has emerged. Cell phones and social networking sites such as Facebook may have enabled people to become more closely connected and interwoven, but they have also amplified standard adolescent cruelty to a level unprecedented. From “flaming” to “happy slapping,” thousands of teenagers across the nation have experienced “cyberbullying” in one way or another – and the numbers are only rising.
In addition to causing substantial psychological harm and emotional distress, cyberbullying has been blamed for nearly a dozen teen suicides.
…Cyberbullying is a serious threat to society, and this recent string of “bullycides” only reinforces the need for action.
Such a “serious threat” they want to take away a right.
First they propose to make it a crime for a person to “intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, engage in a course of conduct using electronic communication directed at a child under the age of twenty-one years” when the person “knows or reasonably know that such conduct … causes material harm to the mental or emotional health … of such child.” They also propose that a single electronic communication could be considered a “course of action” if the message is sent to multiple people, the “victim” not being one of them.
(1) A girl finds that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with her best friend. She e-mails several other friends a message condemning the best friend, who is then humiliated because all her friends know what she’s done. That, under the bill, would likely be a “course of conduct” “directed” at the former best friend (even though the best friend isn’t even a recipient), and the sender probably reasonably should have known (I assume that’s what the proposals means by “reasonably know”) that this could “cause material harm to the … emotional health” of the former best friend. We can’t be sure, of course, since who knows what “material harm” to “emotional health” really requires — but it’s certainly possible that a prosecutor (maybe a friend of the former best friend’s family?) will conclude that humiliation in front of one’s friends qualifies. Now the e-mailer would face a trial at which the jury decided whether she had a “legitimate purpose” for the communication; if the jury says no, the e-mailer gets convicted.
(2) A minister e-mails a gay child’s relatives who are his parishioners, saying that the child is a sinner and faces the risk of damnation if he continues sinning; the child foreseeably learns of the message. That too is a “course of conduct” “directed” at the child, and there too a prosecutor could argue that the minister reasonably should have known that this would “cause material harm to the … emotional health” of the child. Again, the minister gets convicted unless the jury concludes that his purpose was “legitimate.”
(3) A newspaper columnist whose column is published on the newspaper’s Web site — or a blogger — is incensed at what he sees as the misconduct of some high school or college student (maybe some petty crime committed by a star football player, which the community hasn’t yet noticed). He publishes a column condemning the student, or for that matter condemning the school for hushing up the crime. That too is a “course of conduct” “directed” at the child, and there too a prosecutor could argue that the columnist reasonably should have known that the result humiliation would “cause material harm to the … emotional health” of the child. Again, the columnist or blogger gets convicted unless the jury concludes that his purpose was “legitimate.”
And then if someone commits suicide over said communication it will now be deemed a new crime called “bullycide”
defined as (a) engaging in the speech prohibited by the first part of the proposal when (b) such speech intentionally or recklessly (c) causes the victim to commit suicide.
Which, as Eugene notes, will never apply.
…because it would only cover situations where the defendant had the conscious objective of causing the victim to commit suicide, or was “aware of and consciously disregard[ed] a substantial and unjustifiable risk” that the victim would commit suicide. While bullies often have the intention of causing emotional distress, and are often aware of a substantial risk that the victim will be seriously distressed, they very rarely intend to cause the victim to commit suicide, and they are very rarely aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk of this happening
This is nothing more then the continuing slippery slope to a totalitarian “utopia” that the liberals and progressives dream about.
You deal with bullying as everyone else has. Good parenting which instills morals into a child. Maybe that kid will recognize taking naked pictures of themselves isn’t that great of an idea. How about schools that will deal with the bully with punishment. For victims of bullying, deal with it as everyone else has throughout the ages. Ignore the stupidity.
Life isn’t fair. Not everyone will like you. Get a backbone and ignore it. If you’re assaulted then fight back and get the law involved.
But for anyone to even propose taking a RIGHT away, and making it a privilege, over this stuff is complete and utter insanity.