Causing emotional distress through online postings

by Walter Olson on May 1, 2009

A bill sponsored by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) would criminalize a wide swath of controversial and impassioned speech on the internet, in everything from blogs to forums to email. Incredibly, it has fifteen sponsors. Eugene Volokh has details, and Hans Bader in the Examiner explores some of the implications.

{ 3 trackbacks }

Random Thoughts in Troubling Times | The Classic Liberal Blog
05.03.09 at 4:43 pm
May 7 roundup
05.07.09 at 8:09 am
Member of Congress defends speech-ban bill
05.07.09 at 10:43 pm

{ 11 comments }

1 Tristan Benz 05.01.09 at 2:56 am

You have GOTTA be kidding me. How about the emotional distress caused by non-representing representatives and non-reporting reporters selling our children’s future UP that proverbial creek at lightening speed?! Their trail of abuse of power and pen is so fast and furious it’s like a hail of comets raining all across the internet… and, yet, we tolerate every scrap written / spoken because THIS is what defines AMERICA. Ours is a nation built on FREE SPEECH.

How on earth does this legislation “fit” with the OATH of office that each and EVERY SENATOR and REPRESENTATIVE has taken – to protect and defend the CONSTITUTION of the United States of America? Hello? Does an Oath of office mean ANYTHING?!

The “automatic” image that has just come to mind as I type this comment is that of the group of brave Americans who took back their airplane from the terrorist hijackers on 9-11. ..

I cannot imagine any THINKING American will fail to see this legislation as anything but a violation of their representatives’ OATH of office – a direct threat (hijacking of 1st amendment!) to our Constitution.

FAR more importantly, I have to wonder what WE the people are thinking… what will WE say / do in response… I don’t care whether folks are right, left or center – I HAVE to ask, did we really elect ANY of OUR public SERVANTS in the hopes that CHANGE would mean turning WE American CITIZENS into the GOVERNED in this, a most unique country in all the world?

Shall we REALLY be reduced to a nation OF the POLITICIANS, BY the POLITICIANS and FOR the POLITICIANS?

I have absolutely turned a corner. I have pointed a finger at our politicians and media. Now, it’s time to point at our very own, individual selves.

If we fail to get involved, we become COMPLICIT – in whatever happens to our Constitution, our rights, the quality of our CHILDREN’S future, in every aspect, in the United States of America. Should the future that visits upon our children be devoid of free speech (oh, so many hard won freedoms!) and rife with debt, we shall have no one to blame but ourselves (our children will NOT be looking at the politicians WE elected – they will be looking at US, the governors of our [now] public servants).

Last note – food for thought – we do not breed TOLERANCE via bans, omissions, government controls over free speech nor even social pressure to be politically correct! All of these breed INTOLERANCE.

No – we breed TOLERANCE by practice of debate and a free exchange of ideas. As Eleanor Holmes Norton once said, “The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don’t agree with.”

Oye – the new healthcare system we’re all “investing” in will need a LOT of money set aside to pay for all the antacids and paper bags (*BREATHE*) required for this new American “diet” we’re all on… honestly, who can read violation upon violation, on a near-daily basis, eminating from OUR public servants WITHOUT incurring high doses of life-shortening emotional DISTRESS?!

2 Jim Collins 05.01.09 at 3:17 pm

While I agree with everything you say, Tristen, why do I think that if that law was in place, you just violated it? This law isn’t intended to have anything to do with the ficticious term “hate speech”. It is designed to squash any kind of dissent against what those clowns in our Government are doing.

3 teqjack 05.01.09 at 4:11 pm

I could understand one, possibly, two eedjuts coming up with this – but fifteen? That is just plain scary.

4 happymom4 05.01.09 at 6:05 pm

Scary is right. This is going no where good.

5 Doug 05.01.09 at 11:12 pm

Free Speech for me but not for thee.

6 bfs 05.02.09 at 9:56 am

I see one of the co-sponsors is named Sarbanes. Why does that not surprise me?

7 Robert 05.02.09 at 10:53 am

I have an idea that would stop bills like this.

I want Congress to pass “Robert’s Law”

Robert’s law makes it illegal for any new legislation to be named after a dead little girl.

8 William Nuesslein 05.03.09 at 6:15 am

Each year there are around 40,000 deaths from automobile accidents and 30,000 deaths from seasonal flues. Efforts are continuous to reduce these numbers. The 40,000 used to be 50,000. But the law of diminishing returns is in effect.

Internet bullying is associated with just an occasional death, and lead with maybe one. It is not a question whether the data calls for legislation, rather it is whether our legislators are incompetent. They are! Ms. Sanchez and Mr. Sarbanes are otherwise wonderful people. Mrs. Clinton admits to being poor at science and math, and she still speaks of the dangers of ground zero air and nuclear power plants. Mrs. Clinton is a lovely person and a twit.

9 Robert 05.03.09 at 10:12 am

Another interesting thing about the case that sparked this legislation: the “victim” had joined FaceBook contrary to the terms of service; a year younger than the specified minimum age.

And at no time that I can find (from reading news reports) were any charges considered against this girl’s parents for letting a girl diagnosed with depression run wild on the Internet.

10 Lora 05.07.09 at 9:06 am

I am all about the prevention of cyber bullying (the bill has 17 cosponsors as of the evening of May 6th BTW).

I am distressed, depressed, and coerced by repeated hostile behavior that is transmitted via (interstate and foreign) communications using electronic means, on a daily basis.

The thing is, my cyber bully backs up his hostile transmits with actions. Actions that take away my God given rights and liberties (never mind the Constitution and the Bill of Rights) .
My speech and thoughts are prohibited. My business is outlawed. He desires my children. My possessions are taken by force.

The bullying must stop – Magna Carter style – because that’s the only way to deal with a bully.

11 Lora 05.07.09 at 9:31 am

(Sorry to post twice. Second point didn’t fit with the first post)

I find the language of the bill extremely amusing.
It starts off by addressing all the poor children in every household that have the potential to be effected by cyber bullying. And how harmful the “words” of bullies can be. (What ever happened to “sticks and stones” being the only thing that can break your bones?)

So, the summary of the bill continues on in defense of these offended kids.

Next part’s the whammy! “Any PERSON” that communicates in what they deem offensive will be fined/jailed!

My kids can’t pay “fines”! LOL They can’t afford a pack of gum.
Is a 12 year old kid going to “jail” for two years? LOL

Clearly, this bill has NOTHING to do with what “kids” say online.

It is interesting to also acknowledge the “choking game” in this agenda.
Kids that die from hanging are quickly being pegged as victims of “bullying”.

Lex Luthor will stop at nothing.

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