New Arizona Law Makes Pretty Much Everything People Do On The Internet Illegal

posted at 3:25 pm on April 3, 2012 by John Hawkins

Get your comments in while you can because half of them will probably be illegal in Arizona if Jan Brewer signs this bill.

Arizona House Bill 2549, which is now on Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk for signature, was created to counter bullying and stalking. The law would make it a crime to use any electronic or digital device to communicate using “obscene, lewd or profane language” or to suggest a lewd or lascivious act, if done with the intent to “terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend.”

…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,” Media Coalition says on its website — at least for now, until what it says is found to be offensive or annoying by those in Arizona.

This is what happens when a group of politicians who know virtually nothing about the Internet, yet feel entitled to insert themselves into every facet of American life, swing into action. Not only is the bill a crystal clear violation of your First Amendment right to free speech, every net-savvy 14 year old in America can easily identify problems with this bill. How do you criminalize profane language or legally define what would be “offensive or annoying?” If a liberal criticizes this post in the comments section, can it be called “bullying” in Arizona and can he be thrown in jail? What if he rips me and I curse him out? Do we both go to the pokey? How about posting Muhammad cartoons? Free speech or bullying? Anti-Christian art? Calling Obama an idiot? Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke? Media Matters’ attempt to bully advertisers into dropping Limbaugh’s show? Even if this weren’t a First Amendment issue, only someone whose agenda is outright censorship would want the court system getting involved in those cases.

Libel and threats are already illegal on the Internet; so with that in mind, why don’t we let the people who own each website set their own standard and ban anyone who won’t abide by the rules without the government blundering in and creating a whole new set of problems?

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