We actually discussed this proposal when it first arose in California a while back, but much of the general consensus seemed to be that it wouldn’t actually happen so there was no sense spinning our wheels over it. This issue at hand was a bill which would criminalize the use of the “wrong pronoun” when speaking with transgender persons. It was only supposed to apply to health care workers in nursing homes and other specific care facilities, but opponents worried that it could readily be expanded to every aspect of life. As I said… not gonna happen, right?
Well, never underestimate the crazy factor in California because it’s been signed into law. And violators could be looking at a steep fine or even a year in the county lockup. (Fox News)
California health care workers who “willfully and repeatedly” decline to use a senior transgender patient’s “preferred name or pronouns” could face punishments ranging from a fine to jail time under a newly signed law.
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the legislation last week. The sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener, has argued adamantly that nobody is going to be criminally prosecuted for using the wrong pronoun.
“It’s just more scare tactics by people who oppose all LGBT civil rights and protections,” he said in a statement last month.
But the language seemingly allows for the possibility, however remote.
The response from the bill’s sponsor is especially telling. When someone dared to point out that his legislation sounds like something straight out of Animal Farm, he responded by insisting that nobody was going to be prosecuted. I see. So you went to the trouble of drawing up a bill, pushing it through the legislature and convincing the Governor to sign it, but you’re not to have it enforced? Because that’s sure what it sounds like you’re saying (which may be even more Loony Tunes than the original bill itself). And it doesn’t matter whether someone is locked up or “only” has to pay a fine equal to two week’s take home pay for the median American worker. The point is, you have criminalized speech.
This is yet another case where we desperately need someone to violate this law and be charged just so it can make its way through the appeals process. Making the claim that this is somehow constitutional should be a massive challenge. Then again, these days I’m less and less confident about wishing for such things. You can find a judge to rule your way on most any SJW concept in the world if you shop around enough.
Even if we are to assume that addressing someone using a pronoun which refers to their actual gender (rather than their personal preference) is somehow “rude,” we still don’t throw people in jail for rudeness or unpopular opinions. Or at least we didn’t used to when the First Amendment meant something. But as we’ve seen in too many of California’s college campuses, the First Amendment is now not only old fashioned and out of style, but actually met with hostility. Apparently that trend has worked its way up from the universities to the state legislature and the Governor’s mansion as well.