FREE SPEECH — Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-Los Angeles) thinks vicious communications moved by electricity have gone too far and wants to imprison their purveyors for up to two years.
Here's what HR 1966 says.
(a) Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce
any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass or
cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic
means to support severe, repeated and hostile behavior, shall be fined
under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
(b) As used in this section
(1) the term communication means the electronic transmission,
between or among points specified by the user, of information of the
users choosing, without change in the form or content of the
information as sent and received; and
(2) the term electronic means means any equipment dependent on
electrical power to access an information service, including e-mail,
instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones and text messages.
Here's what Rep. Sanchez says in its defense.
Here's why those who've studied the First Amendment say it's unconstitutional.
Here's someone who gives the bill all the sober dignity it deserves.
The proposal by Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Los Angeles, would never pass
First Amendment muster, unless the U.S. Constitution was altered
without us knowing. So Sanchez, and the 14 other lawmakers who signed
on to the proposal, are grandstanding to show the public they care
about children and are opposed to cyberbullying.
Sanchezs bill goes way beyond cyberbullying and comes close to
making it a federal offense to log onto the internet or use the
telephone. The methods of communication where hostile speech is banned
include e-mail, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones and text
We cant say what we think of Sanchezs proposal. Doing so would clearly get us two years in solitary confinement.