Some valuable work has appeared in the blogosphere concerning the planned next installment of repressive legislation, HR1966 the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act. This horror
Amends the federal criminal code to impose criminal penalties on anyone who transmits in interstate or foreign commerce a communication intended to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to another person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior.
The blog Conservative Analysis has a penetrating discussion pointing out that the bill is so loosely written that it could, as law, be very easily extended far beyond its already sweeping range. Dakota Voice carries a column by Bob Ellis which discusses how radically HR 1966 subverts traditional American freedoms, and supplies some examples of how draconian the application of similar legislation has been both in other English-speaking countries, and in some US States which have front-run Federal law with their own legislation.
It is important to remember this is a separate bill from S.909, the ”Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act”. Some commentaries confuse the two. HR 1966 has so far made little progress, whereas S.909 has cleared the House and is very close to getting through the Senate.
I remarked the other day that supporters of the ”Hate Crimes Prevention Act” want
to be able to use state power to harm the holders of particular opinions, if given the opportunity because they commit a crime…In other words, raping a heterosexual woman would not be punished as severely as raping a lesbian, because there is a public policy interest in utilizing the latter situation to attack those hostile to homosexuals…there is a group which…sees…a chance to surreptitiously position the Federal power to opportunistically attack and differentially punish the holders of certain opinions.
Confirmation of this analysis appears in the ”group blog” of The American Prospect magazine, the vehicle of a certain segment of the Establishment ethnic left. In THE BAD ARGUMENT AGAINST HATE CRIME LAWS July 9 2009 Scott Lemieux is trying to argue that gradations built into the various types of murder charges (in fact, endeavoring to ensure some clemency for this uniquely serious and once usually lethally-punished crime) justifies Judicial consideration of motivation generally. Putting aside the point that the Hate crime legislation is intended to increase punishment for certain - and only certain - political motivations not reduce it for emotional circumstances, the comments of the two thread participants are revealing:
”elle loco” :
The very nature of a crime lies in its intentionality…And racially violent intent is simply a subset thereof that I think the government of a pluralistic society with a proliferation of vulnerable, stigmatized minority members of riotously various kinds very much has an interest in discerning, and punishing…
Justice is supposed to be blind about individual circumstances, but it shouldn't be blind about the general meaning of acts in the concrete circumstances the country finds itself in a particular historical era. The law is a legitimate way in which a society can gradually reform itself, and our society has a huge legitimate interest in combating sexism and especially racism.
The objective of these Bills is to criminalize the holders of certain opinions — and only certain opinions. S909 uses the pretext of acts which are already felonies, but no one knows how far crazed judges might take this, similar State, or future laws.
Life imprisonment for speeding while Republican?