Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Government United States News Your Rights Online

Bill Would Declare Your Blog a Weapon 780

Posted by kdawson
from the can't-say-that-it's-too-severe dept.
Mike writes "Law prof Eugene Volokh blogs about a US House of Representatives bill proposed by Rep. Linda T. Sanchez and 14 others that could make it a federal felony to use your blog, social media like MySpace and Facebook, or any other Web media 'to cause substantial emotional distress through "severe, repeated, and hostile" speech.' Rep. Sanchez and colleagues want to make it easier to prosecute any objectionable speech through a breathtakingly broad bill that would criminalize a wide range of speech protected by the First Amendment. The bill is called The Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, and if passed into law (and if it survives constitutional challenge) it looks almost certain to be misused."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bill Would Declare Your Blog a Weapon

Comments Filter:
  • Bill Would Declare Your Blog a Weapon

    Sweet, the right to a blog would be protected by both the first and second amendments!

    • All I want to know is who the hell is this Bill, and why does he hate my blog so much?

      No, I couldn't be bothered to read more than the headline. Thanks for asking.

      • by stewbacca (1033764) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:36PM (#27834893)
        You should have read more than the headline because frankly, the headline sucks. This bill strives to make "severe, repeated, and hostile" speech used in cyberbullying a criminal offense. Since MY blog doesn't have any of that stuff, this bill would not be able to declare my blog a weapon. By no means am I supporting this bill, but also by no means do I consider this alarmist headline to have any validity.
        • by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:54PM (#27835297)
          The hell you say. I consider any word with "bacca" in it to be offensive, hostile, and ugly. I also don't like the name "Sue". If I, or anyone like me, get to be a judge, you're toast.

          It doesn't matter what the content of your blog is, someone will be offended by it.

          Censorship anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:38PM (#27836161)

              I will say now and I have always said it, this is an adult's world. I am tired of our elected officials, and these parent groups trying to turn the real world into some giant fucking playpen. I love how politicians upon election catch a tick that forces them to compulsively think of the children and try to legislate away our rights so that we can protect snot nosed little assholes. I'm sorry, your kid may be cute to you, your kid may be your pride and joy but they are also becoming an obstacle to the ideals of this country. Look at what is being done all over the United States to shelter kids from the air everyone else breathes. Phys Ed is started to take on a "no loser" policy where everyone must engage in an activity where there are no losers and everyone is a winner because of some need not to make a child feel bad. Do people honestly think that is in the child's best interest. Look at parent groups like the PTC trying to take anything and everything that aren't mindless programming off the air because a kid might see it. Now we have this cyberbulling bullshit because some kid(s) with emotional problems offed themselves.

              Every generation of adults look at the world around them and realize that it is the same shitty world their parents inherited (just with newer technology) and thinks that if they shelter their children, they will grow up to create a perfect world. Doesn't seem to work like that. You keep a kid away from the feelings of losing, sadness, stress, and fear and when those feelings finally hit you have just created a generation of mal-adjusted assholes. Being a child is not some magic state that becomes undone on somebody's 18th birthday. A kid is just an adult in training and we (society AND parents) should keep that in mind. Having said that, fuck your children, they are your problem. I won't go out of my way to harm a child but I am also not going to curtail my rights and liberties because some kid might cry.

            • by coolsnowmen (695297) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @04:09PM (#27836711)

              Intrigued, I went and read that law.

              It actually says that it is criminal to lie about the sandwich in an effort to disrupt the trade of said sandwich.

              You can insult it, if it is true.
              http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/olls/sl1994/sl_176.htm [state.co.us]

              It is unlawful for any person...knowingly to make any materially false statement, for the purpose of maintaining prices or establishing higher prices for the same, or for the purpose of limiting or diminishing the quantity thereof available for market, or for the purpose of procuring, or aiding in procuring, or establishing, or maintaining a monopoly in such articles or products, or for the purpose of in any manner restraining trade, any fruits, vegetables, grain, meats, or other articles or products ordinarily grown, raised, produced, or used in any manner or to any extent as food for human beings or for domestic animals.

              I think this might make a food critic's job harder, but that is ok because their job is too damn easy anyways.

        • by poetmatt (793785) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:59PM (#27835401) Journal

          Umm, what if someone decides that your blog is "severe" enough. Severe is a subjective word with no definition, which is exactly the problem with this. Severe is akin to "I don't like you, thus I find your content objectionable" and suddenly you committed a felony.

          Slashdot headlines can be a bit over the top, but I wouldn't assume that any blog is magically not objectionable even if there are no swear words or hostile phrases.

        • by khellendros1984 (792761) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:02PM (#27835437) Journal
          Why wouldn't this be covered under laws for harassment or libel or something? Why do we need a special law because it's suddenly on the internet?
          • by initdeep (1073290) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:14PM (#27835641)

            because congress needs to repeatedly validate their existence by passing new laws instead of merely modifying existing ones or writing ones that are good enough to be properly enforced.

            Kinda like how we need repeateded attempts at new gun control laws so that only those attempting to follow the law are confused.

            The criminals don't care, they've already proven that by being criminals.

            I VOTE WE NAME THIS THE "DIRTY SANCHEZ" BILL!!!!!!

          • by mea37 (1201159) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:28PM (#27835941)

            To be clear, I've not formed an opinion one way or the other as to the merits of this bill. I'm inclined to think it's more bad than good; an emotionally-driven response to a specific case that probably casts to wide a net to make prosecuting specific actions "easier". BUT, your question was why defamation laws wouldn't arleady apply. Well...

            It would be libel rather than slander. But judging from the reference to the Maier case, it seems this law is meant to address cases where libel can't be applied. (Prosecutors in that case struggled to find an applicable law, and eventually decided to abuse an old anti-hacking law. They got mixed results and IMO did considerable harm while failing to address the core issue. But that's another discussion...)

            An example of the difference: I can pretty much make a libel suit impossible by clearly framing every statement I make as my opinion, rather than as fact. As far as I can tell, this bill doesn't appear to care whether the speech was presented as fact or opinion.

            Libel is about the harm done to the reputation of the speech's subject (indirect harm due to the effect of the speech on third parties). This bill is about the harm done to the emotional state of the speech's subject (direct harm; the effect of the speech on the subject).

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by AK Marc (707885)
              Prosecutors in that case struggled to find an applicable law, and eventually decided to abuse an old anti-hacking law.

              I don't see why they didn't just use a murder/manslaughter law. A person acted with the intent of causing harm to another, and in the commission of that harm, a death resulted. And numerous laws on child abuse could be applied. An adult acted to deliberately harm a minor, and in the course of that harm, a death resulted.

              Libel is about the harm done to the reputation of the speech's su
        • You should have read more than the headline because frankly, the headline sucks. This bill strives to make "severe, repeated, and hostile" speech used in cyberbullying a criminal offense. Since MY blog doesn't have any of that stuff, this bill would not be able to declare my blog a weapon. By no means am I supporting this bill, but also by no means do I consider this alarmist headline to have any validity.

          Does someone really have to trot out the tired old "At first they came for..." list for the risks to be evident?

        • by causality (777677) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:43PM (#27836259)

          You should have read more than the headline because frankly, the headline sucks. This bill strives to make "severe, repeated, and hostile" speech used in cyberbullying a criminal offense. Since MY blog doesn't have any of that stuff, this bill would not be able to declare my blog a weapon. By no means am I supporting this bill, but also by no means do I consider this alarmist headline to have any validity.

          The summary had it right. The emphasis is mine:

          The bill is called The Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, and if passed into law (and if it survives constitutional challenge) it looks almost certain to be misused."

          When are you and the population in general going to learn that that's the whole point? Almost all politicians are lawyers; it's not like they don't understand the implications of a law and can't foresee its abuses. So, why would someone be perfectly capable of knowing that this will be abused and support it anyway? Because that's exactly what they want. What we call "abuse" they might call "consolidation of power." It doesn't even require some smoky-back-room conspiracy, all it requires is the understanding that people who love power want more of it and are willing to take measures in order to obtain it. What did you expect, exactly? Do you suppose that the Hitlers of the world obtain power by going out in public and delivering speeches which say "I want to rule all of you under an evil totalitarian police state that will cause much misery and suffering, so vote for me!" No, they don't. They have to be subtle and they have to have plausible deniability at each step.

          Really, the level of naivete and downright stupidity on the part of the ruled (not the governed) regarding these basic things is pathetic and shameful. Even public education and all of the indoctrination and the snuffing out of natural intuitive brightness that goes along with it does not adequately explain how badly, how desperately, many of you want to believe that these hollow and soul-less mockeries of human beings (that is, our rulers) somehow have our best interests at heart. It is self-destructive and completely without excuse. Does that sound harsh? Is this Flamebait because you don't like to hear it? Consider that the widespread stupidity of the general public is materially damaging my life and the life of anyone else who does not wish to live in a totalitarian police state. Then tell me whether my response is so harsh or whether it's incredibly civil. Then talk to me about what you don't like to hear.

      • by Lobster Quadrille (965591) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:55PM (#27835309)

        Fortunately, I do all my cyberbullying from a sockpuppet blog.

    • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:59PM (#27834175) Homepage Journal

      It only protects you while its in place. They can remove those 2 amendments.

      That is what they are trying to do in effect with this.

      • by plague3106 (71849) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:00PM (#27834215)

        No, they're not trying to remove the First Amendment. It's still there, and if this bill conflicts with the First Amendment (and I can't see how any reasonable person could say otherwise), its clear legally that the bill would be tossed out as unconstitutional.

        • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:42PM (#27835035)
          If 'any reasonable person' would find it unconstitutional, this legislation should have never been proposed in the first place. These people are supposed to have taken an oath to protect the Constitution, not deliberately undermine it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      It's a good start, but lets try to get ALL the amendments!

      Next up: the third amendment. You know, because calling a blog a weapon isn't much more logical than saying being forced not to blog is the same as being forced to quarter the armed forces. The fourth amendment, search and seizure shouldn't be as much of a leap. Getting it to qualify under the 5th is going to be the first real challenge.

      I think we should stop at the 12th though. Don't really see how dates of presidential elections can be applied

    • Sweet, the right to a blog would be protected by both the first and second amendments!

      He was not only a Founding Father and signer of The Declaration of Indepence and the Constitution . . . he was the first US American blogger. He not only wrote wacky and insightful stuff . . . he printed it himself as well!

      If he were alive today, he would be writing a blog . . . and working at CERN . . . functioning as an ambassador . . . and doing Buckaroo Banzai stuff on the side.

    • That is, unless you call someone names until you make them cry.

      'to cause substantial emotional distress through "severe, repeated, and hostile" speech.

      This law will further criminalize every teenager in America.

      • by hoggoth (414195) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:55PM (#27835317) Journal

        > This law will further criminalize every teenager in America.

        A: "What were you two convicted of?"
        G1: "Well... I took a nude picture of myself and sent it to my boyfriend."
        A: "And how about you?"
        G2: "I kept telling her she was an idiot for taking a nude picture of herself. I made her cry."

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Locke2005 (849178)
        And furthermore, it makes wussies and nerds a protected class! W00t!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:48PM (#27833939)

    I'm pretty sure this law would shut down Encyclopedia Dramatica, and most of 4chan in a heartbeat.

    That said, nothing of value was lost.

  • Classic ploy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shellster_dude (1261444) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:48PM (#27833951)
    I love how the bill starts with the classic, "for the children" clauses to rationalize the trampling of the bill of rights.
  • Not too worried (Score:4, Insightful)

    by captaindomon (870655) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:49PM (#27833979)
    This is just a clarification of "harassment" as it already exists. It's not an attempt to shut down blogs. If someone is obviously and intentionally harassing someone else, I have no problem with them having legal recourse.
    • Re:Not too worried (Score:5, Interesting)

      by HaeMaker (221642) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:53PM (#27834051) Homepage

      Until Apple find your criticism of the iPhone hostile.

    • Re:Not too worried (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:00PM (#27834213) Homepage Journal

      its not an attempt to shut down a blog i agree, its a direct attack on ones ability to speak in a public forum unless its 'approved' by the government.

      If you think its just an 'innocent clarification' you are sadly mistaken and naive.

    • Re:Not too worried (Score:4, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:01PM (#27834227) Homepage

      On my website I directly attack those in the public eye--especially local politicians--using my standard colorful language choice, I link to a video of an interview where I appeared on a local public access TV show and was accused of being too harsh in my tone and language when I directly attack these people for wasting millions of taxpayer dollars [lazylightning.org].

      Being that this proposed law mentions nothing of the right of the people to directly attack public officials (protected speech, not harassment regardless of how many times I choose to talk about their poor choices at my expense) means that I could be held liable for this and imprisoned. How cute.

      You specifically mention that this type of behavior towards the general public (not public officials) is already defined by preexisting harassment law. IOW, there is absolutely no need for this bill to be presented, discussed or passed. Why must politicians create unnecessary laws? Hey you fucking douchebags, stop wasting your time and our tax dollars formulating and discussing unnecessary legislation just so you can look better in the public eye. Assholes.

      Yes, I purposefully used the language I did to make a point--I would be arrested and imprisoned under that proposed legislation for posting what I just did. I hope I made my point.

    • Re:Not too worried (Score:5, Interesting)

      by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:05PM (#27834303) Homepage

      If someone is obviously and intentionally harassing someone else, I have no problem with them having legal recourse.

      Oh really? Define "obviously and intentionally harassing" in a legalistic manner that is so clear cut that it cannot be abused, misused, or given an extremely broad interpretation? If I post a scathing blog indicting the Ku Klux Klan and a Klan member finds it harassing, can my blog be shut down? Last year, the Canadian government prosecuted someone for "hate speech" because they were critical of Islam, and some Muslims found it offensive. Do you really want to start down this road?

      Folks like you scare me. You think just because *you* can easily define things like "harassment" that everybody else conforms to your definition of the word. You don't think beyond your own idea of the concept, and you're willing to trade First Amendment protections because of it. Frightening. Truly frightening.

  • Only way to respond (Score:3, Informative)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:50PM (#27833983)
    Let me be the first to say "Fuck you, Linda Sanchez! Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!" There - does that meet your definition of severe, repeated, and hostile speech, you dumb bitch!
  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:50PM (#27833997) Journal

    Write your congresscritters. If you fail to do so, you're complicit in whatever happens.

    That said, it's a stupid bill.

  • Bang! (Score:5, Funny)

    by actionbastard (1206160) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:51PM (#27833999)
    Oh, sorry. I didn't know it was loaded.
  • by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:52PM (#27834021) Homepage Journal

    .....make it a federal felony to use your blog, social media like MySpace and Facebook, or any other Web media 'to cause substantial emotional distress through "severe, repeated, and hostile" speech.' Rep. Sanchez and colleagues want to make it easier to prosecute any objectionable speech.....

    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.
    Rep. Sanchez is a dick.

    Hostile enough for ya?

    (Apparently, /. filters already limit repeated speech, as I need to add a bunch of crap in to get past the "postercomment compression filter", whatever the hell that is. So /. is a giant government conspiracy, implementing constitution-destroying legislation before it's even proposed....)

  • Instead of making new laws, why can't they just enforce the ones already on the books? Yes, this is nothing but an extra power grab designed to keep you in your place.
  • Dear Linda Sanchez (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:53PM (#27834059)
    If you don't like the things I say in my blog, wouldn't the most rational reaction be to simply don't fucking read it???
    • by SGDarkKnight (253157) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:44PM (#27835069)

      If you don't like the things I say in my blog, wouldn't the most rational reaction be to simply don't fucking read it???

      This comment sorta reminds me of a story some researchers did a while back about Howard Stern. Their findings came to two intresting conclusions; the average listner who enjoyed his show, would listen for around 20 minutes a day; the average person who hated his show and couldn't stand him, would listen for roughly 45 minutes a day (granted my numbers may be a bit off, but i'm fairly certain they are pretty damn close).

  • by MrJerryNormandinSir (197432) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:56PM (#27834125)

    police state! It's time to stand up for what we believe in. It's time for our voices to be heard. We can't be passive citizens anymore. As each week passes we loose more and more of our rights as American Citizens.

    I think we should seriously design an underground internet, just in case we need it.

    I'm going to a "tea party" gathering on July 4th.

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:58PM (#27834157)

    The word repressive was created to describe statutes like this. It's so stupid an unconstitutional that it's laughable. That woman is an enemy of liberty!

    Looks like a congressperson wanted to get her name in the paper.

  • by helbent (1244274) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:05PM (#27834297)

    What usually happens with these kinds of unconstitutional laws is they are rammed through with the authors knowing full well they won't stand up to a constitutional challenge. Think about certain aspects of the Patriot Act, the laws regarding civil asset forfiture, and the Lautenberg amendment to the Brady Bill (AKA the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban [wikipedia.org] where you are denied 2nd amendment rights forever after having a restraining order lodged against you or being merely accused of a crime, even in absence of a conviction thereof).

    What happens is the courts pile on the charges so high that defendants are forced to settle for a plea bargain, which is how 95% of all trials are resolved. Thus laws which blatantly violate the constitution are allowed to sit on the books forever with no effective challenge against them, generating eternal revenues for the state and ensuring that a long line of semi-innocents head off to the hotel-with-barred-windows for violating some petty legal technicality. The Branch Davidians were gassed and incinerated alive for nothing more serious than an unpaid tax or unfilled-out form regarding certain firearms laws.

    The same nasty precedent set by the previous examples will be precisely how it plays out here. Not only will this law pass but it will be misused and abused left and right, and nobody will cut it off because that would stop the gravy train.

  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:07PM (#27834353) Homepage Journal
    I have not yet deployed the munitions.
  • How about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RingDev (879105) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:08PM (#27834377) Homepage Journal

    instead of reducing the number of rights people have, we increase the responsibility that they must take for exercising those rights?

    You want to cyber bully some one, go for it. But if that person commits suicide due to your actions, we'll hold you accountable for it.

    Same with gun laws. You want a full auto machine gun? Go for it! You screw up with a gun, and we'll destroy your life.

    Instead of teaching people not to do things, we should be teaching them that there are repercussions to the acts that they take. You have the freedom to f' up. But with that freedom comes the personal responsibility to not f'up.

    -Rick

    • Re:How about... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Reziac (43301) * on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @04:20PM (#27836877) Homepage Journal

      "You want to cyber bully some one, go for it. But if that person commits suicide due to your actions, we'll hold you accountable for it."

      So if I write that X is an unstable idiot, and X then commits suicide, I'm to blame for X's mental instability??!

      How are you going to prove that X wrote what I read? Even then, how are you going to prove that what I wrote drove X over the edge? What if EVERYONE who writes about X says the same thing?? which of us do you put on trial??

      This is just codifying passing-the-blame, and freedom from responsibility for your OWN actions.
      Similarly, it follows from this law that if X reads your blog, then commits a crime, X can disclaim responsibility for his actions via "But reading this blog made me do it!"

  • Seriously? (Score:5, Funny)

    by AnalogyShark (1317197) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:09PM (#27834383)
    Someone is really trying to make trolling illegal?

    Don't they realize that acknowledging trolls just makes them worse?
  • this is what happened to meier: she was mentally and emotionally unstable. she was a minor. an adult, over an extended period of time, purposefully targetted her and assassinated her confidence with false friends and false romantic interests and outright suggesting she kill herself. then she committed suicide

    obviously, no one here supports that. at the same time, those rightfully outraged about what happened to meier are proposing limitations on free speech which are too broad. what you need to do is take what motivates them and REDIRECT their free speech limiting efforts to not be so broad. just laughing and riciculing their efforts doesn't satisfy their motivations. and their motivations are real and vlaid, so you have to address them:

    you can say anything you want online. unless you: 1. target one individual, 2. over an extended period of time, 3. who is a minor (nad you are an adult), 4. who is mentally unstable

    those who want to fight bullying would agree with this. you, defenders of free speech, would agree to this. so stop just shouting down and ridiculing those who are fighting cyberbullying. just redirect their passions. what motivates them is real and valid: a teenage girl was hounded to commit suicide. there is a valid reason to protect her. there is a valid legal space in which new speech laws can exist that, again:

    1. stand against targetting one individual
    2. over an extended period of time
    3. who is a minor (and the bully is an adult)
    4. who is mentally unstable

    the most hardcore free speech zealot understands why you cant shout fire in a crowded theatre. therefore, everyone recognizes that yes, there actually ARE limits to free speech. so take what motivates those who are angry at the meier case, and HELP them channel their anger into a SPECIFIC limit on online speech of the form of the 4 limitations above

    you have to respect the legitimacy of what motivates those who are upset about what happened to meier. just laughing at or ridiculing their overarching efforts doesn't stop them from trying to right the injustive that happened to meier. you can HELP them, and HELP to retain your free speech principles by tailoring and redirecting their passions to a specifically worded area of what is obviously heinous cyberbullying and does not infringe on your free speech rights

    imagine that, compromise, rather than a bunch of kneejerk zealotry like you find in other comments here, without any recognition that waht motivates those who are righfully outraged about wehat happened to meier

    for those of you who care about your free speech rights: how do you protect the meiers of the world? you need to address that. if you don't, there will be continued attacks on free speech forever, because what motivates those who want to protect the meiers of the world is just as valid an impulse as those who want to protect free speech

    sure, some of you could say the meiers of the world need to just toughen up. fuck them, people are cruel, get used to it

    by the same token, i could say to you that some assholes want to limit your free speech so tough luck, just shut up about some of what you want to say... this statement is bullshit, i'm just demonstrating that if you don't show any sensitivity to valid concerns about cruelty to others, why do expect anyone to have sympathy for your concerns about free speech?

    because, in the end, the principles and passions that support free speech are the same principles and passions that seek to protect the meiers of this world. you protect the rights and liberties of the weak in this world, or you merely help create a world of cruelty, in which limits of free speech are inevitable. limits on free speech are really just a form of cruelty that this cyberbully demonstrated when manipulating meier

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      his is what happened to meier: she was mentally and emotionally unstable

      Instead of stopping anyone's free speech, perhaps the courts should appoint a protector for mentally unstable minors. That protector could be call something like a "Guardian", or "Parent".

      • allegory:

        someone hits my kid with a car. the existence of me, the parent/ guardian, was supposed to protect my kid from being hit by a car?

        are you suggesting that just because someone has a parent/ guardian they are protected from cyberbullying? the wisest parenting, in fact, suggests that teenage children need their own private social space in which to develop their own identity. that, as a rule of good parenting, a good parent should butt out of micromanaging a child's online social life

        i really don't und

    • by Stiletto (12066) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:25PM (#27835875)

      1. stand against targetting one individual

      What if it's against two people? A-OK, or close enough?

      2. over an extended period of time

      Define "extended".

      3. who is a minor (and the bully is an adult)

      If a minor does it to a minor, can he/she be charged "as an adult"?
      If an adult does it to an adult, can the prosecution claim that the victim has a "child-like" mentality?

      4. who is mentally unstable

      Define.

      There are so many loopholes in those criteria. I'd prefer that we just stick to the 1st Amendment, thank you very much.

  • by Hadlock (143607) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:20PM (#27834599) Homepage Journal

    I blew off the republican's stand against the federal government as a way to shore up support for the Republican party, and as a registered democrat, I do see some validity in their point. Am I trolling? No. My point is, this is a FEDERAL crime they're speaking of. This is definitely something that can be handled and prosecuted at the state level. This has zero effect on national security or interstate commerce. The fact that this is being handled at the Federal level indicates it's just a Bush-era grab for additional surveillance. Put on your tin foil hat everyone, this isn't just fantasy, this sort of bill passing is a weekly occurrence in England. Stop this crap from coming to our borders. The new fight isn't against communist Russia, it's Orwellian England.

  • by W. Justice Black (11445) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:28PM (#27834753) Homepage

    ...or at least one of them [myspace.com].

    Highlights include the fact that Jack Lord could smell into the future, that Poutine is grown from seeds, that you can kill French people by carefully mispronouncing the French language in their presence, and that Lee Majors can travel through time.

    Clearly I'm batshit insane, so thank God for bills like the one proposed, since I cause so much anguish to so many. I really need to be stopped.

  • Grow up! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by techhead79 (1517299) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:34PM (#27834857)
    People need to grow up! With this bill signed into law no one could not post anything online negative at all about anyone. All a plaintiff would have to do to make someone's life a living hell is to be a complainer and ball their eyes out in court.

    Due to a personal experience on this note, it's bad enough blogs get taken down just for speaking out of acceptable tune. We have raised a bunch of gutless hopeless children that have no concept of standing up for yourself or letting words lay where they belong. There used to be this concept that only actions can cause distress...but now? Today? We are a nation of complainers. I find this pathetic! - and I just nominated myself as the first one to be punished by this law...for anyone that is in support of it would see that statement as me calling them pathetic and thus causing them mental pains...GROW UP!
  • by wowbagger (69688) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:35PM (#27834885) Homepage Journal

    <sarcasm>
    ZOMFGWTFBBQ!!1!!! Damn Republicans! Them and their middle-of-the-country Bible Belt politics always trying to take away our rights! It really.....

    Just a moment.....

    I was just handed this note that Rep. Linda T. Sanchez is actually a Democrat from California.

    Nevermind...
    </sarcasm>

    Seriously, had a Republican from Oklahoma proposed this, what do you think the odds that the <cough>editors </cough> would have taken the time to add the "(R-OK)" to that story.

    Come on Slashdot - how about just being consistent - ALWAYS add the party and state affiliation to any US politicians name, and ideally do the same for politicians from other lands as well.

  • by macraig (621737) <(mark.a.craig) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @02:45PM (#27835127)

    If the Founding Fathers had access to the 'Net and the same technology we do today, is there any doubt that they would have been blogging their dissenting opinions and activities? They would have been using the 'Net to organize "flash mobs" like the Boston Tea Party. Is there any doubt that TPTB of the day would have declared their blogs "hostile"?

    The only thing new here is the medium. Only control-freak idiots would dare try to treat the activity different because of the medium.

    Who gets to decide what is "severe, repeated, and hostile"? I don't think I want to trust that sort of nonobjective ambiguous judgement to either Congressmen or juries.

    Blogs ARE a weapon of sorts, in any case: the best ones are used to attack groupthink and dogma and make people think and reconsider their cherished pork.

  • by PPH (736903) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:04PM (#27835483)
    Modding me down is a form of hate speech!
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:54PM (#27836433)
    This is a really stupid idea to cement the power of Tyranny of the Easily Offended, in the same way Feminism was in good part a way to move less-attractive women into the mainstream. Everybody is offended by something so anything you write will fall afoul of this really stupid idea.

    The world does not come with bumpers, training wheels, automatic sensitivity, and no sharp objects. You will be offended, hurt, angry, and in tears, about things you encounter along the way. That's the way the world is. Rather than trying to change the Universe, why not just learn to deal with it?

    Of course this puts all the sensitivity trainers and those who benefit from itout of business -- but this would be a Good Thing!
  • by scorp1us (235526) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:59PM (#27836547) Journal

    There has been a disturbing shift in congress that has happened over the past oh, century or so. Though, I am not naive enough to think its only recent. Its just that now, it is rampant.

    There was a time when congress acted responsibly, and I mean by that that they cared about the laws they passed. They worried about things like constitutionality, and if they had the authority to even pass such laws. But circa WWII, I've noticed a change that in mentality that says "let the courts sort it out". While it is is in the jurisdiction of the courts to sort it out, the courts are meant to be our last line of defense from oppressive laws. Not the first. The legislative branches have turned into bill factories pushing out bills as fast as they can be voted on them. The measure of government isn't how many bills it can pass.

    I cannot believe that a member of congress, who believes in the constitution, would ever introduce legislation so patently contradictory to any right in the Bill of Rights. This should be grounds for impeachment as far as I am concerned...

  • terrible idea (Score:3, Informative)

    by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon.gamerslastwill@com> on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @04:17PM (#27836829) Homepage Journal

    first, Congress shall make no law [...] abridging the freedom of speech [...].

    Severe, repeated, and/or hostile speech is free.

    Sorry congress, You shall make NO LAW ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH!

  • by DesertWolf0132 (718296) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @04:28PM (#27837047) Homepage
    The author of the bill has what she believes to be a noble cause. On its surface, stopping cyber-bullying is truly a noble and lofty goal. The problem that emerges from doing it in function is in making a law broad enough to stop it, you also stifle legitimate speech.

    Imagine M$ lawyers construing our legitimate criticisms as abuse under this law. As the law treats corporations legally as non-human persons they are granted equal protection. While the suit would never stand, free speech would be stifled at the mere threat of a suit.

    In the end, kids will always be bullies or bullied. Whether online or in person, bullies are only given power when we pay attention to them. Rep. Sanchez, as much as I am for protecting children, it would be a bigger injustice to not protect the most sacred right in a free state.
  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @07:41PM (#27839821)

    Figures a twit like Sanchez would pull something like this after engineering her own election. But I digress.

    To blame a blog for Megan Meier's death is no different than blaming a bar owned for a drunk driver's death. Nobody forced her to read it. Nobody forced her to keep reading it. Quite frankly, I blame the parents for being that frackin' clueless about their daughter.

    But as with most far-reaching legislation, protecting the poster-child is not the goal. The goal is to increase power and control over people. With gun-control, "protecting the innocent children" is the misdirection when the real goal is all out disarming of the people who will then be easily controlled. The Nazi's first started with registration. Once everyone dutifully followed the law and registered, they knew exactly where they were and who had them so they could confiscate them once private ownership of guns was outlawed. Remember, boys and girls, Adolf Hitler was ELECTED by the people of Germany. There wasn't a coup or similar blunt tactic. Witness Hugo Chavez cleverly guaranteeing that he will be in power for life. "Oh, but they'll just vote him out." Yeah right. In recent memory, there were cases of opposition votes against dictators being thrown in the trash. "Look! He won by a landslide." "What are all these ballots in this warehouse?" *blam* "Unidentified opposition supporters were horribly burned to death in a warehouse fire. The fire is reported to have been due to natural causes."

    Here we have a bill that purports to protect the children yet has the power to imprison ANY speech 'they' (that would be the royal 'they') deem dangerous or subversive. The sheep will say "oh, that's good idea...we have to keep another Megan Meier from happening." And then they'll find themselves dragged off in the middle of the night to a gulag because they spoke ill of Obama and years later they will wonder how it all happened. (source: a relative who grew up in Stalinist Russia and witnessed it firsthand).

    If nothing else, remember this: The Second Amendment is the last hope for protecting all of the others.

Everyone can be taught to sculpt: Michelangelo would have had to be taught how not to. So it is with the great programmers.

Working...