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Arizona Attempts To Make Trolling Illegal 474

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the entire-slashdot-readerbase-sent-to-gitmo dept.
LordofEntropy writes "Though unlikely to pass any First Amendment test. Arizona's Gov. Jan Brewer has a bill on her desk that would in essence make 'trolling' illegal. The law states 'It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use any electronic or digital device and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.'" This did indeed manage to pass through both houses of legislature and only needs a signature to become law.
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Arizona Attempts To Make Trolling Illegal

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @01:04PM (#39573251)
    The only actual story here is that the government and voters of Arizona are profoundly stupid.
  • Even worse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bobbutts (927504) <bobbutts@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @01:05PM (#39573279)
    It's not just trolling "annoy or offend" could literally be applied to every word ever written.
  • well.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @01:05PM (#39573281)
    They also outlawed teaching Mexican American studies in public schools, so no I don't find this surprising.
  • Prior art (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 6Yankee (597075) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @01:07PM (#39573307)

    It's bad enough taking existing patents and adding "ON THE INTERNET", without doing it to existing laws as well.

  • Great work! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Georules (655379) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @01:07PM (#39573317)
    Great work on crapping all over free speech Arizona.
  • Fox News (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @01:11PM (#39573375)

    How's that going to work for Fox News?

  • Re:Remember: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mooingyak (720677) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @01:16PM (#39573441)

    You have the right to not be offended. Right?

    Absolutely. It's one of our inalienable rights. You are free to not be offended by whatever you choose to not be offended by.

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @01:38PM (#39573789)

    This is probably going to go against popular opinion, but having read the bill, it looks ok with one exception: "annoy or offend". Remove those two (ok, three counting "or") words and what you have is a bill that says "It's illegal to threaten someone via the telephone so it should be illegal to do so online as well." Remember, freedom of speech isn't freedom to threaten someone with bodily harm or to stalk someone.

    With "annoy/offend" intact, though, the law could be read in much too broad of a manner and could easily infringe on someone's free speech rights.

  • Re:Remember: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @01:43PM (#39573849) Homepage

    You have the right to not be offended. Right?

    I know you're joking, but I have no idea where people came up with the notion they have some inalienable right to not be offended. Less so just because it's on the internet.

    I'm offended every time I listen to a politician speaking. I'm offended when some executive gets millions in bonuses for a money-losing quarter. I'm offended when some idiot says the world is only 6000 years old.

    Freedom of speech means you don't have to like what I say, and I don't have to like what you say. But neither of us can prevent the other from saying it.

    However, I know there are some groups who really do believe that I should in no way be able to say something that offends them.

  • OK, I am confused (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Brett Buck (811747) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @01:47PM (#39573913)

    How is this going to get overturned, if it was passed by duly elected legislature? By unelected judges? I thought a recently as 3 days ago, that was an outrageous activist overreach?

  • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @01:47PM (#39573915) Journal

    I believe this is primarily an anti-cyber-bullying law. Wouldn't want our precious special unique snowflakes to get their little feelers hurt, would we? If some big meanie insults then on the internet, why then just throw him in jail, problem solved!

    We seriously need to stop trying to keep kids cocooned until 25. Maturity comes only from facing the world, and coping with its hardships, whether that happens at 15 or 25. Delaying that isn't helping society.

  • by F69631 (2421974) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @01:47PM (#39573917)

    It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use any electronic or digital device and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.

    So this law doesn't criminalize everything that might offend someone. It criminalizes certain behavior when the primary motivation is to threaten, harass, intimidate, terrify, annoy or offend someone.

    The courts in USA have already ruled that your right to free speech doesn't extend to shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater just for the lulz... this is just clarifying that it's true even if you're online.

    This doesn't mean that I support the law. Listing "annoy" as one of the words motivations is just asking for trouble (I would be fine with this if there were just "harass, threaten" and perhaps a couple other words) and we also get to very muddy waters when you can no longer suggest "lascivious or lewd" stuff... So there are plenty of reasons to oppose this law. The one you (and many others) have pointed out- that no matter what you write, someone might be offended - isn't one though.

  • Re:Even worse (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @01:58PM (#39574111)

    >>>use obscene, lewd and/or profane language, and frequently threaten to inflict physical harm.
    >>>.....It seems to be a right-wing thing.

    "I suspect the Tea Party opposition towards Obama is based on racism." - Jimmy Carter in 2009 (left wing)

    "You don't like Obama because he's black! You are prejudiced!" - guy replying to my facebook (Democrat)

    "If you don't embrace global warming, it's probable you are mentally ill. We should put these persons in a hospital and cure them." - Leftist scientist two days ago, while speaking at ongoing UN meeting

    "Those Republicans never met a black person they didn't hate." - Jeaneane Garofalo (leftist)

    I could go on and on and on.
    Hate is NOT just a right wing problem.

  • by SydShamino (547793) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @01:59PM (#39574113)

    You just bolded parts of it. Let's bold some other parts?

    It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use any electronic or digital device and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.

    All those other clauses about threats and physical harm are joined by OR - the conjunction where both sides don't have to be true. The law is just as violated if some suggests you fuck yourself and the request annoys or offends you.

  • Re:Arizona (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @02:00PM (#39574151)

    You joke, but Texas currently (for at least the past 15 years) has a significant net inflow of migration from other states - no income tax (and a reasonable regulatory climate for starting a business or building something) is a nice draw, I guess. In any case, don't mess with Texas.

    You know, just because they're going to Texas doesn't mean they'll be glad they did so.

  • by nukenerd (172703) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @02:05PM (#39574239)
    Why is this [rickb928] modded Troll?

    It is about time people in the Western world went back to doing and making their own things instead of expecting the modern version of slaves to do it for them, either in the back yard or tastefully out-of-sight on the other side of the world.
  • Re:Even worse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jd (1658) <imipak@noSPam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @02:09PM (#39574295) Homepage Journal

    Just as the truth cannot be slander or libel, a considered, rational opinion cannot be a troll.

    Therefore, the first statement (which is certainly considered, rational and true) cannot be a troll.

    The second statement - that depends. If indeed you have offered evidence of racism, it would be a considered, rational opinion. If you have not, then it would not be. The statement would be a troll ONLY in the second case. A statement, in and of itself, deprived of context, cannot be judged either a troll or not.

    The third statement is extreme, certainly, but again it depends on whether it is rational and considered. The evidence for AGW is definitive and I'd certainly agree that anyone not embracing it is making a choice that has nothing to do with rational or logical thought. That doesn't make it mental illness, though. Greed is inefficient but greedy industrialists aren't mentally ill, just very stupid. If, however, the scientist is aware of a link between denialism and mental illness, then it is a rational, considered view and ergo not a troll.

    The final statement is definitely true, but being true is not sufficient. If the statement was made on emotional, rather than rational, grounds then it was a troll. If it was rational, rather than emotional, then it was not.

    You are conflating angry speech with trolling, the two are not the same.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @02:17PM (#39574407) Journal

    This isn't a joke. The disrespect Brewer shows for our most cherished rights offends me far, far more than anything I've ever seen on the internet. Yes, even more than goatse.

    I'd rather live in a world where goatse was plastered on every billboard than in a world where our ostensibly most respectable citizens can propose something like this and not be run out of office with torches and pitchforks.

    This is not merely offensive, it's the deepest level of obscenity I can imagine. This is depravity writ large.

  • by doston (2372830) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @02:20PM (#39574447)
    The fact that people can. The other thing that's great about it is you actually get to see what some people are really thinking. Sometimes the AC posts on here are amusing, even if they are completely obscene. It's like seeing what a person really does all alone on that business trip or alone in private thoughts. Banning trolling isn't just immoral, it's stupid and probably removes the one tiny peek hole into people's real thoughts. The guy who got on and said nigger faggot in the second post.... Well, as a faggot, I don't really like it, if I were also a black person, I'm sure it's not exactly nice. But isn't it helpful to know that the work educating people isn't over? What if everyone is totally fascist (like at the office) and has to pretend all day and we get into a false sense of security about where people are in their heads? The only real barometer is allowing people anonymous thoughts. Lets you know that there are still racists, and homophobes, (so don't get too comfy at the office...you might just get tired yet). Sorry I'm rambling/being offensive, but we don't have many 'freedoms' left as it is. From now on, I plan to appreciate that troll.
  • Re:Remember: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @02:21PM (#39574473) Homepage

    There appear to be very few laws which will, in practice, protect us from the TSA/DHS/VIPR

    Starting with the Constitution, apparently.

    If they can ignore the Constitution, what can any other law do? That's supposed to be the one that trumps everything.

  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @02:40PM (#39574731) Homepage Journal

    If your trolling requires " use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person", then you're not doing it correctly.

  • Re:Remember: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @04:15PM (#39576417) Homepage

    What do you expect from them though? They are private employees that are paid only a couple more dollars per hour than minimum wage. I hope you aren't expecting Captain America.

    I expect them, as you say, to be the minimum wage flunkies they actually are.

    But, I expect the laws that govern their behavior to hold them to a higher standard. If they look and act like law enforcement, you can't treat them like some minimum age employee who doesn't know better.

    The problem is their role and authority in no way matches their skill or training. So in that regards, the TSA is an epic failure if it can't hold these people to the standard that their supposed authority confers. They've got rent-a-cops with the authority of real cops, but no accountability. That's a horrible situation, and as we're seeing, it simply can't work.

    If they can make decisions which could potentially alter your life, they should be held to account. They shouldn't just be mall cops on a power trip -- which unfortunately is what they are.

    As I said, if I threw coffee into a TSA screener's face, I'd be facing Federal charges. If one of them threw coffee in my face, well, I'd pretty much expect more than a misdemeanor charge.

    They can't be law enforcement, but not law enforcement at the same time.

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