Arizona’s a special place politically, by special I mean the vast majority of citizens and politicians there belong on an especially short bus. Arizona’s other recent draconian propositions include anti-gay adoption, racial profiling and anti-immigration bills.
But, this time they’ve really taken the cake.
The internet is a special place in a whole different way. It’s a place where each and every person has the right to be a complete asshat with complete anonymity. Arizona wishes to change that. In a sweeping update to the state’s telecommunications harassment bill profane language or being offensive is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Or worse. Once again politicians prove that they’re too ignorant to understand modern day civilization, let alone how to legislate in it.
Arizona House Bill 2549 passed both legislative houses last Thursday and is currently awaiting approval from Arizona’s governor. The asinine law states that:
“It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use a 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.”
Let’s look at this closer:
“It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass…”
So far it actually sounds fair. But, then:
“annoy or offend, to use any obscene, lewd or profane language”
Are you kidding me. Annoy or offend? Who decides that? You can find some at least one idiot out there that will be offended by just about anything. Does that warrant 2.5 years or more in jail. Hell no. That’s the most overly broad wording I’ve ever seen.
If electronic devices are used the penalty bumps up to a Class 3 felony. A Class 3 felony carries a minimum sentence of 2.5 years for non-dangerous offenders with no prior record. And a max of 25 years in jail.
Prohibiting shocking or “profane” language online is like preventing peeing in a pool, it’s a joke. Also, since the bill stipulates that the offense only has to occur on Arizona soil that basically puts anyone with internet access on notice.
Wake up Arizona. You’re a place people go to die, please learn to do it quietly.