Democrat Proposes Jail Time for 'Hostile' Bloggers

Chris Field
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Posted: May 06, 2009 10:50 AM
We know that the government is becoming more and more audacious in its attempts to control our lives and regulate our speech and whatever it thinks we're thinking (see the newest iteration of the federal Hate Crimes law), so a new story from Wired should come as no surprise. Looks like Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez, Calif., is ready to throw mean-old bloggers in the hoosegow.

From the Wired report:
Proposed congressional legislation would demand up to two years in prison for those whose electronic speech is meant to “coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person.”

Instead of prison, perhaps we should say gulag.

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.
The bill, HR 1966, is available to read here.

UPDATE: In case the Thomas link to HR 1966 doesn't work, here's the portion of the text of the bill that would actually change the U.S. Code.

SEC. 3. CYBERBULLYING.
(a) In General- Chapter 41 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
`Sec. 881. Cyberbullying
`(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 user's 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 email, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones, and text messages.'