And they all moved away from me on the bench…
[Special gold stars for anyone who remembers where that lyric came from.]
Last August, there was a rally in Northern Ireland. To date, four people have been charged with violating the hate speech law which has a pretty low threshold:
He faces two counts of using threatening, abusive or insulting words. He is alleged to have intended to stir up hatred or arouse fear by his comments, according to the police case.
I bring this up because the three words which seem to form the basis of the Northern Irish law are threatening, abusive and insulting. Do those things and you’re in a pickle.
On Hogewash!, John Hoge wrote about a proposed update to a Maryland law which uses the following wording:
A person may not:
maliciously engage in a course of conduct, through the use of electronic communication, that alarms or seriously annoys another: with the intent to harass, alarm, or annoy the other…
This is how hate legislation happens. Can we all agree that the Irish law should have threatening as a factor? Sure. And in Maryland there should be some kind of protection from harassment? Absolutely.
How about the other terms, from the two jurisdictions:
that seriously annoys…
with intent to…alarm or annoy
There just can’t be a lot of people who seriously think anyone should face criminal court for annoying or alarming another person, even if their intent was to annoy or alarm.
If I’m wrong, please plan to be awfully nice to people in Maryland and Northern Ireland. And anywhere else where this fascist kind of word control takes over.
Plan on seeing your Tweets on 27 eight by ten color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.