Trolling Will Soon Be Illegal in Arizona

One of the Internet’s basic tenets—the right to be as much of a myopic, infantile asshat as humanly possible—is currently under attack in Arizona. A sweeping update to the state’s telecommunications harrasment bill could make naughty, angry words a Class 1 misdemeanor. Or worse.

It’s a dangerous precedent, yet another bill written and supported by legislators who fundamentally don’t understand the nature of the internet. And I’m not just being a, well, you know.

Arizona House Bill 2549 passed both legislative houses last Thursday and is now awaiting approval from Arizona’s governor Brewer. The statute 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."

Emphasis added. If the electronic devices and means are employed to stalk a victim, the penalty bumps up to a Class 3 felony.

For those not intimately familiar with Arizona penal law, a Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by a $250,000 fine and up to six months in jail (it’s the most aggressive misdemeanor charge the state can bring). A Class 3 felony, meanwhile, carries a minimum sentence of 2.5 years for non-dangerous offenders with no prior record. And a max of 25 years in jail.

Opponents of the bill argue that the wording is overly broad and could easily be interpreted to include not just one-on-one communications but public forums like 4Chan, Reddit, and anywhere else that allows commenting. You thought the banhammer was bad? Try handcuffs.

It could also have a chilling effect on free speech by prohibiting shocking or “profane” language online. And since the bill stipulates that the offense only has to occur on Arizona soil (since a Facebook comment is definitely a geographic place, right?) that basically puts the entire Internet on notice.

The bill’s supporters argue that the steps are necessary to prevent online bullying. Despite the public outcry, the bill has seen very little resistance from elected officials. However, given how well Arizona’s other recent, short-lived, and generally draconian propositions—-including itsracial profilinganti-gay adoption, and anti-immigration bills—-have fared, House Bill 2549 might not be a law for long, assuming Governor Brewer even signs it.

In the mean time, feel free to leave your thoughts on the matter on Brewer’s Facebook page. You know, while it’s still legal. [Arizona State House of Reps via CBLDF]


Robert Kirkman Interview at Amazing Arizona Comic Con 2012

Worst… Interviewer… Ever!!!

President Barack Obama’s speech about the Arizona shooting. 

We need to stop trying to fit this psycho into a political ideology to make ourselves feel better.

‘Assessing the motives of the insane is futile.’

- Edgar Allan Poe

After this terrible tragedy we can clearly see that everyone wants to paint the killer as an Extreme Liberal or an Extreme Conservative. When we first heard of the Congresswomen being shot some of us noticed that she was a Democrat. Your first thoughts might have been that “maybe this was some right wing guy who didn’t like having a Democrat in office” or “maybe its some left wing guy who didn’t think she was liberal enough”.

We think of motives because we want to make sense of chaos. Unfortunately, we do live in a world where violence can erupt at any moment. I’m very lucky that I don’t live in Pakistan where bombings happen on a daily basis. I’m fortunate that I don’t live in Mexico where I could be caught in the middle of the drug cartel wars going on right now. I don’t live in Afghanistan where any number of things could kill me everyday. However, as safe as the USA is, you can still be put in danger by a single psychotic individual. 

We try to make sense of this chaos by putting this killer in the same league as our enemies. Liberals will argue that he got the gun too easily and that we need more gun control. Right Wingers will say that he was a communist (simply from his book list) and that we need less gun control so that every person there would have been packing heat and could have stopped him sooner. 

If you notice his favorite books it contradicts itself in a lot of ways. Animal Farm is his #1 book. Yet the right wing will only focus on The Communist Manifesto. If people actually read these days they would know that Animal Farm is a story on the failure of Communism in practice. Its a play by play on how Communism has never worked. The right wing is currently trying to deflect any chance that this killer had any sympathies to their brand of politics. I can understand that, however, they do it by trying to make him out to be an extreme liberal terrorist. I disagree with that assumption too. 

There was a lot people trying to blame Sarah Palin as well for this poster her people put out. As tasteless as it is, I’m sure that Sarah Palin didn’t want these people harmed. It’s just that one of them was shot. Maybe next time her people will be smarter than this and not make every slogan about war or guns in some way. 

I’ve noticed a lot of media outlets throwing in that he read the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf together as if they were part of the same political ideology. The Nazi party was a right wing reaction to the communist growth in Europe. The Communists were their enemy and scapegoat into gaining power. They labeled themselves a socialist party but they were very right wing. They wanted foreigners (illegals) out, more strict security measures against (anti gov) terrorist threats, and ramped up Nationalism (saying how great we are but how shitty everyone who isn’t from here is). It’s obvious that this kid is insane and there’s no real point in looking for motives. Just bugs me when people throw Nazi’s and Communists in the same category. They were polar opposites. They are what happen when you go ALL the way LEFT or ALL the way RIGHT. They hated each other to the core. 

I think we try to put labels on ourselves to help create order in our thoughts and lives. At the end of the day they’re only labels though. Its wrong to say this kid did what he did based on what he read, watched, listened to, etc… A crazy person is just a crazy person. I bet he ate Doritos too. Doesn’t mean anything. Just because this killer read some books doesn’t mean he killed people based on what he read. I don’t really think this killer is intelligent enough to develop a political ideology (trust me I watched his Youtube video and it doesn’t make any sense at all). I think he read them because he wanted to learn about the terrible things from our past that caused so much harm and he wanted to know how to duplicate that.">