House Considering Censoring Internet
‘Cleansing’ the Internet by Criminalizing Hurt Feelings
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO “STICKS AND STONES can break your bones, but words will never hurt you”?
The Internet has given average Americans unparalleled access to information that the elites historically have kept under wraps by controlling access to it. Now, Congress is trying to rein in that access by making it so that the government can go after someone for hurting another person’s feelings on the World Wide Web.
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) has introduced the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act (HR 1966) that could make it a felony to use your “blog” or web page on sites like MySpace and Facebook “to cause substantial emotional distress” through “severe, repeated, and hostile” speech. MySpace and Facebook are web sites that allow an individual to post information
on the Internet, including photos, video and text, and then share it with anyone around the world.
The bill has 17 co-sponsors and is currently stuck in the House Committee on the Judiciary. While no one likes a bully, the problem with making a federal case out of “cyberbullying” is that it could apply to independent journalists, organizations and individuals that the government or special interest groups do not like.
“It would have the effect of stifling free speech online under the threat of bringing federal criminal charges against anyone for any reason.
Traditionally, the Constitution said there was no remedy for hurt feelings. Miss Sanchez’s dangerous new legislation would change that, making it possible for the Justice Department to prosecute anyone for no other reason than he wrote bad things about someone else.
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(Issue # 22, June 1, 2009)