Arizona Politicians Scramble To Adjust Internet Censorship Bill After The Internet Mocks Them For Being Clueless

from the this-won't-end-well dept

You know what's a bad sign? When you're a state legislature, and you pass what's clearly an unconstitutional law that criminalizes using technology to "annoy or offend" others -- and then you have to scramble after-the-fact to amend the bill you already passed. Yes, thanks to a rather loud public mocking of Arizona politicians for ignoring the First Amendment in its internet censorship bill, the Arizona legislature is trying to amend the bill quickly.

Here's a thought, though: if you passed a bill so bad that people around the globe are mocking you, perhaps it suggests you don't know what you're doing. At that point, shouldn't you back away from mucking with the internet, and leave that to the professionals who actually understand technology? Somehow, diving back in and pretending that this time you'll get it right doesn't inspire confidence. And, in fact, the details suggest that any amendments considered at this point will almost certainly still be First Amendment violations.
“Even so narrowed, the statute is unconstitutional. You simply cannot prohibit emails that are said to be intended to offend. That violates the First Amendment flat out,” said University of Chicago Law School professor Geoffrey Stone, who specializes in constitutional law. “You can prohibit email if the recipient has requested you to stop sending them. That’s different -- but that’s not what this says.”
Still, I think the most ridiculous words of all come from Rep. Steve Farley from Phoenix whose statement on the bill is really quite stunning:
"I know people are focusing on unintended consequences of the bill, but I don’t think that's realistic," Farley said. "I think this is a wakeup call that we should be civil online and in society in general. I don’t think it's right we should ever be able to threaten violence against each other online."
I love how he doesn't explain why the unintended consequences aren't "realistic." He just insists that's the case. Of course, anyone who's actually been around policymaking (especially when it comes to technology) knows that there are always unintended consequences. And it's not hard to find unintended consequences of a bill like this that broadly outlaws "annoying" people with electronic devices.

But even more ridiculous is that second half. You don't legislate civility. We don't make a law saying you have to say "please" and "thank you." Look, some people are obnoxious jerks out there. That's not a legislative problem. Finally, his claim that people shouldn't be able to threaten violence against each other might have some weight if the bill was actually limited to people threatening violence. But it's not.

How do people like this get elected?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Rikuo (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 12:28pm

    Why hasn't he been arrested? Everything he said over this bill offended me greatly. Lock him up I say!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 12:34pm

    I am definitely offended by their bill that decrees that a woman is pregnant up to two weeks before conceiving.

    Linkage: http://rt.com/usa/news/arizona-bill-conception-abortion-387/

     

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      Prisoner 201, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 12:43pm

      Re:

      That's so fucked up I don't even know where to begin.

       

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      Josef Anvil (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 12:49pm

      Re: Guess it makes sense now

      If the legislators in AZ can tell doctors that gestation begins before conception then it makes sense that being a jerk on the internets should be illegal.

       

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        Greg, Apr 7th, 2012 @ 5:13am

        Re: Re: Guess it makes sense now

        Not for nothing, but that is how pregnancy works. When a woman says she's 3 months pregnant, she and her doctor are counting from the last day of her last cycle. I don't agree with the bill, but at least they are using the same metric that OBGYNs use.

         

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      Gwiz (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 1:17pm

      Re:

      I am definitely offended by their bill that decrees that a woman is pregnant up to two weeks before conceiving.

      That is so mind boggling stupid it may cause a aneurism trying to wrap your mind around it.

      Does that mean a women can start a paternity suit against a man who she hasn't even had sex with yet???

      Does that mean.....*zzzzzttbam* (head explodes)

       

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        sigalrm (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 1:38pm

        Re: Re:

        Does that mean a women can start a paternity suit against a man who she hasn't even had sex with yet???"


        Do 'Unborn Victims of Crime' style laws now apply to any woman not on her period at the time the crime is committed?

         

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      abc gum, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 2:34pm

      Re:

      Satirical responses to the recent attacks on women are quite humorous - Sperm Personhood - lol

      http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/03/birth-control-viagra-vasectomy-laws

       

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      Watchit (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 10:39pm

      Re:

      That is indeed quite baffling o.0

       

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      karikamiya (profile), Apr 7th, 2012 @ 7:29am

      Re:

      scientist here.

      from a purely technical viewpoint, a woman IS pregnant between 1-3 weeks before conception.

      everything is set up and waiting for the sperm to enter the field. if they don't show for whatever reason, the womans body will abort what it set up, flushing everything down the vagina . thats called a period.

       

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        abc gum, Apr 7th, 2012 @ 12:26pm

        Re: Re:

        "from a purely technical viewpoint, a woman IS pregnant between 1-3 weeks before conception."

        What, exactly, is "technical" about that statement?
        What sort of "scientist" are you claiming to be?

        Do you agree with the premise of sperm person-hood?

         

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        Sean (profile), Apr 7th, 2012 @ 1:47pm

        Re: Re:

        A female is not pregnant until conception. Period. That is the "technical viewpoint". And, it's the viewpoint a biologist would have.

        Obviously your claim of being a "scientist" is either wrong or your field is something other than biology. (Maybe basket weaving?) My guess is that you are no scientist. I have my doubts that anyone well versed in science would use the term "period" to refer to menstruation.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 12:39pm

    This comment is not intended to offend any anal-retentive analheads in Anal-zone-uh.

     

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    Josef Anvil (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 12:39pm

    Ummmm

    "How do people like this get elected?"

    They make sure they are in tight with as many of the local churches as possible and they state how they will uphold and fight for morality when elected. They promise a return to family values and anything else the congregation wants imposed on all the sinners and evil doers. Remember that faith doesn't require rationality (but rather abhors it).

    Then that highly energized and motivated group goes out and votes.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 8:06pm

      Re: Ummmm

      You were molested by a priest, yes?

       

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      Chargone (profile), Apr 8th, 2012 @ 6:09am

      Re: Ummmm

      'course, they do the same or equivalent for every special interest group who's members are likely to vote in large numbers and any corporation or business etc likely to be willing to br... err... sorry... contribute to their campaign funds.

      politicians, you know.

      (here abouts, they instead have blatantly corrupt opinion polls run as news as if they were fact to discourage their opponent's supporters from voting while offering unsuportable tax cuts... heck, the current lot won the election that put them in power by promising Not to carry out their unpopular policies (that were pretty much inevitably going to happen eventually due to being fundamental to their 'more money in our pockets' ideology) which is stupid because they only promised not to do that for One term, and if you get a first term you're pretty much garanteed a second due to the weird nature of the electorate here unless you screw up most royally. a combination of that fact and the blatant propaganda campaign pretending to be reporting on the elections (those corrupt polls and onesided reports again) got them in a second time despite This time making the single most hated thing in NZ politics (government selling vital infrastructure and revenue streams to foreign interests, for the short version) the most visable part of their campaign platform. squeeked in with EXACTLY 50%+1 seats after adding in the one seat the only party willing to form a coalition with them in light of the poison that is that platform managed to get. had they got even one seat less we might have seen the, otherwise insane sounding and highly unlikely, outcome of EVERY other party forming a coalition to keep them out. ... it was that unpopular. 1/4th of the eligable voters did not vote, incidentally, so any claim that they have a mandate for such activity dies quickly)

      gah, WAY off topic there. sorry. (not sorry enough to eliminate it, but still..)

       

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    sehlat (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 12:44pm

    Three Stages of Political Thinking

    1. To Self: "Appear to be doing something."

    2. To Colleagues: "We'll find out what's in the bill after we've passed it."

    3. To Public: "We certainly didn't intend the bill to be used for that!"

     

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    mgroop (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 12:47pm

    Steve Farley

    A slight mistake in your article. Steve Farley represents District 28, which is in Tucson not Phoenix.

     

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    Nate, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    "How do people like this get elected?"

    Everyone else who was crazy enough to want the job had already been committed to the psych ward.

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 12:50pm

    "How do people like this get elected?"

    Through 2 min ads come election time.

     

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    Wade Erickson (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 1:00pm

    Welcome to Arizona, where it's illegal to call someone an asshole, but it's legal to shoot them for being one.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 1:10pm

    Rather than amend the law, they should all just resign for being so out of touch with the constitution.

     

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      An Embarrased AZ resident..., Apr 6th, 2012 @ 1:13pm

      Re:

      Sadly, the politicians here are right in line with the high percentage of Catholic and Mormon residents in the state.

       

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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 1:12pm

    Yes, thanks to a rather loud public mocking of Arizona politicians...


    Well as long as they didn't do it online and in Arizona that's fine.

     

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    Brandt Hardin, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    Suppressing Freedom of Speech is "Annoying"

    Internet decency laws are solutions looking for problems and a gross violation of Freedom of Speech. These statutes have absolutely NO affect on cyber-bullying and only serve to be a lightning-rod for the ACLU and other watchdog groups, wasting taxpayers’ time and money to no avail. A similar law was passed just last summer here in Tennessee, which I responded to with a “potentially offensive” portrait of our Governor Bill Haslam and his First Lady to bring attention to the issue on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/07/potentially-offensive-portrait-governor.html To date, not a single charge has been filed enforcing this frivolous and dangerous law including myself.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 1:30pm

    they get elected because of how dumb they are. they dont have a clue about anything. that makes it easy for certain corporations/ industries/individuals to stick a hand up their back and work them like the puppets they are! the frightening thing is that all the fuck ups they make affect thousands of people and trying to justify those fuck ups with complete bull shit just makes them look worse! best choice is to get the hell out of politics before someone really takes offense at what they are doing!

     

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    another mike (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 1:35pm

    Welcome to Arizona!

    My representatives no longer represent me. The only way this law survives a constitutional challenge is if the judges are as stupid as the politicians that wrote the bill. #welcometoarizona

     

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    GMacGuffin (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 2:34pm

    ...

    ... not to mention that it has been illegal to threaten violence online since before there was an "online" with which to threaten people. (18 USC 875 - threats in interstate commerce [just try to send an email without it crossing a state line]; http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/18/I/41/875)

     

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    Androgynous Cowherd, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 2:45pm

    How do people like this get elected?


    By grandstanding exactly like this. They'll say "This is a problem and I did something when no-one else would!", get reelected, then later comes the benchslap. Same as with all the laws passed against violent video games and then struck down by the courts.

    The scary thing is that one of these days some legislators will go further and start complaining about how all their good deeds keep getting undone by pesky judges and that pesky First Amendment and introduce the Fortieth Amendment to repeal free speech...calling it the Protect America from Bullying, Violence, and Cyberterror Act or whatever.

     

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      silverscarcat (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 8:11pm

      Re:

      That wouldn't pass.

      You need to get 2/3rds of BOTH Houses of Congress, plus 3/4ths of the States to agree.

      Just because Arizona is so stupid doesn't mean every state is.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 3:05pm

    " How do people like this get elected? "

    They wave a 'Magic Book'.
    That's all it takes to convince the stupid.

     

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    Dave, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 3:24pm

    Politicians no surprise it's what we have come to expect. Put a turd in a suit pay it lots of money it's still a turd.

     

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    Sonia, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 4:48pm

    Yay! The end to electronic annoyance!

    I love this bill!

    Now I can sue all those telemarketers who use the electronics of the phone system to call me. And I can sue all those companies who spam me. An I can sue all those politicians who captured my name from petitions or donation forms and are spamming me.

    And I can sue all of the companies who advertise on TV, because they are using electronics to show me things I find offensive, like crappy McDonald's food and diamonds and beer buddies. And I can sue advertisers on websites, because I find their ads offensive when their graphics slow down my browsing.

    I'm going to be rich!

     

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    Drew (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 9:30pm

    If they keep this it will be sad for Arizona. Give it 10 years and it will be illegal to simply say how about this weather.

     

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    Watchit (profile), Apr 6th, 2012 @ 10:47pm

    Technology is not the only thing they don't understand

    "At that point, shouldn't you back away from mucking with the internet, and leave that to the professionals who actually understand technology?"

    It sounds those aren't the only professionals they need. It's obvious they don't know the basics of how the constitution and laws work in real life...

    Is it sad that those who are our supposedly "professional" politicians, don't know how government and politics work at all?

     

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    Small Pox, Apr 6th, 2012 @ 11:41pm

    Wow.

    "How do people like this get elected?"
    Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, is my guess. Enough voters in AZ are victims of mommies drinking the fetus into a stupor that they elect these Drunken Fetus Babies into office.

     

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    foxcrawl (profile), Apr 7th, 2012 @ 3:40am

    There appear to be total mess in Arizona,,,ehh, politicians

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2012 @ 4:37am

    "I don’t think it's right we should ever be able to threaten violence against each other online."

    I think its perfectly acceptable in a sitution where a government or corporation has become so complacent that, when they ask you to jump, they expect us to say, how high.

    I dont see a free and open FUTURE with that kind of mentality, and as much as i feel violence should never be used, in some cases its the only path thats been left, as seen by some of the uprisings these past months

     

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    Serious Offenses, Apr 7th, 2012 @ 5:49am

    innernet

    The entire Arizona legislature has written something that is obviously intended to offend us all...CRIMINALS!!!

     

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    JR, Apr 7th, 2012 @ 7:08am

    Its a great bill!

    I find Email for viagra, fake drugs, "free Cruses" offensive. Prosecute the SOBs.

     

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    Thomas (profile), Apr 8th, 2012 @ 7:13am

    Arizona

    This state is becoming so crazy that I fear to go there. The cops do racial profiling, don't accept out-of-state ID, can demand papers from anyone, and can jail you if they think you are an illegal alien. Now this? How do the people elect such idiots? Are the business backers sitting at the polling sites and giving people $5 each for their votes? Isn't that illegal?

    It boggles my mind at what's coming next from that state.

    I can't imagine going there for a vacation anymore.

     

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    naraphim, Apr 8th, 2012 @ 3:32pm

    civility

    The first amendment is a foundation of American civility - more so than any bill regulating online etiquette. It is bizarre to think civility would be advanced by compromising a guarantor of free speech.

     

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