Guy Charged With Harassment For Sending Email Complaint To Senator Jim Bunning
from the careful-who-you-get-angry-with dept
We’ve talked multiple times about the problems with various online “harassment” laws, many of which are written so broadly as to outlaw using email to try to “annoy” someone. Basically, they try to outlaw being a jerk, which doesn’t seem to make sense if you believe in the First Amendment.
With the recent situation involving AT&T threatening to take legal action against a customer for sending a complaint email to AT&T’s CEO, it seems like lots of people are overreacting to email complaints. The latest is Senator Jim Bunning, from Kentucky. Bunning got a lot of attention back in February when he decided to become a one-man filibuster against extending unemployment benefits (much to the annoyance of politicians from both major parties). DavidClerk alerts us to the news that Bruce Shore, an unemployed man in Philadelphia, got so upset at Bunning that <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/25/bruce-shore-unemployed-ph_n_588798.html” target=_blank”>he sent some angry emails to Bunning and his staff. Fair enough. These are the basics of representative democracy.
The emails were definitely angry, but it’s a stretch to claim they are real harassment. Yes, the final line could cut it close, but is hardly a direct threat.
I am at a LOSS of words for SENATOR BUNTING blocking unemployment benefits for me and my children. If I do NOT get my check next week I WILL HAVE NO FOOD AND WILL BE ON THE STREET.
What kind of people are you? 10 Billion goes to the war every couple days and to Wall street weekly. I want my benefits or there will be people starving and dying.
What is wrong with you people. NOW is NOT the time to play politics with childrens lives.
ARE you’all insane. NO checks equal no food for me. DO YOU GET IT??
IF THIS POLITICAL GRANDSTANDING DOES NOT END TODAY – WE WILL COME TO YOUR OFFICES AND MAKE OUR POINT. YOU ARE PLAYING A LIFE AND DEATH GAME HERE.
DO YOU GET IT.
Louisville, KY 40202
Now there are lots of ways Bunning and his staff could respond to such emails. But the way he did respond was to get the Capitol Police and the FBI involved leading to the guy being indicted for online harassment, specifically that he “did utilize a telecommunications device, that is a computer, whether or not communication ensued, without disclosing his identity and with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, and harass any person who received the communication.” You can see the indictment here: