Kentucky Senators Pass Bill That Would Make It A Crime To Say Mean Things To Cops

from the finally-getting-'contempt-of-cop'-added-to-the-law-books dept

A bill [PDF] that’s likely headed to a dead end at the governor’s desk or a state court targets protected speech that might make some cops angry. The bill may end up dead, but the Kentucky Senate still needs to explain how it let the bill pass, considering it contains this very, very stupid addition, presumably courtesy of the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Danny Carroll — a former police officer.

The bill converts free speech into a second degree misdemeanor. And it only targets speech that targets certain public employees.

Accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words, or by gestures or other physical contact, that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person.

That’s right. Seven of ten Senators want to make it illegal to say bad things to police officers. Anything that “provokes” a cop is off-limits. And it assumes cops are “reasonable and prudent people.” Maybe they are. But “reasonable and prudent” public servants — especially those frequently engaged in heated situations where they’re supposed to be the keepers of peace — should have a higher bar to reach before they react to these undefined fighting words.

We should expect more from our cops. These state Senators want us to expect less. This conduct was never illegal before, but following protests in the state over killings by cops, people like Danny Carroll want to codify “contempt of cop.”

Carroll insinuates cops are weak individuals who aren’t able to keep their cool when confronted by unhappy members of the public. Maybe this is what’s actually true. And a law like this allows them to act on their worst impulses and — never mind the First Amendment — actually punish people for engaging in what should be protected speech.

Behold your jackbooted snowflakes, apparently in need of protection from… syllables.

“In these riots, you see people getting up in officers’ faces, yelling in their ears, doing everything they can to provoke a violent response,” Carroll said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Yeah. That’s kind of thing is going to happen during protests. And it’s not a crime anywhere. According to Carroll’s former cop mentality, it’s the people who need to be punished for making cops angry, rather than cops for violating people’s First Amendment rights.

The beatings will continue until police morale improves.

“I’m not saying the officers do that, but there has to be a provision within that statute to allow officers to react to that. Because that does nothing but incite those around that vicinity and it furthers and escalates the riotous behavior,” he continued.

Carroll could not be more wrong. Cops should not be “allowed” to “react” to angry people saying angry things — not by internal policy and very definitely not by state mandate. That’s not how the law works and that sure as shit isn’t how the Constitution works.

Everything Carroll offers in defense of his indefensible bill is… well, indefensible.

Carroll noted the bill wasn’t about limiting lawful protest “in any way, shape, form or fashion.”

“This country was built on lawful protest, and it’s something that we must maintain — our citizens’ right to do so. What this deals with are those who cross the line and commit criminal acts,” he said.

Ah, but it does limit lawful protests. It makes it illegal to say mean things to cops, which is something that happens at lawful protests. And no one crosses the legal line by being mean to cops. The law makes the logic of his statement conveniently circular. Make something that wasn’t previously illegal illegal and suddenly things that never “crossed the line” into criminality will now will cross the line into criminality.

Saying protesters shouldn’t do things that are illegal is incredibly disingenuous when you’re passing an anti-protest omnibus that makes angering a police officer using nothing more than words a criminal offense.

And that’s not the only thing the bill does. It redefines “riot” to mean any group of more than five people that “substantially obstructs law enforcement or other government functions.” It provides sentence enhancements for engaging in rioting even if the person did not directly engage in the riots but committed a crime anywhere else “with knowledge that a riot was occurring.” It denies probation or early release for anyone convicted of this new crime. It turns resisting arrest and obstructing traffic from misdemeanors to felonies if it occurs while a riot is taking place.

And it fights defunding efforts by mandating steadily increasing funding for law enforcement agencies:

Governmental entities responsible for the funding of the various law enforcement agencies shall maintain and improve their respective financial support to the Commonwealth’s law enforcement agencies…

It’s a whole pile of retaliation with some stupid dumped on top of it. These legislators think cops shouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of their actions — consequences that sometimes include violent riots. But then they don’t think cops should just have to stand there and take when angry people shout angry things at them. These legislators are wrong about almost all of this, but especially wrong about that. If the governor doesn’t send this pile of idiocy packing, a court will soon enough.

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Comments on “Kentucky Senators Pass Bill That Would Make It A Crime To Say Mean Things To Cops”

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31 Comments
This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Honestly: we can consider this bill… but only if it’s a criminal offense for senators to insult their constituents, and the victims pet cat MUST preside over the trial. If the victim doesn’t have a pet cat, they must be given a free choice of breed. If they have cat allergies, they must be provided with a sufficiently strong anti-alergine (with zero other side effects).

I think this would be a reasonable exchange (though it’s kind of based on reason being tossed out to begin with).

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
David says:

You got one thing wrong:

or by gestures or other physical contact, that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person.

And you comment as follows:

Anything that "provokes" a cop is off-limits. And it assumes cops are "reasonable and prudent people."

Nope. It assumes nothing of the sort. For example, there are things that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response in a rabid crocodile from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person.

Nobody here assumes that police officers are reasonable and prudent. The assumption merely is that reasonable and prudent persons know that rabid crocodiles are bad news that you want to tread around very very lightly or face some unpleasant consequences.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’ll see your naked cowboy and raise with;

"If cops were reasonable people I could not point you to this: George Floyd…Breonna Taylor…Antwon Rose…"

Let’s face it, when you can point to hundreds or even thousands of wrongful deaths and police kill statistics exceed actual murder statistics by criminals in some other countries, then that points to cops having gone well beyond what the word "unreasonable" will cover.

At this point it’s safer to state that US cops simply consist of a few serial killers and a large amount of spineless coat holders in all too many states and municipalities.

Even disregarding the triggerhappy joykillers with paid memberships in some right-wing extremist militia or other we still have those who simply are too dumb for words. Like the ones whose response to a gasoline-drenched would-be suicide was to tase him, thereby burning the man to death.

The old style soviet border agent was "unreasonable". He just kept saying "Nyet". And "No visa."
US police officers? They’re something else. Something you normally wouldn’t expect to find outside third world hellholes.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

It’s really telling that the most ardent defenders of cops generally describe them as if they’re rabid dogs with an irrational penchant for violence who could go off at any random provocation rather than oath-sworn public servants wielding great responsibility and a sacred duty to uphold the laws of our society.

"Don’t piss off the cops or they might shoot you or at least tase you!"

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: fair is fair

"Black people who mouth off to cops generally end up in the morgue so perhaps it’s only fair white people should have to mind their manners too?"

This is once again one of those cases where two wrongs don’t make one right. An officer of the law is someone trusted to bear arms and more importantly, bear the government violence monopoly.

No sane person would want that responsibility to be born by thin-skinned snowflakes taught that they are entitled to be above and beyond any and all criticism.

Paul B says:

What is a Riot

Personally I love how it fails to define what a Riot is. So let’s look at that for a moment…

KRS 525.010(5) defines riot as a public disturbance involving an assemblage of five or more persons which by tumultuous and violent conduct creates grave danger of damage or injury to property or persons or substantially obstructs law enforcement or other government function.

5 guys holding flags someplace in town or the Portland Riots that lasted a month give cover to charge you with rioting if you Jwalk now. Way to go!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

'Won't someone think of the snowflakes in uniform?!'

Some people just will not or can not read the room. People are pissed because police are already given special rights and treatment above and beyond what the public gets, this bill is just adding fuel to the fire by further reinforcing the idea that some animals are most certainly more equal than others and need to be ‘protected’ at all costs(from consequences for their own actions).

If someone can’t handle mean words said to them then a job that regularly involves interactions with highly stressed members of the public is clearly well beyond their abilities to handle, and the proper response is for them to find another job not pass a law making it illegal to be anything less than subserviently polite to cops.

Arguing that police shouldn’t have to face mean words is just as stupid as trying to pass a bill claiming that it’s unreasonable to expect lifeguards to be able to swim or butchers to see blood or raw meat. It’s part of the gorram job, if you can’t handle it then the problem is on you, not the job.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words, or by gestures or other physical contact, that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person.

Wait. There’s a HUGE assumption there. If someone, say a LEO, accosted, insulted, taunted, or challenged me with offensive or derisive words, or by gestures or other physical contact, it’s unlikely that ANYTHING would provoke a violent response from me, a reasonable and prudent person.

So… WHY do they think a reasonable and prudent person would think that ANY such behavior should be expected to provoke a violent response from a LEO, who has supposedly been thoroughly trained in how to confront people without escalating to violence?

I mean, this bill is either admitting that LEOs in the state are improperly trained and condones that, or is stating that reasonable and prudent people are OK with escalating acts of violence.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

WHY do they think a reasonable and prudent person would think that ANY such behavior should be expected to provoke a violent response from a LEO, who has supposedly been thoroughly trained in how to confront people without escalating to violence?

It’s obvious that a significant-enough number of lawmakers have never worked retail. Register jockeys catch more shit on their best day than most cops catch on their worst, and those wage slaves (generally) don’t pop shittalkers in the mouth for talking shit.

Anonymous Coward says:

BLUE SNOWFLAKE BILL

they may as well put out a sign that says "we violate rights!" and it "pays well."
the first time this illegal law is used will be the last time it is used! the city, county, state would end up settling a major lawsuit for rights violations!

EVERYTHING about this bill screams unconstitutional and is designed to be used and abused! the blue lies mafia already have way too many protections as it is now!

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