Arizona legislature passes Internet censorship bill to make ‘offensive’ speech illegal

“The Arizona State Legislature on Monday passed an Internet censorship bill that extends telephone harassment laws to the Internet and other means of electronic communication,” Dan Graziano reports for BGR.

“The legislation aims to put an end to cyberbullying and states that virtually anything said online that the state deems ‘offensive’ can be a punishable offense,” Graziano reports. “Law enforcement officials will be able to charge Internet lawbreakers with a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail.”

Graziano reports, “Opponents of the legislation argue that the vague wording of the bill could lead to a crack down on public message boards such as 4Chan and Reddit, thus infringing upon basic American freedoms. The bill is currently on the Governor’s desk waiting to be signed into law or vetoed.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Wonder what would have been deemed “offensive” to “the state” back in July 1776? Oh, yeah, the United States Declaration of Independence.

Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. – Potter Stewart

The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. – John Gilmore

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Joe Architect” for the heads up.]

80 Comments

    1. … no intention of blocking racist speech. Still, speech attacking a one-time Reagan staffer could get you in trouble.
      Now, y’all go back and read what you posted when a one-time REAGAN STAFFER suggested Apple try to do a bit to HELP America. What might happen to you if I raise an issue about that? Hmm? 😉

  1. “Offensive” is so broad and so subjective that this is absolutely asinine. The 1st edition Newspeak dictionaries will be in the mailboxes shortly. Study it. Know it. And be sure to modify your speech habits with each subsequent edition. Welcome to Oceania.

    This is not a Republican/Democrat problem either. “Political Correctness” arose in the U.S. during Bill Clinton’s term, but has been allowed to alter out society regardless of the party in the White House or the Congress.

    And this instance is not a 10th amendment “States’ Rights” issue either, since that only deals with thing not enumerated in the Constitution. The 1st amendment is being violated here.

    1. What rarely gets discussed in the media is that many of the evangelicals who compose a significant portion of the ‘conservative’ movement quite openly desire a theocracy- an ‘evangelical christian’ theocracy in their minds.

      1. What has THAT got to do with Free Speech and Censorship?

        I hear more of the so called “evangelical christian” ‘conservatives’ arguing FOR free speech and freedom.

        Since you “connected” the them to this Censorship thread, it sounds like you are FOR censorship!

      2. BTW: DMac = bibleguys

        I often consider myself a conservative Christian, but I think in many ways I am more libertarian than the strict definition of conservative. I am very strict in my beliefs, and practice them openly. I also believe that Jesus Christ it the only way to salvation. However, I do not force anyone to accept my views.

        Outside of the religious argument: let’s take smoking for instance. I do not smoke. (Full disclosure: I don’t necessarily think that smoking is even a sin, as it doesn’t appear to be defined as such in Scripture. However, addiction seems to indicate a sinful condition in Scripture, so I would lean towards any addict as being in a sinful condition). I don’t smoke. I have never smoked (except for 2nd-hand smoke). But I don’t feel that smoking should be illegal. If a restaurateur wants to accommodate smokers, he should have every right. If people want to smoke in a restaurant, they should be able to go to his restaurant. It is his investment — his money on the line. If someone finds smoke offensive when they eat, then go somewhere else. If his sales suffer because he allows smoking, then he will alter his policy, and offer separate dining rooms or disallow smoking altogether. But it should not be up to one segment of the people to dictate the expression of legal behavior to others (tobacco is still legal).

        I am an evangelical Christian, and believe that our nation (USA) was founded with consideration of Judeo-Christian values, but you cannot legislate people into Christianity. Liberty is the best environment for Christians and non-christians to share ideas and witness which yields the best outcome.

        Also, it should not be illegal to read the Bible in public places, nor should it be illegal to share your faith openly. If some Hari Krisha guy walks up to me, I can just walk away, or even benefit from hearing his point of view, even if I disagree. But there is a push to silence all views that disagree with the State. And that is a scary, slippery slope.

        1. @ bibleguys / DMac:
          Thanks for your comment above. It’s reasoned and blessedly free of incendiary rhetoric. I applaud people who can present their opinions in such a manner.

          However, what you state does not match the perception of the general public of what we currently refer to as evangelical Christians. That term has evolved to (unfortunately) mean a group of intolerant religionists who want to force their beliefs on everyone else in our pluralistic society. Whenever some legislator sponsors a bill that is counter to the secular beliefs and actions of over 75% of the state or country, in the name of God, then that reinforces this belief. When some preacher advocates burning religious texts of another faith, that reinforces this perception. When a fertilized egg is legislated into becoming a living human, and it therefore must be protected as a human life, but then that human is abandoned by the State after birth, these actions further reinforce this perception.

          I do, however, really really have positive feeling and great joy for those true Christians who follow the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, and who can accept Him rather than the incendiary rhetoric of some preachers whose only motto is “In Gold We Trust.”

          Further, I do not feel that coercive conversion of anyone from their own personal faith or belief to Christianity is beneficial to anyone. I also do not believe that one must be “saved” in order to lead a charitable, loving, and caring life. Based on your third paragraph, I think your feelings and mine are very close. We may not agree on everything but I am sure we are on the same page.

          Thanks again for your comments.

      3. Actually it gets discussed too much considering the fact that it is almost total bullshit.

        I’ve been a Conservative since I was 14.
        I am not religious.
        I have many religious friends and relatives.
        I also have many Conservative friends and relatives.
        You are none of these.
        Which of us would be ‘in the know’?

        I think if there was some ‘conspiracy’ to turn DC into the ‘Tehran of the West’ I would know about it.

        Of course there are always some delusional freaks of any persuasion that want only their beliefs to rule all.

        That has nothing to do with the Christian faith, even if they use it for a backdrop, just as many do with secularism.

    2. There are references to the term going back around 1790 in the US government.

      It really started its current run-up in the 1970s and I’ll agree it hit a new gear during Clinton’s term in office.

        1. Hey, Arizona legislators:

          Suck my Johnson. Now come and get me.

          In the 1880s in Montana it was a crime to spread information about contraception.

          Say, Arizona nitwits; please don’t presume to dictate to me what I may think and how I may express my thoughts.

          The proper response to bad speech is better speech.

    1. I’m becoming convinced that Arizona has something in the water supply and it’s not good.

      What’s particularly ironic about this case is that a lot of the conservatives that gather at this particular virtual water-cooler have often expressed themselves as being sworn enemies of the ACLU (and other so-called ‘libtard’ organisations).

      But it will be the left-wing, commie (insert any other invective from users like Patriot) ACLU who will land up taking this law (if enacted: I’m not sure Brewer is that stupid) to a Federal court as a First Amendment issue.

      We had a case like this in the UK about ten days ago, where the ‘perp’ got six weeks in prison which was widely condemned as being ‘over the top’ as a penalty even though what he said was vile and reprehensible.

      The problem is some people are vile and reprehensible, some are just controversial: where do you draw the line? I don’t think people like Limbaugh or Ed Schultz [??] use their First Amendment rights particularly effectively – neither of them are Thomas Paine, that’s for darn certain – but then that’s a question for their audiences.

      If you want people in the media to be more civil and more constructive, demand more civility. If you don’t want to read offensive tweets, Twitter should give you the tools to exclude the offender and – as importantly – make sure that he/she knows that their tweets are being ignored by the online population: nothing disables a bully more than if they know their actions are being ignored.

      I wish that WordPress had an “exclude anonymous posts” feature so I could exclude the idiot that keeps on posting at MDN under the cover of a hundred different names. The poster in question doesn’t bring anything of any value to their comments – they’re simply a troll looking for attention.

      Just because someone has the right to talk or write things that some people find offensive doesn’t make it a right to make people listen or read.

      1. Regrettably, even if there were such a feature in WordPress, Twitter (or FB, or any other medium), it would see rather limited use. Fiery vitriol simply sells well. In a country of 300 million people, there will be plenty who will love to listen to vile and reprehensible things, regardless of who delivers them. Few of us who are offended can easily turn off Limbaugh, Beck, or whoever are the names on the other side of American political public discourse, but most of their public will happily pick one or the other and blissfully enjoy extreme talk, as offensive, vile and reprehensible as it may be to the opposite side.

        Unfortunately, such is the state of political maturity in America…

      1. And here is the Executive Director of that group
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Horowitz

        Now here is a group that is for it, and for good reason on their part
        http://www.azcadv.org/

        Now, if you are serious about getting facts and looking at a situation objectionably, then you have to laugh at some of the pathetic comments posted here today.

        But, of course, facts can’t stop stupidity OR hate.
        (Let’s see that open-mindedness many of you claim to have, or is that a brain injury you speak of….?)

    1. Umm, I don’t think wanting to stop cyber-bullying has anything to do with religion.

      It’s just another example of a well-intentioned law having unintended side effects. Happens all the time. With any luck, the Governor will veto it.

        1. I know who the Governor is. Just because you don’t agree with her, doesn’t make her stupid or incompetent.

          It’s that kind of attitude that has put this country’s political climate in the dumps.

        2. I don’t agree with Brewer on 99.999% of the things she says or does. But she’s smart enough to recognise that some of the stuff that comes across her desk from the legislature is just plain nuts as she did with the first attempt by the legislature to pander to the whole Birther nonsense that still finds fertile ground with many in her state including that idiot Arpaio.

          She’ll veto it because she won’t want to be made a laughing stock by the ACLU.

    2. You mean, like the Founding Fathers?

      “While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.” – George Washington

      “I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.” – Thomas Jefferson

      The Constitution and the Bill of Rights — Brought to you by Bible Thumpers.

        1. Interesting idea. Slavery in America was despicable, because it was race-based. However slavery in a way (not the way of early America) is actually biblical (and more just). For instance, if someone steals and destroys your car, in America we catch them and put them in jail. Your suffer the loss of the vehicle, the nonsense of replacing it, and also have to pay taxes to support the criminal’s incarceration. In the Bible, if the person could not pay you back DOUBLE THE VALUE OF THE STOLEN PROPERTY, he had to work for you until it was paid off. That is clearly slavery (indentured servitude, or other euphemism may be preferred – but it is a form of slavery). This way justice is served: punishment is enforced AND restitution is guaranteed. Our justice system lacks the latter element. No race of men should be thought of as inferior (that is also biblical: that all men are made of ONE BLOOD).

          Since Jesus claimed that He agreed with the law of Moses (he also claimed to have been its author), I would argue that he would certainly approve of slavery as He defined it. In fact, when the centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant (slave), Jesus didn’t rebuke him for having a slave, but just healed. And the Bible also tells us that the borrower is the slave of the lender. Many of us are indebted, and are therefore not free to just skip work or something, because there are those who have claim to our money and our possessions since we borrowed the money to buy stuff (cars, houses, etc.) So, our debt-based society is, in effect, not slave free, is it? It’s just a different expression. (And the Bible requires us to pay back debts we accrue.)

      1. How about not quoting things out of context?

        “I, too, have made a wee-little book from the same materials, which I call the Philosophy of Jesus; it is a paradigma of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book, and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what its author never said nor saw. They have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man, of which the great reformer of the vicious ethics and deism of the Jews, were he to return on earth, would not recognize one feature.”

        Letter to Charles Thomson (9 January 1816), on his The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth (the “Jefferson Bible”), which omits all Biblical passages asserting Jesus’ virgin birth, miracles, divinity, and resurrection.

        Source: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson

        In other words, Jefferson was the exact opposite of a bible thumper.

      2. You misunderstand Jefferson. He rejected the crazy letters of St. Paul and much of the man-made Christian theology. He was obsessed with discerning exactly what Jesus said while on earth. Of course, if Jesus is God, it would be very important to know and understand what He told us.

        Hey, Arizona, your legislature is broken and spewing crap. Get it fixed.

    1. Ummm are you serious? Free speak on the Internet is related to everyone who uses a computer.

      If this does not interest or effect you then go back under your rock where there’s no wifi signal!

  2. Arizona is widely known to be a very ‘conservative’ state where Republicans are the majority and most Democrats are quite conservative. Given all that, WTF with the ‘Big Brother’ government initiatives coming from ‘conservatives’ in all levels of government?

    In most things I agree with the concept that the government that governs least rules best, and this has traditionally been a hallmark of ‘conservatism’ (little c). So why is it that newly elected Republican majorities at the state level are censoring schoolbooks, attempting to censor the internet, censoring conversation between doctors and patients, censoring speech between teachers and students, prescribing medical procedures without a medical license and crawling right up into the wombs of women?

    Additionally, our ‘conservative’ U.S. Supreme Court has now ruled that police can strip search citizens for even routine arrests- yes this is the Roberts Court. This is the same bunch that declared corporations persons for political speech- favoring corporate personal privacy but not your ‘human’ privacy.

    Can we just stop pretending that Teabaggers and NeoCons are not ‘conservatives’ at all and call them something more appropriate to their policies and tendencies? They seem to be borderline authoritarians with no regard for personal privacy, liberty or property.

      1. Liberals are guilty of the same. They don’t want any opposing views. That’s the problem with this law, because what is deemed offensive will be different depending on the controlling party.

        It’s like setting the speed limit to 55 mph, but not having strictly defined the standard mile. It only works because everyone has agreed that 1 mile = 5280 ft.

        Since the definition of “offensive” can’t be universally agreed upon, then no statue outline that which is offensive should ever be passed!

    1. Yeah, real conservatives just call them Republicans. It’s been a long time since that party truly represented anything resembling the conservative doctrine.

      The Tea Party (see how I did that without using condescension? amazing!), at least represents one facet of conservatism.

      The censorship thing is not only limited to the Republican party. The Protect IP Act (PIPA), was sponsored by a Vermont Democrat.

      As for the abortion thing, I don’t think your argument here is valid either. To someone like me, who believes abortion is, quite literally, murder, the government should do everything in its power to stop, or at the very least, limit it. From my point of view, it’s no different than the police attempting to stop a murder from happening anywhere else. Obviously not everyone shares that point of view.

      1. The Tea Party “teabaggers’ are 3 entities:
        1- A Koch funded national coordination headed by Dick Armey- former Republican Leader/Corrupt Texas Politician for Sale (I repeat myself). Ties to Americans for Prosperity and a whole range of Koch funded groups.
        2- The reactionary tin-foil hat wearing arm of the Republican experience that has always been around. They are always afraid of some bogeyman- real or imagined. They think owning 50 guns somehow makes them safer than owning 40 guns despite having only 2 hands, which explains they rush out and buy more every time a Democrat gets elected President. They are also on the lookout for the secret detention camps Obama has been building for the coming ‘moslem’ revolution.
        3- Typical low information US voters- sometimes, but not always, poorly educated- who hold greater stock in the water cooler rumor mill than the Scientific American, peer reviewed science, etc. They can tell you Mantle’s average against RH pitching in night games during the 1960 season but cannot tell you the name of their Representative, Senators, Council Member, Governor or Mayor. If they can, they probably cannot tell you more than one thing he/she stands for or has done. Most commonly watch Fox News Channel and really think there is a Left Wing Bias in the MSM (too bad it’s not true).

          1. +1.

            And while I find the term to be offensive (since it is explicitly intended to be so), I do not think it should be outlawed. It merely punctuates the fact that the person using it cannot simply make a point based on facts, but must also use slurs against those who hold an opposing view.

  3. Wait a minute, the extremist right polititards on this forum blast me as a communist/socialist censorship fanatic for wanting MDN to enforce a “registered users only” policy for posting on this forum, but their like-minded ilk in Arizona are attempting to institute ambiguously defined government censorship on Internet traffic?

    I would love to hear a cogent defense of that inconsistency.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.