Hartford, CT: Democrat Connecticut lawmakers are trying to set a dangerous precedent by passing a law targeting the limiting of free speech.
That’s about as anti-American as it gets.
The legislature is looking to create a “censorship board” to regulate online speech through Senate Bill 6410. The board would consist of nine committee members, with four positions held by the Republican party. The reported aim of the bill is to use the board to study “harassment” of certain individuals, specifically government officials, and recommend further legislation to create reporting guidelines, essentially censoring/limiting free speech.
According to Bill 6410, it has several stated goals. The bill states:
Such assessment shall include, but need not be limited to,
(1) short term and long-term effects of harassing behaviors online on elected officials, public officials, and residents of this state,
(2) what state or municipal action is needed to address negative online behaviors that consider a citizen’s right to freedom of speech versus an individual’s right to be free from harassment including, but not limited to, potential changes in state law concerning additional penalties or enforcement of online harassment, and
(3) establishing guidelines for the reporting of online harassment of elected state and municipal officials that find a balance between making elected officials accessible to the people whom they serve and protecting them from abusive, offensive, or threatening online harassment.
Now there is a clear distinction between harassing behavior and threatening comments. Under no circumstances do we endorse threats against anyone. Credible threats typically include a means by which the actor can follow through with the threat. A threat that is specific in nature and a threat that can be carried out.
However, harassing behavior is much more subjective, whether online or in person, and is often not anywhere near the level of seriousness of a threat. In fact, harassing a government official has been part of Americana for decades, even longer. It is no different than a citizen voicing his displeasure towards an elected official walking into his public office building. Comments towards officials targeting their performance, criticizing their policies, or demanding they resign should not be viewed as harassing, but rather as exercising one’s free speech.
This applies both in-person and online.
This is why creating a committee to determine what is “harassment” and developing additional legislation is an attack on free speech.
Why It’s Dangerous
This bill poses a clear threat to our Democracy and cannot be tolerated. Being a Democrat-led state, it is no surprise Connecticut is introducing this bill.
The problem lies in the national implications it poses. Many laws are passed and later adopted by other states. With a bill that focuses on limiting free speech, it sets a dangerous precedent in that it may inspire other states to enact similar laws. Furthermore, once a law of this nature is passed, it encourages other, more invasive laws to be introduced.
Where will it end?
Any law that attacks the Constitution should not be tolerated. One of the ways to counter this type of bill is through awareness. We urge all our members and merchants alike to contact your representatives and voice your concerns, whatever they may be. Even if you do it to a perceived point of “harassment”, you are still encouraging a true Democratic function that must never change.