The New York State Senate, under cover of protecting under-eighteen year-olds from ‘cyberbullying’ have advanced a bill that presents the government with a far-reaching tool to silence a wide range of speech it decides has violated their law.
I’ll let you explore Eugene Volokh’s examination of potential issues for speech suppression here, but I wanted to make the point that this exercise is no different than the progressive motivations on health care. Expand Medicaid. Expand Medicare. When they meet, you’ve got single-payer health care.
In the case of speech, they are using the idea of protecting “children” from “harassment or bullying” “through any form of electronic communication,” as a tool for whittling away at Free Speech.
Take some time to read the scenario’s outlined at the link but here are some concluding thoughts from the piece.
I understand the desire to protect minors, including older teenagers, from insults. Humans are social animals, and the good opinion of those around us matters a lot to us; seeing evidence that people think ill of us can be devastating. But I don’t think that can justify suppressing the speech that I describe above, under vague and potentially very broad standards such as “verbal” “abuse,” “risk of substantial disruption,” or “emotional harm.”
Nor can we rely on prosecutorial discretion when it comes to such broad and vague speech restrictions: “[T]he First Amendment protects against the Government; it does not leave us at the mercy of noblesse oblige. We would not uphold an unconstitutional statute merely because the Government promised to use it responsibly.”
If the Obama Administration taught us anything, it is that motivated individuals will weaponize the bureaucracy to impair or outright silence political opponents including their words and ideas. Democrats just keep pretending that’s what Trump is doing.
Not very nice is it.
Once New York State passes this law activists groups will immediately weaponize armies of minors as minions (knowing their political speech has special protections) and set them loose to do their bidding. Someone will speak up about it.
This will be in court in a New York Minute.
And by the sound of it, only one or the other party (the minor or the so-called cyberbully) need be in the State of New York. That means that if I write about an under-18 activist operating within their borders and the Empire State decides the communication has satisfied their definition of cyberbullying, they can charge me with a crime.
The Left will love this and look to emulate it elsewhere. Perhaps they’ll call it a conversion therapy ban?
Maybe they can find a way to do the same for Seniors who are taken advantage of online. Protecting the elderly from internet hooligans. Then work them toward the middle.
Not to worry. This has no chance in Hell of surviving a constitutional challenge at the Supreme Court (for now). It might even be a struggle in a lower court.
That’s not stopping them from passing it.
And that doesn’t mean they won’t use it to intimidate speech, silence opponents, or destroy people along the way. Or come back with another version and try again.