Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Great, Now Tancredo Can Send Me To Jail

Longtime ONAF readers are probably familiar with my frequently over-the-top criticism of former Colorado congresscritter and nativist drumbeater Tom Tancredo. I'm sure my blog posts about him could be classified as "hostile," right? Well, according to this new bill, I could be tried and sent to jail for it! Hooray! Who needs that pesky First Amendment anyway - let's prosecute everyone who makes anyone else feel uncomfortable!

Look, the incident that inspired the bill - where an adult used a fake identity to harass a teenage girl until said girl killed herself - is a tragedy. But just because someone does something evil doesn't mean they should be prosecuted for it. One of the prices we pay for living in a society with guaranteed rights is that evil people frequently have the right to say and do evil things, and there isn't a damn thing we can do about it except shame the evil person. We certainly can't pass a law that forbids any sort of pointed criticism if it leads to "emotional distress."

(Speaking of Tancredo and free-speech issues, I never got a chance to post on it, but this incident in Chapel Hill actually kinda made me feel sorry for the bastard. No one deserves to feel physically threatened for their political views.)

1 comment:

Ben said...

There is actually already a longstanding civil tort claim for "Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress" which would probably apply in the case you mentioned.

The Supreme Court has made that tort a hell of a lot harder (if not impossible) to use when a public figure feels emotional distress due to the names he is called. (Specifically, that was the Supreme Court case where the Court struck down Jerry Falwell's lawsuit against Hustler Magazine for the magazine's - admittedly rather nasty - satirical ad about him.)

I don't think Infliction of Emotional Distress should be a crime, but if it was, I doubt it would apply to your name-calling of Tancredo. Which doesn't make the bill any less scary.