Media Mocks Cyberbullying Bill
Posted on: 2009-10-05 15:50:29

Hate Bills Surge

By Rev. Ted Pike

After Wednesday’s hearing on the cyberbullying bill (HR 1966) in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, internet media, including The New York Times, has lost little time expressing skepticism – even mockery of the Anti-Defamation League’s internet hate bill.

Popular Science says HR 1966 “leaves reason at the door” as it “attempts to criminalize cyber-bullying with vague language that butts up against free speech rights in a wide range of ways.” But it derisively believes Congress will probably pass the bill since “we can trust Congress to make the craziest, least practical choice.”

In an article entitled “Dangerous Opinions Ahead,” ECN Magazine says that, in a rare instance, both the left and right stand opposed to HR 1966. “Make no bones about it—the proposed legislation is a serious assault on first amendment rights...overreaching… an ambiguous piece of legislation…Theoretically, the law would prevent about 99% of political discourse—anyone feeling offended could claim “emotional distress.” This is a steep infringement of first amendment rights. We cannot hope to legislate how people think."

The New York Times editorial “Vague Cyber-Bullying Law” comments: “Lawmakers should enact laws that can withstand challenge to give prosecutors tools to go after bullying of all kinds. What prosecutors cannot do is stretch federal law to label run-of-the-mill Internet activity as criminal.”

Wired.com says 1966 “was met with little enthusiasm by a House subcommittee on Wednesday…From the outset of the 90-minute hearing…committee members from the left and the right said they thought the measure was an unconstitutional breach of free speech. “We need to be extremely careful before heading down this path,” Bobby Scott, a Democrat from Virginia and the committee’s chairman, said during the hearing’s opening moment."

What America saw in the House committee hearing on Wednesday was the torpedoing of the cyberbullying bill (and probably the AWARE bill) by expert Constitutional authorities. I believe both these bills are now burning, listing badly, and likely to go down. My opinion is shared by the Judiciary expert of one of the most powerful House Republicans. He said, "I hate to make predictions, but any bill that receives as cool a reception in the crime subcommittee is probably doomed."

We may be experiencing a great victory not only over the cyberbullying bill but also its companion, AWARE, HR 3630, which would fund to the tune of $125 million over five years the cyberbullying bill's message to schoolchildren in America: Any intention to criticize homosexuality over the internet that causes "substantial emotional distress" to homosexuals is criminal, worthy of two years in prison.

This initial negative response also dooms ADL's Safe Schools Improvement Act, HR 2662, which would criminalize "repeated and persuasive" criticism of homosexuality in the public school system, describing it as "violence."

Three ADL hate bills possibly down! --- and this after Dr. James Dobson turned off the Christian/conservative resistance this spring, pronouncing that nothing could be done to defeat hate crimes legislation, except pray!

In fact, the religious right, neutralized by Dobson in the hate bill fight and directed instead toward healthcare protest and revenge on the Democrats at midterms next year, remains virtually oblivious even to the existence of these dangerous bills. Result: It has done next to nothing to oppose them. Only the National Prayer Network has been in the forefront of opposition to these three bills, marshaling encouragement to Republicans this week through heavy calling.

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