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This article was published on April 3, 2012

    Arizona looks to ban free speech and Internet fun in one fell swoop

    Arizona looks to ban free speech and Internet fun in one fell swoop
    Alex Wilhelm
    Story by

    Alex Wilhelm

    Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

    If you live in Arizona, it might be almost time to close that second Reddit account of yours, the one that you use to be an obnoxious pain-in-the-ass. I’m kidding, that’s your main account.

    But really, you might want to. And why? Please meet House Bill 2549 of Arizona, which has passed the state’s legislature, and is awaiting the signature of Governor Brewer. It’s perhaps the most ridiculous bill that I’ve read this year, and I spent a good deal of time working with SOPA.

    For fairness, here’s the part of the bill that has people a bit worried:

    “It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use a telephone ANY ELECTRONIC OR DIGITAL DEVICE and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.”

    Given that half of what I write is intended to annoy or offend, I would be in some serious trouble, as I propagate my writing using electronic and digital devices. You know, because a desktop computer hooked to a monitor that is communicating with the Internet is both. Anyway.

    Look, this bill is comically stupid. Banning the right to offend? Please. I am not going to deign this discussion to explain why free speech is important. You already know. But that memo appears to have been lost on its way to Arizona. Perhaps it was deemed terrifying, and was therefore shot from the sky like a common clay pigeon.

    One last thing: As the Media Coalition points out, this bill is not legally limited to one-on-one communication. This greatly broadens what sort of speech, or communication will fall under its purview, if signed. All communication, and speech, in other words, that is digitally distributed will be impacted.

    So good-bye Internet freedom in Arizona, if this passes. That’s actually not quite true: this bill will never stand up in court. But nice try, Arizona legislature.