Folks around these parts know I like to pick on the California legislature. They’re an easy target, with almost daily attempts to write and pass laws and regulations that generally defy logic or any purpose other than to prove to the electorate that they are doing something in Sacramento.
In the interest of fairness, I would like to point out that Republican legislatures in other states are just as guilty of the insanity that has come to define modern American politics. You know, the party that’s always screaming about freedom from the oppressive and overreaching government.
A few days ago, Arizona House Bill 2549 was passed and sent to Governor Jan Brewer, where it awaits her signature. This brilliant piece of legislative art updates the state telephone harassment law to include the internet. Like most art, it can be interpreted in a variety of ways. The law states that it shall be a crime to “annoy”, “offend”, “harass”, or “terrify” by any electronic means if a person is annoyed, offended, harassed, or terrified. So if I’m terrified of spiders and some joker emails me a picture of a spider I can have him arrested for aggravated arachnophobia. The law is not limited to one-on-one communication, but includes the entire content of the World Wide Web. So if the joker posts the picture of a spider on his blog in Nebraska, he can still be prosecuted in Arizona. I’ll bet the trial lawyers are salivating over this gem.
Now Arizona and most other states have laws concerning the kinds of behavior described above if the crime involves a telephone or letter. I can see the point if there is a persistant problem with an individual, but this law is written so broadly that it could include Rush Limbaugh, South Park, and every blog on the planet, even this peace-loving, life-affirming site.
It’s not like harassing or terrifying an individual doesn’t exist. Just look at George Zimmerman, who has been tried and sentenced by the media lynch mob. Even having the same name can get you tarred and feathered, as we saw with Spike Lee’s re-tweeted address of the wrong Zimmermans, who have gone into hiding in fear for their lives.
Zimmerman might be guilty, but it’s not Al Sharpton’s call. If he is exonerated, look for him to move to Tucson and hire a platoon of lawyers.
The entire Martin/Zimmerman tragedy has turned into a circus, complete with clowns, but Zimmerman has not been convicted by the media as you indicate, Bob. I agree that the sentiment seems to be towards Martin, but just yesterday a client of mine referred to him as a “thug”. This person was a Tea-Party Conservative but that aside, there are two distinct factions here, both of them equally vehement in their views and both of them equally wrong; not in their opinion, but in their condemnation of either of the parties involved when none of the facts are yet present. This divisiveness has become embedded in American politics so deeply that there are very few observers with any objectivity left at all. Vague rhetoric and character assassination are the tools used by just about all politicians in order to distract the unwary from real agendas which seem to include a great deal of graft and corruption. Perhaps when Americans start relying more on their deeper instincts than on what they are force-fed by the media, some REAL citizens and patriots will find themselves in positions of leadership. It probably ain’t gonna happen, but there is always hope.