Arizona Law Makes Almost Any Internet Communication Illegal in Some Way — Jail for Trollers and Flame Wars?

Leave your freedom of speech at the door. Or at least the Arizona state line.

Apparently Arizona has grown tired of pursuing illegal aliens in their state.  Now, they’ve moved on to more fun things that have a broader level of outreach…like, I don’t know, outlawing free speech for a start.  Arizona House Bill 2549 is sitting on the governor’s desk to be signed into law after having already passed through both legislative bodies of the state.  Here’s a part of it that has some people worried about just how far this could be taken:

It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use 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 the person.

Well, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?  Even the simplest flame war that are commonly seen on Internet forums and chatrooms would be blatantly illegal according to the new Arizona legislation.  Pretty much, you can read some pages on the Web and keep your mouths and keyboards shut.  If you don’t, you could be charged with this Class 1 misdemeanor and find yourself facing six months behind bars.  If it is determined that electronic devices were used to “stalk” someone, it goes up to a Class 3 felony with a minimum prison sentence of 2.5 years to 25 years.  The minimum prison sentence goes for those that have never had any trouble with the law before as well.  Pretty hefty punishments.  And what is scary is that no real definition for “stalking” someone with electronic devices is given.  In Arizona, checking up on your high school friends on Facebook could land you in some hot water, to the tune of a two and a half year mandatory prison sentence.

Lawmakers say that the bill is aimed at controlling cyber-bullying.  Whatever that means.  Oh, it’s bullying but its on the Internet.  However, the law is so broad it could apply to almost anything.  These are the kind of laws that Common Sense Conspiracy frequently reports on, because while it may have some sort of good intention associated with it at the beginning, just think how quickly the law could be applied to things that have nothing to do with the reason the law was created.  And, it basically takes away free speech, which we at Common Sense Conspiracy just have a fundamental problem with.  It’s the old saying about “we don’t agree with what Bob has to say, but we support his right to say it.”  You know, that whole freedom thing.  It’s going out of style fast.