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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Defeat the New York Bills, Which Seek to Outlaw Free Speech on the Internet, target political speech on pretext of... “protecting children”

                                                                                                     Eric Ross, Ph.D.
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Several members of the NY State Assembly and Senate have launched a dangerous assault on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. They are proposing to effectively end the Free Speech on the pretext of stopping what they vaguely refer to as "cyber bullying" and “baseless political attacks”. Like the sponsors of this legislation, I deplore cyber-bullying of all kinds, but I also condemn the legislators' presumably well-intentioned proposals, which in reality sneak-in fascist censorship.

They are pushing the so-called Internet Protection Act and Cyberbullying prevention acts.

Their names are State Senator O’Mara (R-District 53), Assemblymen Dean Murray (R,C-East Patchogue), Jim Conte (R-10th district), Phil Palmesano (R-C, Corning) and many more. The bills are A.8688 / S.6779 (in the Assembly and Senate, and their texts are identical.) The bills will make it a crime to post “mean-spirited and baseless political attacks.”  The question is, who will decide what “mean-spirited” and “baseless” mean?  

If passed, the legislation will have a massive chilling effect on political speech. As they often do, legislators are seeking to bamboozle the people of New York under the guise of … protecting children. While pretending to be against “cyber bullying,” they are clearly targeting the political speech, hoping that voters do not read beyond the first lines of the bill's text.  The legislation makes it illegal to post anonymously on the Internet.  

Said Assemblyman Jim Conte, 10th District:

"Finally, the legislation will help cut down on the types of mean-spirited and baseless political attacks that add nothing to the real debate and merely seek to falsely tarnish the opponent’s reputation by using the anonymity of the Web. By removing these posts, this bill will help to ensure that there is more accurate information available to voters on their prospective candidates, giving them a better assessment of the candidates they have to choose from."
State Republican Senator Tom O’Mara introduced the legislation on May 3, 2012.

The Internet Protection Act” concerns messages posted on message boards, blogs, social networks, and “any other discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages.” It requires websites to post email addresses for “removal requests, clearly visible in any sections where comments are posted.” Those who demand the removal of messages, which they for some reason dislike, would have their anonymity protected.  – How convenient! Name a single politician who likes criticism!

There is sufficient legal precedent in the current law for unmasking the identity of libelous anonymous commentators by obtaining a court order, which would result in pinpointing who they are.  So, aside from being a great pretense, this bill is clearly unconstitutional (see, e.g. Talley v. California) and it must be nipped in the bud.

It is worth remembering that the Federalist Papers were published anonymously. Said David Kravets, of Wired Magazine: 
“Had the internet been around in the late 1700s, …  the anonymously written Federalist Papers would have to be taken down unless Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay revealed themselves.”  
Assemblyman Jim Conte took off the mask of "protecting children" when he stated on his website (maintained on the taxpayer’s dime): 
“With more and more people relying on social media and the Internet to communicate and gather information, it is imperative that the legislature put into place some type of safeguard to prevent people from using the Internet’s cloak of anonymity to bully our children and make false accusations against local businesses and elected officials,” 
Thank you, Assemblyman. So much for your pretense of “protecting children” to mask the reactionary politics. 

The bill in New York has serious ramifications for the rest of the web, as many web servers are located in New York, and the assault on free speech in New York may become a boilerplate for other states’ and the federal law. 

Making a lame attempt to hide behind “children”, the legislation specifically targets political speech, especially free speech directed at “elected officials,” many of them being contemptuous of criticism and clawing towards unlimited power. The founding fathers made it the cornerstone of the US Constitution that “Congress shall make no law abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the Press…” 

The attacks on the constitution come in many forms, from the extreme left and extreme right of the political spectrum. This specific "piece of legislation" smacks of the fascism on the right. Yet, it is based on the lefty Cyberbullying Report (see below), revealing a collusion between the two camps.

Call, fax or contact personally the New York State Assemblymen and Senators, and tell them to oppose this fascist legislation. 

You can find a list all of the NY State Assembly members, and their contact information here:

To find your New York State representatives by your Zip code, go here:

The text of the bill is here:

Assemblyman Jim Conte quoted:

Post Scriptum: Democrats not to be outdone
It is instructional to see how the dirty political deal-making is accomplished in New York State, and how the fascist interests on the left converge with those on the right: As a justification for trampling upon the people’s Fist Amendment right, the Republican Assemblymen sponsoring the Internet Protection Act relied on the recently issued “Cyberbullying: A Report on Bullying in a Digital Age” [Fn-1], published by the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of four New York state senators — NY State Senators Jeffrey D. Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), Senator Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn ), Senator David Valesky (D-Oneida), and Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange) published their Cyber-bullying report, followed by Cyberbullying legislation, sponsored by Sen. Klein. 

There is a “theoretical explanation” of a “more refined First Amendment” embedded in the report, which demonstrates the Democratic Senators' strong disdain for the First Amendment: 
“Proponents of a more refined First Amendment argue that this freedom should be treated not as a right but as a privilege — a special entitlement granted by the state on a conditional basis that can be revoked if it is ever abused or maltreated.    [emphasis added]
Sorry to say Senators, it ain't no goddam "special entitlement", which some goddam victimology lawyer may take away! -- It is a fundamental right, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. By the way, you Senators, were sworn to uphold the Constitution, when you took office.  You may have the gall to redefine the U.S. Constitution, but do not flatter yourselves -- you do not have the brain to fool the People. Your proposal spells t-r-e-a-s-o-n. Continue in this vein, and We the People, shall show you the door, pronto! 

The Dog and Pony Show. How do you make a sneaky fascist legislation
palatable to the ill-informed American People? -- Make it "sexy": parade
Ms. New York in front of them. She can't be wrong now, can she?
Senators Klein, Carlucci (in the background), Savino and Valesky.
In Nazi Germany publishing was "a special entitlement granted by the State" (Ministry of Propaganda, headed by Joseph Goebbels.) Now they want a similar routine in New York. 

In a press-conference, the four Senators called their report "definitive," no less. Suffice it to say that their questionnaire was socially-engineered to elicit desired answers...  I should mention that their "conclusions" are diametrically different from the result of research project completed by Danah Boyd,  a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, a Visting Researcher at Harvard Law School, and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales, her PhD from the School of Information at UC-Berkeley.

To his credit, Governor Cuomo, thus far refused to sign their unconstitutional legislature. But the undaunted Democrats keep pushing it through this last week of the legislative session, June 18 through 22, 2012.

Currently, the pending bills that would make cyberbullying a crime in New York have been sponsored by Senators Klein (S.6132) and Ranzenhofer (S.6614A).Not only do they try to sneak-in fascism, they attempt to make it bullet-proof: If adopted, you cannot shoot down the whole law on its unconstitutionality, you will have to deal with its sections, piecemeal:


Senator Klein's S.6132 creates a new "crime" -- "an aggravated harassment in the second degree offense for electronic communication transmitted with the intent to harass,
annoy, threaten or alarm another person." Who will decide or interpret the "intent?" -- lawyers. The broad statutory definition (and resorting to criminalization, rather than other remedies) may create publicity for legislators, but such deliberately vague legal definitions that encompass speech and expressive activities are constitutionally overbroad under the First Amendment.

To this we say: Teach our children well. Do not drag them to court on criminal charges, if they say anything stupid or "offensive" to someone's taste. Kids say the darndest things. Senators' Klein [D](S.6132) and Ranzenhofer [R] (S.6614A)  Cyberbullying laws deliberately create a bonanza for lawyers, by lawyers. Their bills create misery for kids and their parents by criminalizing kids' behavior at whim,  all under the false excuse of "protecting" children. Senator Jeffrey Klein is a partner in the law firm of Klein Calderoni & Santucci, LLP, Sen. Ranzenhofer is also a lawyer. Yet, Sen. Klein is telling you he is Mother Theresa! Senator Diane Savino -- that she is the Queen of England.  And I am telling you that if you are silent now, you are buying into their hogwash, which is likely to cost you personally a bundle, and may criminalize and stigmatize your kids for life!  The lawyers, whose cash flows the bill ensures, are already laughing all the way to the bank!

Any of these creepy attempts at abridging the cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution won't last that "New York minute" in federal court, before they are laughed right out of the courtroom, but we must prevent the crooks from passing such state laws in the first place -- federal litigation will cost the taxpayers a pretty penny, and a long time (while lawyers are still laughing at our expense.)

Bloomberg Law on the bill proposed by Sen. Klein (D): It violates the First Amendment

The four Democratic State Senators are telling us that it is somehow the school children, who want and "support" their bill, not the trial lawyers -- the only real beneficiaries of this rape of the First Amendment. They are telling us that it is the "bright young minds" who are writing the new laws for our country: allegedly 70% of the students who answered the Senators' cleverly constructed, socially-engineered questionnaire are for this moronic Cyberbullying Act. That's a "majority," you see. Why not write a law for which a majority of mental patients vote?

When asked who our Vice-President is, these American kids say it is Osama Bin Liden or "that bold guy", Bill Clinton, and that our War of Independence was the Korean War (see the video below, gone viral with millions of hits.) How much dumber can they get? But if you tell them that, some of them might get "deeply hurt" and you will be criminally liable, if our fearless Democratic leaders get their way. 

Whatever happened to our Constitutional Republic, may I ask? Or is it now that the majority by poorly educated school kids will rule our country? the Senators asked kids. They did not ask me or you, their parents.  


[Fn-1]: http://www.nysenate.gov/files/pdfs/final%20cyberbullying_report_september_2011.pdf  


  1. The Assault on the First Amendment has been in the works nine (9) months, since Sept-2011.

    The four Democrat NY Senators formed an unlikely coalition with the Assembly Republicans to kill the freedom of speech on the Internet. Characteristically, even though the Republican-sponsored bill was introduced last fall, they "unveiled" it to the People only some 3 weeks ago.

    The four New York State Senators, who released a report on cyberbullying -- our local Senators Diane Savino and David Carlucci among them -- argued that free speech - in all its protected glory - should be viewed as "a state granted privilege."

    They want to put further restrictions on the First Amendment, in order "to protect the children." What a vacuous "argument"! I'd say, this "argument" is treasonous. When taking the oath of public office they were sworn "To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of new York". Now, they are trying to remake it to fit requirements appropriate for Nazis. What arrogance !!!


  2. While the previous article was titled, "NY senators argue the First Amendment is a privilege not a right", teenagers want to be left well enough alone; they do not care to be "protected" by law that seeks to criminalize many of them, so the hungry New York lawyers could get more billable hours.

    That is what Danah Boyd, says. She is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, a Visting Researcher at Harvard Law School, and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales. (With the PhD from the School of Information at UC-Berkeley.)

    “Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers