Last week, the House passed HB 1261 by a vote of 112-4. It is “An act protecting children of this state by making cyber bullying a criminal offense punishing as a class 1
Our children need to be protected from cyber bullying, however, not like this.
Besides the fact we are dealing with continued encroachment on our First
Amendment right to free speech, this bill is flawed by the difficulty of
proving when someone is actually guilty of cyber bullying; long-lasting
precedents could be set in our society based on this bill.
Section 1.a.4 defines part of cyber bullying as “Plant[ing] any statement, whether true or false, tending to provoke or that actually provokes, any third party to
stalk or harass a minor.” The infringement upon free speech could be
disastrous. Yes, we need to protect our children, but do we need to teach them
to fear the truth because it might have repercussions? I think not.
Also, attempting to prove a person’s intentions, in a court of law, is a slippery slope. In America we have always judged people by their actions, not their intentions. The people of America have never felt that the ends justify the means.
On top of that, how do you prove who committed the crime? What if a public
computer is used at a school or library? Attempting to prove who committed this
crime can slander a child’s reputation and in the end could be impossible to
prove. The only way to provide proof extensively would be to equip all
computers with cameras; something Americans would never approve of, thankfully.
Allin all, HB1261 has valorous intentions, but falls short of providing practical
solutions. Before it should be signed into law, practical applications need to
be added to the bill that would protect children from being slandered and
victimized by a bill that is supposed to be defending them.