Free Speech

New York State Senators Who Want to Outlaw Cyberbullying Hopefully Just Trolling


In a September report earnestly titled "Cyberbullying: A Report on Bullying for the Digital Age" and released by the Independent Democratic Conference, the interested can thrill to the fact that four supposed adults (those would be New York state Sens. David Valesky, David Carlucci, Diane Savino, and Jeff Klein—all Democrats) could write almost an entire report with their capslock buttons stuck and that public officials can believe the following about the First Amendment.

Let's let The Tech Herald—who have removed the unhinged capitalization—handle this with the excerpt they found most telling:

Proponents of free speech have long argued that a society that puts people on trial for things they have written or said is no longer a truly democratic society….

 A "market place" where citizens could sort through beliefs and ideas, which best resonated with them and discard those that did not, thereby allowing for the creation of an ever-evolving, open society. Moreover, they contend that freedom of speech is a recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

And yet, 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. British philosopher John Stuart Mill long argued that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm from others."

 His "harm principle" was articulated in an analogy by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841–1935), and still holds true today: "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins," or, a person's right to free speech ends when it severely infringes upon the safety and well-being of another…

In the case of cyberbullying, the perceived protections of free speech are exactly what enable harmful speech and cruel behavior on the Internet. It is the notion that people can post anything they want, regardless of the harm it might cause another person that has perpetuated, if not created, this cyberbullying culture…

Of course a report isn't enough. A bill had to be proposed "to further protect our children" [those under 21]. This bill will "expand the crime of stalking in the third degree to include cyberbullying and (2) expand the crime of manslaughter in the second degree to involve the emerging problem of bullycide." 

The report's definition of cyberbullying includes "trolling," "flaming," "happy slapping," "outing," "exclusion," "dissing," and "posting malicious statements or pictures of the victim."

More hilarious and less disturbing, was another New York state senator who repeatedly confused the Fourth and First Amendments in a video he made which advised his constituents on how best to search their children's rooms. 

Reason's archives of speech and First Amendment topics here and here. And of course, on cyberbullying. 

NEXT: Americans Text Each Other While Driving to the Ballot Box to Vote for a Ban on Texting

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    I thought you were joking about the caplocks. These are serious people – who don’t know how to use a computer.



      1. i doff my caps

  2. Holy shit, I thought the caps lock thing was a joke or something.

    “His “harm principle” was articulated in an analogy by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841?1935), and still holds true today: “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins,” or, a person’s right to free speech ends when it severely infringes upon the safety and well-being of another?”

    Apparently they’ve never heard of sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.

    1. Apparently they’ve never heard of sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.

      like any right, freedom of speech carries consequences. As I recall, the quickest way to stop a bully was to punch him in the mouth. You did not have to win the fight, you only had to be willing to engage in it. Bullies are, by and large, pussies and do not want actual confrontation.
      Someone uses technology to lie about you or to defame you? Confront him. Harshly.

      1. You’ve been watching too many after school specials if you think that fighting with a bully will make him respect you.

        1. They don’t have to respect you! They just have to know that they should bully if only for personal safety!

  3. I’d say the world had jumped the shark, if jumping the shark hadn’t jumped the shark.

  4. I swear, if kids don’t get fuckin bullied once in a while, they’ll never turn to music, produce an zeitgeist-changing rock album, burnout, and commit suicide when they realize their material success and the adulation of millions of fans can’t heal the scars left from said bullying!

    1. In all honesty, I made up that shit about me being bullied by hair, homophobic, racist men in high school just to sell more records.

  5. Is this “flaming”, or “posting malicious statements”? Just curious.

    1. You’re bullying the stupid!



  6. Ignoring the entire ethical debate, how on earth is this going to be enforced ???

    1. Selectively, and on the behalf of the latest victimized-group-of-the-month.

    2. Laws are magical; as soon as they are created people simply have no choice but to obey them. This is why we should have as many laws as possible.

    3. More specifically, this would practically require a Chinese type of firewall, because one can go to sites all over the world and get bullied there just as easily. Also if a foreigner bullies an American on a site, would exactly can they do about it ?

      1. Hellfire missles and Predator drones for all!

      2. What does Chinese look like in all caps?

        1. Philosoraptor is stumped.

    4. Ignoring the entire ethical debate, how on earth is this going to be enforced ???

      From a nice air-conditioned office for starters. EFTA

  7. “Proponents of free speech have long argued that a society that puts people on trial for things they have written or said is no longer a truly democratic society”

    Only a society of Neandertals puts people on trial for things they have written or said. A truly progressive society skips the trial nonsense and lights up the offender with a drone-launched Hellfire missile.

  8. His “harm principle” was articulated in an analogy by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841?1935), and still holds true today: “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins,”

    That reminds me of the fun we had here.

    Maybe we could…rephrase…stuff these politician morons wrote too. Or would that be cyberbullying?

    1. These legislators wonk-speak doesn’t lend itself nearly as well to that kind of parody. Oliver W Holmes may have been a raging asshole, but he was an eloquent asshole.

  9. I think it’s time to organize a mass Rick rolling.

  10. I admit it. I thought that people who openly argued for redefining individual rights as privileges were strawmen in libertarian novels, intended to present arguments that might be implicit, but would never actually be stated.

    I stand corrected. And in awe at one of the more overt expressions of authoritarianism ever to ooze from the computer keyboard of a legislator. Or, really, from the computer keyboard of a few aides working for legislators.

  11. Are there any studies of actual bullycide?

    1. There was an ABC Family movie about it. Does that count?

    2. I refuse to take anything that irritatingly named seriously, first and foremost.

    3. Homicide is the killing of a human being. Patricide is the killing of one’s father. Regicide is the killing of the sovereign. Genocide is the killing of a ehtnic group. So isn’t bullycide the killing of a bully?

      1. I’ll say it again – kick the bully’s ass or, at least, smack him in the mouth. It has been a pretty solid solution for generations, long before the Internet.


      oops … damn Caps Lock

      sorry …

  12. Agreed that this is using a shotgun for a fly (or whatever boring analogy you want to use) but it’s got to be tough being a kid who’s subjected to bullying nowadays.

    When we were kids (we?, okay I) if you were bullied by older kids you’d escape it by going home. Or another class. Or somewhere. You could escape it.

    But now with social media and cell phones and e-mail, the bullies can follow you around. There was that terrible story of the young Irish girl who killed herself after being subjected to terrible names (whore, slut and worse). It went on and on. Facebook. The internet. E-mail. Cell phone calls.

    She couldn’t get away from it. Nowhere to go. It followed her around day after day.

    Awful, just awful.

    1. Get a new email address. Close your Facebook account. Change your cellphone #. Hang out at a different place.


      Rewrite the First Amendment.

      Sorry for that girl, but tough fucking shit. The 1A was written for shitheads and saints alike.

      1. No shit. In all of those instances, the user is giving large amounts of control over what content they receive. Facebook harassment? Block offending account, make profile friends-only (or make lists and further refine your privacy). Email? Gmail has a rather easy to use address-blocking system. Cell phone? Block number.

        Easy easy easy.

      2. The more things change, the more they stay the same… or whatever.

      3. She kills herself and you say, “tough fucking shit.”

        Class, real class.

        1. yeah, it’s much better to make a law “pretty little girl who killed herself”‘s law and fuck it up for the rest of mankind because 1 girl died. We need a new law everytime life doesn’t work out for someone.

          And I’m sick of the “she killed herself because of the bullying”. How the fuck do you know that is the reason. Even if she says so in a note, it may just be a convenient excuse for her to use.

        2. Ah, sanctimony, the refuge of those without arguments.

    2. uh.. turn your computer off?

  13. MMM, bullycide. The little dram queen martyrs are like a drug to me. I can’t get enough of them.

  14. Four New York State Senators penned a stupid report. Why should I care?

    1. Take a few moments to be sad that four adult human beings, who are duly elected state senators, have these views on free speech. Marvel at their stupidity. Despair at their nannyish, patronizing tone. Roll your eyes at yet another law that seeks to abridge basic human freedoms in the name of protecting TEH CHILRUN. Know that probably millions of American citizens would enthusiastically support this law and others like it, based on no greater reasoning than appeals to emotion…emotion about TEH CHILDREN.

      If I had to guess, I’d say one or more of these twats got trolled hard. They have yet to learn the basic rules of speaking with others online. For example: regard everyone as trolls until they prove to you otherwise; realize that even those who are not trolls may speak to you in a way that would get them punched in the mouth irl; and the ability to be anonymous turns many otherwise normal people into shitcocks.

      1. Clapping (sincerely, not trolling)

  15. Steve Jobs is dead. I wonder if IBM will be prosecuted for it.

    1. Short Apple stock. Now.

      (I don’t actually see why it would go down; he wasn’t even with the company anymore, but you never know)

      1. I once called Apple Tech Support and went off, calling everybody there, including the president of the company, a fucking retarded hipster dickhead.

        I am thankful now that I did that while in GA and not while visiting NY. I would be in fear for the rest of my life that my bullying of Mr Jobs led to his epic fail in his fight against teh cancer.

        1. first, cheering the Irish girl’s suicide; now, cheering Jobs’ death to cancer. sloopy, putting the K in class.

          1. Give sloopy a break, Jobs probably beat him in fantasy football a few years ago or something.

          2. Concern troll is concerned.

          3. Suck. My. Cawk!!!

          4. Lrn2read, asshole.

      2. You’re recommending shorting on the basis of “you never know”? You might not be aware of how dangerous shorting can be.

        Don’t quite your day job.

        1. It’s like buying on margin – with the difference being that there is no “bottom”, since the stock can continue climbing. Buying on margin, the stock can only go to zero.

          I don’t think there a danger of APPL skyrocketing in the short term.

    2. Stupid American Hipsters everywhere are in mourning

      1. Because people who prefer different products than you do are stupid hipsters. Retard.

        1. To be fair, you don’t really know what products Sacre Bleu prefers. Maybe he builds his own.

          1. Who’s sockpuppeting Sacre Bleu? I refuse to believe an Actual French Person could be such a stereotype.

  16. Nice obit at CNN…..&hpt=hp_t1

  17. We’ll be exempt, though… right?

  18. Except that J.S. Mill’s harm principle meant much more than how it’s being used here. He meant it as something more tangible, as something with causal action.

    I mean the whole context of where he articulated the harm principle in his paper, “On Liberty” is where talks about the right of the individual vs the perceived harm to sentiment of the majority around him.

    When you speak of trolling or so-called cyberbullying or any other misconstrued form of harmful speech–which I believe there is no such thing–you are talking about a causal effect. That means the speech the person is exposed to causes the action, as if by magic or hypnosis, and not the person taking the action.

    The classic (false) example of so-called harmful speech: shouting fire in theater. How can the speech, the words of “fire” being said in a theater cause harm? Consider the following in a theater:
    1) I stand up, shout “fire!”

    2) I stand up, say “Ok, this is only a test. Don’t mind me.” …. “fire!” … “Thanks”

    3) Outside of the theater there is a large disclaimer stating that staff members can be trusted for fire or other emergencies; that all other sources are trusted at the patrons’ own risk. Then multiple people in the theater shout “fire!”

    4) Same as #3 but instead of a large sign, patrons explicit agreed when buying tickets.

    In all those cases, the exact same speech–fire is shouted in a crowded theater. What was difference was not the speech nor the setting or perceived context, but either legal obligations or implicit “societal” contract i.e. a defacto, unwritten understanding. In other words so-called harmful speech is not speech that’s harmful, because there’s no such thing as speech that itself causes harm, but rather fraud.

    Does “trolling” cause someone to do something involuntarily? How can that be if the reactions can differ greatly between different people? There is nothing such speech, no matter how offensive it may be, that causes anyone to act. Nor is there any obligation between the speaker (troller) and the listener (reader) to supply specific or restricted content of speech!

    On the other hand if a CEO makes false financial statements, it isn’t the speech of the financial statements that is harmful, it is the fact that he is obligated to supply correct information for others to act on. If he or others involved in the business didn’t have such obligations, then what they say does not matter. Heck he can get up there with the exact same financial speech and say: “What I am telling you may or may not be the truth. It may or may not be accurate. It is your risk and your responsibility for what you do with it”

  19. To David Valesky, David Carlucci, Diane Savino, and Jeff Klein:

    The world would be a better place without you in it.

  20. I’ve got $20 that says every single one of those asshole Senators gets re-elected by the sophisticated intelleckchuls in NY.

  21. So I guess I should sew my mouth closed and cut off my fingers!

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