Free Speech

Massachusetts Bill Would Impose $200 Fines, 6 Months in Jail for Using the Word 'Bitch'

The bill is an obvious First Amendment violation says Jim Manley of the Pacific Legal Foundation.

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Massachusetts is taking the fight against nasty words to the next level with a new state bill that would ban the use of the word bitch in certain contexts.

State Rep. Daniel Hunt (D–Boston) has put forward H. 3719 that would prohibit the use of the big, bad b-word when deployed to "to accost, annoy, degrade or demean" another person. Anyone who did so would be considered a "disorderly person" under state law.

Penalties could include fines of up to $200 or six months in jail. Hunt's bill specifies that either the person called a bitch or a witness to the bitch-calling could report the crime to the police.

Hunt introduced the bill back in May. It was assigned to the Massachusetts legislature's Joint Committee on the Judiciary last week, which will have a hearing on it today.

The Massachusetts GOP has already criticized the bill as government overreach and an attack on free speech, reports Boston.com.

Specifying that the use of the word bitch could be a criminal act at the very least seems superfluous given that Massachusetts' disorderly conduct law already bans any "offensive and disorderly acts or language" used to "accost or annoy another person."

It's also a violation of the First Amendment's free speech protections, says Jim Manley, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a public interest law firm that litigates free speech issues.

"As the Supreme Court has said there's no happy talk requirement in the First Amendment. You cannot ban a word when it's used to annoy someone but let them use the word when they are using the word in a positive way," Manley tells Reason. "There's no confusion about this point of law."

"Legislatures," he says, "can't just pluck words out of the dictionary and ban them."

In an interview with the Boston Herald, Hunt has defended his bill by saying that it was introduced at the request of an unidentified constituent and that even if it didn't survive a constitutional challenge, it could still be educational for otherwise apathetic citizens.

"This might also illuminate the exhaustive legislative process for people that might not normally be engaged," Hunt told the Herald.

Manley counters that pushing a clearly unconstitutional law through the legislative process is a colossal waste of time.

"What he is proposing is wasting tremendous public resources," says Manley. "Not only the resources that go into having the bill go through the legislative process. If by some horrible unconstitutional miracle, it got passed, then courts would have to spend time striking it down."

Needless to say, calling someone a bitch is often not a nice thing to do. But singling out specific words for prohibition is very clearly a violation of the First Amendment. Should such a law pass, it would introduce all sorts of problems of arbitrary or malicious enforcement.

Update: Hunt clarified late Tuesday that the bill in question was filed on behalf of a constituent exercising her right to directly petition the legislature. Massachusetts' constitution allows citizens to author and introduce bills directly into the state legislature. A legislator is still required to sign and file a citizen's bill. Most legislators file citizen bills even when they do not necessarily support the underlying legislation.

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  1. What a little bitch.

    1. Daniel Hunt is a female dog.

      1. Far from me to insert myself into such a discussion, but actually Mr. Hunt didn’t go quite far enough, because the real “free speech” crime (or “first amendment violation”) here should be using the word “bitch” itself. That being said, the six-month jail term is best reserved for violations involving illicit “parody” that impinges on academic reputations and careers, including above all those of certain faculty members here at NYU. See, in this regard, the documentation of our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case at:

        https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

      2. Daniel Hunt is a female dog, as is his brother, Mike.

    2. came straight to the comments for that

    3. How about we just call him a pigfucker instead?

      1. Surely, “asshole” and “cocksucker” must also be outlawed.

    4. I live in mass. Bitch bitch bitch. Come arrest me motherfuckers . bring an Army. Stupid politicians have nothing better to do. God this pisses me off. Stupid bitches

    5. Yep, this kind of shit is a typical moron politician’s way to get notoriety. This idiot’s ploy has ZERO chance of surviving a free speech lawsuit, and the moron politicians know it, but do it anyway to (they think, wrongly) get votes. It is WAY past time to reduce HUGELY the feds reach and power.

  2. Hijo de puta!

    1. I think that means son of a bitch, or son of a whore. I think he’s more of a cunt.

      1. That would likely be the replacement word. Until that gets banned too.

  3. Bitch needs to move to Canada or the UK with all the other nanny bitches.

  4. introduced at the request of an unidentified constituent and that even if it didn’t survive a constitutional challenge, it could still be educational for otherwise apathetic citizens.

    Well there’s two bitches.

    1. Citizens need to lose their apathy over the social and taxpayer cost of unconstututional make-work posings by legislators.

  5. SHUT UP BITCH!

  6. cunt is okay though right?

    1. Only if they Cannot Understand Normal Thinking.

    2. As well as cum canvas or cum vessel.

      1. Dan Hunt is a spunk rag.

      2. “dumpster” is right out!

  7. Daniel Cunt

  8. Clearly Rep. Daniel Hunt is a bitch, and so much more.

    1. WRONG. He means to make the First Amendment his bitch!

  9. Quit yer bitchin’ and stick to yer stitchin’!

  10. The Massachusetts GOP has already criticized the bill as government overreach and an attack on free speech, reports Boston.com.

    But herpa durrrrr the Republicans are just as bad! Hurrrrrrr

    1. Don’t be ridiculous. Republicans are much worse.

      1. Bitch!

        #HillaryIsABitchToo
        #SosChelsea
        #AndDontForgetHarris

        Bitchin!

        1. Whut, no love for Warren???

          1. None. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

      2. I see a lot of liberals claiming Republicans want to restrict speech. But all the protests of speakers, protests of the Harvard newspaper asking ICE for their side of the story, and support for hate speech legislation comes from the Democrats.
        The only thing I’ve seen from social conservatives lately (limited government conservatives support freedom of speech) is their flag burning amendment – at least they aren’t trying a run-around the 1st amendment as the Democrats do. Trump, to his discredit, has said it’s a no-brainer in his support, but to his credit, he’s done nothing to support it. I’d agree, supporting such a constitutional amendment is something I see from those who apply no brains to the issue, or want to immorally use government to shut up their critics or others who say things they don’t want to hear.

    2. You may have noticed that no one tried to make that claim here.

      1. I will. Republicans are up against the ropes culturally right now. But just a few years ago many on the right were pushing anti-blasphemy, anti-porn, and flag burning laws. Do you think all of those moral majority types disappeared once Trump was elected?

        1. I think those types still exist. But no one gives a shit anymore.
          I don’t think Republicans in general are great on free speech, but they aren’t the one’s threatening it at the moment. Maybe some day they will go back to pushing for anti-obscenity and flag burning laws and then I will spend more time criticizing them about free speech stuff.

          1. No doubt that the left is worse right now. But why is it wrong to point out that the right is horrible too? Doesn’t this site have enough confirmation-bias seeking conservatives for you?

            1. Because if positively fucking reeks of whataboutism. Of what relevance are the past sins of “Republicans” to this story? Does their wrong-headedness ameliorate the idiocy of the left? Does it make you feel better? Are you signalling some self-perceived virtue or insight by throwing that out there?

              No, it’s not “wrong” to point such things out, but it doesn’t add much.

              1. Of course it’s comparing the Dems and Repubs, given the thread starter did exactly that. And his post contradicts himself: first quoting the GOP who criticized this restriction of freedom of speech, then saying the GOP is just as bad. Which is it?

                It reflects both GOP good on speech, and bad on speech, in poster Simon Colwell’s head. In reality, there are some big government social conservatives (which are contradictory to limited government conservatism or libertarianism, and a declining portion of the GOP) that do want to restrict speech they don’t like. But today, the threats to freedom of speech come from Democrats. Even polls show Republicans support protections for hate speech more than Democrats, 68% to 60%.

                After all, Hillary saying Gabbard is a “Russian asset” is hate speech if you ask me.

        2. So, because Republicans have claimed the same thing in the past makes it wrong to dissent against it now? Have you ever heard the term projection? This is probably my biggest complaint about the duopoly right now… when it’s ok for your own party to do or not do something, but not ok for the other side to do it. This is the sheep mentality on both sides. Is it wrong for a conservative to chastise another conservative? Same with liberals?

          1. I’m one of the people says fuck them all equally. Right, Left, Democrat and Republican. I’m old enough to remember the abhorrent shit said and done by persuasive members of both political parties. And as time has passed I really can’t tell them apart. If that makes me a lefty around here then I’ll wear that label I proudly. Just as I’ll happily be called a conservative when debating progressives.

            1. That’s because the identification of someone as “politician” is vastly more important and informative than the designation of their party. They’re fucking politicians. Seeking to discern degrees of virtue between Rs and Ds is like arguing about the attractiveness of a 401 lb. woman vs that of a 399 pound woman.

    3. Just wait until the rap community hears about this.

  11. Massachusetts’ disorderly conduct law already bans any “offensive and disorderly acts or language” used to “accost or annoy another person.”

    What a great law! ALL democratic candidates policy positions are offensive to me, and they also annoy me. So all democrats speaking in Mass should be fines for each speech?

    1. That’s what I always think too. It’s absurd to try to make being annoying a crime. Everyone’s fucking annoying.

      1. Well, I’d have to say it’s unlikely that very many people have been hit with that statute or it would already have been overturned, because it definitely won’t survive strict scrutiny.

      2. Well, I’m actually pretty pleasant to be around. But everybody else…less so. It’s like Auden said “We are here to serve others. What those others are here for, I don’t know.”

    2. Yeah, I’ve tried that logic with harassment being defined as anything that is perceived by the supposed object of harassment as harassment, i.e. I feel harassed by the state for having to pay taxes, so the state IS guilty of harassment. Not even a laugh – these people have no sense of humor.

  12. bitch, bitch, bitch, bitchity bitch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9AT3jjAP0Y

    1. Goddammit! Beat me to it!

  13. Penalties could include fines of up to $200 or six months in jail.

    Does the purported bitch get the money?

    1. Fly Guy gets the money.

  14. I thought this article might be from The Onion.

    1. I think that about almost every article I read now; we have certainly reached the point where life imitates parody; I believe that is called the Poe Horizon?

  15. “Legislatures,” he says, “can’t just pluck words out of the dictionary and ban them.”

    Not yet, but we’re working on it.

    /prog

  16. Please tell me he’s doing this to get laid and doesn’t expect it to pass.

  17. onion? Snoop on line 2 wants to know what if “b’yatch”

    >>”to accost, annoy, degrade or demean”

    none of that shit can be defined either, bitch.

    1. And I’m pretty sure all those things are protected by the first amendment too.

      1. you know, you wanna hope …

      2. Hell, we don’t even need the First Amendment to dismiss anything like this as a horrendous idea. The admission of subjective criteria into jurisprudence and law itself is awful on the face of it. Society cannot undertake to determine “feels” as a consideration in the adjutication of either civil disputes or criminal cases. Started, as might be expected, with the unobjectionable case: hate crimes.

        It was a slippery slope we got on halfway down and already going 100 miles an hour. A buttered, teflon, slope. And here we are.

    2. We know it when we see it!

  18. Well thank God we’ve seen the end of this nonsense. When even square old white guys like your dad are getting into a trend, you know it’s old and busted and nobody cool is into that stuff any more.

  19. What about “beyotch”? Or “son of a bitch”?

  20. Look on the plus side. As long as they’re fooling around trying to pass unconstitutional laws to screw with people, they’re not spending time looking for constitutional ways to do it.

    I know it’s not a lot, but it’s something.

    1. Definitely something; just as when Congress spends two + years chasing a Russian collusion and not getting around to gun control etc. Big waste of money but like you say, it’s something.

      1. Hmm…a new aphorism: “Any time wasted by a legislative body is well spent.” e.g.: How little actual damage the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, 2017-2020, has done.

      2. I’ve been saying this about several POTUSes: more time golfing = less time signing stupid laws.

      3. “… not getting around to gun control …”

        Actual, avoiding a War on Guns (and gun owners, a war which promises to have more unintended consequences that the War on Alcohol, the War on Marijuana, the War on Smut, all rolled together) would be better.

        Penn & Teller: Gun Control Is Bullshit.

  21. Massachusetts Legislator Proposes $200 Fines, 6 Months in Jail for Using the Word ‘Bitch’

    Black Lives Matter!

  22. State Rep. Daniel Hunt (D–Boston)

    Wait what?

    1. I just moved near Boston, it seems quite a blue team citadel to me. Is that not what the bolding was meant to express surprise over?

  23. This is like 100-125 years ago when “cussin in public” could get you fined. There are still plenty of these local laws still on the books, but thankfully they are never enforced.

    1. I dunno, I still wouldn’t try yelling epithets at someone in a public street when a cop is there to hear it. Much less yell the epithets at the cop.

    2. Also spittin’.

  24. “would prohibit the use of the big, bad b-word when deployed to “to accost, annoy, degrade or demean” another person. Anyone who did so would be considered a “disorderly person” under state law….

    “…Massachusetts’ disorderly conduct law already bans any “offensive and disorderly acts or language” used to “accost or annoy another person.””

    OK, so I would imagine that under existing law you can’t use offensive language (which would I assume include “bitch”) to to “accost or annoy another person,” but this bill singles out “bitch” over and above other “offensive language” and makes it a new crime to us the word to “degrade or demean” as well as “accost or annoy.”

    So under present law, if you say “bitch” to degrade or deman, but *not* to accost to annoy, you’re not disorderly.

    But if the bill passes, if you say “bitch” to degrade or demean someone, even *without* the intent to accost or annoy them, you’re disorderly. (You’d still have to prove an intent to “accost or annoy” if the offensive language is, say, the n-word.)

    Have I got that straight?

    1. Wait, existing law band “offensive *and* disorderly” acts or language,” but presumably “bitch” would still qualify if, say, you’re yelling at some other woman in the street for stealing your boyfriend.

  25. Who could have imagined that a band named Nazareth could be so NSFW?

    And illegal, to boot!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki-rdJPO9mA

  26. It’s like that Key & Peele sketch in real life.

  27. Looks like Massachu-poo is already almost at step 3…

    Step 1: instead of ‘Ass’ say ‘Buns’, like “Kiss my buns” and “You’re a bunshole”
    Step 2: instead of shit say ‘poo’, as in Bull Poo, Poohead, and ‘This poo is cold’
    Step 3: With bitch drop the ‘t’, because ‘Bich’ is Latin for ‘Generosity’
    Step 4: Don’t say ‘fuck’ anymore, because fuck is the worst word that you can say. Just say Mmmm-Kay.

    1. I thought “cunt” was the worst word. Or possibly “nigger”.

      Nobody cares if you say “fuck” anymore, do they?

      1. Fuck no.

        1. That feels like a Jay and Silent Bob setup.

    2. top ten moment for them.

  28. I assume blacks will be immune from this law, because that is like their third favorite word, and you can’t go after black people for using their favorite words…

  29. “Democrat Lawmaker Proposes…” would violate the Reason style book.

      1. Doing the same search with Democrat or Democratic Lawmaker is especially amusing.

  30. “…Hunt has defended his bill by saying that it was introduced at the request of an unidentified constituent…”

    “People keep saying that word to me but I can’t figure out why.”

    1. Unidentifiable constituent???? Who Hilary?

  31. Dog breeders hardest hit.

  32. Manley counters that pushing a clearly unconstitutional law through the legislative process is a colossal waste of time.

    On the contrary, the more time government spends serving as an example of what not to do, the better off we’ll be.

    Needless to say, calling someone a bitch is often not a nice thing to do.

    Robby, is that you?

  33. Well I guess there won’t be any rap acts coming to MA anytime soon ehhh?!??!?!?!

    1. Lol. I didn’t think of that. What are the rappers going to do?

  34. 3rd World Police State

  35. Quit yer bitchin’ and stick to yer stitchin’!
    فروش تجهیزات شبکه

  36. bans any “offensive and disorderly acts or language” used to “accost or annoy another person.”

    Yeah, but this ban fails on politicians at their most accosting & annoying: at lawmaking. For that, the old-fashioned “Congress shall make no law …” has to suffice.

  37. Well, ain’t this a bitch. Need a law requiring people to grow thicker skin and stop wearing diapers about things they don’t like.

  38. This just in: Danny Hun has added a rider to the bill making it a $50 offence to say BRITSCHGI out loud. That’ll be a lesson to smart-alecky liberal journalists!

    1. to say BRITSCHGI out loud

      Why would anyone want to do so? I bet even Christian is satisfied if the #s are big enough on the cheque his name gets written on.

  39. How much to say “cunt”?

    1. I don’t know, but I was thinking Daniel Hunt should seriously consider changing his first name to Mike.

  40. +1, 38-year-old Porky’s reference.

    1. Nice clickbait, but sort of a dishonestly written article. In Massachusetts, anyone can write a bill and submit it to the legislature through their representative. As far as I know legislators have no choice but to submit them on constituents’ behalf. Hunt was unlucky enough that the prankster who wrote this bill lives in his district. Hunt himself had nothing to do with the bill other than that. Now he has to suffer the vitriol of all these nincompoops because of the implication that the bill was his idea.

      1. False. See my comment below.

  41. This law would come in handy if you can’t figure out how to use the three seashells.

  42. Jesse Pinkman is in big trouble.

  43. This state is a joke. Time to BAN Rep Daniel HUNT, and others just like him. Wake up taxpayers

  44. Is the next move for the Assembly to outlaw witchcraft and convene trials on the problems of witches?

    They could even hold trials in a smaller town. Maybe Salem…

  45. Minds blown when serving your 6 months and you become someone’s bitch.
    What now?

  46. I know women who use “the b word” to denote a strong, assertive woman who won’t take no “s word” from anyone.

    (Cleaning up this post so the Massachusetts Ex Post Facto Dirty Word Enforcement Police will find fewer posts to use against me to call for extradition.)

  47. Any governmental body, at whatever level, that passes a law that is found to be unconstitutional. That body should be dissolved and the members of that body are never allowed to hold any government position again… EVER.

  48. WHAT!!!!! Talk about violating First Amendment. If you don’t line to hear curse words in public TO FRIGGING BAD. Deal with it. Jeez what’s next.

  49. “In an interview with the Boston Herald, Hunt has defended his bill by saying that it was introduced at the request of an unidentified constituent and that even if it didn’t survive a constitutional challenge, it could still be educational for otherwise apathetic citizens.”

    I live in Massachusetts and I’m not surprised to see such nonsense proposed in the State legislature. The justification for proposing the legislation is moronic as is Mr. Hunt for proposing it. I was away from Massachusetts for approximately 30 years while serving in the US Army. I’m seriously thinking on moving to Maine or New Hampshire. There are just too may silly democrats in this state. So sad.

  50. It costs the state $55,616 to house an inmate in prison for one year. You are telling me that it is worth more than $27,000 for saying the “B” word? They don’t need better roads or public housing?

  51. Ok. I’ll just call that person a bitch but in German.

  52. This is a pretty limp dick way to bang liberal chicks.

  53. beyatch
    biyatch
    beyotch
    biyotch
    Biotch

    All loopholes bitches.

  54. Finally! Gender neutrality for dogs!

  55. The lawmaker in question SHOULD have sat his “honourable’ constitutient down in a chair in his office, (with a witness and recorder) and schooled the ignorant constituent in the constitutionality of theproposed law, then informed the constituent he would float the bill out there, but give it no support or backing.

    He’d have done his “minimum requird duty” and accepted the bill, and also the extra credit function of educating one ignoramus who obviously slept through high school civics class.

  56. Yoo Daniel Hunt, you are a big bitch

  57. Citizens need to lose their apathy over the social and taxpayer cost of unconstututional make-work posings by legislators. Hsewatch

  58. For some reason my comment was “flagged for moderation,” probably because I included three URLs, and no “moderation” has occurred for four days. Then I posted it again with the URLs obfuscated, but made the mistake of posting it as a reply to the unaccepted comment, and I see that it isn’t showing up. So here it is once more, and sorry if it comes out as a duplicate.

    “Update: Hunt clarified late Tuesday that the bill in question was filed on behalf of a constituent exercising her right to directly petition the legislature. Massachusetts’ constitution allows citizens to author and introduce bills directly into the state legislature. A legislator is still required to sign and file a citizen’s bill. Most legislators file citizen bills even when they do not necessarily support the underlying legislation.”

    I don’t buy it. Hunt is snowing you, and to those who know the procedural dogwhistles, it’s obvious. Here’s the proof:

    When a Massachusetts legislator is forced by this constitutional codicil to file a bill he doesn’t agree with, he uses a code phrase: “filed by request.” It tells his colleagues that the bill isn’t his idea. Here are examples of bills filed with this language:

    malegislature dot gov / Bills / 191 / S207
    malegislature dot gov / Bills / 191 / H523

    Note that the publisher also adds the disclaimer, “presenting member is not a sponsor of this legislation,” in case you aren’t savvy to the code.

    Now, here’s the same subject page for Hunt’s bill:

    malegislature dot gov / Bills / 191 / H3719

    Do you see “by request?” Do you see “not a sponsor of this legislation?” No, you don’t.

    Hunt has been embarrassed, and is trying to weasel his way out of it. Do not let him.

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