Kilmartin’s Padded Social Media Room Bill and What People Hear About RI


Oh, wonderful.  Legislation that Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has proposed to (in the description of the Freedom Index) “restrict freedom of speech by making it a crime to post an online message to somebody if doing so might make another person feel frightened or harassed or lead other people to do things that cause those feelings” has attracted national attention.  As the Breitbart headline puts it, “Dangerous Online ‘Harassment’ Bill Being Pushed by Rhode Island Attorney General“:

“In the new age of the Internet and social media, once a harassing statement, image or video is posted online it can be there forever,” said Kilmartin, blissfully ambiguous as to what he counts as ‘harassing’. “In addition, other persons may respond to or repost the harassing statement, image or video, which would continue to harass and seriously harm the victim. Unfortunately, the current law provides no protection to victims of this type of harassment as such behavior is not be considered a ‘course of conduct.’” …

“Someone could be arrested for re-tweeting a photo sent to them,” claims Hillary Davis, a policy associate at the American Civil Liberties Union. “The problem is you can’t always be responsible for the actions of other people and shouldn’t go to jail for their actions. If someone takes something and twists it around, should you be responsible?”

Rhode Islanders really need to begin asking themselves if they want elected officials to treat them like children who need helicopter-parent government, because that’s exactly the political mentality that has infected this place.

The bill’s numbers, just so you know, are H7763 and S2630, and the House Judiciary Committee will be hearing its version on Wednesday.