Have you ever came across an annoying person who has posted a comment that almost incites an online riot? I mean statements that are clearly intended to offend and piss people off like the one I found on Yahoo answers. Here is an example below:
” Who else hates fat people?
Who else hates fat people and thinks they should just stop eating crap and do some exercises so they won’t be too fat to get into their cars without denting other peoples cars with their doors ?
Just because their fat doesn’t give them the excuse to dent peoples cars as they struggle to get into their car.
The above question surely did not demand an answer, however the purpose of the comment was to elicit a response triggered by the offenders comment.
Here is an example response to the comment of the offender, “wtf your so low
everybody is different sorry if they aren’t all boney starved models that don’t eat in magazines
I love food!!!! if that makes me fat you can hate me I don’t care! you’re a stranger anyway .
People who go around posting comments just to elicit an emotional response, specifically in a negative harassing manner are considered Trolls. If you are a Troll and live in Arizona, you may soon be breaking the law.
According to an article on Digital Journal.com, an Arizona law could outlaw trolling on the web. This new proposed law in Arizona is currently awaiting the signature of Governor Jan Brewer. The signing of this law also presents potential ramifications that would include a form of Internet Censorship. This law already has the signature of Arizona politicians. This law is known as Arizona House Bill 2549. Bill 2549 is designed to combat bullying and stalking, but may have a larger impact than expected by lawmakers.
According to First Amendment rights group Media Coalition, Bill 2549 updates Arizona’s telephone harassment law, seeking to include all electronic devices.
Bill 2549 has been updated to read: “It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use any electronic or digital device and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.”
“It is also unlawful to otherwise disturb by repeated anonymous electronic or digital communications the peace, quiet or right of privacy of any person at the place where the communications were received.”
The problem noted is that the Bill does not limit one to one communications and could apply to the whole internet. For example any comment, forum post, blog post or other public web spaces where discussions or shared thoughts take place could be held accountable if deemed in violation of the law.
The Media Coalition has pointed out that the bill contains ambiguities such as, “The communication does not need to be repetitive or even unwanted. There is no requirement that the recipient or subject of the speech actually feel offended, annoyed or scared. Nor does the legislation make clear that the communication must be intended to offend or annoy the reader, the subject or even any specific person.”
Bill 2549 has the potential of impeding upon the philosophies and rights of web use such as freedom of expression. As stated by Media Coalition, “all manner of writing, cartoons, and other protected material the states finds offensive or annoying,” would be considered a crime. A crime that if found guilty and depending on the level and whether or not deemed a misdemeanor or felony in Arizona, an offender could spend 6 months to 25 years in jail.
This legislation takes a law meant to address irritating phone calls and applies it to communication on web sites, blogs, listserves and other Internet communication.
Do you believe that Trolling should be considered a crime punishable by law? I mean 6 months to 25 years for making a comment that may or may not offend and individual. Do you think this penalty is harsh ? I don’t believe the punishment fits the crime. There are people out there who have murdered people and get less time than this.
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