The Nasty Comments You Leave Online Could Land You in Jail

hands on keyboardWell, well, well, what do we have here? Looks like the fine state of Arizona, famous for awesome things like iced tea and refusal to partake in daylight savings, is doing the world another solid: They're trying to make it a crime to leave rude, nasty comments on the Internet. Surely, you have no idea what I'm talking about, dear reader, but allow me to explain in case you, you know, have a friend who might be interested in this info.

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The state's telecommunications harassment bill is currently being updated, and in this update is Arizona House Bill 2549, which passed both legislative houses last week and is now waiting for approval from the state's governor. It states:

It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use a 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.

In laymen's terms, if you're gonna act like a jerkweed on the Internet, you could be in deep doo-doo. It could cost you to the tune of a $250,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Pretty intense for telling someone to "shove their keyboard -- and their head -- up their ass."

Now, I bet you're thinking that I, a blogger, AKA a person on the receiving end of mean, rude, sometimes frightening comments ad nauseum, likes the idea of "trolls" having to pay for what they write to me, right? Well, I'd be lying if I said the notion didn't make me smile a little, but mainly, I'm against it. That's right. Against it. 

Not only does this seem like a violation of freedom of speech, it's ridiculous -- fining, possibly jailing, people for sitting behind their computers all day, acting like big meanies to other people? Really? I think people who really troll the Internet -- AKA, spend way too much of their lives seeking out people to hurt -- have enough punishment already: They have to wake up every day and be themselves.

Also, every once in a while, the meanest comments (the well-thought out ones), are the ones that makes us think the most. You don't have to agree with us and tell us we're awesome all the time. Despite our fragile, neurotic writer egos, that isn't necessarily why we write. We write to make others think, and to, hopefully, start an engaging, thoughtful discourse, where a variety of opinions can be discussed.

And besides, the most hateful commenters are the ones who bring us the most traffic. We wouldn't want anything to happen to them.

Do you think people should be jailed for being jerks online?


Image via skippyjon/Flickr

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