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VA Legislators Introduce Anti-Free Speech Bill to Criminalize Online Criticism of Government Officials

by | Jan 23, 2020

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After Virginia’s recent anti-second amendment legislation was successfully passed, the state legislature is now going after the first amendment. Virginia House Bill No. 1627 was introduced on January 16 which could effectively make it illegal to criticize government officials anywhere in the state. The Bill reads in part under section 18.2-152.7:1, “Harassment by computer; penalty,”

If any person, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass any person, shall use a computer or computer network to communicate obscene, vulgar, profane, lewd, lascivious, or indecent language, or make any suggestion or proposal of an obscene nature, or threaten any illegal or immoral act, he shall be is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A violation of this section may be prosecuted in the jurisdiction in which the communication was made or received or in the City of Richmond if the person subjected to the act is one of the following officials or employees of the Commonwealth: the Governor, Governor-elect, Lieutenant Governor, Lieutenant Governor-elect, Attorney General, or Attorney General-elect, a member or employee of the General Assembly, a justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, or a judge of the Court of Appeals of Virginia.

The bill does not define what it means to “coerce, intimidate, or harass” any person which leaves it open to subjective interpretation. Many Virginia citizens are concerned about the proposed bill, including Tina Freitas, the wife of Republican Virginia House of Delegates, Nick Freitas, who asked on Facebook, “What is considered harassment?”

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“Is Governer Infanticide/KKK Hood trying to avoid being held accountable?” she continued, “Are we no longer allowed to demand justice for the alleged rape victims of LG Fairfax? This is some straight up communist censorship!”

Virginian Senator Amanda Chase also express concern on her Facebook page, “They are moving House Bill 1627, introduced by legislator, Delegate Jeffrey M. Bourne, effectively criminalizing dissent against Governor Blackface Northam and other state government officials.”

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