With the passage of the revamped ‘Hate Crime Bill’ (House Bill 4474) by the Michigan House, the foundation of our freedom of speech stands perilously close to the edge of a dangerous precipice. This new bill is nothing short of an egregious assault on conservative speech.
The original “Ethnic Intimidation Act”—which was already bad—has been grotesquely transfigured into a weapon against diversity of thought. A closer examination of the revisions to the legislation paints a deeply unsettling picture. The bill broadens the range of “perceived characteristics” to include “gender identity or expression,” alongside other elements like “digital or online property.” Such broadening brazenly slings open the door for criminalizing disagreements or perceived offenses concerning these characteristics on any platform, including social media.
Under the smokescreen of safeguarding individual rights, the bill defines “gender identity or expression” as “having or being perceived as having a gender-related self-identity or expression whether or not associated with an individual’s assigned sex at birth.” Thus, failing to adhere to someone’s self-proclaimed gender identity—no matter how unintentional—could be classified as a form of intimidation, and consequently, a hate crime punishable by imprisonment.
This legislation goes far beyond its original stated intent of protecting individuals from genuine harassment, veering dangerously into the realm of thought control. The definition of “intimidation” now encompasses any act that “would cause a reasonable individual to feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened.” This vague phrasing is open to grotesque levels of manipulation and essentially criminalizing the act of hurting someone’s feelings. Voicing a contrary opinion on gender-related debates could easily be twisted into an act of ‘intimidation,’ thus potentially warranting prosecution under this far-reaching legislation.
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To say this interpretation of the law is alarming would be a dire understatement—it is a full-blown assault on the very principles of free speech. An act intended to safeguard our citizens is being mutated into a tool for policing and suppressing diversity of thought, punishing those who dare to express views contrary to the mainstream narrative. This bill, in its current form, manipulates the noble quest for justice to infringe upon the bedrock of our democratic values—free, respectful, and open discourse.
Read the full text of the bill here: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2023-2024/billengrossed/House/htm/2023-HEBH-4474.htm