Albany, NY — In the land of the free, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution explicitly prohibits the government from abridging the freedom of speech. However, we’ve seen citizens pepper-sprayed, assaulted, and arrested for there acts of free speech, showing just how little law enforcement cares about upholding the oaths they swore to this very Constitution. Now, a new piece of legislation that is quickly passing through the legal process in New York goes one step further.
If you annoy a police officer in upstate New York, you could find yourself facing massive fines and even jail time. Seriously.
In a vote this week, lawmakers in the Monroe County Legislature passed a proposal in a 17-10 vote to fine and/or jail a person who annoys, alarms or threatens the personal safety of an officer. The jail sentence is up to one year and the fine is up to $5,000.
According to the legislation, the anti-disrespecting applies to all first responders, not just cops.
Naturally, those who have respect for the constitution and freedom of speech in general, are up in arms over the passage of such a tyrannical piece of legislation.
As PIX 11 reports, “Iman Abid with the New York Civil Liberties Union said it will have a chilling effect on complaints against police. Abid said she is also concerned over what the legislation could mean for communities of color.”
“Members of the community have every right to challenge police officers, particularly those that engage in unnecessary behavior,” she said in a statement. “At a time when more accountability of police departments is needed, this law takes us incredibly backward.”
But advocates for this tyranny claim that it “looks after those who look out for us” — because people need to be jailed if they talk back to a cop.
“This local law aims to crack down on behaviors of disrespect and incivility toward law enforcement and first responders in the hopes that these smaller incidents do not escalate,” County Legislator Kara Halstead said in a statement.
According to PIX 11:
Delores Jones-Brown, professor emerita at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said courts have found that the use of the words annoying or alarming in statue is overbroad and unconstitutionally vague.
The legislation, she said, could create a situation where people are scared to exercise their First Amendment rights. An officer could be annoyed by a person who asks them their badge number or who records them with a cellphone while on the job, Jones-Brown said.
“This statue definitely has the capacity to make people afraid to do that,” she said
We agree. This legislation is nothing short of tyranny and is paving the way for abuse by snowflake cops who cannot handle citizens talking back or disrespecting their authority. Instead of making respect a two-way street and earning it, this legislation sets out to mandate it through the threat of violence and kidnapping.
In the land of the free, a person can be kidnapped and thrown in a cage for arbitrary sounds made with their mouth or raising their middle finger that causes harm to no one.
Aside from this being clearly asinine, it’s well established by the Supreme Court that arresting someone for swearing and raising the middle finger is unconstitutional.
In Cohen v. California, the U.S. Supreme court upheld a citizen’s First Amendment right to wear a jacket to court that read “F**k the Draft,” the court held:
“WHILE THE PARTICULAR FOUR-LETTER WORD BEING LITIGATED HERE IS PERHAPS MORE DISTASTEFUL THAN MOST OTHERS OF ITS GENRE, IT IS NEVERTHELESS OFTEN TRUE THAT ONE MAN’S VULGARITY IS ANOTHER’S LYRIC. INDEED, WE THINK IT IS LARGELY BECAUSE GOVERNMENTAL OFFICIALS CANNOT MAKE PRINCIPLED DISTINCTIONS IN THIS AREA THAT THE CONSTITUTION LEAVES MATTERS OF TASTE AND STYLE SO LARGELY TO THE INDIVIDUAL.”
What’s more, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in City of Houston v. Hill, that police must tolerate even more abusive speech than an average citizen—which certainly includes looking at someone’s middle finger. The court concluded that “in the face of verbal challenges to police action, officers and municipalities must respond with restraint,” and added that, “the First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers.”
Here at the Free Thought Project, we feel there are no such things as ‘bad words’ but, rather, certain words some people don’t like to hear. The same goes with raising random fingers.
The arbitrary nature of government enforcing laws that dictate what vocabulary a person can use and which finger they can display to a cop is as ridiculous as it is tyrannical. Sadly, it remains a part of society and as this legislation illustrates, it is getting worse.
Have we learned nothing from history?
Telling people what words they can and can’t say or which fingers they can raise, to ‘protect’ a cop’s feelings is chilling. Freedom of speech does not come with terms and conditions.