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Michigan Moves to Make ‘Hate Speech’ a Felony

Michigan Moves to Make ‘Hate Speech’ a Felony

A mind-boggling piece of legislation that passed through the Michigan House of Representatives is set to bolster the state’s hate crime laws: Michiganders could soon be charged with a felony if they say the wrong pronouns toward someone.

As someone who reluctantly lives in Michigan, I am not at all surprised by the draconian actions on the part of the Democratic government here. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gretchen Whitmer installed one of the strictest lockdown orders across the United States. And now her government believes that it is the right move to hamstring free speech, thus making it a crime to hurt someone’s feelings.

I wish I were kidding. The legislation in question, HB 4474, has made it a potential felony—and punishable with up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine—to make someone “feel terrorized.” Of course, it goes without saying that someone should be able to navigate the world without feeling terrorized. However, it is easy to see that this law’s wording is vague enough to make the concept of “feel” a very elastic one. What is the distinction between “feeling terrorized” and merely being offended? Is there a clear difference? How do we know the difference? How do we measure the difference? This is not clear from HB 4474.

The issue with legislating against different types of speech is that accurate descriptions need to be drawn out. It is not enough to merely say “feeling terrorized” in a proposed law because there is too much room for interpretation. In order for a law to be honest and effective, it must provide specifics of what constitutes a violation of said law. The legislation in Michigan does not do that; it uses vague language that lacks productive definitions.

Attorney David Kallman, of the Great Lakes Justice Center (GLJC), told The Epoch Times that “words are malleable,” adding that “they can be redefined by whoever is in power.” Kallman is exactly correct here.

“Under the proposed statute, ‘intimidate and harass’ can mean whatever the victim, or the authorities, want them to mean,” he said. “The focus is on how the victim feels rather than on a clearly defined criminal act. This is a ridiculously vague and subjective standard.”

It is not unreasonable to suggest that this piece of legislation could easily be used as a political weapon against conservatives and Christians. This suspicion is made even more plausible by the fact that Democrats have legislative and executive control of Michigan for the first time in 40 years. There does not seem to be anything bipartisan about this bill.

Conservatives have been barred from social media platforms at a disproportionate rate, and Catholics have even been monitored by the FBI over unfounded alleged ties to white supremacy. Meanwhile, transgender ideologues, such as Dylan Mulvaney, have been celebrated by corporations for nothing more than merely identifying as transgender. It is clear that there is a double standard present throughout the country.

It appears we in the United States have developed thin skin and an inability to listen to the opposing view. We do not want to be told that our ideas are wrong or that the actions we are partaking in might not be the most beneficial. And when we allow this intolerant mindset to take over, we inevitably find ourselves attempting to shut the other side down.

It was not always like this, but if we look back, it is clear that many of the issues surrounding free speech today have to do with being offended and having our feelings hurt. This, I submit, is normal. It is normal to feel offended and hurt sometimes. But it is antithetical to a democratic society to be wholly guided by those feelings, ultimately resulting in the censorship of other people’s right to say what they think and feel.

Image credit: Pexels

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C.G. Jones
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11 Comments

  • Avatar
    Swissarge
    July 5, 2023, 9:31 am

    In a world full of elected idiots, Idiocy is the only possible result,

    REPLY
    • Avatar
      1984_2023@Swissarge
      July 5, 2023, 6:33 pm

      "Nineteen Eighty-Four comes across not as a warning that the actual world of Winston and Julia and O'Brien is in danger of becoming reality. Rather, its true value is that it teaches us that power and tyranny are made possible through the use of words and how they are mediated."

      REPLY
  • Avatar
    Pray Hard
    July 5, 2023, 6:12 pm

    They don't care about your pronouns. This is a purely islamic thing, pushed by CAIR and the rest of the hordes of mohammed.

    REPLY
  • Avatar
    RedState
    July 5, 2023, 6:32 pm

    Yeah, leave it up to libs to decide what hate speech is and expect a fair shake.
    Guess what? What I just wrote could be called hate speech just to shut me up.

    REPLY
  • Avatar
    Mark A Parks
    July 5, 2023, 6:53 pm

    This is woke culture run amok!!

    Have they not heard of the 1st Amendment?

    If this legislation does become law in Michigan, I am sure the first person charged with not using the "proper pronouns" will file suit and the law will be found invalid by the courts.

    I mean what idiots dream this stuff up?

    George Orwell's 1984 Doublethink is alive and well.

    REPLY
  • Avatar
    Dorothy Pence
    July 5, 2023, 9:17 pm

    I just read the bill. I don't see what you saw. I did not find evidence that the bill does this: "Michiganders could soon be charged with a felony if they say the wrong pronouns toward someone." Perhaps I am missing something, but your piece seems to be taking a great deal of liberty in the way you interpret the law.

    Personally, I am opposed to 'hate crimes' in general. One should be punished for his evil deeds, regardless of whether or not we can see obvious hostility based on race, sexual preference, religion, etc. If punishments better fit the crime, perhaps society would not feel the need for enhanced sentencing based on intent. The very concept of a hate crime leaves so much room for subjectivity that it seems destined to be abused.

    REPLY
    • Avatar
      K.B.@Dorothy Pence
      July 6, 2023, 7:54 am

      Dorothy Pence, your comment, "If punishments better fit the crime, perhaps society would not feel the need for enhanced sentencing based on intent." is exactly what's wrong with this country. If a society feels it needs enhanced criminal sentences based on the intent of using speech that hurts someone's "feeling", then the problem is parents not raising their children to respect others. The problem is the break down of the family a d the ethical morals that parents used to teach their children at home, not leaving it to society or a corrupt education system ran by corrupt, career politicians.

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