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Steve Lunetta: Uncle Earl and cyber bullies

Right About Now

Posted: November 15, 2009 10:42 p.m.
Updated: November 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
"Steven, I don't care what they say, I'm not going to change."

Only two people in the world get away with calling me Steven. My sister Lyn and my Uncle Earl. Lyn gets away with it because she has for 46 years. Uncle Earl can do it because he's old and cantankerous. He also gives me great material.

"Earl, I'm telling you that you've got to be more careful on your blog. The day is rapidly approaching when we won't have our First Amendment rights anymore."

Actually, Mrs. Busby in 10th grade geometry also used to call me Steven. But only when I didn't turn in my homework or I was talking in class. She saw something in me and pushed hard to make sure I learned under her watchful care.

"Under no circumstances will I curtail what I'm saying! Until President Barack Obama changes the Constitution, I am free to state my mind as I please. If I want to say that Democrats have put our nation on a greased pole to Hell, I am free to do it!"

"Earl, there may come a time in our nation where we may not be free to speak our mind. Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., introduced legislation earlier this year that has a potential unintended consequence of killing free speech on the Internet."

"That's not possible, Steven. The Internet is way too big for even the Democrats to control. Why, its bigger than Nancy Pelosi's ego or the greed of California's public employee labor unions!"

I admit it. Grandma called me Steven, too. And usually she called me that when she was really, really angry at me. Like the time we got picked up by the police for trying to color a rival high school's pool.

"No, Earl, they can and they will. Ms. Sanchez introduced HR1966 (the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act) back in April of this year. Do you remember the little girl who killed herself because a friend's mother disguised herself as a teenage boy and then proceeded to tell the girl that the world would be a better place without her? That was Megan."

"That was disgusting. That mother should have gone to jail. Or at least been flogged in the street."

"I can't disagree, Earl. But the problem is, except for basic human decency, there is no law this mother broke. It also seems to ignore the child's parent's responsibility to monitor their daughter's computer activity. Without a doubt, this is a tragic and horrible incident."

"So this Sanchez woman wants to write a new law? Will the punishment include waterboarding?"

"Not that I am aware of. Here is the exact wording of the HR1966: ‘Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.'"

"Steven, you mean to tell me that if I offend someone with something I wrote on my blog, the person offended gets to decide the intent of my actions?"

"That is essentially correct. A good lawyer will have a field day with the poor wording of this bill. In essence, you can be jailed for up to two years for writing any form of electronic communication that is misunderstood, taken out of context or that someone disagrees with."

Come to think of it, my mother-in-law calls me Steven, too. And there is no way I'm correcting her. My Momma didn't raise no dummies.

"That is unacceptable, Steven! Its just another example of Obama and his minions trying to create a police state here in America.

How close is this thing to becoming a law?"

"Earl, according to govtrak.us, subcommittee hearings were held on Sept. 30. There are 17 co-sponsors of the bill: 15 Dems and two naïve Republicans. Most bills never make it out of committee but strange things can happen."

"Isn't this just like the Democrats? They take a tragic circumstance and try to create laws to prevent it from happening again, never realizing that the ‘cure' they create is far worse than the ‘ill' that they are trying to cure."

"Without a doubt, Earl. We should call Howard "Buck" McKeon, our congressman, and ask him to oppose HR1966. Our First Amendment rights would be compromised by this very bad bill."

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right About Now" runs Mondays in The Signal.

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