Michigan House Democrats are proposing a sweeping expansion of the state’s “hate crime” law.
House Bill 4474, sponsored by 45 of the 56 Democrat members, would criminalize an act that causes “severe mental anguish to another individual”, or “damages, destroys, or defaces any real, personal, digital, or online property of another individual”.
Violating the state “hate crime” law would be punishable by “imprisonment for not more than 2 years, or by a fine of not more than $2,000, or both.”
Interestingly, the amended law decreases the financial penalty from $5,000.
The bill defines “severe mental anguish” in part as “Administering mind-altering substances or performing a procedure that would disrupt another individual’s sense or personality, or threatening to do so.”
According to the bill, violations would be considered hate crimes if they are targeted toward one’s “race or color,” “religion,” “sex,” “sexual orientation,” “gender identity or expression,” “physical or mental disability,” “age,” “ethnicity,” “national origin,” or “association or affiliation with an individual or group of individuals with a characteristic described” in one of those categories.
Michigan First Amendment lawyer David Kallman blasted the expansion.
“Under this amended criminal statute if you speak out against abortion, teenage transgender males showering with females and taking their spots on women’s teams, illegal immigrants flooding our nation, or simply refuse to use a person’s preferred pronouns, you will be prosecuted for a felony and can receive up to 5 years in prison and be fined $10,000.00,” he told Michigan News Source. “But rest assured this law will not be enforced equally. If you want to attack pro-life pregnancy centers, assault others, or burn government buildings like Antifa, BLM, and other leftist groups, feel free to continue with your lawless behavior. This law is not meant for you.”
The expansion may signal a direction a new generation of feelings-focused progressive elected officials is heading.
A 2017 survey of college students found “81 percent agree with the statement that ‘words can be a form of violence.’ A full 58 percent of students believe that colleges should ‘forbid’ speakers who have a ‘history of engaging in hate speech,'” National Review reported.
And what is hate speech? The definition the students liked was staggeringly broad. Two-thirds agreed that hate speech is “anything that one particular person believes is harmful, racist, or bigoted.” They further agreed that hate speech “means something different to everyone.”
Given these realities, it should come as no surprise that large numbers of students believe that interruptions or even violence are appropriate to stop offensive speech. Almost 40 percent believe that it’s “sometimes appropriate” to “shout down or disrupt” a speaker. A sobering 30 percent believe that physical violence can be used to stop someone from “using hate speech or engaging in racially charged comments.”
MORE NEWS: Wind blows — power goes out for thousands
“No one in Michigan should ever be made to feel unsafe because of who they are, or what community they belong to,” bill sponsor state Rep. Noah Arbit said in a statement. “As a proud Jew and gay man, this fight is personal to me.”