Friday, December 14, 2012

Wisconsin's on Popehat! Wisconsin's on Popehat! Wait . . . this is not a good thing.

Wisconsin has proved, once again, that we have way too many government bureaucrats with way too much time on their hands.  In my first book, subtitled Myths, Oddities, and Lies About Our Legal System, I use the very first chapter to expose Kenosha’s “mashing” ordinance, which prohibits improperly ogling someone of the opposite sex.  Yes, our elected government officials seriously got together and wrote that law.  They didn’t prohibit ogling someone of the same sex, however, which is strong evidence that they thought gays and lesbians existed only in California.  In any case, Wisconsin’s legislators—this time those of Vernon County—are at it again.  But instead of dictating the manner in which we may look upon an attractive person of the opposite sex, they’re attempting to trample our free speech rights.

You see, the Vernon County bureaucrats have outlawed any electronically sent information that might “annoy, offend, demean, ridicule, degrade, belittle, disparage, or humiliate any person.

What the hell?!  That’s how I spend most of my professional and free time!

They do try to qualify their anti-speech statute by permitting such speech if, in their minds, it is for a “legitimate purpose.”  But fortunately for me—and for every American who values the write (and right) to free speech—their ridiculous law is probably unconstitutional.  Because my Con Law prof essentially skipped the first amendment, I’ll defer to Popehat:

I think your ordinance is clearly, obviously, patently, inarguably unconstitutional, because it prohibits a wide variety of speech protected by the First Amendment, all based on the vague, lonely clause "which serves no legitimate purpose." That clause is apparently one that you people in Wisconsin think is some sort of magic "go away First Amendment!" mantra. But it's not. Used as you've used it, it leaves people to guess at what conduct is legal or illegal, thus violating due process as well as freedom of expression. Courts have upheld the "no legitimate purpose" clause only when it is attached to statutes that are far more specific about the conduct prohibited, and where the conduct prohibited is already outside the protection of the First Amendment.

[M]y purpose is to question whether officious officials like you serve any legitimate purpose whatsoever in society, or whether you simply waste taxpayer money and generate high-grade nuisance. Moreover, by measures like this, you continue to advance the transformation of our society into a collection of whiners and misfits who run to an incompetent government over every slight, no matter how ridiculous.

I like the way the Popehat operates.

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