Lawmakers Consider Making It A Crime To Insult or Taunt Police Officers During A Riot
[guest post by Dana]
How is this not an infringement on free speech:
A bill moving through Kentucky’s Senate would make it a crime to insult or taunt a police officer during a riot. Supporters say the bill targets people who unlawfully “cross the line” but opponents call it a blatant attempt to crush protests and a violation of First Amendment rights.
Senate Bill 211 mandates up to three months’ imprisonment for a person who “accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words,” or makes “gestures or other physical contact that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person.”
A person convicted of this misdemeanor charge could also face a $250 fine and be disqualified from public assistance benefits for three months.
Uh, hold on sec…I have questions. Is the default position going to be that it is always the police officers who are the reasonable and prudent ones? Because I can think of a few police officers who recently demonstrated to the world that they were anything but while on the job… With that, how do the bill’s proponents define a “riot” versus a “protest”? That seems important. And what constitutes whether an insult or taunt is worthy of an arrest? What happens if Officer A has a taunt directed at him by Protester X and doesn’t feel insulted or provoked, but when Officer B is faced with the same taunt, he is highly insulted and feels provoked? Are there going to be specific buzz words that will determine whether the insult or taunt qualifies for an arrest? What level of emotion must accompany the insult or taunt to qualify as unacceptable? Do the protesters have to be in their face or space for it to qualify for arrest? Must the insults or taunts be shouted or screamed to qualify for an arrest? What about if it’s delivered in a loud voice? And what sort of insults are we talking about? If a protester calls an officer a “pig,” or a “fatty pie,” or a “ratfucker,” do they all meet the threshold for arrest? Also, what “gestures” will result in an arrest? If a protester gives the officers the finger, or flashes a “Q” sign, or plugs his nose while pointing to them, do those count? And exactly what and where is “the line” that is not be crossed? What does it look like in real terms? To me, it all seems a bit vague, as well as arbitrary and subjective. And I say this as someone who respects and supports law enforcement and has almost no tolerance for anyone getting in the face of others, including protesters. But this is not that.
According to Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, the bill is the result of the tumultuous protests that took place in Louisville last summer.
Retired police officer and state Senator Danny Carroll offered this explanation for the bill:
“This is not about lawful protest in any way, shape, form, or fashion,” Carroll says. “This country was built on lawful protest and it’s something we must maintain our citizens’ right to do so. What this deals with are those who cross the line and commit criminal acts.”
“If you see the riots, you see people getting in these officers faces, yelling in their ears, doing anything they can to provoke a violent response,” he adds.
I’m not saying the officers do that, but there has to be a provision within that statute to allow officers to react to that. Because that does nothing but incite those around that vicinity and it furthers and escalates the riotous behavior.
However, when CBS News requested a comment from Carroll, he said this after seeing the outlet’s headline Kentucky bill would make it a crime to insult a police officer:
After looking at you’re headline, I don’t think I have anything to say to you. I miss the time when we actually had unbiased journalists!!
The bill also has a provision pushing back on the “defund the police” movement, stating that government entities that fund law enforcement agencies must “maintain and improve their respective financial support.”
Hello.Dana (fd537d) — 3/10/2021 @ 1:40 pm
Remember: in Chaplinsky v New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942) the Supremes defined “fighting words,” as words which “by their very utterance, inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.”
Some subsequent rulings narrowed the definition of fighting words, but the concept still exists. That said, I disagree with the bill in the General Assembly.The Dana in Kentucky (fa23a0) — 3/10/2021 @ 3:11 pm
Pretty sure thats not a crime. It is perfectly legal to be an obnoxious ahole.steveg (43b7a5) — 3/10/2021 @ 3:17 pm
I do think it should be illegal to lob mortar fireworks at police.
I think they should get some of these https://www.wearethemighty.com/mighty-culture/miclic-mine-clearance-military-engineers/
> be disqualified from public assistance benefits for three months.
taunt a police officer, lose your home.
this is a terrible idea and a terrible law.aphrael (4c4719) — 3/10/2021 @ 3:27 pm
And this law doesn’t specify where the line is.
This proposed law also doesn’t fit with this ruling.
It is patently unconstitutional and will be bounced immediately, assuming it passed. Which it won’t since a good number of the state house Republicans aren’t for it, so it probably wouldn’t pass, and definitely would not be able to override a veto.Colonel Klink (Ret) (1367c0) — 3/10/2021 @ 3:38 pm
I also appreciate the theory that from now on police forces can never have a budget cut, and perhaps are guaranteed increased funds based on inflation. Local control by cities or counties was always just a convenient sophistry, discarded when inconvenient if Republicans have control of the state.Victor (4959fb) — 3/10/2021 @ 4:24 pm
I have to say, this is one of those rare times (for me) when I decide whether a Democrat or Republican sponsored this bill, not just by reading the post at least.
I can see Republicans wanting to pass this bill in response to BLM/Antifa.
I can see Democrats wanting to pass this bill in response to January 6.Hoi Polloi (b28058) — 3/10/2021 @ 4:28 pm
when I can’t decide
Man, what a place for an unforced error…Hoi Polloi (b28058) — 3/10/2021 @ 4:29 pm
As others have said, it’s about where the line is. The idea of making it a crime to use amplified sound or yell right in a guy’s face… I am probably Ok with that. The idea that you can taunt a cop into violence, that there’s a Chaplinksy exception to the first amendment here, that’s disrespectful to the police. Police can be trusted not to lose their professional bearing when someone says something really mean to them. That’s a common point brought in the police academy when Disorderly Conduct is covered. That it’s not DOC if the theory is the cop could have been offended into a breach of the peace, because his role is to create peace. I know there are some exceptions to that standard out there (incompetent cops), but the expectation should not be lowered.
I’ve had a protest I worked indoors, where we had no notice, it just happened, and they used amplified sound in my face, making my ears ring with pain. That was already assault (though we did nothing with it, incorrectly in my opinion). If they want to clarify that that kind of ‘audio assault’ is a crime, I am good with that because it really could lead to big problems.Dustin (4237e0) — 3/10/2021 @ 4:40 pm
Yet another “hate speech” exception. Before long “free speech” will only apply to pornography and flag-burning.Kevin M (ab1c11) — 3/10/2021 @ 4:41 pm
I was unaware of Chaplinsky v New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942).
How the hell did they reach that decision? Shouldn’t adults be able to control themselves, regardless of something a “meanie” says?
What happened to “stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”?norcal (01e272) — 3/10/2021 @ 4:48 pm
My last time charging someone with DOC it was a guy I dealt with several times, a homeless man (in Austin) who entered a 7/11 and started screaming the N-word at an old woman who was shopping, very nearly causing a fight from other patrons trying to defend her (he called them N-lovers). It was only a class C, but I was able to do something about his behavior. It’s one of those laws that only works if it’s enforced with a lot of discretion, with ‘imminent breach of the peace’ taken seriously as a requirement. Without the law I probably could ‘assumed’ he was publicly intoxicated, but Austin is very opposed to that being criminalized anymore, particularly against the homeless. DOC has its place.Dustin (4237e0) — 3/10/2021 @ 5:04 pm
I don’t care if it was a Dem or a Republican who sponsored the law, this looks to me like a 1st amendment infringement. (IANAL, layperson judgement only)
I think the police already have a broad enough mandate. I have a (mentally ill) cousin who was once arrested for standing in a parking space that the police wanted to park in. There were open spots on both sides. He was not polite to them, but he wasn’t violent (he was also charged with resisting arrest, but the body cams showed that if you are sitting on someone it is not resisting arrest for them to be unable to follow the order to stand up). He was eventually convicted of interfering with a first responder. I have several other relatives in law enforcement who are of the opinion that that is something the police use when they find someone excessively irritating.Nic (896fdf) — 3/10/2021 @ 5:20 pm
Norcal — Chaplinsky was *more* protective of speech than the precedent in place at that time.aphrael (4c4719) — 3/10/2021 @ 5:38 pm
I’m sorry that happened to your brother. Contempt of cop stuff is real and it’s usually stupid.Dustin (4237e0) — 3/10/2021 @ 6:52 pm
Norcal — Chaplinsky was *more* protective of speech than the precedent in place at that time.
aphrael (4c4719) — 3/10/2021 @ 5:38 pm
Well, maybe the Supreme Court needs to do a Chaplinsky on Chaplinsky.norcal (01e272) — 3/10/2021 @ 7:04 pm
If every cop were like you, this Kentucky bill would be a non-starter.norcal (01e272) — 3/10/2021 @ 7:05 pm
Danny Carroll appears to believe police should be held to a lower standard than normies while simultaneously being empowered to enforce their feelings about their feelings.
People who mistake fear for respect should not be allowed to wear a badge.john (cd2753) — 3/10/2021 @ 7:13 pm
Do we know the history of disorderly conduct/disturbing the peace law in Kentucky? When I was young (and life was wonderful, wonderful, a miracle) in Illinois, under case precedent a police officer could not be the complainant in a charge brought under this law:
Peace officers are not legally competent, as a matter of law, to be provoked into a breach of the peace since their duty is to preserve the peace. Maybe that’s the “loophole” the finger-licking good state is trying to narrow.nk (1d9030) — 3/10/2021 @ 7:16 pm
@Dustin@15 It was a cousin, but thank you. I do have reasonably broad experience with police officers for someone who is not one (and not on the wrong side of the law either) enough to know that it isn’t “all cops.”Nic (896fdf) — 3/10/2021 @ 9:16 pm
Hoi, I don’t know of any Democrats proposing such a thing, though I don’t pretend to keep track of every notion out there. But it was pointed out during the impeachment trial that the professed love by Trump supporters of Law and Order and of the Thin Blue Line didn’t seem to stop a lot of them from arguing with and yelling at actual police who got in their way.Victor (4959fb) — 3/11/2021 @ 2:46 am
Here’s another frustrating story of police over reach
https://www.tampabay.com/investigations/2021/03/11/lawsuit-pasco-intelligence-program-violated-citizens-rights/Time123 (6e0727) — 3/11/2021 @ 6:55 am
Sorry, Nic. Not getting enough sleep lately. It’s tough for me because I know the profession has some low standards and some poor people infesting it, and like with a bad school teacher, it’s too tough to solve the problem, and makes things frustrating for the great ones and the good ones.Dustin (4237e0) — 3/11/2021 @ 6:00 pm
@Dustin@23 You have a new baby, of course you aren’t getting enough sleep. And in the end you can’t control what other people do, you can only be the best example that you can be.Nic (896fdf) — 3/11/2021 @ 6:11 pm
There are certain sections of Philadelphia in which loudly screaming that most horrible of racial epithets will get you a fist in your face, and everyone will think that you brought it on yourself.
Or, picture yourself standing peacefully while someone starts ranting and casting aspersions on the character of your wife. There might be times in which your desire to remain within the confines of the law might be outweighed by simply being a man.The Dana in Kentucky (fa23a0) — 3/12/2021 @ 6:37 am