A New Bill Could Make Free Speech Illegal in Washington
A new bill making its way through the Washington State House and Senate could effectively make free speech illegal.
SHB 1333 would create a commission to implement Attorney General Bob Ferguson's 2022 Domestic Terrorism Report. The recommendation would be to create a new category of criminal behavior referred to as "Domestic Violence Extremism."
According to AG Ferguson, Domestic Violence Extremism "encompasses
various forms of extremist and political violence, like threats, coercion, and intimidation, online disinformation, extremist recruitment and government infiltration efforts, and the general spread of extreme white supremacism and anti-government ideologies.”
A summary of the report says that that people’s words and speech, not physical
acts of violence, are dangerous to human life and health, are the true target of the bill. The report also recommends that law enforcement target “precursors to acts of domestic terrorism” (which would be speech), as well as “threats,” “online disinformation” and
“white supremacist, anti-government ideologies.”
A similar effort was attempted in 2022 by the Biden Administration, but was back-burnered after enormous opposition from constitutional scholars and free speech advocates.
According to the Washington Policy Center's David Bose, the threat of being labeled a “domestic violent extremist” by a state commission would
have a chilling effect on independent thought and analysis, especially if that analysis is
applied to far-reaching proposals supported by the state Attorney General.
Another effort was made in 2022 when Governor Jay Inslee proposed a bill to make
it a crime for any elected official or candidate for public office to criticize the outcome of a
local or state election. Though that bill was killed by democrats after the bill’s constitutional problems were brought to light.
SHB 1333 would not only criminalize thought and free expression, but also give the state government the power to determine what words and speech would be subject to prosecution, increase unconstitutional surveillance of innocent civilians, and encourage other citizens to turn in friends and neighbors to the state for officially-banned phrases,
thoughts and expressions.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Ramos (D-Issaquah) on the recommendation
of Attorney General Ferguson.
It seems that many among us have forgotten that we live in a free country, and the fact that true free speech can make some uncomfortable... and that's the point.