January 12, 2012
A proposed new law which came about in response to death threats published on a social media site this summer against lesbian activist Cathy Brennan was introduced in the Maryland House today.
House Bill 8, introduced by Delegate Mary Washington would amend Criminal Law Section 3-805 concerning Harassment via Electronic Communication to include harassment via electronic communication other than email.
This law will correct a prosecutorial gap in Maryland’s criminal code which became evident last summer when Kentucky Fairness Campaign’s Anthony Casebeer and blogger Monica Roberts posted death threats against Ms. Brennan on Facebook with the following exchange:
Casebeer: “Pimp slap is not enough here: a nice home run swing to the head with a 38-oz Louisville Slugger is more in order. There’s no brains in her head to destroy to start with. It’s personal, and if I ever saw her in my windshield, I’ll be wiping blood off my white Buick. But I won’t be using the brakes.”
Because of the gap in the Maryland criminal code Casebeer and Roberts escaped prosecution. The new law will enable the judiciary to impose misdemeanor conviction including imprisonment and fines for the first offense and up to three years imprisonment for subsequent convictions.
“For the past 3 months, I have been working with Delegates Sandy Rosenberg and Luke Clippinger to develop legislation that would amend Maryland law by broadening the types of communication that are covered under harassment statutes. Maryland’s existing electronic harassment legislation was last updated in 1998 and applies only to “electronic mail” (email) that is sent and received by an individual “identified by a unique address”. By changing the language from “mail” to “communications” and striking the requirement that these communications be directed towards an individual at a unique address, “texts” will be covered and possibly direct communication from social media and networking sites.
Thirty-eight states, including Maryland, have enacted laws to sanction electronic harassment. Of those states, more than half (22) include language that is broad enough to include most forms of electronic communication. Maryland’s neighbors- Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware- all have electronic harassment laws that pertain broadly to most forms of electronic communication.
In developing this bill, we’ve solicited the technical advice of the Attorney General’s office to ensure that we address concerns about the protection of free speech under the First Amendment. As we all know, verbal and oral communications can be considered as speech that is either “protected” or “unprotected” based on a number of criteria. These criteria include a distinction between public and private forums. The challenge that we must address is that many of the newest technologies are, by design, intended to publicize interpersonal communications. For example on Facebook walls, photo album “tags”, blogs, posts and threads make public the individual to individual exchange of words and blur the lines just enough to allow individuals to use these to harass, intimidate and bully.
Despite these challenges, it is in the interest of public safety, that we take this clarifying and significant step to close this legal loophole in our harassment laws that allows perpetrators to evade prosecution and leaves Marylanders unprotected.”
September 23, 2011
I was looking at Fab’s post about the Trans Panther Party’s terrorist activities and threats against myself and the women who sent a feminist legal submission to the UN . Reflecting on all the violent rhetoric and genuine threats that have come about and been directed toward the Lesbian authors of that UN submission (some of which I’ve documented on this blog), I thought back to where it all started.
I really think Bilerico and Pam’s House Blend need to be blamed for creating and stoking this campaign of disinformation, harassment, and stalking of Lesbian activists Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford. Bilerico and PHB were the first LGBT media outlets to respond to the UN legal submission.
To anyone who hasn’t been following this: the UN submission suggested that in matters of litigation involving males in female sex-segregated spaces, non-transgender males should not be able to claim “gender identity”, if they have no prior history of transgenderism. That’s it. Non-transgender males would be prevented from falsely claiming transgenderism to gain access to female sex-segregated spaces. Not unlike the caveat in the CT Gender Identity protections law which was passed this year and heralded as a success by the trans community. Nothing to do with surgical requirements, or any restriction whatsoever on transgender people. There’s nothing even vaguely anti-trans about the UN submission. It’s a pro- women’s rights submission. Not an anti-trans one. One could even say it was a pro-trans submission, as it proposed codifying the rights of transgender males to enter female spaces.
What freaked out the genderists is that two feminist attorneys drafted a letter to the UN that addressed “gender” in any way. That they spoke of that which must never be mentioned by women: Gender. Women who do speak of Gender must be attacked and silenced immediately. Which is what Bilerico and Pam’s House Blend did.
Bilerico and Pam’s House Blend, both mainstream LGBT sites, were the first to fire shots. Bilerico ran a hideously inflammatory and inaccurate post titled “Less Than Woman, Less Than Human“, which actually raised the topic of violent retaliation against Brennan and Hungerford. The Bilerico post falsely claimed that the UN letter sought to deny basic human rights to trans people. It claimed the letter sought to discriminate against trans people in employment and housing (which couldn’t be further from the truth). Then the post uncritically, and bizarrely went off to conflate the UN submission with Radical Feminism, solely because the post author apparently first saw the letter’s text on a Radical Feminist site.(Cathy Brennan has never been a Radical Feminist and has in fact spent considerable unpaid time advocating for the rights of transgender people.)
This was followed by descriptions of attacks and hate crimes against transgender people, claiming the UN submission would increase such attacks. It was the worst sort of “reporting”: inaccurate, inflammatory, and unrelentingly addled. The author Mercedes Allen never did post a retraction. Fellow Bilerico blogger Jillian Weiss later posted an appeal to decency to the violent rhetoric that followed, but Weiss never mentioned the original post that started it all: the Bilerico post. As an attorney Weiss was uniquely positioned to refute the disinformation. But apparently chose not to.
Pam’s House Blend published their version the next day, the disgustingly titled “Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford Take Their Anti-Trans Hysteria to the UN”.
This post was bursting with the same outrageous level of untruth, hyperbole, disinformation and downright lies. The author Laurel Ramseyer claimed “… it would presumably allow any women in or near a public bathroom to become “panty police” and make a “show me your papers” demand of any other woman entering the bathroom.” – which is absurd since the UN submission only deals with civil litigation matters. It was another mainstream LGBT post filled with hateful anti-feminist rhetoric and pure shit-stirring fabrication. Not only was there no published retraction- but soon after Cathy posted a link on her long-term Pam’s profile to the blog set up to refute the disinformation (http://sexnotgender.wordpress.com/) Pam Spaulding BANNED her, and deleted her account.
There will always be crazy-ass losers and unstable fringe activists that lack the social and intellectual skills required to discern nuance or legal complexity. OR EVEN REALITY. Violent bullies like Anthony Casebeer and weekend terrorist paramilitary warriors the Caucasian Trans Panther Party, cognitively impaired Kelly Anne Busey of Planetransgender, violence obsessed Marti Abernathey at Transadvocate and the disturbed Katrina Rose at Endablog have never read (or never comprehended) the Brennan Hungerford UN submission. But they damn sure read the mainstream posts from the “authorities” at Bilerico and Pam’s House Blend.