Casebeer / Roberts Bill introduced in Maryland

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.”

 Roberts: “and add a silver stake through the heart for good measure?”

 Casebeer: “Now that you mention it, I have a nice sharp double-bitted axe in the tool shed….”

 Roberts: “where’s Garth and the Capital One Vikings when you need them?”

 

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.

From Delegate Washington’s remarks:

“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.”

30 Responses to “Casebeer / Roberts Bill introduced in Maryland”

  1. doublevez Says:

    So proud of you all.

  2. KittyBarber Says:

    Has the ACLU weighed in on this yet?


  3. But…but it’s twanzphobic!!!

    Seriously I’m very happy that bill is introduced! Congrats!😀

    • Kathrin Says:

      “But…but it’s twanzphobic!!!”

      It will be interesting to see if anyone takes that argument. Sadly, I won’t be too surprised if someone does.

      Some people (men) have a hard time understanding that people trying to defend themselves from them is _not_ assaulting them, and the correct response is not to threaten them with violence. I guess force is what they know, but it’s really a shame that legislation like this is really necessary.

      No means no, but “it’s not acceptible to threaten to kill people” should really be self-evident. “No” isn’t required.

  4. Nicky Says:

    Bravo, I am so proud


  5. Reblogged this on Privilege Denying Tranny and commented:
    Fuck yeah!

  6. Kathrin Says:

    Good. Unlike a lot of what passes for “terrorism” these days, this really was terrorism – an attempt to control the behavior of others through fear. We need to send the message that this sort of behavior is unacceptable, not “harmless fun”, and carries consequences.

    I do think there should be an enhancement to the sentence in cases where the individual making the threats is known personally, or provides reason to believe that violence is imminent (such as sending the victim’s street address or pictures of her). There is a big difference between someone randomly threatening on the internet, and someone who demonstrates that they actually have the power to harm you. A misdemeanor is not appropriate for destroying someone’s ability to live free from fear, and victims can carry scars for a very long time.

    • GallusMag Says:

      “I do think there should be an enhancement to the sentence in cases where the individual making the threats is known personally, or provides reason to believe that violence is imminent (such as sending the victim’s street address or pictures of her). There is a big difference between someone randomly threatening on the internet, and someone who demonstrates that they actually have the power to harm you. A misdemeanor is not appropriate for destroying someone’s ability to live free from fear, and victims can carry scars for a very long time.”

      Good point.


  7. I’ll bet you can find nothing about this new bill on twanz sites. Is it because a dude of their own community was the criminal in this case?


  8. Interesting. Unless the bill changed, it clearly states that this bill is an act only concerning emails from one person to the victim *if* the intent of the email was to “harass” (the legal definition, not the colloquial). According to this bill, proving intent would necessitate demonstrating a pattern of receiving direct emails from the harasser, correct? If all of this is the case, how would the FaceBook message be covered by this bill? Since you obviously have a lot of sway on this bill, you might want to ensure that it covers all social media instead of just email.

    Also, I looked for the legislative intent usually filed with bills and found no mention that this bill was filed as a direct result of this facebook post. Would you please post a link to the legislative intent which shows that this bill was a direct response “the gap in the Maryland criminal code Casebeer and Roberts escaped prosecution”?

    Also, can you explain how (even if you changed the bill to include social media instead of only email) how this law would be enforced if the communication arises in another state or if the social media server is located in another state?

    I’d appreciate it!

    • GallusMag Says:

      Cristan I have no way to account for your total mis-read of both this bill and this post. It seems such a straightforward post too. I am truly perplexed by your misunderstanding of what is written here. I can only suggest that you re-read, or perhaps have a friend read it and explain it to you.

      • Nicky Says:

        Gallusmag, I would check with the people at Enough nonsense blog. They had run ins with the likes of Cristain Williams and Cristain williams runs a TG group in TC who was in the infamous Ariguz case


      • Hrm… I read both the bill and this post very closely and then looked up the legislative history and intent and the bill clearly is (currently) only aimed at emails (traditional emails and now mail received through social media site) only from people who have a demonstrated history of harassment via a communication originating from within the state.

        It seems that this type of bill would be inadequate to deal with objectionable FaceBook material not communicated (emailed, PM, other direct forms of communication) directly to a harassment victim.

        Either the bill’s author needs to open the scope of the bill to include all social media or this bill cannot achieve what the post seems to hope that it might. All legislation has two parts: The bill and the legislative intent. This post has the bill but not the intent and since the legislative intent I was able review didn’t mention this facebook incident, I wanted to see if there was perhaps an updated legislative intent filed that someone could point me to.

        If I understand this correctly, 2 people who do not live in the state were holding an objectionable pubic conversation on their own facebook using a server not located in the state and did not actually send the objectionable material to the harassed individual. According to my reading, this bill would not be effective against what occurred. Obtaining the updated filed legislative intent would be helpful in understanding the legal ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ concerning this bill.. which was why I asked about it.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Hrm… seriously, what are you smoking? Or are you just out of your mind.
        Have a friend read the post and explain it to you.
        I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a bizarre inability to comprehend the content of a post in the history of this blog.
        And that’s really saying something.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Also, “holding an objectionable pubic conversation”?
        Is that what you call it?
        Very telling.

      • AJC/DV Says:

        Sadly, Cristan has a valid point.

        Two other electronic harassment bills were presented on 02 February in the Senate, 107 and 175, both seeking to strengthen the online harassment legislation much like HB 8 seeks to do.

        These bills certainly will make progress if they go into legislation, but there is still a long legislative road ahead for victims of electronic harassment that is indirect (Facebook postings, digital impersonation, etc…). All three bills do not cover indirect harassment.

        Now, a savvy State’s Attorney would be able to easily apply the current harassment laws to cases of indirect harassment. But, for the most part, indirect harassment is difficult to prosecute.

        Also, the state of origin is not an issue.

        I am a victim of indirect, interstate electronic harassment. To learn about my case and the role I played in getting SB 107 in front of the judicial proceedings committee, please see my website: http://www.deliav.com

  9. GallusMag Says:

    NARAL Pro choice Maryland, Women’s Law Center of Maryland, Maryland States Attorney Association, Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence have all now joined in support of the bill, which was initiated in response to the death threats against Lesbian and Feminist activist Cathy Brennan as outlined in this post.

  10. KittyBarber Says:

    Because this was an interstate communication, is there any possibility of prosecution under 47 USC 223, which covers obscene and threatening communications? Just wondering.

    • Nicky Says:

      I wonder if we can get a movement going to get it pushed in all 50 states.

    • rheapdx1 Says:

      @GallusMag just sent to you a link that mentions the Roberts cretin. Yep, apparently to those at GLAAD, the only good trans of color they deem worthy are either DQ’s, hookers or thugs.

      Some did not get the memo about how this further, by actions and association, means that the cause of gays and lesbians has been hijacked by the delusional and criminal. Damn it all….

  11. AJC/DV Says:

    The house proceedings were brutal, but Del. Washington held her composure beautifully. Let’s hope the committee makes good decisions and created good legislation. Kudos for your contribution, Del. Williams.


  12. […] hormone replacement therapy the time required to make them look ‘fishy’”). He was honored this year with the creation of an actual STATE LAW in response to his propensity for threatening to “pimp slap” lesbians and feminists, and for […]


  13. […] Roberts, a male to female transgender has been widely criticized by lesbians and feminists for referring to females and lesbians as “Fish” on the Transgriot blog. Not only does Roberts refer to lesbians as “fish”, but in the previous months Roberts published and participated in violent gruesome death threats against a lesbian activist- threats so severe that the Maryland legislature saw fit to create a new law updating their internet criminal statute as a resul… […]


  14. […] side. Two groups of people who refuse to bow down. These groups have now become the target of death threats, because transwomen and their allies (aka the patriarchy) are aware that the only way their […]


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