There’s a fine line between offensive and hilarious, and Arizona lawmakers aim to make that boundary legally protected. If House Bill 2549 passes, online harassment could become a criminal offense – but some hacktivists are there to help you rejoice.
Should Arizona Governor Jan Brewer sign off on House Bill 2549, using the Internet “with the intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend a person” would be prohibited by a state-wide legislation. Arizona has already approved one of the most overzealous immigration laws in the United States, so suggesting that HB 2549 will get Governor Brewer’s stamp of approval isn’t that much of a stretch. Should that be the case, though, an unofficial Anonymous Twitter account has you covered.
YourAnonNews, a highly-followed Twitter account that regularly relays information pertinent to the Anonymous hacktivist collective, has circulated an incident report (along with the fax address for the governor’s office) for anyone in Arizona who may have already gotten their britches into a bind because of some online tomfoolery. The group has sent out a copy of a “Butthurt Report Form,” which asks the victim to describe any incidents that would fall under the umbrella of the new bill’s big list of no-nos.
Did a message board post get you down? Or maybe a Livejournal comment was the culprit. Whether it’s a LOLCat, a blog rant or even an actual news item, the form has you taken care of with a handful of options to better express your annoyance with an unruly Internet troll. From there victims are asked to go into detail “about the incident of butthurt” and can chose from options such as “I lost an argument in a chat room” or “Someone wrote a story or anecdote that brought up Bad Memories and made me cry.”
The form happens to offer up a hilarious jab at just how ridiculous the charges could be if HB 2549, but sadly isn’t all that far-fetched. Some are already suggesting that, if passed, harsh censorship could be added to the law book in Arizona and that has understandable gotten a fair share of advocates already angry. “There is no requirement that the recipient or subject of the speech actually feel offended, annoyed or scared,” warns the First Amendment rights group Media Coalition, who adds that the legislation also fails to establish if the communication in question “must be intended to offend or annoy the reader, the subject or even any specific person.” Although the law would only go into effect on a local level, other critics are concerned that Arizona legislators are already picking up where the failed SOPA and PIPA laws left off before being abandoned in the US Congress.
HB 2549 "would apply to the Internet as a whole, thus criminalizing all manner of writing, cartoons and other protected material the state finds offensive or annoying," Media Coalition writes, so for the sake of a free and open Internet, other advocates have already aligned against the act and have asked Governor Brewer to toss the bill out. Should that not be the case, however, the butthurt form might be your best bet at reporting on just how condescending some jerk was while commenting on your YouTube channel.
Of course, any butthurt Internet users actually offended shouldn’t necessarily expect the state to step up and come cut down their neighbor's Web access with a pair of wire cutters. Luckily the complaint form offers up suggestions for the poor soul that’s annoyed to take into their own hands, which includes such astute approaches as taking the “big mean poopy pants who should be banned from the Internet forever” and forcing them to “bow down and worship” the victimized sap. Also available to be checked off of the list are suggestions such as, “They deserve to be hunted down like a dog and shot dead on their own front porch” and “They should be kicked out of America, because we’re the home of the free and we just don’t DO shit like that here.”
In the end, however, the butthurt form brings up perhaps the best bet to resolving any rudeness you may encounter while online in Arizona. Under the question “Did you take any actions yourself regarding the butthurt?” the author of the complaint offers one compromise that should be enough for lawmakers to rethink the legislation altogether: “I realized that arguing on the Internet is usually pointless and found something else to do with my time.”