By Quentin Choy
March 13, 2021
A year ago today, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year old paramedic was shot dead in her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky. Both Taylor’s death and George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis were deaths that Black Lives Matter protesters sought to amplify to the country last summer.
On the one year mark of Breonna Taylor’s death, Kentucky’s State Senate has passed one of the most archaic laws in decades. Senate Bill 211 would make it a crime to insult a police officer. The bill passed through the Senate with a vote of 22-11, with six Republicans joining every Democrat in voting against the bill.
Senator Danny Carroll, a Republican Senator told WFPL “I will not apologize for passing laws to protect the people of this commonwealth, to protect the property of the business owners in this commonwealth, to protect our first responders.”
Carroll’s comment is plain dumb because he isn’t protecting lawmakers from anything but words. Officers are literally armed and militarized, and the Kentucky Senate’s priority is to protect the feelings of police officers rather than the safety of unarmed, everyday citizens. I want to say that this bill is a joke, but the penalties everyday people could receive from it are absolutely unfunny.
Page 15 of the bill in its current form which I have linked states that :
“Accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words, or by 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.”
According to Fox News, individuals would “be guilty of a misdemeanor and face up to 90 days in jail and fines,” if they do or say anything that has “a direct tendency to provoke a violent response.”
This bill is one of the biggest threats to free speech of Americans, far more than the goofy outrage over Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss books. This bill threatens the lives of people in Kentucky from practicing their freedom of speech and is a handoff of immense, unchallengeable power to the police while neutering the everyday citizen who is already struggling.
Cancel culture, safe spaces, and trigger warnings have been used by the American right to criticize the left, and at times it made sense. But this power grab by the police and censorship of the commoners to protect the feelings of the police is one of the most anti-free speech pieces of legislation I have ever heard of.
You cannot call yourself a believer of free speech if you fail to denounce an instance of censorship and punishment of speech as clear as this.
Image Courtesy of 10TV.