There’s a Mark Twain quote about no man’s life, liberty, or property being safe while the legislature is in session. At midnight a few minutes ago, the 2018 session of the Maryland General Assembly adjourned sine die, and we bloggers dodged a bullet. A few weeks ago I wrote about Senate Bill 726, the so-called Grace’s Law 2.0. I referred to it as Brett’s Bill because it would have had the effect of making writing truthful things on the Internet a crime (up to 3 years in prison) if it caused upset to a minor. If that had been the law when Aaron Walker and I were charged under Grace’s Law in 2015, I might still be in jail.
The bill passed the Senate, but lobbying with the House Judiciary Committee by the ACLU, Aaron Walker, and me helped keep the bill from being reported from the Committee to House floor. My work was mostly through email. Aaron and the ACLU also met directly with legislators. Aaron’s story of how Brett Kimberlin had used Maryland’s existing laws had a chilling effect on many of the Delegates he was able to speak with. I’ll have more to report about what I learned during the lobbying, but that will have to wait for a few days.
I can tell you from my family’s own experience that cyberbullying needs to be dealt with firmly, but we need to do it within the limits of the First Amendment. I hope to be able to work with the legislators from Carroll County to draft a bill that will help protect kids without trampling on the Bill of Rights.