In what could be call the blue snowflake bill, the state of Kentucky is pushing through an Orwellian piece of legislation that makes it a crime to insult or taunt cops. Senate Bill 211 is another bill, in a long line of bills over the past several years, that grants special privilege to police officers.
According to the bill’s text, it mandates up to three months in prison for a person who “accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words,” or makes “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.”
Taunting or insulting a cop also comes with a fine of $250 and, if the person found guilty is on government assistance—they will be disqualified from assistance for three months.
The bill, which essentially makes cops a protected class, will also strip away at the “defund the police” movement by claiming government entities that fund law enforcement agencies must “maintain and improve their respective financial support.”
In other words, the police are saying not only must you continue to pay their exorbitant salaries but if you complain about it during a protest, they will lock you up for three months and take even more of your money.
According to CBS, who reported on the bill, it has already advanced through the Senate’s Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection committee on Thursday in a 7-3 vote. Now, it moves to the full Senate and could be passed there as early as this week, and would then need to be passed in the House.
Last week, CBS ran their story on the bill with the following title, “Kentucky bill would make it a crime to insult a police officer.” When they reached out for comment from state Senator David Carroll, a Republican and retired police officer who is the bill’s lead sponsor, he wrote in an email, “After looking at you’re headline, I don’t think I have anything to say to you. I miss the time when we actually had unbiased journalists!!” [SIC]
Apparently, the senator did not read the text of his own bill as it literally states people will be arrested for “insults” and “taunts” with “offensive or derisive words” hurled at cops.
Carroll told the Courier Journal that this bill was in response to the “riots” in Louisville over the summer.
“This is not about lawful protest in any way, shape, form or fashion,” Carroll said. “This country was built on lawful protest, and it’s something that we must maintain — our citizens’ right to do so. What this deals with are those who cross the line and commit criminal acts.”
Unfortunately, Carroll is missing the point. There are already laws on the books to hold those accountable for committing criminal acts — expanding criminal acts into the realm of free speech does nothing to preserve rights or otherwise protect anything other than Carroll and his cop feelings.
Senator David Yates opposes the bill, as well as the ACLU, calling it “dangerous” government overreach.
Yates said that language “makes my stomach turn,” saying the good officers he knows are too professional to retaliate violently because of words.
“I don’t believe that any of my good officers are going to be provoked to a violent response because somebody does a ‘yo mama’ joke, or whatnot,” Yates said. If this bill passes, however, violence will then be justified if an officer moves to arrest someone for their free speech and that person resists.
Carroll agrees, and says this bill will empower cops to go after folks for their speech.
“In these riots, you see people getting up in officers’ faces, yelling in their ears, doing everything they can to provoke a violent response,” Carroll said. “I’m not saying the officers do that, but there has to be a provision within that statute to allow officers to react to that. Because that does nothing but incite those around that vicinity and it furthers and escalates the riotous behavior.”
While this bill is par for the course in regard to cops granting themselves special privilege, it flies in the face of Supreme Court precedent and the Constitution.
TFTP would like to take this time to remind our readers that insulting, taunting, or cursing at police officers is protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution—so is flipping them off. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in City of Houston v. Hill, that police must tolerate even more abusive speech than an average citizen—which certainly includes “offensive or derisive words.”
The court concluded that “in the face of verbal challenges to police action, officers and municipalities must respond with restraint,” and added that, “the First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers.”
If Carroll truly cared about the Constitution he swore an oath to protect, he’d figure out why people are in the streets in the first place and move to correct that problem not push through a bill that empowers cops to arrest people who tease them.