In an alarming move, Democrats in Michigan have passed House Bill 4474, which threatens to impose prison sentences on people for speaking “frightening” or “intimidating” words. Under the guise of expanding the definition of hate crimes, the bill seeks to restrict free speech by punishing those who express certain opinions or views.
This sweeping law goes beyond traditional hate crime legislation and includes harassment or intimidation based on individual characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, physical or mental disability, age, ethnicity, and nationality.
According to the terms of the proposed law, a person can be found guilty of a hate crime for uttering words that are perceived as intimidating or harassing another person based on the characteristics listed in the bill. This could criminalize any speech the government deems offensive, including harsh words or expressions of opinion. The broad definition of hate crimes and language in the bill has raised concerns about the infringement of First Amendment rights.
If found guilty, a person can face up to 2 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. This punishment can increase to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, in certain cases, such as if the victim is under 18, the perpetrator has prior convictions, or the violation results in bodily injury. This excessive punishment for speech shows a complete disregard for the values of free speech and further suppresses conservative voices in America.
The bill also includes alternative sentences, such as community service aimed at improving the offender’s understanding of their actions. However, this provision does not excuse the infringement on an individual’s right to free speech and could be used to silence and suppress conservative opinions.
Additionally, the law allows victims of hate crimes to bring civil lawsuits against the offender. Successful plaintiffs can recover three times the actual damages or $25,000, along with attorney fees and costs. This allows anyone to bring baseless claims against individuals who express their opinions, creating a chilling effect on free speech.
The ramifications of this legislation extend far beyond the state of Michigan and could embolden other Democrats across the country to enact similar laws. America must protect its constitutional values and reject any legislation that suppresses the First Amendment right to free speech. Conservatives must unite and reject this blatant attack on our liberties, as it poses a significant risk to the future of our country.