Conservatives, religious followers, and a growing number of legal and constitutional experts are lamenting a bill that has already passed the Michigan House which criminalizing making someone “feel” threatened.
The hate speech bill, which is now in the hands of the state Senate, “is part of a package of legislation that would replace Michigan’s existing Ethnic Intimidation Act and make it a hate crime to cause someone to ‘feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened,'” according to the Daily Wire.
“Under the bill’s framework, ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity or expression’ are included as classes protected against intimidation,” the outlet reported further.
If passed and signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), it would make the offense a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and subject to a $10,000 fine.
A number of conservatives have expressed apprehensions regarding the bill, asserting that it encroaches upon the First Amendment rights of Americans. Distinguished Professor Emeritus William Wagner, who previously served as a federal judge and legal counsel in the U.S. Senate, has joined the chorus of politicians and lawyers cautioning against the implications of the bill.
“Make no mistake about it. Those advocating for this legislation will wield these policies as a weapon capable of destroying conservative expression or viewpoints grounded in the sacred,” Wagner told The Daily Wire. “One merely needs to look at the scores of cases brought against schools, churches, businesses, and individuals around our country. Proponents use these laws to silence and financially cripple those who dare to adhere to a different viewpoint and oppose their agenda.”
The outlet reported that the newest version of the bill that passed the House uses the term “harassment” without defining it.
“’Intimidate’ means a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable individual to feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened, and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, or threatened,” the bill states.
Wagner said that under HB 4474, someone could listen to a speaker such as a religious preacher or read a conservative writer and claim they’re being intimidated because their “perceived gender identity” is under attack.
Under the legislation, intimidation and harassment could be up to the interpretation of the listener and a local prosecutor, according to Wagner, who added that the bill determines what is criminal “after the action,” the opposite of the due process required by the Constitution.
In a statement to The Daily Wire, Rep. Angela Rigas, a Republican freshman in the state House, expressed her concern that the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity as a “protected class” within the legislation specifically singles out conservatives who vocalize their opposition to radical gender ideology.
“The state of Michigan is now explicitly allowing the gender delusion issue to be used as a ‘protected class.’ This opens up numerous issues when it comes to the courts and the continued weaponization of the system against conservatives,” Rigas said.
“We saw similar concerns when they wanted to pass blocks on ‘conversion’ therapy. It seems Dems want to be in the business of telling people how to think. We are determined to keep choice and opinion a free choice despite those efforts,” she added.