Proposed Michigan Hate Speech Law Would Criminalize Making Someone ‘Feel’ Frightened or Intimidated

Frightened woman
Bettmann via Getty Images

The Michigan state House passed controversial legislation which would essentially make it a crime to make someone in a protected class “feel” frightened or threatened, without offering specifics on what actions specifically constitute unlawful intimidation.

The state House, led by Democrats, passed a package of bills aimed to essentially replace Michigan’s Ethnic Intimidation Act, expanding protected groups of people to include gender identity as well as sexual orientation.

The legislation specifically states that an individual is guilty of a “hate crime” if they “intentionally” do “any of the following to an individual based in whole or in part on an actual or perceived characteristic of that individual listed under subsection (2), regardless of the existence of any other motivating factors.” It includes using force or violence, causing bodily injury, damaging or destroying property, or threatening or “intimidating” said individual based on race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity “or expression,” physical or mental disabilities, age, ethnicity, national origin, or association with an identified group.

However, the proposed law is very general, as it essentially asserts that one can be guilty of committing a “hate crime” for making an individual merely “feel” intimidated. Many have pointed out the dangers of the generalization, as far-left activists have often accused conservatives of exhibiting “hateful” behavior for speaking out against allowing biological males to use women’s restrooms and changing rooms or compete in women’s sports, for example.

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TPUSA, David Llamas

It could also hypothetically apply to teachers or speakers who openly tout Bible-based beliefs — such as marriage being between one man and one woman or preaching against abortion —  which could make some of these protected classes “feel” intimidated.

In other words, the feeling of intimidation or harassment is very much based on the perception of the individual pursuing the charges.

According to the legislation, the act of intimidation itself involves the “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.”

Hypothetically speaking, an individual could “feel” intimidated or harassed, for example, for being called by the wrong “preferred pronoun.”

Those who violate the bill, should it become law, would be guilty of a felony and could face up to two years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine, which increases to greater punishment — up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines — depending on the magnitude of the alleged crime against the individual who is part of a protected class.

Professor Emeritus William Wagner is among those who have warned that this measure could be used as a “weapon capable of destroying conservative expression or viewpoints grounded in the sacred.”

“One merely needs to look at the scores of cases brought against schools, churches, businesses, and individuals around our country,” Wagner told the Daily Wire.

“Proponents use these laws to silence and financially cripple those who dare to adhere to a different viewpoint and oppose their agenda,” the professor added.

Democrat state Rep. Noah Arbit asserted that “no Michigander should ever feel unsafe or threatened because of who they are or the community they belong to.” According to the Detroit News, “Arbit said his experience as a gay and Jewish man fueled his dedication to legislation.”

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Matthew Perdie, Jack Knudsen


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