A civil and religious rights organization has issued a warning to the public about a new precedent for “harassment,” a precedent under which a parent repeatedly texting a child over undone chores could end up in jail.
The warning comes from the Rutherford Institute and results from the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to address a Texas law regarding electronic harassment.
“The government must not be given the power to criminalize speech it deems distasteful or annoying,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “Nowhere in the First Amendment does it permit the government to limit speech in order to avoid causing offense or hurting someone’s feelings, protect government officials from criticism, discourage bullying, penalize hateful ideas, combat prejudice and intolerance, and the like.”
The Texas law has been described as “so vague and overreaching as to make it illegal for a parent to repeatedly text a teen child about neglected chores.”
Under the law, an offender can be punished by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine for a first offense.
The Supreme Court refused to hear arguments in the case Barton and Sanders v. Texas, meaning that it gave a pass to Texas’ plans to “criminalize protected speech.”
Rutherford said its lawyers “have repeatedly warned that laws criminalizing speech construed as annoying, embarrassing, or offensive could have a severe chilling effect on no-threatening speech which is protected under the First Amendment, including political speech criticizing government officials and elected representatives.”
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The state’s new law, Penal Code section 42.07(a)(7), provides that “a person is guilty of a criminal offense simply for sending multiple electronic communications with an intent and in a manner likely to ‘harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another.’”
Rutherford lawyers said they earlier had challenged the law in defending a man who was charged for emailing a sheriff’s office to criticize its alleged inattention to his requests for help.
The organization reported, “In Barton and Sanders v. Texas, Charles Barton and Nathan Sanders were each charged in separate cases with violating Texas’s electronic harassment statute. Barton was charged with nine violations for sending texts and emails to his ex-wife. Both defendants challenged the statute as being unconstitutional.
“The trial courts denied the challenge, but the intermediate court of appeals for Barton’s case in the Second District of Texas unanimously found the statute to be unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, and noted Barton’s argument that a parent’s repeated text messages to their teenage child to mow the lawn could constitute a violation.”
The institute noted, however, that the Court of Appeals in the Seventh District of Texas came to the opposite conclusion and affirmed the trial court’s decision in Sanders’s case. Subsequently, the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas held that the statute is constitutional in a 5-4 decision. Noting that ‘the statute encompasses a vast amount of speech that is protected by the First Amendment,’ a dissenting judge wrote: ‘At the risk of being prosecuted myself for violating § 42.07(a)(7) of the Texas Penal Code, let me say here that the people of Texas should be alarmed by this holding.’”
Rutherford’s lawyer had urged the Supreme Court to review the case.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Long the world’s most Christian nation, America today is being taken over by a new “official” national religion, one being imposed on the entire populace by every major societal institution, from government, media and big tech, to academia, entertainment and business.
This new state religion is Wokeism. “Going woke” conjures up visions of someone claiming to be acutely sensitive (“awake”) to “systemic social and political injustice.” And not just alleged bigotry against blacks, but toward every other “minority” as well, from LGBT folk – especially everything transgender and “nonbinary” – to “undocumented immigrants.” All of them, being VICTIMS, intrinsically more virtuous than the shameful oppressor class: primarily heterosexual white males.
This new “woke” consciousness has turned America upside-down – from the nationwide Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots in 2020, to tearing down of historic monuments, to demanding multi-million-dollar reparation payments for blacks, to appointing transgenders as top government officials, to rampant reverse discrimination in every area of life, to the U.S. military imposing mandatory “diversity training” and transgender pronoun use on all personnel, causing recruitment to disastrously plummet.
Yet there is hope. Being “saved” – which in Wokeism is called being “woke” – is largely a matter of worshipping victimhood by becoming an “ally” and “defender” of all the many victim classes, and a determined enemy of the straight white male oppressor class. Thus, “joining the righteous” as an ally – even if one is cursed to be a straight white male – opens the door mercifully for salvation, even to the most wretched.
That is the power of the religion of Wokeism. And it’s explored as never before in the February 2023 issue of WND’s critically acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine. If you’ve ever wondered, for example, exactly how the most radical elements in American society are successfully pressuring the biggest corporations into adopting the most outrageous and immoral policies imaginable, even when doing so permanently damages and devalues the company, the stunning answers are in this issue of Whistleblower, titled “WOKEISM: AMERICA’S OFFICIAL STATE RELIGION.”
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