Democrat Governor Set to Criminalize Free Speech in Washington State — Gov. Inslee to Sign Law Allowing Reports of ‘Bias’ Expression Against Anyone, Including Family and Friends

Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA)

Governor Jay Inslee (D-WA) is expected to sign Substitute Senate Bill 5427, a controversial piece of legislation aimed at combating hate crimes and bias incidents in Washington state.

However, the bill has sparked a heated debate over the potential implications of criminalizing free speech.

The bill, which passed through the Washington state legislature, seeks to create a “bias incident hotline” under the management of the State Attorney General’s Office.

The stated intention is to support victims of hate crimes and track bias incidents.

“The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) must oversee hate crimes and bias incidents hotline (hotline) staffed during business hours, dedicated to assisting people who have been targeted or affected by hate crimes and bias incidents. The hotline must: provide appropriate victim-centered, culturally competent, and trauma-informed information and referral;  be as accessible to as many residents of Washington as is practical within appropriations, regardless of language proficiency,” the final bill reads.

According to the bill, “Bias incident means a person’s hostile expression of animus toward another person, relating to the other person’s actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, or mental, physical, or sensory disability. A bias incident is deemed to be non-criminal in nature and does not include expressions of support for or opposition to a government’s policies or actions protected under free speech.”

Critics of the bill, such as Rep. Cyndy Jacobsen (R-Puyallup) and Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen), argue that the legislation could potentially infringe on free speech rights by policing thought and speech rather than actions. They raise concerns over the subjective nature of determining intent and the consequences of reporting someone for an alleged bias incident.

Liberty Nation reported:

To be clear, this isn’t merely about going after people who have allegedly committed physical “hate crimes.” It also targets reported instances of “a person’s hostile expression of animus toward another person, relating to the other person’s actual or perceived characteristics…” Literally, the hotline gives people a way of informing on others supposedly guilty of thought crimes – or, perhaps, speech crimes.

The bill, as passed, does make it clear that these “bias incidents” do not include “expressions of opposition or support for the actions or policies of a foreign or domestic government protected under free speech.” So, sure, one is still free to criticize an elected official, but express any opinion someone else decides is aimed at an individual because of that person’s “actual or perceived characteristics” and one could find oneself in the AG’s crosshairs.

It is easy to see, then, that any expression of opposition to, say, transgender ideology, would get someone reported to the hotline. Free speech – at least in the three Washington counties to which this program will initially be rolled out – appears under threat. If one cannot say anything that another person of a different race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation finds offensive in some way without being reported to the attorney general’s office, then one no longer enjoys the constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech.

Supporters of the bill might argue that this isn’t the US Congress making a law that restricts free speech, so it can’t be unconstitutional. The Washington Constitution, however, also protects free speech. Article I, Section 5: “Every person may freely speak, write and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right.”

Getting away from the sheer creepiness of people being reported to the authorities for merely expressing an opinion, Rep. Cyndy Jacobsen (R-Puyallup) succinctly pointed out the ominous flaw in this bill. “I think it’s difficult to put things into law which look at the intent of people rather than the actions that they take,” she said. Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen) agrees, saying: “If a crime is a crime, if someone has been assaulted, if property has been damaged, then the proper recourse is to contact law enforcement and pursue a remedy, pursue justice in that way.”

The bill received strong support in the legislature, with final passage votes of 30-18 in the Senate and 56-39 in the House.

The bill is now on the governor’s desk. If signed, it will set to take effect on January 1, 2025, with provisions for a pilot hotline program in select counties by July 1, 2025, and statewide implementation by January 1, 2027.

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Jim Hᴏft is the founder and editor of The Gateway Pundit, one of the top conservative news outlets in America. Jim was awarded the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award in 2013 and is the proud recipient of the Breitbart Award for Excellence in Online Journalism from the Americans for Prosperity Foundation in May 2016.

You can email Jim Hᴏft here, and read more of Jim Hᴏft's articles here.

 

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