LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – A Michigan House committee plans to hold a hearing on Tuesday regarding two bills that would amend the penal code and make vaguely defined “hate” speech a felony subject to severe penalties.
House Bills 4474 and 4475 state, “A person is guilty of a hate crime if that person intimidates or harasses another individual; causes bodily injury or severe mental anguish to another individual; uses force or violence on another individual; damages, destroys, or defaces any real, personal, digital, or online property of another individual; or threatens, by word or act, to do any of the above described actions, if the person, regardless of the existence of any other motivating factors, intentionally targets the individual or engages in the action based in whole or in part on any of the following actual or perceived characteristics of another individual.”
Among other things, the bill covers anything that could disparage a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or age.
“Under this amended criminal statute if you speak out against abortion, teenage transgender males showering with females and taking their spots on women’s teams, illegal immigrants flooding our nation, or simply refuse to use a person’s preferred pronouns, you will be prosecuted for a felony and can receive up to 5 years in prison and be fined $10,000.00,” attorney David Kallman wrote over the weekend. “But rest assured this law will not be enforced equally. If you want to attack pro-life pregnancy centers, assault others, or burn government buildings like Antifa, BLM, and other leftist groups, feel free to continue with your lawless behavior. This law is not meant for you.”
Democrats introduced the legislation in April.
“With today’s legislation, we [in Michigan] continue to lead on addressing bias-oriented crimes head on,” @MIAttyGen @dananessel said about the Michigan Hate Crime Act & Institutional Desecration Act, introduced today by Reps. @NoahArbit, @RanjeevPuri & Kristian Grant. pic.twitter.com/9ewHBvLaJR
— Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (@MIAttyGen) April 26, 2023
Michigan Democrats hit the ground running at the start of the legislative session after sweeping both houses and the governor’s office in November. They’ve put forth a flurry of “pet” issues like gun control and unlimited abortion access.
However, there’s no guarantee how long Democrats will stay in power and how this bill could impact both sides of the aisle if passed.
“The left may not be thinking about the fact that this law can also be turned on them, “Kallman said. “If the political tides turn, as they inevitably do, it will not be shocking to see those on the right wrongfully seeking retribution by prosecuting those on the left who do not subscribe to the new authority’s interpretation of these categories. Remember, words are now malleable and can be redefined by whoever is in power.”
The House Committee on Criminal Justice will discuss the bill at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 6 in Room 519 of the House Office Building.