Arizona could be the first state in America to criminalise trolling, making the Internet a far less free platform for speech with its broad sweeping legislation.
The Arizona House Bill 2549 is an extension of the current telephone harassment law which considers it a crime to harass, annoy or offend someone personally or publicly via phone. With this update it will also apply to the Internet at large and as well as any other electronic device, meaning direct or indirect contact with someone that the state deems "offensive" will be illegal.
It won't just be text either. Images, cartoons and anything that falls under the aforementioned categories will be chargeable offences under this new legislation - if it's signed in by current governor Jan Brewer.
However the bill isn't being passed without a fight. Trade association Media Coalition, has been opposing the law change, saying that it affects First Amendment rights and has been petitioning the Senate and Governor Brewer to reject the proposed changes.
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund warns that if this bill is passed, it will not only hinder the rights of individuals, but make it difficult for cartoonists and publishers that make a living with satire or shock material. Potentially, even political criticism could be considered abuse under this new system.
As with many organisations that want to have radio personalities or correspondents fired for voicing opinions or making jokes, this bill misses the point. There is a right to free speech. There is no right to not be offended. If you don't like what you're reading or hearing or seeing, go somewhere else. Stop looking at it.