Michigan House Passes Bill Criminalizing Making Someone Feel ‘Intimidated’

Originally published June 26, 2023 6:00 pm PDT

The Michigan House also recently passed a bill to prosecute “hate speech.”

  • The Michigan House passed a bill that makes it a criminal act to do something that causes an individual to feel “terrorized, frightened, or threatened.”
  • House Bill 4474 amends the Michigan penal code to emphasize the importance of feelings in criminal acts.
  • “We know that at this time in history, extremism is on the rise. But also, our hate speech has translated into hate actions that put our most vulnerable populations at risk,” said Michigan State Democrat Representative Emily Dievendorf.
  • The bill’s sponsor, Michigan State Representative Noah Arbit (D), said he was “sick of checking for hiding spots at the gay bar should a gunman open fire. I’m sick of my Chaldean constituents being murdered in their place of business. I’m sick of reading headlines about Mosques and Churches being desecrated,” adding, “Michigan can be so much better, and it’s about time that we were.”
  • Republican Michigan Representative Steve Carra told CBS News Detroit, “We shouldn’t be building [laws] around an individual’s feelings of being frightened.”
  • “Scrap this bill. This is not a bill that we need for the state of Michigan,” Carra said.
  • The importance of “feelings” is placed on the bill’s definition of “intimidation.”
  • Intimidation is considered to be a “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.”
  • Anyone who violates the law is subject to 5 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
  • The bill is expected to pass in the Michigan Senate and be signed by Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
  • Conservatives have voiced concern that intimidation and harassment “can mean whatever the victim, or the authorities, want them to mean,” according to attorney for Great Lakes Justice Center David Kallman.
  • “The focus is on how the victim feels rather than on a clearly defined criminal act. This is a ridiculously vague and subjective standard,” he added.
  • Kallman further noted that the bill considers “hate speech” to be the same as saying, “You disagree with me.”
  • “Make no mistake about it: those with an anti-Christian agenda will wield a weapon capable of extinguishing Christian expression in the state of Michigan,” founder of the Great Lakes Justice Center William Wagner told The Epoch Times.
  • Wagner explained that the ability for authorities to criminalize feelings of harassment allows them to “make moral determinations and arbitrarily transforms a citizen’s protected political expression or sincerely held faith-based beliefs.”
  • In January, a World Economic Forum panelist said the United States will soon have laws against “hate speech.”
  • European Commission VP Věra Jourová stated, “We need the people who understand the language and the case law in the country.”
  • “Because what qualifies as hate speech, illegal hate speech—which you will have soon also in the U.S.—we have a strong reason why we have this in the criminal law,” he continued.