Editor’s note: Robert Rich of South Burlington wrote this ‘open letter’ to Sen Richard Sears, co-sponsor of S265, which would impose a prison sentence of up to five years for threatening serious injury or death to public officials and others, as reported in yesterday’s Vermont Daily Chronicle.
Dear Sen. Sears:
Since laws already exist that prohibit threatening the life of any citizen, the real purpose of S265 seems clear – to discourage citizens from exercising their right to free speech under the First Amendment. Further, it is difficult not to believe S265 is merely a transparent scheme to intimidate citizens into silence and compliance. Perhaps you are not aware of how authoritarian your effort appears to those outside the legislative bubble.
Therefore, in the spirit of S265 I would like to ask the following. Would you be willing to author legislation that would provide prison terms for legislators and other government officials who under false pretense willingly threaten the freedoms and liberties of law-abiding Vermonters? It would seem such a measure is as appropriate as the one you are promoting.
Lastly I would note there is an inherent danger in S265 posed by government officials (i.e. Jim Condos) who are unable to distinguish between a threat and someone merely expressing an opinion they do not like.
Bravo ! What’s right for the goose, is right for the gander !
Well said.. these legislators need to be voted out.
Exactly…People will now be threatened of arrest on someones “Feeling”…We all know what this is about…. As in, “Shut up…This is the way it is…Like it or not”….We guess what?…Not!
Just so long as Robert Rich of South Burlington is the sole decision-maker as to who is “willingly threaten(ing) the freedoms and liberties of law-abiding Vermonters” I am perfectly fine with this. After all, he has proven that he can write a letter!
Reminds me of “Hate Speech”? Who determines what qualifies? What about the First Amendment?
Robert Rich of South Burlington determines this.
Mr. Guzziman: Can you not read? Mr. Rich very politely asked Mr. Sears to consider a request for legislative reciprocity because he doesn’t trust The VT Attorney General to make a unilateral interpretation of what does and doesn’t constitute a threat. Mr. Rich feels that requiring everyone to abide by the legislation, not only with regard to threats made TO public officials but threats made BY public officials, will assure that everyone receives the equal protection under the law specified by the 14th Amendment.
If you think Mr. Rich should make this determination on his own, will you explain why?
A concise explanation of the case law that have helped to define free speech:
Some of Vermont’s elected officials really do seem to hate the US and Vermont Constitutions, and they, like few others, have to take an actual oath to uphold those specified rights. Given their ages, they must have taken civics classes at some point, but seem lost on the concept that the Bill of Rights is there to RESTRICT THE AUTHORITY OF GOVERNMENT OVER THE PEOPLE.