Letter to the Editor: Legislation Would Have a Chilling Effect on Free Speech


I am writing to alert readers to a proposal currently working its way through the Washington state Legislature, House Bill 1333.

This bill is of importance to me personally because I write non-fiction articles and essays, and those pieces are regularly published online to fairly large audiences. But everyone who posts online through Twitter, Facebook or other social media platforms should be equally concerned about the ramifications of this legislation.

While I do not believe that I will ever write or post anything that could be legitimately perceived as threatening to another, or even particularly controversial, it is true that some people today can find offense in the most innocuous of expression.

House Bill 1333, as proposed, would deeply erode the right of free speech in our state, and result in a deeply chilling effect on expression, especially political expression. The potential criminalization of thought and words cannot be seen as furthering the cause of justice as thoughts and words are not violence. Beyond potential criminalization of expression, I am additionally concerned about the state apparatus that would be set up in order to surveil and monitor what may be published across Washington.

HB 1333 will have a chilling effect on the expression of writers, podcasters, video makers and speakers throughout our state.


Cameron Bailey