On Oct. 24, Representative Daniel Hunt filed a bill for a constituent that would ban the use of the B* word. Social media outlets went off on Hunt for the bill. “A person who uses the word “bitch” directed at another person to accost, annoy, degrade or demean the other person shall be considered to a be a disorderly person in violation of this section,” is what is stated in the bill. By banning the B* word, we would be policing the way people talk, going against our fundamental right of free speech.
Under the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Constitution Article 19, “The people have a right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble to consult upon the common good; give instructions to their representatives, and to request of the legislative body, by the way of addresses, petitions, or remonstrances, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer.” Rep. Dan Hunt proposed the bill for one of his constituents, but according to the filing he forgot to check off “by request” on the bill, which made it look like he came up with the bill. The Massachusetts Republican Party took to Twitter shortly after the bill was announced, automatically blaming the entire Democratic Party for the bill, when it was only Hunt that proposed it.
However, my question is why the B* word? Out of all the other derogatory curse words out there that demean people, it was the B* word that was proposed to be banned.
I don’t see the bill moving forward, because many bills that are proposed in the House die quiet deaths. “In the current two-year session, there are 192 such bills, according to a WBUR tally, out of more than 6,000 bills filed by lawmakers. Some legislation is filed every session, others are new. Almost all of them—if not all of them—will ultimately die a quiet death after a public hearing, where oftentimes even the citizen backing the bill fails to show up to testify in favor of it” (WBUR). Speaking of a citizen back the bill failing to show up, in a news article published by "Patch," a Salem newspaper, no one showed up to testify in support of the bill. I think that it is important that citizens have a right to offer petitions in legislature, but wouldn’t someone proposing to ban a word know that it won’t pan out, or that what they are requesting goes against the First Amendment?
Having looked more into the process behind the bill, I honestly can say I don’t see it moving forward. Many senators and representatives propose bills because they feel that it is their right as a representative of a district to represent their constituents. The bills that they propose, they may not even back themselves, and the majority of the time those bills are rejected. This bill is no different. A common tactic that is used to quiet bills is when the committee, who reviews the bill, advises that is should be studied further. That is the public policy way of saying that the bill died. Many people have already spoken out against the bill, but I feel that there is no worry. The idea of a singular word being banned would go against a fundamental right that as citizens we have. And in the state of Massachusetts, we have a right to propose bills that ban the use of a word if we choose, and respecting that is also important.