All right, so apparently “intent to annoy or harass” is a misdemeanor in Southern California. Had I known that, I could have brought up on charges about a thousand people who have emailed me over the years. But there’s the rub, actually: is “intent to annoy or harass” a crime when directed at non-Muslims, or only at Muslims? Would Feigin have been prosecuted if he had written five comments critical of Christianity on some church’s Facebook page?
“California Prosecutes Man For Posting Anti-Muslim Messages On Facebook,” by Anders Hagstrom, Daily Caller, December 30, 2017:
California has leveled misdemeanor charges against 41-year-old Mark Feigin after he sent five anti-Muslim posts to the Islamic Center of Southern California’s (ICSC) Facebook page in 2016.
The California Attorney General’s office argues that his comments constituted “repeated contact by means of an electronic communication device” with “intent to annoy or harass,” a misdemeanor under California law, Reason.com reported Friday. California courts are scheduled to begin the trial Jan. 2, according to court records. Feigin admitted in October 2016 that he wrote the following comments between Sept. 17 and 25 of the same year.
- “THE TERROR HIKE … SOUNDS LIKE FUN” (In reference to the Center’s advertised “Sunset Hike”)
- “THE MORE MUSLIMS WE ALLOW INTO AMERICA THE MORE TERROR WE WILL SEE.”
- “PRACTICING ISLAM CAN SLOW OR EVEN REVERSE THE PROCESS OF HUMAN EVOLUTION.”
- “Islam is dangerous – fact: the more muslim savages we allow into america – the more terror we will see -this is a fact which is undeniable.”
- “Filthy muslim shit has no place in western civilization.”
ICSC Communications Coordinator Kristin Stangas blocked Feigin soon after he made the final post, but also kept copies of the comments to pursue legal action. The Los Angeles Police Department arrested Feigin Oct. 19 and interviewed him. Feigin is now arguing that his charges should be dismissed because they are based on an unconstitutional application of the law.
Specifically, Cal. Penal Code § 653m(b) states that “every person who, with intent to annoy or harass, makes repeated telephone calls or makes repeated contact by means of an electronic communication device … to another person is … guilty of a misdemeanor. Nothing in this subdivision shall apply to telephone calls or electronic contacts made in good faith or during the ordinary course and scope of business.”
The AG’s office argues that Facebook comments are not legally different from telephone calls in this circumstance, and that Feigin’s intent was clearly to “annoy or harass,” making his actions illegal.