Crime to Create a “Hostile Environment” That “Substantially Interferes” with Person’s “Psychological Well-Being” Based on Race, Religion, Sex, Etc.?

That’s what this New Mexico bill would provide:

BULLYING.–

A. Bullying consists of a pattern of intentional conduct, including physical, verbal, written or electronic communication, that creates a hostile environment and substantially interferes with another person’s physical or psychological well-being and that is:

(1) motivated by an actual or perceived personal characteristic, including race, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ancestry, physical attribute, socioeconomic status, familial status or a physical or mental ability or disability; or

(2) threatening or seriously intimidating.

B. Whoever commits bullying is guilty of a petty misdemeanor. Whoever commits bullying that results in bodily harm or substantial emotional distress is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Note that this is not limited to speech said to a person, but could cover speech about a person — for instance, harsh attacks on a politician, community leader, academic, journalist, and the like based on the person’s religion, wealth, sexual orientation, and the like. And though the bill is being marketed as protecting children, it is not at all limited to speech about children. Indeed, the speech is not on its face limited to speech about any particular individual, and might cover offensive speech about groups as well, though it would be bad enough even if it were limited to speech about a particular person.

Such restrictions are troubling enough (and, I’ve long argued, unconstitutional when not limited to unwanted speech said to the person), when it comes to “hostile work environment harassment” law. But this bill would broaden this to cover speech everywhere, and make it a crime as well.