This letter is by Wendy Bucchieri of Arlington.
S.265, the “criminal threatening” bill, just passed the Vermont Senate and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. It proposes (in its own words) “to expand the scope of the crime of criminal threatening to include threats to third persons. The bill also proposes eliminating a person’s lack of intent, or inability to carry out the threat as an affirmative defense.”
In section H of this bill, the senators list themselves and all public servants as special recipients, with special mention to the protections of being threatened. This bill expands the “threat” for themselves and its definitions but diminishes the ‘We the Vermonters’ ability to be innocent until proven guilty.
Not having to prove ‘intent’ allows this bill to be used to violate, or at least to really dampen our ability to address our elected officials with grievances. If someone gets emotional or heated because they don’t like the direction a school board or elected officials are going in, are they in danger of being arrested, since it appears “threatening” to someone? The law is very subjective.
And don’t say it can’t happen. We saw DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas call for parents protesting at school board meetings to be treated as domestic terrorists. Free speech is definitely under attack.
In this divisive time, we need to see our legislators looking out for the people they represent — not for themselves. Any law made that elevates one group of people over another causes division. The fact that these senators have elevated themselves above the people that they are supposed to serve is telling.
Our laws should be plainly stated for all citizens — period!
My advice for public officials in this hour: If you can’t take the heat, then don’t take the seat!