On Tuesday afternoon the Massachusetts legislature passed the first in the nation “Right to be an ass” law, which is set to take effect today when Governor Deval Patrick will give the bill his signature of approval. The merits of the law have been debated for months in often contentious legislative sessions as the state sought for the most effective way for citizens to discuss issues of the day.
“There’s a changing attitude in our society” said state Senator Richard Ross. “We’re moving beyond having open civil discourse, to now be at a point where if you disagree with a policy position, you’re almost expected to respond with vitriolic comments that accuse the other side of wanting to secretly destroy America from the inside to promote either a wartime fascism or a radical Muslim agenda. Depending on which side you’re arguing with, of course. So we’re just looking to give people the means to do that in a socially accepted fashion.”
Massachusetts has a notable history of leading the nation down new paths, going back to the vital role it played in colonial history when it become the first colony to permit public drunkenness so long as any displayed anger was directed at the British army. After 37 early Americans were executed for treason against the British crown within two weeks, the colony rescinded the law for the safety of its own citizens, but it still marked a turning point for what Massachusetts would become.
With the new “Right to be an ass” law, Massachusetts citizens will no longer have to worry about being accused of crossing the line of appropriate public discourse while disparaging those with opposing viewpoints. It will also protect citizens from fear of losing their jobs should they find themselves working for a rationally minded individual that likes to carefully consider both sides of a debate.
The impetus behind the new law started in March 2012, when Samantha Dafoe was fired from her job for yelling at a co-worker that favored a progressive tax. “All I did was call this person a fucking moron for having no freakin clue on how to really create a stable economy and that he should just die. My boss told me I shouldn’t act like that at work, so I’m suing him. It’s my Constitutional right to speak like that, I’m not going to let that closeted Communist tell me how to fucking act” Dafoe said to Hilaritan in an interview.
There was debate for months about the merits of making irrationally angry people a protected class in Massachusetts, but the state finally decided to pass the law after the New England Patriots lost the AFC Championship to the Baltimore Ravens 28-13 this past Sunday and fans were left with no legally protected means of punching Joe Flacco in the face.