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Friday, December 30, 2011
State Senate to Censor Senators’ Online Comments
By Andrew Walden @ 2:45 AM :: 5915 Views :: Energy, Environment

by Andrew Walden

The Hawaii State Senate has a new Social Media Use Policy which will protect bumbling incumbents and their staff from endangering their reelection chances by saying stupid things online and will also be monitored by the Senate communications office for whatever the nameless, faceless bureaucrats deem to be “factual accuracy.”

According to an announcement from the Senate:

Information and comments to be shared through the social media approved by the Senate shall not include information or comments that are:

  • violent, obscene, profane, hateful or racist
  • personal attacks or abusive
  • threatening, slanderous or defamatory
  • solicitations, endorsements, or promotions of products or services of any financial, commercial or non-governmental agency
  • suggestive or encouragement of illegal activity
  • sexual
  • discriminatory on the basis of race, creed, color, age, religion, gender, marital status, status with regards to public assistance, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation…. 
  • confidential or personal including, but not limited to: information that by law or practice is not available to the public and that an employee acquires in the course of the employee's official duties; or Email addresses, telephone numbers, mailing addresses, and identification numbers, such as state or federal employee identification, social security, and driver’s licenses

The Senate communications office shall manage the Senate social media and shall regularly monitor the content....

Senate officers and employees that fail to comply ... may be subject to disciplinary action, including termination of employment.

So not only will Senate staff be denied free speech, but voters and the public at large will be prevented from discovering that their elected officials or their staff are sexual, violent, obscene, discriminatory racists. Under the monitoring of the Senate Communications Office, censorship and incumbency go hand in hand.

Moreover, the prohibition on distribution of ‘confidential, slanderous, or defamatory’ information by Senate staff will limit the ability of elected officials to disseminate suppressed information to the public. It is well known that ‘slander’ and ‘defamation’ are synonyms for ‘accurate’ in the lexicon of political rhetoric.

For instance, would the Communications office allow a Senator or staffer to tweet: “Sen J Kalani English is a convicted cocaine dealer” or “Mayor Billy Kenoi helped raise $100K for the Pali Shooter”?

How about “Senator Malama Solomon is a friend of the Big Island’s largest convicted Meth Importer” or “Staffer Leon Rouse is a convicted child molester”?

This editor guesses that Senate Communications would censor these remarks as “slanderous or defamatory” but in reality all of these statements are accurate.

How about this: “We could have saved HMC last session, but Shan Tsutsui decided to go home instead” or “Global Warming is a hoax” -- will these tweets make it past the Senate Censors?

If elected officials do not have free speech, then how can they possibly be qualified to govern those of us who do?

The Hawaii State Senate distinguished itself last session in becoming the first and only legislative chamber to do away with the opening prayer. Now these same arrogant politicians are doing away with free speech as well.

Misuse of openly accessible social media by elected officials or their staff should be dealt with by voters at the ballot box, not censors in the Communications office.

---30---

Full Text: Social Media Use Policy

Full Text: Senate News Release

HR: Hawaii State Senate Adopts Social Media Use Policy

Political Radar: Social Media

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