Cyber-Bullying Law Incites National Debate - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Cyber-Bullying Law Incites National Debate


NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee's new law on cyber-bullying,  that goes into effect Friday, is stirring nationwide debate and generating much criticism.

But as much a fan of Facebook as Nashville transplant Mitch Ebie is, the accountant at Nissan admits he keeps his personal site G-rated.

"I don't have pictures of me on there, with like my shirt off," Ebie told NewsChannel 5 Sunday, while working on his MacBook at Fido in Hillsboro Village.

Ebie admits "offensive" is often in the eye of the beholder, and in the middle of this cyber-bullying debate, this man is playing it middle of the road.

He says that folks posting pictures, that might be considered offensive to some, should pull back, but at the same time,   "We also need to have tough skin and say, 'Well, who cares? I can't stop what everyone does. I don't always agree with what you do.' And so, it's a fine line," Mitch Ebie added.

Tennessee's new interest in carrying the state's harassment statutes into the World Wide Web era, specifically social sites, is uncharted waters. And the endeavor is drawing sharp criticism, beginning with the definition of the very word harassment.

According to the Tennessean, one professor of constitutional law at UCLA writes, "Harassment means different things to different people in different circumstances."

The newspaper also reported that even movie critic Roger Ebert is weighing in on the debate,  claiming the newly drawn-up law violates free speech protections.

But like it or not, state lawmakers seem to think shoring up such a law will help police take action against writers in public forums who frighten, threaten or intimidate behind a thin veil of anonymity on the internet.

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