(Mario Jarjour/WBZ NewsRadio)
BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — This week, Boston-area media reported on a bill making its way to Beacon Hill that would ban the word "bitch." While the bill was filed by Rep. Dan Hunt, Hunt has clarified that he filed it on behalf of one of his constituents through a process unique to Massachusetts that lets citizens file bills directly into the legislature.
But that explanation hasn't kept Hunt from catching backlash.
Under the bill, someone "who uses the word 'bitch' directed at another person to accost, annoy, degrade or demean the other person" could face a fine of up to $200 and a prison sentence of up to six months.
Although the bill was filed by Hunt, he told The Boston Globe that he did so on behalf of a constituent, who he did not name. Massachusetts is the only state where citizens can directly submit bills into the legislature through their representative, as part of the unique "Massachusetts Citizens' Right to Free Petition."
But Hunt claimed to The Globe that his office forgot to check a box indicating that the bill came from a constituent, leading to confusion about where the bill originated. He did not say whether or not he personally supports the bill.
Hunt has been criticized online by those who think the bill oversteps and infringes on 1st Amendment rights.
The complaints continued offline, too.
“I got at least 50 phone calls today calling me a ‘bitch’ or the ‘C’ word, and I’ve also gotten probably 50 e-mails,” Hunt told The Globe.
The Twitter response was apparently so strong, other Dan Hunts were getting flack.
Hunt said that, in filing the bill, he was simply fulfilling the responsibility of all Massachusetts representatives to give their constituents a voice under the free petition tradition.
If nothing else, he's happy the saga has given everyone a lesson in civics.
"While this specific instance may amuse some and alarm others, it remains a important process for self-representation," Hunt said on Twitter.