California lawmakers recently passed legislation making knowingly spreading HIV a misdemeanor (starting in 2018), on top of that they also recently passed legislation making it illegal for health care workers to refer to people by a name or gender pronoun that they do not like. As a health care worker referring to someone by the wrong name, or not using their preferred pronoun is now a punishable offense with a fine of up to one thousands dollars and up to one year of jail time. California’s new HIV makes knowingly spreading HIV punishable with only a maximum of six months in jail. The new pronoun legislation reads:
“Existing law, the California Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly Act, provides for the licensure and regulation of residential care facilities for the elderly by the State Department of Social Services. Under existing law, a person who violates the act, or who willfully or repeatedly violates any rule or regulation adopted under the act, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Existing law also provides for civil penalties for a violation of the act.”
California lawmakers claim that this is to stop health care workers from harassing their patients, particularly in places like nursing homes. But how would someone prove that they did not “willfully” use the incorrect pronoun, maybe the person identifying as a woman looked like a man and the nurse called her a man by mistake. Should that really be punishable with up to one year in jail and up to a one thousand dollar fine. There shouldn’t even be a debate about whether or not a scenario like that would be illegal we should all be protected under the first amendment. The first amendment doesn’t say that you cannot hurt someone’s feelings or even use hate speech. A nursing home has every right to fire a nurse who repeatedly calls people by names they don’t like and they should fire someone who is harassing people by calling them names or referring to them with pronouns they don’t like. That being said it shouldn’t be illegal for a nurse to do this, this is how freedom works, people have the right to say things that you might not like or agree with and their employers have the right to say that they are acting unprofessionally and fire them. If a nurse at a nursing home wasn’t fired for harassing people then people would stop going to that nursing home and they would go out of buisness, this is how Capitalism and an open free society works. It should be up to the employer what they allow their employees to do and the government shouldn’t be able to step in and arrest someone because they hurt someone’s feelings. This law makes hurting someones feelings not just a crime, but a worse crime than knowingly spreading a life threatening disease with no cure.
We have the first amendment because the government should never restrict speech, this is a slippery slope. Although people can be malevolent with their speech everyone else can use their free speech to call out that person for being malevolent that’s how free speech works. Also when people can openly share their views you can at least point out the evil, where as when free speech is suppressed the evil thoughts and intentions of man do not go away they are just hidden. I rather hear people say awful things and know that they are evil, than have them say nice things and have their true evil intent kept a secret.