Kentucky lawmakers are considering a bill that would make taunting police officers a misdemeanor.

According to the legislation, anyone who “accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words…gestures or other physical contact that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person.”

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Danny Carroll (R), said his intention is not to punish lawful protestors, but “deals with are those who cross the line and commit criminal acts.”

Carroll said the nation was “built on lawful protest,” which would be a big surprise to the Sons of Liberty, who resisted British rule using “mob rule, tactics of fear, force, intimidation, and violence such as tar and feathering, and the stockpiling of arms, shot, and gun powder…”

Reason Magazine’s C.J. Ciaramilla notes other states are considering similar bills. All of them run counter to several federal court decisions that say its every citizen’s First Amendment right to criticize cops:

As Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. wrote in 1987, in a ruling striking down a Houston ordinance that made it unlawful to oppose or interrupt a police officer, “The freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state.”

Image Credit: By Jamelle Bouie [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons