A Kentucky measure aimed at tackling “doxxing” – the intentional sharing of someone’s private information on the internet – passed a state Senate committee on Wednesday, with the father of a Covington Catholic High School student offering emotional testimony.
Ted Sandmann, father of Nick Sandmann, appeared before the Senate State and Local Government Committee to speak out about how his teen son became the epicenter of a Jan. 18 controversy involving his son, some of his schoolmates and some protesters near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“My son, Nicholas Sandmann, was the victim of the most sensational Twitter attack in the history of the internet,” the elder Sandmann said, according to a report by the Courier Journal of Louisville.
“My son, Nicholas Sandmann, was the victim of the most sensational Twitter attack in the history of the internet.”
Nick Sandmann and the Covington students were initially accused of causing a confrontation with an elderly Native American man and taunting him with chants, after a video of the event went viral. But subsequent videos and the students’ own statements revealed that they were actually verbally accosted by a group of black street preachers who were shouting racially charged, homophobic insults at them a Native American group.
The father said that “selectively edited” videos of his son’s encounter were shared on Twitter, and drew abusive comments, such as “Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid?”
The latter comment — which remained online early Thursday – was shared by left-wing author and producer Reza Aslan with his nearly 300,000 followers.
Ted Sandmann added that due to the incident, his son had to endure online abuse, threats and ridicule.
“It shows how far out-of-control social media has become,” he said.
“It shows how far out-of-control social media has become.”
The bill to crack down on doxxing, sponsored by state Republican Sen. Wil Schroder, easily passed the committee, though some lawmakers expressed concern about whether the proposal would overcome free-speech hurdles.
The measure, according to the Courier Journal, would provide more recourse against people who spread personal information and make threats on the internet.
It would also make a make it illegal to publish personal information online about a minor that could be used to identify someone with the purpose of causing harm, abuse, or making threats.
Under the law, individuals breaking the law would face a misdemeanor charge that could be elevated to a felony if physical harm or financial loss resulted from the actions.
Sandmann said during the hearing that the incident turned the family’s life upside down and affected his innocent son.
“We are still a far way from winning back my son’s reputation,” he said.
Since the Covington controversy, the legal team representing the Sandmann family has sued the Washington Post for $250 million in compensatory and punitive damages for the paper’s coverage of the incident.
Last week, the newspaper published an editor’s note admitting that subsequent information either contradicted or failed to confirm accounts relayed in its initial article.
The editor’s note was slammed by Sandmann’s legal team, which accused the paper of trying to “whitewash” the encounter. They claimed the Post action was “too little and too late.”
“The Washington Post rushed to claim leadership of a mainstream and social media mob of bullies who falsely attacked, vilified and threatened Nicholas Sandmann, an innocent 16-year-old boy,” a statement posted on the law firm’s website said.