- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 26, 2005

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Go ahead, call state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles a scurvy wench, a wanton strumpet, a shameless hussy. She doesn’t think it should be against the law.

The Seattle Democrat is sponsoring a bill to repeal a 1909 Washington state law that makes “slander of a woman” a crime.

“This is one of those old laws that is really irrelevant now,” said Mrs. Kohl-Welles, adding that it almost surely violates the state and federal constitutions.

The statute prohibits “false or defamatory words or language which shall injure or impair” the virtuous and chaste reputation of any woman or girl older than 12. The law does say it is OK to slander a “common prostitute.”

The law has not been used for decades. The state Supreme Court upheld it in 1914, affirming the conviction of Mattie T. Paysse, who had been fined $50 for slandering another woman.

Mrs. Kohl-Welles first introduced her bill two years ago, but it never got a vote in the Republican-controlled state Senate. With Democrats controlling both chambers this year, she thinks the bill has a strong chance of passing.


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