Friday, July 10, 2009

Hastings and Sanchez Want To Criminalize Free Speech

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air tells the tale of two bills and my best advice is BE AFRAID.

From Rep. Alcee Hastings (D) of my own state of Florida, we get HR 645. Ed sites Mark Tapscott:

Rep. Alcee Hastings - the impeached Florida judge Nancy Pelosi tried to install as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee until her own party members rebelled - introduced an amendment to the defense authorization bill that gives Attorney General Eric Holder sole discretion to label groups that oppose government policy on guns, abortion, immigration, states’ rights, or a host of other issues. In a June 25 speech on the House floor, Rep. Trent Franks, R-AZ, blasted the idea: “This sounds an alarm for many of us because of the recent shocking and offensive report released by the Department of Homeland Security which labeled, arguably, a majority of Americans as ‘extremists.’”

Another Hastings bill (HR 645) authorizes $360 million in 2009 and 2010 to set up “not fewer than six national emergency centers on military installations” capable of housing “a large number of individuals affected by an emergency or major disaster.” But Section 2 (b) 4 allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to use the camps “to meet other appropriate needs” - none of which are specified. This is the kind of blank check that Congress should never, ever sign.

It’s not paranoid to be extremely wary of legislation that would give two unelected government officials power to legally declare someone a “domestic terrorist” and send them to a government-run camp.

If that doesn’t scare you enough, combine it with HR 1966 introduced by Rep, Linda Sanchez (D):

‘(a) Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

Call me paranoid but I am getting the feeling that Hastings and Sanchez are trying to criminalize the free speech of those opposed to the Administration’s policies. Anyone who has read Mark Steyn, Blazing Cat Fur or Ezra Levant is well aware of the legalized assault on free speech in Canada. Restricting opinion for any reason should be vigorously opposed by anyone who values the free exchange of ideas but unlike the Canadian model that uses the threat of financial ruin to suppress expression, Hastings and Sanchez also threaten imprisonment in “camps.” I can’t help but think of Cuba or North Korea.

We are a country that looks at the evil that routinely takes place throughout the world and think, “that could never happen here.” Probably not. But, did you ever think someone would propose these types of laws here? Sometimes unimaginable things happen.

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