More Laws Curtailing Free Speech

The Bush Administration’s steps against freedom seem to have no bounds.  This time, it’s the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007.  While the name is not quite as catchy as that of the PATRIOT Act, it’s at least as damaging to democracy and freedom.  And that’s saying a lot.  The Washington Times provides some commentary in Police in thought pursuit.  From the article:

The Pope had his Index of Forbidden Books. Japan had its Thought Police against subversive or dangerous ideologies. And the United States Congress and President Bush have learned nothing from those examples.

Congress is perched to enact the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 20007 (Act),” probably the greatest assault on free speech and association in the United States since the 1938 creation of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Sponsored by Rep. Jane Harman, California Democrat, the bill passed the House of Representatives on Oct. 23 by a 404-6 vote under a rule suspension that curtailed debate. To borrow from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, the First Amendment should not distract Congress from doing important business. The Senate companion bill (S. 1959), sponsored by Susan Collins, Maine Republican, has encountered little opposition. Especially in an election year, senators crave every opportunity to appear tough on terrorism. Few if any care about or understand either freedom of expression or the Thought Police dangers of S. 1959. Former President John Quincy Adams presciently lamented: “Democracy has no forefathers, it looks to no posterity, it is swallowed up in the present and thinks of nothing but itself.”

It’s perhaps pointless to point out that the invisible threat of terrorism is the source of this previously-unimaginable legislation.  Few people will even consider the fact that terrorism (especially domestic terrorism) is extremely rare in the United States.  Also from the article:

The Act inflates the danger of homegrown terrorism manifold to justify creating a marquee National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Ideologically Based Violence (Commission) in the legislative branch. Since September 11, 2001, no American has died from homegrown terrorism, while about 120,000 have been murdered.

In the so-called post-September 11 “war” against international terrorism, Mr. Bush has detained only two citizens as enemy combatants. One was voluntarily deported to Saudi Arabia; the other was indicted, tried and convicted in a civilian court of providing material assistance to a foreign terrorist organization. And employing customary law enforcement tools, the United States has successfully prosecuted several pre-embryonic terrorism conspiracies amidst numerous false starts.

The logical question should be related to why we’re giving up so much freedom and granting so much power to our politicians when these laws supposedly address a problem that doesn’t even exist.  We have certainly gained a lot of momentum in sliding down this slippery slope.


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