Friday :: Nov 30, 2007

We're About To Lose Our Freedom Of Speech

by Jeff Dinelli

The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, Senate Bill 1959, is set to be voted on. The cleverly worded law would allow the government to arrest and imprison anyone who speaks out against the Bush administration, the Iraq occupation, the Department of Homeland Security or any other government agency, including the FDA. The law passed the House on October 23rd by a traitorous vote of 405-6 (one of the 6 was our hero, Dennis Kucinich). It is the latest in a long line of fear-mongering legislation that stretches back to the birth of our nation, as pointed out in a fine post by Phillip Giraldi at HuffPo.

Forget that this is going to be specifically aimed at Muslim organizations. This is the beginning of the end to Free Speech in America. If this law passes, every information source you know and trust could be shut down and its authors arrested. The Left Coaster could be taken offline and we all would be doomed to a fate like the Ancient Mariner, labeled as "terrorists." Think I'm exaggerating? Look at that first link above. Read the law where it states:

"...ideologically based violence" means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious, or social beliefs...

So the "planned use of force to promote a political or social belief" would be considered an act of terrorism. Anyone trust the Bush administration to define the word "force?" Considering their abuse of logic, it's not a stretch to imagine a slippery slope to "force" meaning:

• A grassroots campaign to barrage Congress with faxes

• A non-violent street protest

• A letter-writing campaign that deluges the Senate with too much mail

• A sit-in protest that blocks access to a business or organization

• A grassroots e-mail campaign that overloads the e-mail servers of any government department or agency

What I'm saying is anything could be defined as force. And since a "planned use of force" is considered a criminal act, if I just sat around and planned out a grassroots campaign, I'd be considered a terrorist.

Ok, now this is really a stretch, but say I was handing out Bibles to passersby. That's an act of terrorism ("...use of force to promote the individual's religious beliefs...").

If I wrote a bunch of angry letters to Washington about the government's dismissing the problem of global warming and its' destruction of the environment, I'm a terrorist (" promote the individual's political beliefs...").

Me and my friends start figuring out how many people we could gather to stage a little protest on the steps of our state capitol to promote same-sex marriage....just planning it defines a terrorist act ("...planned use of force to promote a social belief...").

The Commission this law would establish smells a lot like the McCarthy Commission that investigated citizens for possible association with Communist groups, which created suspicion and often ruined the lives of innocent people. This Commission would be able to "hold hearings and sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, and administer such oaths as the Commission considers advisable to carry out its duties."

Or maybe it reminds you of the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), which infiltrated, undermined and spied on civil rights and antiwar groups during the 1950s and 60s. This Commission would have very broad powers. It could investigate anyone. It would create a public perception that whoever is being investigated by the Commission must be involved in subversive or illegal activities. It would give the appearance that whoever they are investigating is potentially a traitor or disloyal or a terrorist, even if all they were doing was advocating lawful views.

Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-California), the chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and author of the bill specifically identifies the Internet as a tool of radicalization.

"The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens."

If Congress finds the Internet is dangerous, then we all will have to worry about censorship and limitations on First Amendment activities. Why go down that road? Law enforcement should focus on action, not thought. We need to worry about the people who are committing crimes rather than those who harbor beliefs that the government may consider to be extreme.

The bill, in its current form, lacks specific definitions, which would give the Commission expansive and possibly dangerous powers. The Committee would be set up to address the process of "violent radicalization," which the bill defines as "the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change." It does not adequately define "an extremist belief system," opening the door for abuse.

An "extremist belief system" can be whatever anyone on the commission says it is. Back in the 60s, civil rights leaders and Vietnam War protesters were considered radicals. They weren't committing violence but they were considered radicals because of their belief system.

The bill would also create a "Center of Excellence for the Study of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States," on an unspecified University campus. Unlike other Centers of Excellence university-based government research centers created by the Department of Homeland Security, the Center established by this bill could have a chilling effect on political activity on campus because of its specific mission to "assist Federal, State, local and tribal homeland security officials through training, education, and research in preventing violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism."

If you are on campus and the thought police are on campus are you going to want to join a political group?

Naomi Wolf, author of "The End Of America," has a really great lecture on YouTube, which includes her "10 Steps To Facism." She maintains the U.S. is in pursuit of all ten steps right now, using this proposed Act as one of the ten.

Thoughtcrimes are about to become a reality in this country, with Congress members lining up trying to prove their anti-terrorism meddle. Of course this law doesn't just target terrorism, it targets anyone who even thinks about opposing government actions, labeling them as criminals.

I'm not sure when the Senate is scheduled to deal with this, but I'm getting ahold of my Senators, Obama and Durbin. I suggest you do the same.

Jeff Dinelli :: 1:05 PM :: Comments (27) :: Digg It!