(H/T – Jon Ham)
I wonder if freshman Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) wants to rethink his idiotic “Republicans want you to die quickly!” li(n)e after reviewing some audio that Morgen of Verum Serum dug up of former Clinton Labor Secretary/Obama economic adviser Robert Reich speaking at the University of California-Berkley back in 2007. Roll tape…
That’s right; the Leftist crowd at UC-Berkley applauded when Reich said that an “honest” Presidential candidate would tell seniors that he would let them die rather than keep them alive the last couple years.
The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
And yet the Democratic* majorities in the House and Senate are set to pass the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which will, if not stopped or struck down, limit our natural right to free speech by violating the First Amendment.
*(Insert irony as needed)
How will this happen? Byron York at the Washington Examiner has the story:
The crime bill — which would broaden the protected classes for hate crimes to include sexual orientation and “gender identity,” which the bill defines as a victim’s “actual or perceived gender-related characteristics” — passed the House earlier this year as a stand-alone measure. But it’s never had the votes to succeed by itself in the Senate. So over the summer Democrats, with the power of their 60-vote majority, attached it to the defense bill.
Republicans argued that the two measures had nothing to do with each other. Beyond that, GOP lawmakers feared the new bill could infringe on First Amendment rights in the name of preventing broadly defined hate crimes. The bill’s critics, including many civil libertarians, argued that the hate crimes provision could chill freedom of speech by empowering federal authorities to accuse people of inciting hate crimes, even if the speech in question was not specifically related to a crime.
Republican Sen. Sam Brownback offered an amendment saying the bill could not be “construed or applied in a manner that infringes on any rights under the First Amendment” and could not place any burden on the exercise of First Amendment rights “if such exercise of religion, speech, expression, or association was not intended to plan or prepare for an act of physical violence or incite an imminent act of physical violence against another.”
The Senate passed Brownback’s amendment. After that, several Republicans, their fears allayed, voted for the whole defense/hate crimes package, which passed the Senate last July.
Meanwhile, on the House side, representatives passed their own version of the defense authorization bill, which did not contain the hate crimes measure.
Then it was time for the House and Senate bills to go to a conference committee, where the differences between them would be ironed out. That’s where the real action began.
First, the committee — controlled by majority Democrats, of course — inserted the hate crimes measure into the House bill, where it had not been before. Then lawmakers made some crucial changes to Brownback’s amendment. Where Brownback had insisted, and the full Senate had agreed, that the bill could not burden the exercise of First Amendment rights, the conference changed the wording to read that the bill could not burden the exercise of First Amendment rights “unless the government demonstrates … a compelling governmental interest” to do otherwise.
That means your First Amendment rights are protected — unless they’re not.
Let’s set aside the sneaky tactic of attaching unrelated bills that can’t pass on their own merits to other bills in order to bull-rush the opposition; that’s a tactic used by both sides, probably since the early days of the Republic. It needs to stop, but that’s not the point.
The key issue here is the willingness of the Democrats to play fast and loose with the Constitution and individuals’ rights in order to buy the votes and contributions of one or more client groups by granting the group a special protected status. In this case, the right of free speech is subordinated to some made-up right “not to be offended.”
Let’s be clear: what happened to Shepard and Byrd were grotesque crimes, and the perpetrators deserved the death penalty. But the law already adequately covered what happened in these cases, because they covered the physical acts: kidnapping, torture, and murder. The law the Democrats seek to pass, however, goes far beyond criminalizing a physical act to criminalizing speech itself. While it’s true that there are accepted limits to free speech (the famous “yelling fire” example, or the fighting words precedent of Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire), unless the speaker is threatening violence or directly inciting violence, free speech is free speech and cannot be restrained by Congress.
Just as dangerous to civil liberty is the bolded clause above, allowing the government to determine when speech crosses the line and needs to be limited to protect a “compelling government interest.” Even if such limitations were constitutional (and they’re not), just how will the Justice Department determine this? What standards will they use? How will they guarantee that whatever standards they use are applied equally? If I am to be prosecuted for saying Islam threatens democracy, will an imam be prosecuted for saying that Jews are the enemies of God? This provision appears to leave it to the whim of the Attorney General.
Free speech means nothing if it does not protect speech that we may find objectionable or offensive. It is the bedrock and foundation of Anglo-American liberty, and this measure by the Democrats, while proposed for nominally noble purposes, is a huge step toward shattering that foundation. It shackles the natural rights of individuals, all for the sake of pandering to yet another set of groups that are willing to sacrifice their own individual rights. Again I ask: Why do Democrats hate the Bill of Rights?
The Founders would be spinning in their graves.
(via Power Line)
(cross-posted at Public Secrets)
UPDATE: If you want to read a very good book on the Bill of Rights, I recommend Levy’s Origins of the Bill of Rights.
UPDATE II: At Reason.com, Jacob Sullum points out that the proposed law could land the defendant with longer sentences for his thoughts and speech than he’d get under state laws for the physical crime: The Bigot Bonus.
(H/T – Kevin Fischer)
CNSNews.com reports that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is pursuing plans to move certain classes of captured illegal aliens from jails to “converted hotels and nursing homes”.
Quoting Napolitano, “Our detention system has some who have committed crimes, others whose crimes under federal law is a misdemeanor, others who have as I said before not committed a crime at all.” Pont of order – the mere act of illegally entering the country, or overstaying one’s permitted length of stay, is a misdemeanor with deportation as one of the penalties. I do note, however, that a successful claim of asylum does wipe that out.
Here in Milwaukee, the city had the “bright” idea back in the late 1980s of housing “low-risk” drug addicts in city-owned senior housing facilities. Crime in those facilities skyrocketed. Given most of those who are here illegally also engaged in, at a minimum, identification fraud, I foresee the same thing happening.
The news gets worse; the DHS is planning on expanding a limited “Alternatives to Detention” program to include release-and-“supervision”, including non-electronic supervision. The CNS news story notes that resembles the previous “catch-and-release” program, where released illegal aliens simply melted back into the general population without showing up for a scheduled court date.
They did ask Napolitano whether the expanded ATD program would simply be a return to “catch-and-release”, and to her credit, she noted that “catch-and-release” did not work. The question is whether she will ignore the fact that not keeping constant tabs on those in the ATD program will be a return to “catch-and-release”.
Hey y’all – just me checking in for a quick post about an issue that makes me sick in a different way from the swine flu:
The Rev. Al Sharpton has joined those imploring the National Football League to deny conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh the opportunity to buy the St. Louis Rams franchise.
In a letter sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday, Sharpton wrote that he was “disturbed” to hear about Limbaugh’s interest in the Rams and asked for a meeting with Goodell “to discuss the myriad of reasons as to why [Limbaugh] should not be given an opportunity” to purchase the team.
Sharpton argued that Limbaugh has been “anti-NFL” in his comments about several of the league’s players, specifically naming Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb. Limbaugh sparked controversy several years ago by contending that the media want McNabb to succeed simply because he is black.
In addition, Sharpton wrote that Limbaugh’s “recent statement — that the NFL was beginning to look like a fight between the Crips and the Bloods without the weapons — was disturbing.”
And, as usual, the Rev. Jackson has weighed in as well:
Jackson said in a telephone interview that Limbaugh had made his wealth “appealing to the fears of whites” with an unending line of insults against blacks and other minorities.
“The National Football League has set high standards for racial justice and inclusion,” Jackson said. “He should not have the privilege of owning an NFL franchise — and it is a privilege.” The civil rights leader said he’s had contact with numerous players and ex-players concerned about the bid.
This would be so laughable if it weren’t for the fact that we have two prominent racist race hustlers masquerading as self-proclaimed “anti-discrimination activists” actively urging the NFL to prevent a white man they don’t like from having the opportunity to buy an NFL franchise, on the basis of racial comments deemed controversial and inflammatory. Um, have these guys listened to themselves over the last 20 or so years? If we denied people opportunies based on racially tinged remarks, then Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would be lucky to get a job working the drive-thru at McDonald’s. But no, they’ve made their livings for decades by using racism as a crutch time after time to divide, conquer, and profit– to hamper race relations rather than to try and mend them, and to this day both men are coddled by white and black Democrats alike, including our current Nobel Prize winning celebrity President.
Whereas Don Imus had to be fired for his racially irresponsible remarks, Sharpton and Jackson are celebrated and adored by the MSM and pandering Democrat politicians in spite of their routine race-baiting and irresponsible behavior. Whereas Rush Limbaugh should be denied the opportunity to buy an NFL team based on a few racially insensitive remarks, Al Sharpton has had a radio talk show for a number of years with enough of a following to keep it on the air in spite of the Tawana Brawley hoax, the Freddy’s Fashion Mart tragedy, and numerous other racial incidents for which he has never apologized. Same same for Jesse Jackson, who has a record of race hustling various industries for money, is a known Jew-hater and who was caught using money from his own organization to prop up his pregnant mistress back in the late 90s all the while “counseling” Bill Clinton on his extra-marital activities.
Not surprising, but disgusting all the same. This blatant double standard will only stop when the MSM and prominent Democrat politicians grow some brass ones and turn on these fools. I won’t hold my breath, because I know in this country, it’s more advantageous for liberal politicians to keep quiet about race-baiters in their own party than to speak out against words and actions that have hurt our country far more than a few racially tinged comments from Rush Limbaugh over the last 30 plus years ever have.
I hope to be back to a full blogging schedule tomorrow.