Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Thought Crime Bill

Designated H.R.1955 and titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism and Prevention Act of 2007, it is an amendment to the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Jane Harmon [Dem-CA] and overwhelming approved by the House on 23 October by a 404 to 6 vote.

Some people have called this the “thought crime bill”, and they are not exaggerating ...

This is the first terrorism-related legislation that specifically targets U.S. citizens and the vagueness of the wording is a dangerous threat to the First Amendment and to each of us in ways that have not been attempted before in the United States. The definitions in the bill hold the frightening keys to the undermining of our most basic liberty - to speak freely [bold emphasis is the O.P.'s]:

“VIOLENT RADICALIZATION - The term ‘violent radicalization' means process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change."

The difficulties here are that “extremist belief system” means anything the government wants it to mean as does the word “facilitating.”

“HOMEGROWN TERRORISM - The term 'homegrown terrorism' means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

Any variety of citizen activists or organizations could be found in violation if this bill becomes law. Operation Rescue could be prosecuted under this aegis. As could CodePink.

The warning again, and your action item:

It is not extreme to say that unless you want to find out what it was like to live in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union under Stalin or Italy under Mussolini where any "wrong" thought and word could make a citizen subject to arrest and worse, this bill must be stopped. Write, email, telephone your senators and get everyone you know to do so too. You can easily do that here. It might be prudent too to ask the senators who are running for president how they will vote on this bill.

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