The Conversation

Democrats have their doubts about this whole First Amendment thing

If you thought the Democrat Party couldn't sink any lower, check out their latest power grab, from the Boston Herald:

U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey wants the government to study and recommend ways to stop the Internet, TV and radio from “encouraging hate crimes,” but First Amendment advocates say the bill is a menace to free speech.

“This proposed legislation is worse than merely silly. It is dangerous,” said civil liberties lawyer Harvey A. Silverglate, arguing even hate speech is protected absent a crime. “It is not up to Sen. Markey, nor to the federal government, to define for a free people what speech is, and is not, acceptable.”

Markey’s bill would direct a government agency to identify hate speech and create recommendations. Markey in a statement yesterday said the bill makes “crystal clear that any recommendations must be consistent with the First Amendment’s free speech protections.”

Translation: We have to burn the First Amendment to the ground to save it.  

Sorry, kids, but we Americans are pretty attached to this whole "free speech" thing, so I think we'll take a pass on Senator Markey's Ministry of Truth and Tolerance.  

I'm with Mr. Silverglate on how the boobs proposing this thuggish idea are both silly and dangerous.  They're also pathetic.  These Democrats just can't see themselves hanging onto all that lovely power they've amassed, as long as people are free to speak out against them.  If they could only give their beloved Big Government a way to designate its enemies as "hate criminals" - which the way Democrats routinely speak about the Tea Party - and shut them up!

Harvard Law professor Alan M. Dershowitz said, “He’s not going to be able to come up with legislation that sufficiently protects the First Amendment. We always have to be able to respond to the racists and bigots, but not at the expense of the First Amendment.”

Gene Policinski of the First Amendment Center and the Newseum Institute said, “Anytime government in any form or level looks to study our speech — even something that we might all consider detestable speech — we need to pay attention. The First Amendment really permits everyone in the marketplace to speak.”

Which is precisely the ideal that Senator Markey and the rest of his crew have gotten sick and tired of.  They've got a long list of people they don't think should be speaking in any marketplaces, and they're tired of having to defend their positions against "haters."

Michael Lieberman of the Anti-Defamation League said he backs the bill, which is similar to a Markey-backed 1993 study that found hate crimes linked to media “scattered and largely anecdotal” and recommended no government bans.

“If we thought this legislation would result in censorship, we would not support it,” said Lieberman. “You could take the position that any legislation could lead to government censorship, but the way we’re looking at this is a net positive. This updates a study that is 20 years old.”

House co-sponsor U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said, “Those recommendations are simply recommendations unless they are acted on. ... If there’s speech that’s protected by the First Amendment, Congress will presumably not act.”

Sorry, Rep. Jeffries, but we're not going to be making any presumptions about whether Big Government will "act" or not.  Your Party has developed a growing comfort level with authoritarianism, and frankly you've already poisoned the American tradition of tolerance and free expression too much already.  The degree to which our society has become comfortable with intimidation tactics and speech suppression is frightening.  We don't need to be dancing ever closer to the State strapping muzzles on those it views as Enemies of the People, or further whetting the Democrat appetite for social engineering.  We need a renewed commitment to liberty, which necessarily involves doing the hard work of arguing with hatred in all its forms, as Professor Dershowitz advocates, rather than trying to outlaw it.


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