The selling points of virtually all proposed legislative acts invariably include the assertion that they are benign efforts to address this or that crisis, injustice or societal problem. After the enactment however, we find the real world effects of the application of these statutes is quite another matter.
One of the glaring examples of this phenomenon is of course the ratification of the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1913 which enabled the Federal government to tax income. The chief reason put forth in support of the proposal was the facilitation of collecting from "fortunate" citizens a "fair share" of the exponentially increasing cost of government programs whose chief purpose is to purchase the votes of one or another political constituency. Additional arguments posited by the Progressives at that time in support of the amendment was that the small marginal rates of the progressive taxation would only effect a very minute percentage of the population and then only the very wealthy. Sound familiar? The good intentions paving that road to today's hell (IRS) are obvious in retrospect. Times have certainly changed since the early decades of the 20th century when it was accepted that changes to the Constitution required legislative action as prescribed in the document instead of the judicial fiat of a mere five black robed members of the legal priesthood.
A similar logic, or I might say, a lack thereof, has attended the widespread acceptance of "hate crime" legislation. These "laws" are attempts to penalize the thoughts of perpetrators by assigning additional penalties dictated by the baseness of their motives. If it can be successfully argued that a criminal has selected his victim on the basis of that person's membership in a protected group, the criminal will receive additional punishment. It therefore comes down to which groups are designated as specifically protected and this process is of necessity a political one. We thus now have political and thought crimes.
Enter House bill H.R. 1955: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 which passed the House on 23 Oct. 2007 and is now before Senate committees. When has "An Act to Prevent ________" actually succeeded in preventing anything?
The most disturbing aspects of this bill, and there are many, are the definitions noted in Section 899a. The three offenses defined in this document that will warrant prosecution are:
“Violent Radicalization: The term ‘violent radicalization’ means 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.”
“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 operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
“Ideologically based violence: The term ‘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.”
Laws virtually identical to this bill have been enacted in various jurisdictions of Europe and have more often than not been used to suppress groups and individuals critical of the policies of the ruling, mostly unelected political elite with respect to immigration and the inexorable islamization of that hapless continent. Comments by US bloggers and other observers often allege that such outrages are precluded from occurring on the western shores of the Atlantic due to the protections of the First and Second amendments. I would hasten to remind you, dear readers that the second amendment's protection against infringement of the right of the people to keep and bear arms for otherwise lawful purposes does not extend into the cities of Washington, New York or Chicago nor to the state of California. Additionally, the First Amendment's protection of free speech does not include certain political speech during a specified time period prior to a national election. It seems that in localities and times when these "rights" are the most needed and useful, they will be violated by our rulers.
Cross posted at: Eternity Road