Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Thoughtcrime Act of 2007

This is another one of those things that has flown under my radar until early yesterday morning.

Senate Bill 1959, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, sounds, on first seeing it, like something that doesn't sound so bad: Establish a National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism, and for other purposes.

And for "other purposes"? Already a red flag ought to be going up.

Well, the devil, as the old saying goes, is in the details. This legislation is worded so vaguely that even my ranting blog could fall under its purview:

(2) 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.
(3) 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.
(4) 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.
No where is "force" defined in the bill, nor is it apparent that you and I out here in Left Blogistan would be free from the accusation of using our words to promote an "extremist belief system".

Okay, I know that this particular bill is only for the purpose of setting up the commission, so it's not time to hit the barricades just yet, but the very fact that this is floating around the deliberative body of our government gives one pause.

This is definitely worth keeping an eye on.