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Monday, 26 November 2007

Thought Crime Bill H.R.1955 is Now S.1959

category_bug_politics.gif H.R.1955, The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism and Prevention Act of 2007 (full text here), has been assigned a new number in the Senate: S.1959. Bookmark this page to track its progress in the coming weeks and months.

The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Susan Collins (R-ME), co-sponsored by Norm Coleman (R-MN) and now sits in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs where Senator Collins is the ranking member. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is also a member, and you can find out more about this Committee here.

A search of mainstream media websites yesterday, Sunday, including The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, CNN and others reveals not one story about the bill. According to Google, only 128 blogs have written about H.R.1955. One piece of good news is that yesterday davidinchi posted a good story at Daily Kos which might reach a larger audience than this blog.

As you know, most bills die in committee, never making it to the Senate floor. But that doesn’t mean we can let up. After all, the House version passed unnoticed with only six dissenting votes.

What makes this bill so terrifying is that it essentially rescinds the First Amendment without which no other civil liberties can exist because if citizens cannot speak their minds, all other rights and liberties become moot. Never in the history of mankind have 45 words been so precious. If you have never memorized the First Amendment, you should do so now and keep it close:

“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.”

When I attended the first Blogher conference in the summer of 2005, Jay Rosen, who runs the excellent media blog, PressThink, spoke to the 300 of us gathered for the final session. I don’t remember what else he said - only these six words:

“Blogs are little First Amendment machines.”

As soon as I got home, I posted a little badge linking to the Electronic Frontier Foundation with Jay’s quote. It’s been sitting at the bottom of the left sidebar, but I’ve promoted it today to the top and linked it to the Thought Crime Index page listing all posts on this topic. It will remain there until this bill is defeated. If you copy and save the image, you can post it on your blog too.

Jay's simple but crucial little mantra is pertinent to you and me because among the “Findings” in the House bill is this:

“(3) The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.”

The internet – not radio, television, newspapers, magazines or books - has been singled out for special mention in this bill. Among everything else on the internet, that means you and me and our blogs, our little First Amendment machines. Because of the mainstream media blackout on this bill, no one would know about H.R.1955/S.1959 without us and a few others around the web.

It has been three weeks since I first telephoned and emailed my representatives regarding this bill and I have received no response from anyone. I’m trying snailmail this week and you may want to do that too. Perhaps in an electronic age, postal mail stands out.

If you are still inclined to try the telephone, here are toll-free numbers to the Congressional switchboard which may work better than the direct lines to individual Congress members’ offices. However, the Senate is not in session again until Tuesday, 27 November and the House does not return until the afternoon of Tuesday, 4 December.

866.340.9281
866.220.0044
877.851.6437

And here is this week’s idea to get word out about this bill to more people: the bloggers who show up here regularly and/or are listed on the Elderbloggers blogroll live in most of the states of the U.S. Let’s each contact the major newspaper in our city to ask why they have not covered this bill, why there has not been an editorial on its danger to our way of life. Many newspaper websites list phone numbers and email addresses for their editors and reporters. And there is always snailmail.

Include links to the text of the bill and to commentary in the blogosphere. If you get a response, let us know.

I want to thank all of you who have posted blog stories about The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism and Prevention Act of 2007 and urge you to keep doing it. This is the most important thing the internet is for - exercising our First Amendment rights. Send me the links to those stories (and any others you have found that you like) and I will include them in the Thought Crime Bill Index page.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Pat Temiz recalls the thrill of everything new in her first year living in Istanbul in 1969.]


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 03:14 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Thank you, Ronni! I am not going to be silenced now or ever. I don't care what they do to me. I love my country and, if nothing else, I will go down fighting those who would take away my Constitutional rights.

I added to the noise on this topic by linking to several of your posts at Web Teacher. Hope it helps.

Ronnie, blogs are good examples of the first amendment in action! Keep up your good work ! :-)

Thank you for the update. I will keep trying and will write my Editor one more time. It can make you paranoid when all of the media are not touching this. Why the blackout?

a commenter at DailyKos, first dubious about our concerns, changed mind and linked to YouTube of Amy Goodman interview last week following Baltimore Sun op-ed on Nov 19, "Here Come the Thought Police."

looks to be our holiday present from the U.S. Senate. expectation is that it will pass easily and opposition will begin afterward.

Written to my local paper, Star-Telegram, and will report what I learn...if anything.

Naomi - surely this is not a "done deal" ?

Thanks for the coverage. I was dismayed to follow the links and find that 'my' congressman voted for this piece of fascist crap. I am going to e-mail him and if I get no response will also snail mail my intense displeasure. I can think of one reason why this has gotten no coverage in the main-stream media: it would be in their corporate best interest to squelch the internet. Without the internet or with it curtailed what competition do they have?

I linked to you today in my own blog. What you are saying is so important. There are a lot out here right now saying the same thing. Let's hope it is somehow enough

I can't thank you enough, Ronni, for bringing this very frightening bill to our attention!
I have to leave shortly for errands, but I've printed out the bill itself so Ray can read it and so I can read it line by line a bit later.
I just printed out this blog entry also so I can read it later.
All I can say is.....based on what I said about healthcare coverage, our government and Michael Moore's film on my blog this morning.....ALL of this makes me angry and beyond concerned. It's MY right to say what I said on my blog this morning. BUT....if this bill passes....for how much longer will I have that right? Am I considered a "rebel rouser" and is somebody going to show up at my door and DEMAND that I shut down my blog because THEY don't like what I have to say?
If we don't pay attention NOW.....then yes, I feel that very well could happen with the passage of this bill.
America....WAKE UP!

Find well written post on this issue in the Huffington Post today:
Click here: Philip Giraldi: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act - Politics on The Huffington Post
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-giraldi/the-violent-radicalizatio_b_74091.html)
WAKE UP AMERICA!

Thanks for the post. I wrote to my Congressional rep demanding an explanation why he voted for HR 1955. No answer. Guess who's not getting my vote at reelection time.

I already wrote to my 2 senators and I hope that everyone else does, too.

I also read Naomi Wolf's book (The End of America) cover-to-cover, which outlines the list of federal laws changed since 2000 that take away our rights and effectively close down an open democracy. Wolf's book should be required reading for every citizen. So too should civics class be required in high school and junior high.

It's not a partisan issue. I know people across the political spectrum who are deeply concerned... rightly so.

A democracy is healthy when we all participate. So I hope that everyone finds an effective way to participate. And participation doesn't mean you have to run for office. Wolf's book has plenty of suggestions in the last chapter about how to participate.

I wrote my Representative asking for accountability, my 2 Senators asking for their votes against the bill, 3 newspapers -- my city, local area, and the L.A.Times. Provided web address to the Thought Crime Bill Index page and my own blog. Will be interesting to see what, if anything makes it to print, and what sort of responses come from those who are elected to represent my interests.

here's something from huffingtonpost.com at long last...and by a conservative to boot!

Pertinent conversation with Naomi Wolf here.

Several people I have forwarded this information to have responded along the lines of "It's OK, because this is only about violence." And of course we all deplore violence.
The trouble is, it only needs a little tweaking of definitions and suddenly we are not talking about Molotov cocktails or bombs or even punching and kicking.

There are already precedents for the redefinition of violence to include the non-physical. See, for example this.
This is indeed a slippery, dangerous slope.

'violence'can be widened in the contexts of school bullying and marriage, which it has been, then it can very easily be widened in the context of political protest. And redefinitions are easily made law by powerful people. As with the word 'torture' for example.

Thanks for keeping us up to date on this and I'm glad the Daily Kos has picked it up. I'll continue to promote it on my blog as well.

Hello,
Not sure that this is true) but thanks

Have a nice day
Tania

Hi, Interesting, I`ll quote it on my site later. Thanks Jinny

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