Banning Hate Speech

 

Senator Edward Markey from Massachusetts wants to stop hate crimes. So, he has proposed legislation to study and recommend ways to stop hate crimes by stopping the hate speech that encourages such crimes. Some might argue that this would endanger freedom of speech but if you can’t trust Congress and the federal government to safeguard our liberties, who can you trust. I found this article in the Boston Herald, thanks to Instapundit.

 

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.”

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.”

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.”

English: Portrait of US Rep Ed Markey
Throw him out!  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Notice that the article never states which party Senator Markey belongs to. I am sure nobody will be very surprised to learn that a lawmaker who proposes censorship is a Democrat.

 

This is a really silly idea. I doubt if any such bill would even make it out of committee and if by some miracle both houses of Congress actually passed anything like it, the Supreme Court will declare it unconstitutional before the ink dries on the paper. I doubt very much if there is any actual evidence that any hate crime is inspired by hate speech and I doubt very much if attempting to ban hate speech from the internet, television and radio could possibly be effective.

 

I have to wonder though, what is it about these people, especially the most liberal Democrats, that their first impulse is always to shut down and censor people. Perhaps we should make a law that anyone in Congress who proposes such obviously unconstitutional legislation should be immediately dismissed from their office and barred from any elective  office for life.

 

 

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Hitler and Mussolini Would Love Our Public Schools

That is the opinion of the Catholic Bishop of Harrisburg Pennsylvania. I read this in CNS news.

 The Catholic bishop of Harrisburg, Pa., has apologized for offending anyone with his recent comments that Hitler and Mussolini “would love” the public school system in Pennsylvania, because it is similar to what they sought to create in their totalitarian states.

But in a statement issued by the diocese of Harrisburg, Bishop Joseph McFadden did not retract comments he made during an interview on Jan. 24 with WHTM-TV, the ABC affiliate in Harrisburg.

The bishop made a comparison between the interests of the public school system and totalitarianism, while discussing what he sees as a lack of school choice in Pennsylvania.

“In the totalitarian government, they would love our system,” McFadden said. “This is what Hitler and Mussolini and all them tried to establish — a monolith; so all the children would be educated in one set of beliefs and one way of doing things.”

McFadden’s comments drew immediate criticism from the Anti-Defamation League and the American Civil Liberties Union – which complained that the bishop had raised the specter of the Holocaust.

“We respect the Bishop and his position in the Church.  We appreciate his commitment the education of children and the viability of Catholic schools.  However, he should not be making his point at the expense of the memory of six million Jews and millions of others who perished in the Holocaust,” Barry Morrison, Eastern Pennsylvania/Southern New Jersey regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

I think his comparison is uncalled for and unfair. I am positive that the schools in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were able to teach almost all of their students to read.

Actually, I see the bishop’s point, as he explained in his apology.

In a statement on the Diocese of Harrisburg Web site, the bishop issued an apology to anyone who was offended by his remarks, but went on to explain and justify his references to Hitler and Mussolini:

“To those who may have been offended by my remarks, I apologize to them assuring them that I purposely did not mention the holocaust,” the bishop said.

“The reference to dictators and totalitarian governments of the 20th century which I made in an interview on the topic of school choice was to make a dramatic illustration of how these unchecked monolithic governments of the past used schools to curtail the primary responsibility of the parent in the education of their children,” he said.

“Today many parents in our state experience the same lack of freedom in choosing an education that bests suits their child as those parents oppressed by dictators of the past. I intentionally did not make reference to the holocaust in my remarks,”

He’s right. I think that in the long run there is going to have to be some sort of school choice allowed in our public school system. The educational establishment is fighting any reform tooth and nail, but the failures of the system have become so obvious that I do not imagine they will be able to hold off reform for long.