By Mark Anderson —
Senator Edward John “Ed” Markey (D-Mass.) appears intent on undermining free speech on the flimsy, worn-out “hate crimes” pretense. His Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014, or S. 2219, would empower the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to keep tabs on any Internet, radio and/or television content that allegedly advocates or encourages so-called “hate crimes.”
A number of critics, including even the Boston Herald’s editorial board, see the bill as a danger to free speech.
The House companion bill is H.R. 3878 ans its chief sponsor is Representative Hakeem Sekou Jeffries (D-N.Y.) He believes the bill will target “hateful activity on the Internet that occurs outside of the zone of First Amendment protection,” whatever that means.
According to the Library of Congress, on April 8, S. 2219 was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, of which Markey is a member. As of April 27 it had zero cosponsors. H.R. 3878 was introduced back in mid-January and now has 29 cosponsors. It was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.
Markey’s official press release announcing this legislation, dated April 16, noted: “The Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014 would create an updated comprehensive report examining the role of the Internet and other telecommunications in encouraging hate crimes based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation and create recommendations to address such crimes.”
Markey’s release also stated: “Over 20 years have passed since I first directed the NTIA to review the role that telecommunications play in encouraging hate crimes. My legislation would require the agency to update this critical report for the 21st century.”
An April 24, 2014 editorial in the Boston Herald labeled the initiative a “frankly chilling proposition” and warned that this legislation will encourage the NTIA to “begin scouring the Internet, TV and radio for speech it finds threatening.”
Quoting parts of the legislation, the Herald noted: “The spookily-named National Telecommunications and Information Administration . . . would be required to submit a report to Congress on the use of telecommunications ‘to advocate and encourage violent acts and the commission of crimes of hate.’ ”
The NTIA would use its own judgment to determine what qualifies as forbidden speech. The NTIA would then recommend what the legislation calls “appropriate and necessary” steps for Congress to take.
Civil liberties attorney Harvey A. Silvergate was quoted as saying: “This proposed legislation is worse than merely silly. It is dangerous. It is not up to Senator Markey, nor to the federal government, to define for a free people what [kind of] speech is . . . acceptable.”
Markey’s bill is surfacing not long after “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson won a free-speech battle regarding his candid religious remarks against homosexuality. Those remarks had been labeled “hate speech” by many on the political left.
From Markey’s viewpoint, this legislation is more about Frazier Glenn Cross, Jr., the Federal Bureau of Investigation informant who opened fire outside a Jewish community center and retirement home near Kansas City, Kansas on April 13, 2014. Markey remarked: “We have recently seen in Kansas the deadly destruction and loss of life that hate speech can fuel in the United States.”
However, the late author George Orwell likely framed the matter best when he said, “Freedom of speech is the freedom to tell people what they don’t want to hear.” And plenty of state and federal laws are already on the books to punish people if ideas evolve into tangible crimes.
Mark Anderson is roving editor for AMERICAN FREE PRESS. He will be in Denmark this year to cover the Bilderberg Meeting. Call 202-544-5977, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, to see how you can help.