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Support free speech, oppose terror

Posted by Richard on November 11, 2005

Thanks to Kentucky Dan at Committees of Correspondence for these links. First, I encourage you to help the Online Coalition in supporting HR 1606, the Online Freedom of Speech Act, and opposing HR 4194. The latter purports to protect online freedom of speech, but in fact endangers it in several ways. For instance:

… In comments filed before the FEC, supporters of H.R. 4194 have stated explicitly that those websites which endorse, expressly advocate, and urge readers to donate funds to the election of preferred candidates do not qualify for protection under the law. This would force bloggers that speak forcefully about politics to seek legal counsel – a complete disaster.

I’m one of many who simply won’t obey laws to this effect (I’ll get around to explicitly adding the Patterico Pledge to my sidebar any day now). Use Kentucky Dan’s handy link to email your opinion to your senator and/or representative.

Second, Kentucky Dan links to Unite Against Terror, which asks you to electronically sign their statement, which includes the following (emphasis added):

These attacks did not begin in 2003. The first attempt to blow up the World Trade Center took place ten years before, in 1993.

These terrorists do not hate what is worst in the societies they attack, but what is best. They despise individual liberty, critical thought, gender equality, religious tolerance, the rights of minorities and political pluralism. They do not criticize democracy because it sometimes fails to live up to its principles; they oppose those principles.

We offer our support and solidarity to all those within the Muslim faith who work in opposition to the terrorists and who seek to win young people away from extremism and nihilism, towards an engagement with democratic politics.

We believe that democracy and human rights are worth defending with all our strength. The human values of respect and tolerance and dignity are not ‘western’ but universal.

I’ve added my name; please add yours, too.

UPDATE: Someone has kindly pointed out that a description of HR 4194 — or link to same — would have been helpful. Sorry ’bout that. I dashed this off quickly and assumed the info would be easily available at the Online Coalition site, but it doesn’t seem to be.

Yes, HR 4194 is the "Internet Anti-Corruption and Free Speech Protection Act," introduced by Representatives Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Marty Meehan (D-MA). It’s backed by Common Cause, Public Citizen, Democracy21, the League of Women Voters, and other fans of the McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan Incumbency Protection Act that began in earnest the current round of assaults on the First Amendment and political speech.

HR 4194 is opposed (and HR 1606 is supported) by a remarkably broad spectrum of free speech advocates. To demonstrate, I’ll point you to two posts with more information: the first is by Markos Zúniga at Daily Kos (gasp!), and the second is by Mike Krempasky at You don’t see those two on the same side often. Read their joint letter (at the link) to every member of Congress.

The defeat on Nov. 2 of HR 1606 was on a pretty partisan vote, though — 82% of Republicans supported it and 76% of Democrats opposed it. The good news is it received a clear majority (225-182) and failed only because the procedure under which it was brought up for a quick vote required a two-thirds majority for passage. So the defeat was only a delay. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find any information about the FEC’s timetable for enacting new rules that apply to online speech, so I don’t know how important speed is.

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One Response to “Support free speech, oppose terror”

  1. Dan Kauffman said

    Thanks for the support those are two very worthy issues.

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