Pennsylvania Representative Robert Brady, Democrat from Philadelphia, is proposing free speech limitations on language or symbols perceived to be threatening. The Blaze reports, On Sunday, Brady told CNN that he plans to introduce a bill that would make it a crime for anyone to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or violent against a federal official.
On Sundays CNN appearance, Brady indicated that federal lawmakers and officials should be provide the same protections against rhetorical threats as the president.
The president is a federal official, said Brady. You cant do it to him; you should not be able to do it to a congressman, senator, or federal judge.
He adds, This is not a wakeup call, this is a major alarms going off.
Of the types of offensive language and symbols indicated by Representative Brady is the electoral map produced by Sarah Palins political action committee during the 2010 midterm elections that listed a number of targeted key swing districts.
You cant put bulls eyes or crosshairs on a United States congressman or a federal official. I understand this website that had it on there is no longer in existence. Someone is feeling a little guilty, Brady stated.
In response to Brady's allegations, Palins aide spoke out publicly on Sunday: This is a terrible politicization of a tragedy. We don't know the shooters motive. It doesn't seem like he was motivated by a political ideology. Craziness is not an ideology.
Brady later attempted to back track his statement, contending that he was not pointing at any particular party, but also added that politicians should be able to disagree without being disagreeable.
On Tuesdays episode of the Glenn Beck program, the conservative pundit began by targeting the proposal that is yet another example of government overreaction. He also showed what typically happens when governments take extreme measures in reaction to an issue.
For example, in the 1980s, the city of Chicago reacted to increased handgun murder rates by placing a ban on handguns. Twenty-eight years later, a Supreme Court decision was forced to overturn the unconstitutional ban, declaring:
Chicago Police Department statistics, we are told, reveal that the citys handgun murder rate has actually increased since the ban was enacted and that Chicago residents now face one of the highest murder rates in the country and rates of other violent crimes that exceed the average in comparable cities.
Furthermore, the notion that the federal government would be the deciding factor on what is threatening in nature is a very dangerous precedent to set, notes Beck. Taking on a serious demeanor, Beck showed what could happen when the government begins to decide what is threatening. He talked directly into the camera as if he were revealing another conspiracy and said:
I want to tell you about this cult, its a "cult. They get together in groups and recite pledges or something. I don't know, friends have told me about it, I haven't seen it myself. But they recite stuff and then they force their kids to gaze upon one of the most violent images known to man. Its horrible. And yes, this cult forces their kids as young as 7 to bow down and gaze upon that symbol. And then they teach them to drink blood. Its almost too horrible to imagine, and it happens every Sunday. Its crazy, we've got to stop it.
The violent symbol that Beck was alluding to is the Crucifix.
Mocking the absurdity of the entire thing, Beck remarked, Oh my God, that's why there is such a rash of crucifixions in the third grade.
Beck listed a number of other ludicrous items that could feasibly be banned as a result of threatening language or symbols:
- shot-gun weddings
- The rock bands called The Killers and Guns and Roses
- flu shots
- Cupid holding an arrow
- the store Targets symbol, which is literally a target
- Congresswoman Louise Slaughter
- the expression, I shot myself in the foot.
- fruit punch
He concludes, This is what happens when you regulate every symbol or every word. Look at how easy it is to turn something like your first communion into something dark and sinister.
While Brady has failed to comment on the parameters of his proposal, one thing is for certain: Criminalization of forms of imagery would certainly infringe upon free speech and First Amendment rights.