The nation is still reeling after the horrific mass shooting in Arizona this weekend, which left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life, multiple bystanders injured, and six dead, including a nine-year-old girl and a federal judge. People were clamoring for answers, and the left wasted no time blaming the tragedy on Sarah Palin and the tea party. Once the shooter was identified, it quickly became clear that Jared Lee Loughner was an anti-government, anti-religion nut with no discernible ties to any political figure. Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, had bigger fish to fry than just Sarah Palin. Remembering the leftist mantra of “never let a crisis go to waste”, they quickly jumped into action, eager to exploit the tragedy to push forward anti-Constitutional legislation.
First up is Rep. Robert Brady, who wants to introduce legislation making it a crime to use language or symbols that could be perceived as a threat against a member of Congress or a federal official. Get that? He doesn’t want to bother with actual threats anymore. He wants the government to decide just what kind of speech is threatening and what isn’t.
Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pennsylvania, said he will introduce legislation making it a federal crime for a person to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a Member of Congress or federal official.
Brady’s decision to offer the legislation comes less than 24 hours after a gunman attempted to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, in a shooting that claimed the lives of a federal judge, and a nine year-old girl, among others.
“The president is a federal official,” Brady said in a telephone interview with CNN. “You can’t do it to him; you should not be able to do it to a congressman, senator or federal judge.
“This is not a wake up call, this is major alarms going off,” he said.
Rep. Brady is clearly referring to the now infamous map Sarah Palin used to illustrate Democrats in districts McCain carried in 2008 who voted for Obamacare.
Of course, Sarah Palin is hardly an anomaly in using this kind of rhetoric. Democrats used an almost identical-style map, and Markos Moulitsas urged his followers to put a bullseye on moderate Democrats, including Gabrielle Giffords. (Michelle Malkin has more on the left’s culture of hate.)
There will always be any number of people who look to push the envelope. And military style-rhetoric in politics is nothing new, from Clinton’s war room to Palin’s target map. It doesn’t make it right to start legislating speech just because it makes some people feel uncomfortable. The truth, as any person possessing a modicum of common sense could tell you, is that there is a world of difference between someone publishing an overt threat — “I want to kill ______ ” — and putting targets on a map urging people to vote the congressmen featured out. This is simply an easy way for lawmakers like Rep. Baker to infringe on our constitutional right to free speech and to silence political opponents.
After all, what would the ramifications be if this legislation were to pass? Anything that could be perceived as a threat isn’t exactly specific criteria for what is and isn’t a crime. And it could lead to some pretty sickening clampdowns on political speech. Who would decide what is and is not considered a threat? And what kind of oversight would there be to ensure that politicians (like, say, Rep. Baker) aren’t overstepping their bounds and simply targeting political opponents? I’m curious if Rep. Baker would charge any of the people responsible for the incidents of unhinged rage Michelle Malkin listed with crimes. It’s the tea partiers who are unhinged and violent, not the peaceful, tolerant left, right?
Legislation like this has nothing to do with keeping members of Congress safer and everything to do with giving power-hungry lawmakers like Rep. Baker more authority over Americans — Constitutional right to free speech be damned.
And while Rep. Baker’s new legislation may be disturbing, his exploitation of this tragedy doesn’t come close to Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s.