(by Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars.com) -- Critics of the newly proposed ‘Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014′ have slammed the bill as a “dangerous” threat to free speech, warning that the legislation would hand an obscure federal agency “chilling” powers to restrict the First Amendment.
Introduced earlier this week by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), the ‘Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014′ (S.2219), along with its companion bill in the House, H.R. 3878, would task the National Telecommunications and Information Administration with filing reports on Internet, radio and television content that seeks “to advocate and encourage violent acts and the commission of crimes of hate”.
According to Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), chief sponsor of the House version, the bill will target “hateful activity on the Internet that occurs outside of the zone of First Amendment protection”. Apparently Jeffries is unaware of the fact that the First Amendment exists to protect unpopular speech and that free speech cannot be defined by arbitrary ‘zones’ decided on by politicians.
A Boston Herald editorial warns that the bill will encourage the federal agency to, “begin scouring the Internet, TV and radio for speech it finds threatening,” labeling the initiative a “frankly chilling proposition”.
“Prosecutors already have the authority to prosecute threats. And for the life of us we can’t fathom any further government limit on Internet postings or talk radio callers that could be structured to protect an American’s right to free expression,” states the editorial.
The legislation arrives four months after Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s comments about homosexuality, which were labeled “hate speech” by many on the left and sparked a national debate, ending in a victory for the First Amendment after Robertson’s suspension was lifted by TV network A&E.
Meanwhile, Civil liberties lawyer Harvey A. Silverglate told the Herald, “This proposed legislation is worse than merely silly. It is dangerous,” adding, “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.”
Writer Pamela Geller goes even further, asserting that if passed the legislation “will finish the United States” and introduce de-facto “Islamic blasphemy laws” that will make criticizing Islam a hate crime.
One conservative website also notes how the bill was welcomed by Alex Nogales, President & CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, prompting concerns that the legislation could lead to harsh criticism of illegal immigration also being categorized as a “hate crime”.