DoublePlusUngood Legislation?

from the thoughtcrimes-or-boondoggles? dept

As Slate's Dahlia Lithwick aptly observes, the largely neglected "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007," which passed by an overwhelming margin in the House and will now be taken up by the Senate, seems to have provoked two types of reactions among those who've noticed it: Half think it's a pointless, redundant boondoggle, the other half think it's a first step toward an Orwellian War on Thoughtcrime. The stated purpose of the bill is to try to come up with ways to stop “radicalized thought” from turning into terrorist action — but that’s pretty open ended.After a cursory read of the bill itself, I tend toward the former interpretation: The law, which would establish a commission to study the causes of "ideologically based violence," evokes MiniLuv less readily than it does Tom Chapin's satirical folk song "A Study's About to Begin." And, indeed, the government has already conducted ample research [PDF] on the psychology and sociology of terrorism. Still, it's not hard to see why civil libertarians get uneasy when the bill's sponsor, California Democrat Jane Harman, is prone to talk about formulating plans "to intervene before a person crosses that line separating radical views from violent behavior," which, presumably, means "intervening" while the person is still only holding radical views. Nor is it especially comforting to reflect on the bill's "finding" that "The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States," which suggests a mandate to focus on offensive online speech. Precisely because the bill is redundant, it seems more useful to worry about the actual steps law enforcement agencies take in service of "prevention." Depending on the composition of any commission convened under the law, there's a fair chance it will produce, if not a boot stamping on a human face forever, then at least a generous helping of national security FUD.

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Comments on “DoublePlusUngood Legislation?”

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Le Blue Dude says:


If this bill is passed I have two options. Run to europe, (’cause canada won’t be far enough) or … *Builds a bomb shelter, complete with resources to live on own for the rest of his life*

The way I see it, this is a bill to nab people like me, who hold complex viewpoints that can’t be summed up easily, and so are lumped with people who hold simple viewpoints that are extreme that are easier to understand. This tends to happen to both middle-of-the-road Christians that are lumped with bastard Christians (no insult to the good ones, but there ARE some out there) and with atheists like myself who some automatically assume are plotting to destroy all religion (Not on the agenda. Believe what you want. I respect your views even if I don’t share them).

And since the angry Christians as opposed to the angry atheists are the ones with the current say it’s the atheists, and not the Christians, who will be discriminated against…

I think I’m screwed.

rEdEyEz says:

Don't we have Law Enforcement?

For chrissakes, don’t we have law enforcement agencies, police academies, and federal agencies(dhs-duh) that specialize in these type of studies?

Sounds like a bunch of academia who want to create a new “field” of entitlements that allow them to “seemingly” steer policy without the responsibility of having to enforce it or to be subjected to the risks and tragedy of their learned consultation.

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