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.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  • icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), 29 Nov 2007 @ 7:56pm


    The US Constitution isn't perfect, but it's better than what we are living under now. Vote for Ron Paul in 2008.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Nov 2007 @ 11:03pm

    Lose your social security and die waiting in line for a doctor! Vote Ron Paul!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Le Blue Dude, 30 Nov 2007 @ 12:12am


    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      devilsclaw, 30 Nov 2007 @ 3:18am


      Almost everyone I know is atheists. Most of them being computer people or an engineer. Which makes them normally not all that greate as politics. So yeah we are screwed.

      p.s engineer's are a little bit more special then the rest of us.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 30 Nov 2007 @ 11:32am


    I am surprised there haven't been a ton more posts on this topic. Seems like it would be really really bad if it passed.
    Then again, probably not any worse then National Security Presidential Directive 51.
    Any piece of law type material where they won't even disclose the entire law for 'national security' is probably not good.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    rEdEyEz, 30 Nov 2007 @ 7:09pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    James (profile), 3 Dec 2007 @ 7:58am


    "Violent thoughts" such as my belief that we need a revolution to fix this screwed up country we live in. I would not lift a finger to prevent it or aid our current form of government if it happened. I would use my military training to ride it out and see what comes next.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.