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Goodbye free speech: Mass. Dem. wants government to monitor speech for 'hate'

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

It seems that some lawmakers now want to monitor and control speech. If Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., has his way, the federal government will monitor radio, television and Internet speech for "hate," or material allegedly determined to be advocating or encouraging “violent acts," WND reported Monday.

Markey's proposal, called the “Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014,” would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to submit a report to Congress on “the use of telecommunications” “to advocate and encourage violent acts and the commission of crimes of hate.” The bill does not specify what, exactly, constitutes "hate," but given the source of the proposal, it's not too difficult to figure out.

The measure also says government speech monitors would recommend “appropriate and necessary" steps for Congress to take to "address such use of telecommunications.” According to the bill, those steps must be “consistent with the First Amendment.”

The First Amendment simply says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Not only does the bill not specify what constitutes hate speech, it also fails to say who will determine what hate speech is. As we have reported, words like "Chicago," "golf" and "chair" have been deemed racist. In one insane episode, liberals claimed Newt Gingrich engaged in racism when he referred to Juan Williams by his first name. One school principal in Portland claimed she could spot racism in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Worse yet, liberals have repeatedly claimed that any criticism of President Obama is racist. Obama, for his part, blamed racism for lackluster approval among white voters.

Nevertheless, Markey insists the bill is necessary, and justified monitoring speech on the Internet.

“We have recently seen in Kansas the deadly destruction and loss of life that hate speech can fuel in the United States, which is why it is critical to ensure the Internet, television and radio are not encouraging hate crimes or hate speech that is not outside the protection of the First Amendment,” he said in a statement on his website. “Over 20 years have passed since I first directed the NTIA to review the role that telecommunications play in encouraging hate crimes. My legislation would require the agency to update this critical report for the 21st century.”

Not everyone is enamored with Markey's bill. The Boston Herald, for example, called it a "frankly chilling proposition," and civil liberties lawyer Harvey A. Silverglate called the proposal "dangerous."

“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," he told the Herald.

The Herald's editorial board suggested Markey find some way to occupy his time: "Perhaps he could crack a briefing book on the crisis in Ukraine rather than looking for his own extra-constitutional methods of punishing speech he finds unacceptable."

In January, a companion bill, H.R. 3878, was introduced in the House by New York Democrat Hakeem Jeffries. According to govtrack.us, the bill has a one percent chance of being passed into law.