"When the McCain-Feingold law empowered government to regulate the quantity, content and timing of political campaign speech about government, it was predictable that the right of free speech would increasingly be sacrificed to various social objectives that free speech supposedly impedes. And it was predictable that speech suppression would become an instrument of cultural combat, used to settle ideological scores and advance political agendas by silencing adversaries."
"Congress is currently trying to enact yet another "hate crime" law that would authorize enhanced punishments for crimes motivated by, among other things, sexual orientation."
From an op-ed by George F. Will
This piece by Will needs little commentary. However, I would like to elaborate on a point that he touches on, the issue of "hate crime" legislation.
By accepting "hate crime" legislation, America has accepted the principle that the government can prosecute someone based on his beliefs, above and separate from the actual, objective facts of a criminal case. It is this precedent, possibly more so even than the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that infringes on free speech rights up to 60 days before an election, that is in play here. Using the understandable abhorence of any decent person toward an act of violence by one human being against another based on race, religion, gender, etc., as a springboard, the statists have managed to establish into law a crucial building block of totalitarianism- the criminalization of ideas.
With "hate crime" legislation, coupled with the prohibitions against public criticisms of incumbent politicians by private individuals or groups during an election season (McCain-Feingold, or the "incumbent protection act" as free speech advocates call it), we can see, in the Oakland case, the power of legal precedents (and of philosophical ideas) which, once established take on a life of their own. If "the terms 'natural family,' 'marriage' and 'family values' are considered intolerably inflammatory" (i.e., "hate speech"), then it is only a matter of time before terms
like "limited government", "free enterprise", or "color-blind society" will be "intolerably inflammatory" toward recipients of welfare-state largess, environmentalist "protectors" of raw nature, or advocates of racial quotas and preferences, respectively.
McCain-Feingold and "hate crime" legislation have established the principle that free speech and thought are privileges rather than inalienable rights. This has paved the way for a full-fledged assault on the First Ammendment which is just beginning. The dire long-term consequences of these and any similar laws for our republic cannot be overstated and cannot be contained. The only antidote to this ominous trend is to attack it at its root; i.e., to repeal the McCain-Feingold and hate crime laws.
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