Got some good news and some bad news out of Congress this week for free speech enthusiasts.
Let's start with the bad news--if only so we can leave thinking the glass up there is half full.
Robert Spencer picked up word that Rep. Pete Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, sponsored an amendment this week "to prohibit the intelligence community from adopting speech codes that encumber accurately describing the radical jihadist terrorists that attacked America and continue to threaten the homeland." This worthy, admirable and basic-common-sense amendment was shot down by Democrats on the Permanent House Committe on Intelligence. These Democrats include:
Chairman Silvestre Reyes of TX, Leonard C. Boswell of IA, Robert E. "Bud" Cramer of AL, Anna G. Eshoo of CA, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of MD, John Tierney of MA, Mike Thompson of CA, Jan Schakowsky of IL, Jim Langevin of RI, Patrick Murphy of PA and Adam Schiff of CA.
And yes, that's the same Silvestre Reyes who couldn't for the life of him distinguish between Sunni and Shiite terror groups and nations on taking the helm of this House Permanent Committee on Intelligence. (Maybe he's hoping speech codes will simply censor the difference.) If any of them are "yours," do consider conveying some home district outrage.
Now for the good news:
U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and U.S. Representative Peter King (R-NY), Ranking Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, today announced the introduction of the Free Speech Protection Act of 2008.
This bill, which is inspired by the litigation involving Rachel Ehrenfeld, would protect American journalists from libel suits brought in foreign courts that do not have the same protections for free speech that are found in the U.S. constitution. It mirrors H.R. 5814, legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative King.
“Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of expression of ideas, opinions, and research, and freedom of exchange of information are all essential to the functioning of a democracy, and the fight against terrorism,” Sen. Specter said. “There is a real danger that American writers and researchers will be afraid to address the crucial subject of terror funding and other important matters without these protections.”
Could Sen. Specter perhaps mention this "real danger" to his House colleagues--before it's too late?
“Trying to impose speech codes on how to describe our enemy smacks of McCarthyism in reverse,” Hoekstra said. “Al-Qaeda knows point blank that they want to kill Americans. How sad is it that as we approach the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we are still debating how to define our enemy?”