Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Censoring Free Speech

The 112th Congress and the US Senate have passed a law that should make people very, very angry.  Granted, it is a law that is in complete opposition to the First Amendment and will most likely be overthrown within a relatively short period of time--hopefully at least--but at the moment it is incredibly disturbing that the law was passed to begin with.  The Senate passed it unanimously and Congress passed it with a vote of 399 to 3.  HR 347 would make political protest and other forms of free speech a felony, leading to up to 10 years in prison.  This censorship of freedoms to protest and freedoms of speech fly in the face of the first amendment and I, personally, can't believe that it even passed with the majority that it has!  A post on Open Salon reads as follows:
Obviously aimed at the Occupy Movement, these modifications to U.S. Code Title 18 Section 1752 will seriously diminish the right of American citizens to petition their Government for a redress of grievances by outlawing protests where key government officials or other VIP's may be nearby. Federal law enforcement agents will be empowered to bring these charges against Americans engaged in political protests anywhere in the country, and violators will face criminal penalties that include imprisonment for up to 10 years.
What I want to know is, how is this not a problem, and how does Congress think it's okay to actually pass this in the first place?  If Obama signs off on this, it's not going to be long before, hopefully, somebody brings it to a court of law to have it overturned.  I really don't know all that much about politics in the US, but I know this is a move in a very, very bad direction.

In other news, a request to reinstate the Mexican American Studies / Ethnic Studies Program in the Tucson School District was denied.  According to the Huffington Post, "The federal U.S. District Court judge in Tucson, judge David Bury, who denied the request to reinstate the MAS program, said that the elimination of the courses didn't intentionally segregate students, nor did it tip the racial or ethnic balance of students in any TUSD school."

The program was initially shut down because the Superintendent believed the program was indoctrinating students in a way that would cause resentment toward a specific group or class of people (in this case, it would seem, he was worried that the non-white population of the school [60%] would learn to resent the white population of the school.)  Oh, and yes, sarcasm was intended there.  The program was a huge undertaking and, if the literature being used was any indication, was far from one-sided:
"What has occurred here is that [Huppenthal] has taken away from our entire community a curriculum that was adopted by our school board, that was developed by our school district, and that had successfully operated for well over 10 years," said Richard Martinez, the attorney representing teachers and students trying to save the Mexican American Studies program according to Democracy Now. "It’s just part of the same kind of tactics that have been employed in Arizona... It is the anti-Latino perspective that exists in this state."
The entire situation in the US at the moment is driving me nuts and I can't help but get interested / pissed off / upset / anxious.  Thanks for reading, and please feel free to leave comments or questions below.

Oh, and if you're interested, here is an interesting interview with some publishers about issues of pre-censorship.  Here's Part 1 and Part 2.

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