26 February 2013

Free Speech is Illegal, Now?

Saw a rather disquieting thing this A.M. on Facebook and felt compelled to look into it because my bullshit meter was cranked all the way up and screaming.


I watched the video, in which the newscaster mentions the name of this LAW: H.R. 347.

So, here's what I found out:

  • This is old "news" from 2011
  • It was openly passed by the Senate
  • It is not as bad as these guys are making it out to be
  • It applies to certain areas at certain times

The following was found on ACLU's blog (you know if anyone is keeping an eye on this kind of thing, it is them, right?):
H.R. 347, the 'Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011,' expanded the Secret Service's authority to regulate protests in and around areas where persons under Secret Service protection are located. It could be abused to interfere with lawful protest.
It could be doesn't mean it will be or that it has been. This is just another ploy to slander the President, just like the birth certificate fiasco. Anyway, it would be scary to lose the right to protest, but the President doesn't have that kind of dictatorial power. Another article on the ACLU blog, dated 8 March 2012, states: "The truth is more mundane, but the issues raised are still of major significance for the First Amendment."  You should read the rest of that article, if you haven't already;  but a couple of important excerpts are called for:
It's important to note — contrary to some reports — that H.R. 347 doesn't create any new crimes, or directly apply to the Occupy protests. The bill slightly rewrites a short trespass law, originally passed in 1971 and amended a couple of times since, that covers areas subject to heightened Secret Service security measures. 

H.R. 347 doesn't directly address free speech zones, it is part of the set of laws that make this conduct possible, and should be seen in this context.

So, there really is not anything to get worked up about, is there? But, please, remember to check this kind of "IN SECRET," conspiracy theory stuff before scaring our pants off with it. Thank you in advance.

One of the first places I look when I even barely doubt the veracity of an issue is http://www.snopes.com. They discuss the origins of the fallacy in this way:
In February 2012, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act was passed in the Senate by unanimous consent (as HR 247) approved by the House of Representatives by a lopsided vote of 399-3; the bill was then signed into law by President Obama.
It is an update to 18 USc 1752 - Restricted Building and Grounds, from 1971.

Another excellent source to check these things out is FactCheck.org. Especially if it is political in nature.
Here is the pertinent article, relating to this blog-post.

Think About It

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