Roger’s Rules

Another Stupid Idea from the Donkey Side of the Aisle

Should someone send Rep. Robert Brady a copy of the First Amendment?

According to The Hill,  the Democratic lawmaker “plans to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress.”

Let’s think about that for a moment. “A federal crime”: that’s a serious matter, right?  And for what? For using “language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress.” My emphasis.

“Could be perceived as . . .” Rep. Brady (who is, by the way, up for reelection again in two years) singled out  the now-famous target map on Sarah Palin’s Facebook page: “You can’t put bull’s-eyes or crosshairs on a United States congressman or a federal official,” said Brady.

Really? You Dems do it  all the time. And bully for you. “Targeted,” “Crosshairs,” Bull’s eye”: they’re called figures of speech, Bob. Just as when you “campaign” for your seat, it’s a figure drawn from the world of military activity.  The president of the United States advises his acolytes to follow “The Chicago Way”: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” What d’ya think, Bob, is that an incitement to violence? Does it foster a “climate of hate”? Or is it figurative speech in a political context and understood to be so by all mentally competent adults?

Occasionally you hear about some innocent yokel who is taken to see a play by Shakespeare. All goes swimmingly until the Desdemona is throttled by Othello. Then the fellow leaps on to the stage to avenge the heroine.

Is our friend Bob, public servant  from Pennsylvania, like that yokel?

I doubt it. I think it’s more likely that he sees in the Arizona shootings an opportunity. Partly it’s an opportunity to demonize conservatives. That’s the Krugman, Daily Kos strategy: pretend that when Sarah Palin publishes a map with crosshairs denominating possibly vulnerable Democrats, it is oh, so much more “toxic” (a new favorite word) than when the Democratic Leadership Committee publishes a map with little bull’s eyes targeting possibly vulnerable Republicans.

But Bob is trying to seize another opportunity, too. He is trying to exploit the tragedy of the shootings in Arizona to curtail free speech, to arrogate to an unaccountable federal bureaucracy the determination of what “could be perceived as” threatening or inciting violence. “The rhetoric is just ramped up so negatively, so high,” Bob told CNN,  “that we have got to shut this down.”

“Shut this down,” note that. One way to “shut it down” would be to make it a federal crime to engage in any speech or activity that could be perceived as (by whom?) threatening.

I’d say this was simply pathetic and that someone should send this bozo a copy of the First Amendment. But I suspect he knows exactly what he is doing. He is trying to “shut down” your right to engage in vigorous political debate, which also means vigorous political criticism.  That’s why he should be targeted by Pennsylvanians in 2012: they should get him in their crosshairs and the voters should turn out en masse and score a bull’s eye by unseating this embarrassing enemy of free speech.