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Friday, November 21, 2008

Obama's Attorney General Pick, Eric Holder, Against Free Speech?

Hot Air has provided a video of Eric Holder, who is said to be Barack Obama's Attorney General (AG) pick, from 1999 speaking about "reasonable restrictions, reasonable regulations in how people interact on the Internet".

Video URL here and video shown below.

His comments from 1999 were in reference to the Columbine shooters, but his intent is clear when he states, Via NewsBusters:

The court has really struck down every government effort to try to regulate it. We tried with regard to pornography. It is gonna be a difficult thing, but it seems to me that if we can come up with reasonable restrictions, reasonable regulations in how people interact on the Internet, that is something that the Supreme Court and the courts ought to favorably look at. - May 28, 1999 NPR Morning Edition

Morrissey, from Hot Air, reasonably points to the First Amendment:

Pardon me, but I’m looking at the First Amendment (in my official Robert Byrd Pocket Constitution, natch), and I’m a bit confused. Where in this statement does it say that the government has the authority to impose “reasonable restrictions” on speech?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech. That appears rather clear. It doesn’t authorize “reasonable restrictions”, or “reasonable regulations”, or what Holder really wants, “reasonable federal censorship”.

Let us be very clear here folks. There is a lot wrong with some of the free speech I see on a daily basis, but the basic fact is, it IS free speech and it is up to people to decide whether certain speech should be ignored or listened to, it is not up to the government to decide what can and cannot be said, in fact, as Morrissey points out, it is in the First Amendment that government cannot abridge "the freedom of speech, or of the press".

That is as clear as it gets and it is not something that Obama, nor Holder as AG has the right to change, nor attempt to change in any way, shape or form.

NewsBusters, linked above, makes this point:

As tragic as Columbine was, Holder’s reaction to stifle free speech on the internet is nonetheless disturbing. Combine his zeal for what he may consider “reasonable regulations” along with his advocacy for a federal hate crime law(H/T to National Review), and internet users may find themselves in a world of legal woe after the Obama administration takes over in January.

Once the government starts telling us what we can or cannot write or say, we have lost our Free Speech.

Listen to the video again if you have any doubts about what Holder's comment states outright.