Are politicians so afraid of what the American citizens have to say that they will go so far as passing a bill that completely restricts our freedom of speech? Apparently so.
On April 16, congress passed H.R. 347 (voted in by 388-3), or the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. This “improvement act” takes away our right to protest, no matter how peacefully, in front of any political figure that is protected by Secret Services. Those who choose to protest in front of them (even if it’s just holding a sign) will be arrested and have felony charges brought upon them.
Just to clarify, felony charges are “criminal offenses with maximum penalties greater than one year in prison,” which can also include a maximum amount of fines. What other types of crimes (if you’re willing to call free speech a crime) get felony charges? Murder, cocaine possession, armed robbery, and other serious crimes. So, to clarify even further: YES, protesters receive the same charges as a murders or armed robbers.
Our founding fathers gave us the freedom of the speech. It is clearly stated in the First Amendment that we have the right to “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.”
Our founding fathers granted us these rights because in England, anyone who spoke out against the King and Queen were publicly hanged or jailed. We were also given this amendment because our founding fathers wanted us to have a say in our government; granted we still have the right to vote (although this is often debated).
With the way things are looking, are we still going to have that right a few years down the road? They’re already taking away our First Amendment. What’s next?
In the words of Judge Andrew Napolitano “[this is] a slow creeping destruction of some of our basic liberties.”
Napolitano also asks, “What good is free speech if the people in the government are so far away from you that they can’t hear you?” If we can’t protest and speak freely to our government, how are we going to receive answers about what’s going on in our country? How are we going to challenge unjust decisions? And most importantly: how are we, the American people, going to ask our government why they’re taking away our right to free speech?
Napolitano gives a good example: If the President decided to stay in a hotel, and protestors stood across the street from the hotel holding signs, or saying things against him, they would all be arrested and have felony charges put against them. This would simply be because they were in the vicinity of a Secret Service protected politician, and were saying what they thought about the president’s policies.
If the politicians in America today cannot handle what the American people have to say, they should not have the right to be a politician. Their job is to do what’s right for America and its citizens, not just what’s right for the politicians.