Saturday, October 15, 2011


"The distrust of wit is the beginning of tyranny."
Edward Abbey

I generally take the hysteria of Alex Jones with more than a few grains of salt as I think the guy is about a half a bubble off plumb. I do read some of his articles, however, and there is sometimes considerable wheat mixed in amongst the chaff. Such as this discourse on a new House Bill, H.R. 3011.

House Bill Would Criminalize Satire of TSA.

On September 22, 2011, H.R. 3011 was introduced in the House. It is entitled the “Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act of 2011” and it contains some curious language.

Two thirds of the way through the ponderous bill, in Sec. 295, we find the following:

Whoever, except with the written permission of the Assistant Secretary for Transportation Security (or the Director of the Federal Air Marshal Service for issues involving the Federal Air Marshal Service), knowingly uses the words ‘Transportation Security Administration’, ‘United States Transportation Security Administration’, ‘Federal Air Marshal Service’, ‘United States Federal Air Marshal Service’, ‘Federal Air Marshals’, the initials ‘T.S.A.’, ‘F.A.M.S.’, ‘F.A.M.’, or any colorable imitation of such words or initials, or the likeness of a Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service badge, logo, or insignia on any item of apparel, in connection with any advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet, software, or other publication, or with any play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, or other production, in a matter that is reasonably calculated to convey the impression that the wearer of the item of apparel is acting pursuant to the legal authority of the Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service, or to convey the impression that such advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet, software, or other publication, or such play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, or other production, is approved, endorsed, or authorized by the Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service .(Emphasis added.)

In other words, if you print a t-shirt or produce a publication with a TSA logo, the government may soon be able to arrest and prosecute you.

The language states that it would be illegal to “convey the impression” that you are representing the TSA, but this interpretation would likely be left to federal prosecutors.

In the past, satire was protected under the First Amendment, but it may soon be illegal to poke fun at the TSA or use its logo or even utter its name. Notice there is no exception in the above language for parody.

Political satire is as old as the Greeks and the Bible. But it may now become a punishable crime if this legislation is enacted.

The TSA and the Justice Department are obviously serious about making sure we don’t criticize their Gestapo operation. Since they began irradiating citizens with naked body scanners and shoving their hands down the pants of old ladies and grade school kids, public outrage has reached a crescendo.

Some scoff at the idea that this law could be used to outlaw parody and satire, but I wouldn't be so sure. If it's left to Federal prosecutors (persecutors?) and judges, even the most unambiguous prose in a law can be twisted and warped and stretched so that it hardly resembles the law's language, let alone intent.

Case in point: The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights

"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 to peaceably assemble, and to petition to government for a redress of grievances."

Now, carefully examine the above for these phrases.

"clear and present danger"

"imminent lawless action"

"separation of church and state"

"free speech zone"

"commercial speech"

"primary right"

"secondary right"

"foreign trade zone"

"reasonable restrictions"

"hate speech"

I must be pretty out of it, as I cannot find a single one of those court/government-approved "interpretation" phrases in there. It all seemed to be written in plain English and pretty clear cut to me. But then, unlike the vast majority of Congresscritters, I am not an attorney, as evidenced by the fact that I don't chase ambulances nor excrete slime from my pores.

When Jim and I commented on the current American administration putting satirists out of business, this isn't what we were thinking of. This one is truly dangerous.

1 comment:

Jim Fryar said...

It must be the season for it Bawb. The Liberal party government in Victoria are making it an offence punishable by $12,000 fines to hurt the feelings of the Minister for Gaming there.

These are the guys who are supposed to be so much better than Labor. Being an obedient little sheeple, I have toned down my references to the idiotic little gerbil in case he puts in a hurt feelings report.