Citing Shooting, Congressmen Eye New Curbs on Political Speech

Rep. Slaughter Urges FCC to 'Sanction' Critics

Shortly after the shooting of Rep. Giffords (D – AZ) in Tucson on Saturday, officials and pundits from across the political spectrum were looking to make political hay out of it, struggling to tie the shooter to some rival political faction or other.

Now, however, a number of Congressmen are looking to turn that endeavor into a more concerted effort to introduce a series of new curbs on political speech, particularly political dissent, insisting that certain criticism of seated officials is “too incendiary” to be allowed.

Rep. Brady (D – PA) has promised to introduce new legislation to criminalize any political speech which could be perceived as incendiary, and other Democrats suggested that there should be a blanket ban on all speech and symbols which might be conceivably interpreted as incendiary against members of Congress.

Brady went on to claim that a number of Congressmen’s wives were terrified to hear of the shooting and questioning whether it was safe to remain on Congress. He insisted the only solution to this was to curb political speech. “The rhetoric is just ramped up so negatively, so high, that we have got to shut this down,” Brady insisted.

The ability of Congress to pass such a bill is likely not in doubt, but convicing the courts to allow broad-based censorship of explicitly political speech is likely to be an uphill battle. For some officials, this means that the effort should be more regulatory than legal.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D – NY) insisted that the FCC should work hard to restrict political speech that “could incite people,” adding that “no one owns the airwaves” and that she clearly felt the FCC was not doing enough to regulate political commentary nor to sanction those whose criticism were unacceptable to her.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.