In thse days of instant communication,Twitter, Facebook and the like, the First Amendment is under attack. Using the auspices of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 8 U.S. code, Chapter 12 enacted after the Oklahoma City bombing and the U.S. Patriot Act, Pub. law 107-56, enacted immediately following the September 11 attack on the Twin Towers, two horrendous days in our history, the Federal government has claimed that a citizen’s peaceful advocacy of the rights of an aggrieved minority in another country – which minority the State Department has labeled as a “terrorist organization” – amounts to “material support” of the organization, a crime punishable by 15 years in prison. The Supreme Court is to hear arguments on the issue in Holder v Humanitarian Law project on February 28.
Although we cannot forecast the outcome, we are reminded of a quote attributed to George Washington,
” If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious consequences, reason is of no use to us. The freedom of speech may be taken away and dumb and silent, we may be led like sheep to the slaughter.”