Vermont has long been on the top of my list for America’s nuttiest state. There are a lot of reasons for that designation, but they sent socialist Bernie Sanders to the United States House of Representatives in 1991 and then rewarded 16 years of non-accomplishment by elevating him to the Senate in 2007. That should be enough to earn the title, but there is more
The iconic Vermont towns of Brattleboro and Marlboro passed orders to arrest President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for “crimes against the Constitution” should they ever find any reason to show up in either town. So far, they have not. In a past commentary, I suggested that Vermont would have been kicked out of the Union long ago were it not for maple syrup.
So, what has Connecticut done to snatch the title away from Vermont?
Like the folks in Vermont, Democrats (of course) in the Connecticut state senate have proposed a law to create a special police force to go after “far-right extremist groups and individuals.” According to Senate Pro Tem Martin Looney (you just cannot make this stuff up), the proposal is aimed at fighting against “potential” hate crimes. Note the word “potential.”
It reminds me of the futuristic movie, “Minority Report” in which people were arrested if their DNA suggested that they could be “potential” criminals.
Now, Looney (I’m still laughing) says his proposed law is not intended to persecute people for political beliefs – much like Hitler’s laws were never intended to persecute Jews. The fact that the Looney law makes targets of people on the political right – far right, in his opinion – most certainly makes political opinion and expression subject to prosecution.
And then there is that problem of defining “far right.” Since I am a pretty consistent conservative on most issues, would Looney consider me a far-right extremist? One of the major pillars of our Republic is the protection of free speech – even very offensive speech.
Looney admits that he is going after free speech. He said that it is unfortunate that “people who entertain hateful beliefs” are protected – apparently by the First Amendment – even if they don’t engage in actual hate-crimes.
Looney further explained (emphasis added), “We want to be more aggressive in enforcing our laws and identifying likely sources of potential domestic terrorism acts against religious institutions and ethnic institutions.” There is that word “potential” again.
Note that Looney is not merely proposing a new law to nullify the Constitution, he is proposing an entirely new police agency to deal with politically related … non-crimes. He is making beliefs and constitutional freedom criminal.
This is just another slide down the one-way slippery slope America stepped onto with the entire concept of “hate crimes.” We created a group of politically protected classes for virtually everyone except white males – and yes, I take personal offense at that. The notion that a crime is a crime is out the window – as is equal justice under the law. Now the nature of a crime – and the level of punishment – depends on the victim’s skin color, genitalia, religion, sexual preference and maybe even self-identification.
Like every slide down the slippery slope, it will not stop here unless we stop it here. This Looney proposal should be rejected out-of-hand. The fact that adult legislators are even giving it consideration is scary.
While Looney has well earned my mockery, it is really a serious issue. This is the establishment of the first “thought police” in America – 71 years after George Orwell proposed such a concept in his dark futuristic novel, 1984. Looney may have missed the title date by 36 years, but he proves that bad ideas – even VERY bad ideas – do not die easily. It might even inspire Vermont to take up the same approach.
If we think this is a one-off by a Looney in Connecticut, we should remember that a Massachusetts legislator introduced a bill to make the utterance of “bitch” a crime – unless, of course, you are an announcer at a kennel club show.
People often get their surnames from some past identity. Smiths are usually the descendants of goldsmiths or silversmiths. Johnsons were the sons of John (and I know the other reference but stay focused). We can only wonder if Senator Looney got his family name in that tradition. The Connecticut state senate would be well-advised to leave Looney Tunes to those animators in Hollywood.
So, there ‘tis.