Chokeholds on conservatives

Liberals seize chance after Tucson tragedy to go on the ideological warpath

Never let a crisis go to waste, far-left liberals like to say.

So, predictably, it won't be enough to just slander conservatives by trying to link them to a madman's shooting in Tucson.

Democrats also want to use the case to restrict guns; pass special laws protecting congressmen in vague and likely unconstitutional ways; and choke off conservative dialogue on the airwaves.

On the first two: There are already plenty of laws restricting gun use by the criminal or mentally ill, and laws prohibiting violence and even threats of violence against all federal officials. More laws, especially as a knee-jerk reaction to a shooting, will likely only infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens -- and come close to criminalizing criticism of Congress.

Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa., wants to outlaw using any language or symbols that could even be perceived as threatening toward members of Congress and other federal officials. That would give elected leaders about as much power as a sovereign to jail dissenters.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. -- ominously the third-ranking Democrat in the House -- wants to bring back the Orwellian-named "Fairness Doctrine" -- in which the government, not the public, determines how political speech will be balanced between conservative and liberal on radio and television broadcasts. It's an unambiguous assault on the more ubiquitous conservative speech, and therefore free speech.

It's an interesting punctuation mark, too, after the First Amendment and the rest of the Constitution was read on the floor of the House. Apparently Clyburn was otherwise engaged at the time.

Clyburn's reckless views on "rethinking" free speech aren't just ludicrous, they're dangerous in the hands of a lawmaker. Never mind trying to remind him that the First Amendment was the Civil Rights movement's best friend. He's got his mind made up that the Tucson shooting was the fault of conservative speech, regardless of there being utterly no evidence of that.

Some people have called for more civil dialogue in the wake of the shooting. We support that. But some people, such as Clyburn, just want less dialogue -- and want the government to mediate it.

Infringing on basic rights is hardly civil.

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