Gov. Don Carcieri on Thursday withdrew a homeland security plan criticized by scholars and civil libertarians as a threat to free speech and assembly rights.
The bill introduced last week would include acts of terrorism under existing law that makes it illegal to "speak, utter, or print" statements in support of anarchy or government overthrow.
It also would have included terrorism under current law that makes it unlawful for any person "to teach or advocate" a government overthrow, or display "any flag or emblem other than the flag of the United States" as preferable to the United States government.
"What Governor Carcieri proposes is to take the state of Rhode Island back 200 years," Paul McMasters, a nationally recognized expert at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va., told The Providence Journal.
Carcieri said the negative reaction, which included criticism from the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, was overblown.
"State government has a responsibility to ensure the public's safety by assessing and responding to new and evolving threats," Carcieri said. He sought to amend existing laws to define terrorism and include penalties for such acts.
But by reviving rarely used laws first enacted in 1919 that criminalize the advocacy of anarchy, his intentions became lost in a public debate over civil liberties he said he has no desire to limit.
The bill, which never had a public hearing, also created new exemptions to open-records laws, including fire-safety records.
Carcieri said he's "not interested in trying to keep things secret. The idea is to not provide information a terrorist may use to his advantage."
"It's clear we need to step back and take a look at all of this," Carcieri said, including possibly repealing any outdated laws.
Carcieri acknowledges he did not read the entire bill before it was introduced and said he'll seek input from civil liberties groups and others before introducing a new version.
Replies: 6 people speak up
Maybe the governor should read the following link:
Was this written by terrorists?
Posted by Demeur @ 02/21/2004 05:19 AM NY
Seems more likely that this Carcieri bozo was inadvertently handed a copy of the Alien & Sedition Acts, that famous chart-topper of 1798, and thought it sounded like a swell new idea.
Proving, however, that none of us are immune from the temptations of sin, I must confess a certain wish that we could somehow cut out everything but the provision outlawing the " display [of] "any flag or emblem other than the flag of the United States" as preferable to the United States government." The reaction of the League of the South and Sons of Confederate Veterans would be something interesting to behold. :-)
Posted by Xan @ 02/21/2004 11:47 AM NY
Isn't that what happened with that piece of excrement Patriot Act? Congress approved that thing without even reading it? RI should be glad somebody read this one before the vote!
Posted by leinie @ 02/21/2004 11:47 AM NY
at this point, the people in charge of making our laws might as well just be blinded, put on a valium drip and given a yes or no buzzer. where do these fucking monsters come from, and how do they keep getting elected?
if anyone is a good excuse for the overthrow of the government, this man is almost screaming for it.
Posted by justin @ 02/21/2004 12:17 PM NY
Am I the only one that finds it more than a little ironic that his name means PRISON in Italian!
Posted by Melanie @ 02/21/2004 10:15 PM NY
What a crock. That reference to Anarchy and government overthrow is on the first fucking page! He didn't read the first page?
You can read the bill here (PDF.)
Posted by C Bryan Lavigne @ 02/22/2004 12:44 PM NY