• This is a political forum that is non-biased/non-partisan and treats every person's position on topics equally. This debate forum is not aligned to any political party. In today's politics, many ideas are split between and even within all the political parties. Often we find ourselves agreeing on one platform but some topics break our mold. We are here to discuss them in a civil political debate. If this is your first visit to our political forums, be sure to check out the RULES. Registering for debate politics is necessary before posting. Register today to participate - it's free!

Say Goodbye to Free Speech

A new bill, HR 347, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, also known as the “Trespassing Bill,” is soon to be signed into law by President Obama. This bill effectively criminalizes protest and will hurt protest groups and movements such as Occupy quite hard.

The bill as states that anyone who knowingly “enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so” with the “intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in or [in] proximity to, any restricted building or grounds” or “impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions” will be punished with a fine or “or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both.” (emphasis added)

There are already many problems with the bill as it does not attempt to define what “imped[ing] or disrupt[ing] the orderly conduct of government business or official functions” is, nor does it specify what “government business” is or what an “official function” is. This vagueness will allow for the US government to effectively stifle protest and free speech, thus criminalizing such actions like the upcoming Occupy Chicago anti-NATO/G-8 protests. In addition to this, such a law will make it impossible for Americans to exercise their First Amendment rights when “government business” is being attended to or “official functions” are occurring.

Unsurprisingly, only three people voted against the measure: Paul Broun (R-GA-10), Justin Amash (R-MI-3) and Ron Paul (R-TX-14). This law would allow federal law enforcement “to bring these charges against Americans engaged in political protests anywhere in the country, and violators will face criminal penalties that include imprisonment for up to 10 years.” HR 347 will is ripe for abuse, as the NYPD has, as of recent, assumed the notion that taking photos and videotaping is a form of disorderly conduct.

The fact that only three people in the House, all Republicans and absolutely no Democrats (see the voting list here), voted against the bill, only shows just how both parties are just two sides of the same coin.

This law comes at the heels of the US government having debated over whether or not to indefinitely detain US citizens and Attorney General Eric Holder- the Obama administration’s version of John Yoo, arguing that the President can assassinate US citizens without providing any evidence whatsoever to anyone.

Free speech may very well soon be nothing but a distant relic of the past.

Update: It has come to my attention that there was a slight change in the wording of the bill when Obama signed it.

The law is actually only a slight change to earlier legislation that made it an offense to knowingly and willfully commit such a crime. Under the Trespass Bill’s latest language chan[g]e, however, someone could end up in law enforcement custody for entering an area that they don’t realize is Secret Service protected and “engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct” or “impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions.” (emphasis added)

This can be verified by looking at the bill that was passed in the Senate.
What is happening to our country?
I would like to comment on blog, "Say Goodbye to Free Speech" and briefly point out a few misrepresentations by its author.

The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, was introduced on January 19, 2011 by a REPUBLICAN, Rep. Thomas Rooney [R-FL16].

The legislation AMENDS the Federal Criminal Code to REVISE the prohibition against entering RESTRICTED federal buildings or grounds to impose criminal penalties on anyone who KNOWINGLY enters any RESTRICTED building or grounds without lawful authority. In a word, it updates a law that is already on the books.

And it defines "restricted buildings or grounds" as a POSTED, CORDONED OFF, or otherwise restricted area of:

(1) the White House or its grounds or the Vice President's official residence or its grounds,

(2) a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting, or

(3) a building or grounds so restricted due to a special event of national significance.

Because it was signed into law by the President, does not mean he is responsible for its contents, or favors everything in the bill. Voting on the bill was taken under a procedure called “suspension of the rules” which is typically used to pass NON-CONTROVERSIAL bills. Votes under suspension require a 2/3rds majority. A failed vote under suspension can be taken again, and again until the bill has passed. And while it is correct that 3 Republicans and zero Democrats voted against it, you left out that 18 Democrats refused to vote on it.

Finally, I failed to see a connection between the passing of the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 and lost of anyone's first amendment rights.
Last edited:
Top Bottom