Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sedition Act

I was contacted by some students at Nanyang Technological University Singapore regarding a blogger behavior survey. I was quite struck by one of the questions in it. It asked how I felt about the Sedition Act and if I blogged differently because of it. I had no clue what the Sedition Act was and decided I'd better learn.

There was a Sedition Act in the US - 2 actually. The US Sedition act basically stated that anyone "opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States" could be imprisoned for up to two years. It was also illegal to "write, print, utter, or publish" anything critical of the president or Congress. It was notable that the Act did not prohibit criticism of the Vice-President.

I'm sort of led to believe that this act expired with President Adams leaving office in 1800. It's pretty scary though. Why did the supreme court mention it in a 1964 decision? Basically it denies freedom of speech. Hmmm I'll bet there are some members of our government today that would like the Sedition Act alive and well. Let's also remember that what today is known as McCarthyism was a Sedition Act in 1918 -1920.

The true nature of the question stemmed from the fact that this is in effect in Singapore. This Singapore Sedition Act was used against individuals last year for the first time in the past 30+ years and it is in the their Constitution.

We should never take for granted our freedom of speech nor should we ever allow it to be taken away. This right has been infringed upon repeatedly since 9-11 and Americans seem far to complacent.

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