Terrorism Restricting Free Speech on the Internet?

Professor Eric Posner argued in Slate magazine that restricting speech on the Internet may be a viable, and perhaps a necessary option for addressing present day terrorism concerns.

To his credit, Prof. Posner even outlines what a law could look like.  This article will look at the theory of censoring the Internet to mitigate terrorism concerns and also the proposed outline of a law.

I mostly agree with the facts as Prof. Posner states them in his article.  Radical terrorism is a serious concern.  Radical terrorists do recruit from the Internet — including the use of many popular social media sites.  Radical terrorists are recruiting Americans from the Internet.

One problem I have with how the problem is characterized by Prof. Posner is that he makes this seem like something that has just happened for the first time.  When in fact radical terrorists have used the Internet as a recruitment tool for years, and most likely did not start with ISIL. Al Queda used the Internet as a recruiting tool for most likely 10 years or more.1 I think it is imperative to at acknowledge the United States and the world have been dealing with online terrorist recruiting for a decade, and to take the events or non-events into account into the later analysis.

Other than the historical context, I agree with the facts as laid out by Prof. Posner.

Removal Free Speech

This is where things get interesting.  To stop this threat Prof. Posner suggests criminalizing websites that endorse or support radical terrorism.  He argues:

“Consider a law that makes it a crime to access websites that glorify, express support for, or provide encouragement for ISIS or support recruitment by ISIS; to distribute links to those websites or videos, images, or text taken from those websites; or to encourage people to access such websites by supplying them with links or instructions. Such a law would be directed at … naïve people, rather than sophisticated terrorists, who are initially driven by curiosity to research ISIS on the Web.

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Armed Protests and Religious Freedom

It seems that some people choose to exercise their First and Second Amendment rights concurrently.  In other words, there seems to be a trend of armed protests, where guns are openly carried — especially when protesting religions.

Armed protests in Phoenix, Arizona1 and now Irving, Texas2 are being held outside mosques.  Protesters argue it is their First Amendment right to free speech and their Second Amendment right to bear arms protects their rights to armed protests.

It is an interesting constitutional question.  Does the introduction of guns to a protest change the constitutional protections?

*** It should be noted that I when I refer to armed protests in this article, I am only speaking about protests where guns are openly carried.

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