Paperwork for Terrorists

According to The Raw Story, South Carolina now requires “subversives” to pay a fee and register with the state:

Terrorists who want to overthrow the United States government must now register with South Carolina’s Secretary of State and declare their intentions – or face a $25,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison. The state’s “Subversive Activities Registration Act,” passed last year and now officially on the books, states that “every member of a subversive organization, or an organization subject to foreign control, every foreign agent and every person who advocates, teaches, advises or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States … shall register with the Secretary of State.” There’s even a $5 filing fee.

That’ll teach ’em! Terrorist organizations back by kazillionaires from Saudi Arabia will never be able to afford the $5 filing fee, because we all know that only poverty causes people to turn to terrorism! Although this gives one the mention image of some terrorist Ibn al-Capone being jailed for failing to file the correct paperwork, what it actually does is allow the state of South Carolina to add additional state penalties to any captured terrorist above and beyond whatever other crimes he is charged with – useful if the federal government declines to prosecute them to the fullest extent of its laws, granted, but also adding to the idiocy of making terrorism even more of a civilian crime rather than a act of war. However, that’s not the only problem…

By “subversive organization,” the law means “every corporation, society, association, camp, group, bund, political party, assembly, body or organization, composed of two or more persons, which directly or indirectly advocates, advises, teaches or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States [or] of this State.”

How long do you think it will take before this is used to harass Tea Party protesters, or any organization which the party in power of South Carolina at the time doesn’t like? This is, at a fundamental level, a completely unconstitutional assault on people who hold the wrong opinions (Thought crime! Hate crime!) or who just happen to be associated (and we all know about reptilian six degrees of guilt by association) with people who hold the wrong opinions. Whereas “advocating the overthrow of the US government” can cost you a security clearance or a federal job (except in the current Presidential administration) it is not illegal. It comes under the heading of “free speech”. If said individuals or organizations act to try to bring about these goals, then by all means prosecute them under existing laws. But criminalizing thought, speech, and association without any actual deeds (a.k.a. crimes) occurring? Not only unconstitutional, but a nightmare depending upon who determines who should be targeted by this law… Because I think we can all assume that it won’t be applied even-handedly. Look at Canada and Europe, where anyone who criticizes Islam can be tried for “hate speech”, but muslims are never restricted from their own actual hate speech against gays, Jews, the government whose welfare system supports them, etc.

A PDF of the registration form can be found here, courtesy of FitsNews.

“Outline fundamental beliefs. If applicable, attach a copy of the bylaws or minutes of meetings from the last year.” That’s one way to gather intelligence, if the minutes from the meetings include the planned attacks for the next year. “Please name all other members of the organization located in South Carolina.” Thank you, Senator McCarthy.

While the intention of the law is apparently aimed at Islamic terrorists, it’s unclear in the law’s wording whether it can be applied to right-wing militias, some of whom have reputedly called for the overthrow of the US government. The law states that “fraternal” and “patriotic” groups are exempt from the law, but only if they don’t “contemplate the overthrow of the government.”

File your paperwork and pay the five dollars before you fire on Fort Sumter.

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