For the first time in history, laws against sedition and conspiracy are finding a legitimate use. Without a doubt, there are those inside this country that would do more rather than merely criticize the government. Federal prosecutors are invoking a civil war era sedition act to further detain there is that they believe were in the process of creating further terrorist acts.

Unfortunately, past use of sedition laws have had little success in proving any crime beyond a constitutionally protected distaste for government actions and activities. John Adams first invoked the use of sedition laws to prevent people from criticizing his government. Abraham Lincoln used sedition laws to silence Southern sympathizers in the north. In 1920, a Minnesota man received 20 years for refusing to kiss the flag. In the ’50s, people accused of being communist (a more accurate term would be “not capitalist”) were imprisoned for teaching subversive ideas.

Any reasonable person would not have a problem with a professional federal prosecutor figuring out which people to lay the sedition act against. At this point in time, it would be both a waste of time and a waste of money to pursued those allegedly guilty of sedition if it does not help the security of the nation.

Unfortunately, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The ability to bring charges of sedition against people is a form of absolute power. There are enough laws that make it through Congress and find their way as riders on legislation that any citizen can end it up in prison for any reason. Sedition prosecution is a symbolic act, not a typical form of criminal prosecution.

Prior to 9/11, the Bush administration was under merciless criticism. Since that time, the merciless criticism has resumed. Successful use of the sedition laws combined with blind acceptance from the American public could create a situation where any criticism of the administration is considered to be unpatriotic and worthy of prosecution.

The anti-terrorism law has already put us dangerously close to becoming a fascist police state. Indiscriminate use of the sedition law will put us over the edge.

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