Jeffrey Montgomery calls them Reprehensible & Disingenuous
State 'Protections' are Redundant in Wake of USA Patriot Act
Compiled by GayToday
Lansing, Michigan--The Michigan State Senate has been considering a set of so-called "anti-terrorism" bills which are opposed by, among others, the American Civil Liberties Union and the state's leading GLBT civil rights organization, the Triangle Foundation.
Jeffrey Montgomery, Triangle Executive Director, provided the following testimony on Tuesday at a Senate Judiciary hearing on the bills:
"Thank you for this opportunity to comment on this proposed legislation. I am Jeffrey Montgomery, Executive Director of Triangle Foundation, Michigan's leading gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.
"We oppose many of the specifics in these bills, but more importantly, we question why this package of legislation is being put forward at all. Triangle Foundation represents over twenty thousand households in Michigan. Our paramount concern is for human rights and civil liberties. These bills fly in the face of that mission and our commitment to democracy and equal justice for all.
"While we, like most Americans, have been horrified at the loss of life and life-altering effects in the events and aftermath of the September attacks, we have also been alarmed at the rush to pass legislation that is purported to insure against future incidents, and which claims to provide for greater so-called "security."
"This is the time to ask: Is this type and scope of legislation necessary in Michigan? Is it not redundant to the provisions of the USA Patriot Act, passed last Fall by the United States Congress? Where's the threat to which these respond? What proof is there that extended power and abrogation of civil rights is necessary?
"The bills you begin to consider today are ripe for abuse. The bills you are considering are liable to result in many dangerous unintended consequences.
"The foundation of this legislation is laid in Senate Bill 930 and the definition of "terrorism." Specifically, it says "an act that would be a violent felony under the laws of this state. that is dangerous to human life and intended to intimidate or influence or affect the conduct of government or a unit of government through intimidation or coercion."
"This overbroad definition is actually beyond that of the Patriot Act. It also virtually closes down any public dissent, creating a chilling effect, since no one can ever be sure if their protest or their actions will result in some unintended act of violence. Intention, or lack of intention under this definition is not taken into consideration. Intent is no defense in these laws. That is not justice, that is not democratic, that is not right.
"Another primary source of trouble with these bills, again found in the foundational definition, is the fact that any act resulting from an alleged action is already covered under criminal statutes.
"It is true, and this has been demonstrated over and over since September 11th, that existing structures and tools of law enforcement could be used to thwart any threats or plots against the government. These extended powers are not needed.
"Government does not need to collect more information. We have seen that one of the problems has been that the government has already amassed so much information that it can't determine the useful intelligence from the superfluous.
"These bills strike people as mere political advantage for those whose names are attached, and for those who would be politically compelled to vote for them. They will be seen as products of the state exploiting real fears of the public, providing a false sense of security, and as exploitive.
"It is reprehensible that such disingenuous and potentially dangerous laws would be passed in Michigan. They are not needed; they are redundant. Please save yourselves from being seen as cynical politicians, capitalizing on a skittish and vulnerable public.
"We .all of us. are still recovering from an unimagined national nightmare. This legislation will only extend the misery and will not show the world that we hold true to the ideals of a democratic, pluralistic society. Passage of this legislation will be a victory for those who hoped to damage our nation and our ideals."