Newt Gingrich: Visiting An ISIS Or Al Qaeda Website Should Be A Felony

Newt Gingrich

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is making some news today for some silly remarks he made on Fox News last night in response to the attack last night in Nice, France. It comes right at the beginning of this video:

All of the press — for good reason — is focusing on the first part of what he said, about deporting anyone “of Muslim background” (whatever that means) who “believes in Sharia.” We’ll skip over why this is totally clueless and unconstitutional, because plenty of other news sites are handling that.

Instead, we’ll move on to the second craziest thing he said, right after that first statement, which is something that fits much more with Techdirt’s usual themes: Gingrich then claims two ridiculous things, each only slightly less ridiculous than his first statement:

Anybody who goes on a website favoring ISIS, or Al Qaeda, or other terrorist groups,that should be a felony and they should go to jail. Any organization which hosts such a website should be engaged in a felon. It should be closed down immediately. Our forces should be used to systematically destroy every internet based source…

He then goes on to note that if we can’t take them off the internet, we should just kill them all. Which, you know, I’m sure won’t anger any more people against us.

Either way, this is idiotic. Merely visiting a website should put you in jail? What if you’re a journalist? Or a politician? Or a researcher trying to understand ISIS? That should be a felony? That’s not how it works. This also assumes, idiotically, that merely reading a website about ISIS will make people side with ISIS. It’s also not, at all, how the law works. Same with the second part about it being a felony to host such content. We’re already seeing lawsuits against social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for hosting accounts from ISIS, and many are voluntarily taking down lots of those accounts. But making it a felony to keep them up? That’s also not how the law works.

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