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While I understand the concerns of both Gateway Pundit and Dan Collins of Protein Wisdom Pub about restrictions made on individuals affected by HR 1388 – I don’t particularly trust the government, either – this particular situation is both more and less worrisome than you might think. Which is an impressive trick, really.
First, let’s look at the full Section 1304 of the bill, which (I believe) lists the restrictions on individuals participating in national service:
SEC. 1304. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES AND INELIGIBLE ORGANIZATIONS.
Section 125 (42 U.S.C. 12575) is amended to read as follows:
‘SEC. 125. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES AND INELIGIBLE ORGANIZATIONS.
‘(a) Prohibited Activities- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:
‘(1) Attempting to influence legislation.
‘(2) Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.
‘(3) Assisting, promoting, or deterring union organizing.
‘(4) Impairing existing contracts for services or collective bargaining agreements.
‘(5) Engaging in partisan political activities, or other activities designed to influence the outcome of an election to any public office.
‘(6) Participating in, or endorsing, events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation, or elected officials.
‘(7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.
‘(8) Providing a direct benefit to–
‘(A) a business organized for profit;
‘(B) a labor organization;
‘(C) a partisan political organization;
‘(D) a nonprofit organization that fails to comply with the restrictions contained in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 except that nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent participants from engaging in advocacy activities undertaken at their own initiative; and
‘(E) an organization engaged in the religious activities described in paragraph (7), unless Corporation assistance is not used to support those religious activities.
‘(9) Conducting a voter registration drive or using Corporation funds to conduct a voter registration drive.
‘(10) Such other activities as the Corporation may prohibit.
‘(b) Ineligible Organizations- No assistance provided under this subtitle may be provided to the following types of organizations (including the participation of a participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle in activities conducted by such organizations) or to organizations that are co-located on the same premises as the following organizations:
‘(1) Organizations that provide or promote abortion services, including referral for such services.
‘(2) For-profit organizations, political parties, labor organizations, or organizations engaged in political or legislative advocacy.
‘(3) Organizations that have been indicted for voter fraud.
‘(c) Nondisplacement of Employed Workers or Other Volunteers- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not perform any services or duties or engage in activities which–
‘(1) would otherwise be performed by an employed worker as part of his or her assigned duties as an employee or by another volunteer who is not a participant in an approved national service position; or
‘(2) will supplant the hiring of employed workers or work of such other volunteers.’.
The bolding is the part that’s being focused on, over on the Right – and properly so; that does in fact ban “witnessing,” and you can easily see a scenario arise under that where someone could get dinged for going to church, let alone being a deacon or cantor or imam. Never underestimate the ability of the government to allow regulations to obscure common sense. But look at the other things that this bill prohibits. No participation in union activities, pro or against. No participation in abortion-related activities, pro or against. No participation in partisan political activities. No participation in protesting of any sort. They can’t even engage in voter registration, unless they find a group not indicted for voter fraud. That’s a fairly draconian list, in fact. Too draconian, in fact: the last time I checked, college students were generally legal adults. I understand that there are people out there who want to avoid abuses of this project, but really. If this program requires such a comprehensive set of regulations in order to operate properly, perhaps we should consider not having it?
Put another way: was this what you voted for, ye crucial 18-to-25 demographic? A government that pretty explicitly doesn’t trust you to get out of the rain?
Crossposted to Moe Lane.