Outrage of the Week: GOPpers attack First Amendment right to assemble
This is our other regular feature: the Outrage of the Week.
This is going to have to serve as a teaser for next week, since I am almost out of time. But I will say this now with the understanding that I am going to make it my first order of business for next week.
You may recall that just a couple of weeks ago I gave you my Rules for Rightwing Debate, that is, the rules the wingers follow in avoiding factual engagement on issues.
One of them is "Rule #18: If you can't win by the rules, change them."
A great example of this is voter suppression. As I mentioned earlier, the right wing knows it can't win if the mass of the American public votes, so it tries to make it harder and harder for people to vote at all.
But now the rules they are trying to change are quite literally those of the First Amendment.
Faced with outraged citizens and ongoing protests big and small, the GOPpers are trying to make it harder and harder to engage in legal protest while at the same time increasing the penalties for any act of nonviolent civil disobedience, trying to scare people off from such dramatic but peaceful protests.
Perhaps the worst example is that on February 22, the Arizona state senate actually passed a bill that makes participating in or helping organize a protest that turns into a quote riot unquote subject to criminal racketeering charges, facing a year in prison and seizure of personal assets including such as your car and your home.
Note this, because it's important: In Arizona, a "riot" is described as "two or more people using or threatening force or violence in a way that disturbs the peace." The bill expanded that definition to include any event where there is property damage. Which means that at any demonstration where two people say throw rocks through a window, everyone present could be arrested for "participating in a riot." People trying to organize a protest could be arrested and charged under racketeering laws just for the planning, if the cops decide the planned protest could lead to such "rioting."
This bill, which became known as the "Plan a Protest, Lose Your House" bill, is so extreme that some sanity prevailed and the Arizona House will not take it up, killing it (at least for now), but the state Senate did pass it.
And other kinds of attacks on the right to assemble are being undertaken in at least 18 states.
Run that around in your head for a while. More next week - when it will still be an outrage.