Monday, June 19, 2017

Vox -- Lawmakers across the US are finding ways to turn protesting into a crime

A particularly good article regarding the disregard for the First Amendment to our Constitution points out that under President Trump more and more states are making unconstitutional laws to criminalize dissent.

Vox’s Ruthann Robson points out that . . .

“While there were many moments during the president’s first official trip abroad that were disconcerting to First Amendment advocates — including the failure to hold open press conferences — perhaps none was more chilling than the comments made by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross as he took note of the lack of protesters during the visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: ‘Not one guy with a bad placard,’ he said, approvingly, seemingly interpreting this as a sign of President Donald Trump’s popularity.

“When the CNBC interviewer Becky Quist pointed out that this perhaps was because Saudi Arabia officials ‘control people and don't allow them to come and express their feelings quite the same as we do here,’ Ross stuck to his view. ‘In theory, that could be true,’ he said, ‘but boy there was certainly no sign of it. There was not a single effort at any incursion. There wasn't anything. The mood was a genuinely good mood.’

“The ‘good mood’ for the American officials is achieved by repression of expression by Saudi people. As Human Rights Watch reports, the Saudi regime routinely sentences dissidents to long prison sentences for crimes resulting from publishing criticism of the government, giving interviews, and even writing political poetry. Such convictions continue, despite Ross’s claim in the same interview that Saudi Arabia is ‘liberalizing.’

“Saudi Arabia’s practices are consistent with its constitution, which specifically allows the prohibition of speech that fosters ‘sedition or division,’ as well as speech that harms ‘the state’s security and its public relations’ — or that ‘detracts from man’s dignity.’

“A spate of incidents, including the prosecution of a protester at the confirmation hearings of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and get-tough proposals and laws at state and local levels, are testing the nation’s commitment to the First Amendment.

“Today, some government officials seem to conjure emergencies that justify repressive anti-protest laws, but there is little evidence there is a crisis of unlawfulness. Unlike Saudi Arabia’s, our constitution is designed to preserve and protect dissent, protest, and disagreement — not the ‘good mood’ of those in power.”

Lawmakers across the US are finding ways to turn protesting into a crime

By Ruthann Robson