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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

GOP’s War on Free Speech Intensifies

Dems have been faulted by conservative journalists for excessive political hyperbole in using the term “war on” in connection with GOP campaigns against unions, young voters, people of color, undocumented workers and women. Call it what you will, there shouldn’t be much doubt that Republicans are dedicated to undermining the political and citizenship rights of these groups.
Not content to wage a war on voting against pro-Democratic groups, it now appears that Republicans have declared a war on free speech as well. We had a staff post yesterday on the draconian anti-picketing bill now making it’s way through the Republican-controlled legislature in Georgia. Today DemocraticDiva Donna Gatehouse has an equally-disturbing blog, “AZ Legislature Attacks Civil Liberties” up at AFL-CIO Now. As Gatehouse explains:

…Women’s and reproductive rights groups will undoubtedly be at the state capitol to speak out against numerous shocking and intrusive anti-abortion and anti-contraception measures before the legislature this session. The GOP majority is apparently so frightened by this prospect it’s trying to make it a Class 1 misdemeanor to engage in “passive resistance.” Common nonviolent protest tactics such as going limp when the police try to remove you from an area or chaining yourself to something could get you up to a six-month month jail sentence.
The deadline to introduce new bills has passed but Arizona has a maneuver, called a “striker,” that permits legislators to introduce bills beyond it. They strike out all the language in a previous bill and replace it with a new, and often totally unrelated, bill. It’s supposed to be reserved for real emergencies but it’s used for all kinds of bills, and usually to railroad them through the process with little time for public comment or debate. In this case, the “emergency” is lawmakers facing the unbearable thought of citizens calling attention to their outrageous and undemocratic agenda in the public square.
Phoenix blogger Steve Muratore reports that the “no passive resistance” bill is the idea of Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Scottsdale), who has a long background in law enforcement.
…Apparently, he testified that law enforcement officers are at risk of harm from Occupy protesters who passively resist…What harm? A hernia? Not if they lift with their knees as they’re supposed to.

Given the chance, today’s GOP would make criminals out of American heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis, who tapped the power of nonviolent protest to strengthen America’s rights of free expression, freedom of assembly and free speech. During Dr. King’s lifetime, there were some Republican leaders of patriotic integrity who stepped up and took a stand in support of the first Amendment rights of protest and free speech. It appears that none who can meet that standard remain in today’s GOP.

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