Solidarity Singalong: The Newspapers Are Bored

The Wisconsin State Journal is bored with your free speech, and thinks it is silly, and can no longer support any freedom of expression because OMG OLDSAUCE:

Last week’s repeated arrests of singing protesters — by Friday, the total number of arrests was above 50 and climbing — bordered on the silly and was only a note or two away from embarrassing.

The ever-faithful eclectic group that began gathering at the Capitol each noon hour to sing various songs of protest against Gov. Scott Walker and the majority Republicans has driven a nice idea into the ground.

Now, the effort seems mostly self-indulgent, not to mention bothersome for non-protesters who like to spend time in the Capitol, too.

It’s so hard when the actual business of citizenship gets in the way of citizenship tourism, isn’t it? This from the newpaper that opined that some of the original Wisconsin Union protesters had “jumped the shark” and we were all over it because that’s a real thing on par with laws being passed and people’s lives being affected.

Note that the newspaper does not think the administration should stop arresting people, in order to stop the arrests. Jesus catfucking Christ. The arrests were embarrassing (to whom?) and so the people who are being arrested should just stop doing what they’re being arrested about, regardless of whether it’s legal, justifiable, or supportable in that “this is dumb but they’ll come for me next.” No, this goddamn NEWSPAPER thinks the hippies should just go away, and fuck the principles involved, because tiresomeness to an editorial board trumps free speech.

In more recent times, the Walker administration tried to tamp down on the singalong protest by passing new rules requiring permits for gatherings in the Capitol of more than four people.

As part of an ongoing lawsuit challenging the permit rules, a U.S. District Court judge recently called out the four-person limit for the hooey that it was, and instead issued a temporary order that requires a permit for any group of 20 that wishes to gather in the Capitol.

That seems reasonable and fair, but apparently it is unreasonable and unfair to the singers, who refuse to sign up for the free permit that would put them in good standing with Capitol police during the singalongs.

Instead, the singers seem to view themselves as free-speech martyrs, willing to face $200 fines rather than the indignity of getting a permit from the dreaded Walker administration.

Yeah! I mean, just follow the rules, guys. The rules are all. The rules mean everything. The rules are not to be questioned. The rules are not to be protested. Everybody just needs to sit down once the rules are read. No good ever comes from standing up to the rules.I’ll let Blue Cheddar handle this one:

I’ll start with a letter penned by Steve Burns of Madison, Wisconsin who co-founded the solidarity singalong in March of 2011. He recently sent this letter to the Wisconsin State Journal in response to their editorial which said everybody could simply “Get a permit”:

If the government wants to regulate your behavior, they should have to give you a reason. And if they want to regulate political speech in a public space, they should have a pretty good reason. Like the need to protect public safety – the “yelling fire in a crowded theater” example we’ve all heard about.

But the Walker administration, as it cracks down in the Solidarity Sing Along, has never provided any explanation for why arrests – and the permit scheme behind the arrests – is actually necessary to protect public safety.

And that’s because they can’t. For more than two years, people have gathered in the Capitol rotunda, peacefully singing out their grievances about Walker’s policies, and voluntarily moving outside when any other group has requested use of the rotunda. Not a single incident of violence has ever been attributed to participants of the Sing Along, and the informal arrangement that had developed, with the rotunda open for unscheduled use if no other group has reserved it, had been working well until the police crackdown.

Whenever the government claims they need to regulate your behavior, and their only justification is “We make the rules,” it’s time to protest – and maybe even time to get arrested.

Another answer I’ve heard is that the people who get permits to use the capitol are subject to charges for damages inside the building and nobody trusts the Walker administration to deal with that fairly. After the occupation of the capitol building, an assessment of $7.5 million dollars in damages to the capitol was given to the press. It would turn out to be a grossly inflated amount and based on almost nothing – a note scrawled on notebook paper, in fact. But it got spread widely to the press and was never really corrected following.

Another answer is simply Article 1, Section 4 of the Wisconsin constitution:
“The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

I guess that should be amended to add “unless, in the opinion of this newspaper, the speech is silly and the singers smell.”

Contribute to the singers’ defense fund here.