Republican Sen. Trent Garner, an employee and acolyte of U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, continues with his reactionary ways.
He’s introduced legislation today to make “unlawful mass picketing” a Class A misdemeanor. And what is mass picketing?
A person commits the offense of unlawful mass picketing if the person knowingly:
(1) Engages in mass picketing that:
(A) Hinders or prevents by the mass picketing the pursuit of lawful work or employment; or
(B) Obstructs or interferes with:
(i) Entrance to or egress from a place of employment; or
(ii) Free and uninterrupted use of public roads, streets, highways, railways, airports, or other ways of travel or conveyance; or
(2) Engages in mass picketing at a private residence.
Garner’s legislation purports to protect constitutional rights. But your First Amendment apparently stops, among others, outside Garner’s house or, who knows, the Governor’s Mansion or White House. Also, the rights cease if so many people turn out for a march that, well, some disruptions are unavoidable.
This is not legislation to solve a problem. We have adequate laws regulating parades, incursions on private property and such. It is legislation to prevent unpleasantness for Trent Garner and to discourage exercise of First Amendment rights. Authoritarians like that sort of thing.
Note from Benji: It’s not just Arkansas. The NYT reports today on efforts by Republican legislatures across the country to penalize protesters.