Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida signed into law on Monday a bill that for all intents and purposes is designed to quash peaceful protests. He calls it an “anti-riot” law, but it doesn’t go after rioters as much as it’s a full-frontal assault on the 1st Amendment right to peacefully assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances, a cornerstone of our democracy.
I won’t go into the provisions of the new law, the first in the nation of its kind. But the most abhorrent part of it is the granting of immunity to any motorist who happens to drive into a peaceful protest that he deems threatening. Think of it. The White Supremacist, James Alex Fields, who drove into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville in 2017 and killed Heather Heyer might have walked away a free man if such a law existed then.
Now turn the globe to Eastern Europe. To Russia, where protesters are marching across the country in support of Alexei Navalny, anti-Putin civil rights leader being held in custody and on the brink of death.
What is Putin’s response? He doesn’t have to go through the motions of passing an HR1 to disguise a crackdown on dissent. He calls out his thugs and rounds up thousands and puts them in jail.
It’s called a strongman tactic. And Governor Ron DeSantis is doing the same.
A rose is a rose by any other name. So is a crackdown.
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