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IPFS News Link • Police State

The Language of Force: How the Police State Muzzles Our Right to Speak Truth to Power

• By John & Nisha Whitehead

The freedom to speak without risking arrest is 'one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation.'"—Justice Neil Gorsuch, dissenting, Nieves v. Bartlett (2019)

Tyrants don't like people who speak truth to power.

Cue the rise of protest laws, which take the government's intolerance for free speech to a whole new level and send the resounding message that resistance is futile.

In fact, ever since the Capitol protests on Jan. 6, 2021, state legislatures have introduced a broad array of these laws aimed at criminalizing protest activities.

There have been at least 205 proposed laws in 45 states aimed at curtailing the right to peacefully assemble and protest by expanding the definition of rioting, heightening penalties for existing offenses, or creating new crimes associated with assembly.

Weaponized by police, prosecutors, courts and legislatures, these protest laws, along with free speech zones, bubble zones, trespass zones, anti-bullying legislation, zero tolerance policies, hate crime laws, and a host of other legalistic maladies have become a convenient means by which to punish individuals who refuse to be muzzled.

In Florida, for instance, legislators passed a "no-go" zone law making it punishable by up to 60 days in jail to remain within 25 feet of working police and other first responders after a warning.

Yet while the growing numbers of protest laws cropping up across the country are sold to the public as necessary to protect private property, public roads or national security, they are a wolf in sheep's clothing, a thinly disguised plot to discourage anyone from challenging government authority at the expense of our First Amendment rights.


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