You Guys, SB1142 Is Only Going to Encourage the Thing It Seeks to Prevent

It is absolutely absurd that people who make laws to theoretically prevent specific activities write laws without any prior knowledge of the things that they seek to stop. SB1142 is the perfect example of total bonehead, knee-jerk reaction without any interest in understanding the motivations, tactics or organization of protests in general.

State Senator Sonny Borelli’s bill functions exclusively as a means to frantically hold someone accountable in the event that an organized protest action has the unintended consequences of property damage, etc. But the language surrounding the definition of “riot” is ambiguously expansive in a manner that clearly intends to just cast as wide of a net possible for the State to intervene in any organized gathering of people under basically any perceived infraction and then take their stuff with impunity.

Ambiguity! Yay!

So, a really plausible hypothetical is this: a teenager attending an organized protest that then yells “let’s flip a cop car” out of pure naivety could theoretically cause the protest to immediately be broken up, followed by the seizure of property of those who organized the demonstration.

There are two main reasons that have been cited as the reasoning for this bill. The first is the completely unsubstantiated assertion that there are somehow droves of individuals being paid by secret cabals under the sway of George Soros and other billionaires to organize people wearing pink hats and waiving signs that say “THIS IS BAD”, which is a categorically absurd thing to believe. As an occasional protest attendee, I have never once been paid for my services in marching around in a circle and yelling.

It’s probable that representatives and officials are so disconnected from reality that they sit in bed at night, feverishly sweating through their sheets grappling for any possible reason that a group of voters could be upset with them. Much like a person going through the stages of grief, they seem to have been caught in the “denial” phase and then just continued right on to “full-fledged delusion”. These people aren’t real, they chant to themselves in a feeble attempt to coax themselves into slumber, no one could actually have a problem with any facet of my lawmaking. And then, it strikes them: Ah yes, they’re not actually real, they’re only motivated by money!

There’s something Freudian to the idea that the people who are often accused of only being motivated by money cannot fathom the idea that anyone is capable of being motivated by anything else. I have a lot of questions, though, for the Representatives John Kavanaugh and Senators Sonny Borelli of the world:

  1. Who is paying for these people to congregate? There are so many people, so often, showing up outside of offices, capitols, town hall meetings, etc. that the sums of money being thrown at these people must come from a veritable Charybdis of wealth. Even the wealth of the Liberal King Midas himself, George Soros, is finite. Who could possibly be funding these unrelenting, international, multi-million person protests?
  2. Say that this were somehow the case, do you really think that some liberal illuminati thinks so little of you that they would overtly organize and pay for all of these actions and leave behind all of this supposed “evidence” that anyone has yet to produce, in hopes that you would never notice? If these actions were so great and expensive for a single secret group to orchestrate, wouldn’t they assume that you would reject these activities as immediately false so that you could easily ignore them? If protests, demonstrations, letters, calls and actions are all somehow fake but backed by a secret force and you now “know” that and therefore choose to not respond or you choose to take action and create legislation to silence them, why do they persist? Wouldn’t that be against the Dark Shadow’s best interest?
  3. Can you show me the place where it says that if someone gets paid to do the work of organizing a volunteer demonstration, the demonstration itself is immediately invalid? I’ve read a lot about collective organizing and peaceful protest and I’ve never read anything that suggests that, but perhaps I am not as well read as you may be. Please enlighten me.
  4. Do you know how protests even work?

Now the last question, I may not actually need an answer to because it’s incredibly apparent that the answer is “no”, simply by the existence of this legislation alone. That’s not to say that it isn’t silly for a plethora of other reasons. In a State that has been fraught with issues surrounding civil asset forfeiture, it is completely bizarre that they would choose now of all times to expand racketeering laws. But, the second oft cited argument for the creation of this ridiculous piece of legislation is something that didn’t even happen here: the Black Bloc protests at the inauguration and Berkley.

Both of these events were in no way connected to the Women’s March, nor any of the countless other protests that have taken place since the inauguration. They were constructed and organized by a specific group of anti-fascists responding to the circumstance of what they understood to be a pro-fascist threat. I understand that there was a certain amount of horrified pearl-clutching by well-to-do Americans nationwide as they watched a limousine go up in flames in Washington D.C. (a little on the nose, TBH) and again when a lamp post was knocked over and lit on fire in California. The horror of property damage is too much for some to bear, I know, but even within these isolated events it is important to note that the militant acting body of protestors didn’t extensively harm anyone. This is quite unlike at a peaceful protest against the same douche-provocateur in Seattle in which a protestor was actually non-fatally shot by a supporter of the pedophilia apologist.

Now, say that one was somehow shaken to the core by the actions of Black Bloc and sought to actually intervene and penalize people who participated in it. Well, about four seconds on Google would tell any Arizona Senate staffer that this is not the best way to actually do that and will more likely lend itself to the development of a group concerned with performing protest outside of what the law allows.

Unlike the incredible non-profit groups* that coordinate non-violent demonstration and that have heretofore organized substantial and effective actions, the Black Bloc isn’t a cohesive organization so much as it is a tactic. By preemptively punishing established groups that effectively communicate and interact with the government and the public via legal means, this legislation does nothing but discourage the groups that have been largely transparent in their operations. There’s always a punitive threat when organizing any demonstration, but the establishment and registration of these actions need to be coordinated by a specific body in order to guarantee that police involvement is limited.

Now, for people who get super sweaty and bothered when a group of people get together with signs and megaphones in a preordained place for some limited period of time, SB1142 might seem like a really great idea. Suddenly, all of the above listed organizations will have the added threat of having all of their stuff taken away by the police if there is any instance of something that could be ostensibly interpreted as “property damage”. Something, somewhere, at some point will go wrong and a group will have to shut their doors — or rather, have their doors seized. So the protests slow down, they require more time for organization, they require greater staffing to monitor every single participant under threat of total dissolution. People don’t have access to assembly to voice concerns to representatives. The structures are more rigid, but the desire for protest is still there. What happens next?

It’s obvious if you’ve ever even considered the history of civil rights or collective action: they find different, less legal means. And that’s what Black Bloc seeks to achieve. It’s a horizontally integrated form of assembly, meaning that there is no centralized group of individuals directing the action, only the idea and the training involved. There is no group of people that head an organization, they are not registered with anyone. They rely on anonymity of each masked individual to create an body of people that then performs an action. Everyone has a role that was given by the conglomerate and not by an individual. What seems like chaos is actually a well-trained, inter-connected fully coordinated hive mind that does a thing for a particular purpose. Most of all, there are no desks, computers or property that you can seize in an effective way to stifle Black Bloc.

Black Bloc is an amorphous concept that has evolved over time, but it began in not dissimilar conditions to those that we face now. In the 1970’s in Germany and the Netherlands, police cracked down on anti-nuclear groups in an effort to completely silence the voice of protest. It was oppressive and violent on the side of the police and was the immediate catalyst for thousands of people dressed in black with their faces covered to destroy an entire shopping mall in Berlin in 1980. A code for rioting was developed in order to maintain the legitimacy of their actions while simultaneously seeking to provide justification for it. Since then, there have been a number of updated instruction manuals for people to form and execute what is called the Black Bloc.

I’m not saying that the Arizona State Legislature is going to inevitably lead to Black Bloc showing up daily, or even that there will be a Black Bloc here, but there will likely be a group of well-coordinated, like minded people using similar tactics to similar ends. In the mouth-foaming frantic paranoia of watching something on television, our representatives are probably taking the steps to not dissuade that sort of action to take place here, but rather to encourage it. It seriously took me four minutes on Google to look into the history of this sort of thing, maybe before belligerently coming for the Freedom of Assembly, someone actually crafting laws should actually use the Google Machine as well.

God, this bill is so hecking stupid.

*I linked to these, you should donate.