As many readers know, this blog is named after Tim “Biggest Lie of My Life” Eyman, Washington state’s own professional initiative huckster and admitted liar. Today, that Horsesass submitted signatures for new initiative.
Initiative 517 is supposed to
[establish] protections for citizens exercising their First Amendment rights by participating in the initiative and referendum process
How does the initiative propose to protect First Amendment rights?
By preventing “non-participants” in the initiative and referendum process from exercising their first amendment rights.
Sure…there are a bunch of good things that would be prohibited by the initiative. It would change the RCW to make “pushing, shoving, touching, spitting, [and] throwing objects [at]” a signature gatherer or signer a disorderly conduct. Of course, these things are already assault, a rather more serious crime, so that’s pretty stupid.
Also in the laundry list of disorderly conduct includes: “yelling, screaming, being verbally abusive, blocking or intimidating, or other tumultuous conduct or maintaining an intimidating presence within twenty-five feet of any person gathering signatures or any person trying to sign any initiative or referendum petition.” Blocking, sure. And being “verbally abusive” is already in the RCW as disorderly conduct. But “other tumultuous conduct”? Or maintaining an intimidating presence within twenty-five feet. What the fuck?
In other words, if you come within 25 feet of a signature gatherer or signer, the law enacted by this initiative would pretty much prevent you from expressing anything negative about the initiative. No more arguing the merits. No more trying to persuade people to not signing a petition. Paid signature gathers could try to persuade people to sign the petition, and you can’t offer counterarguments, or protests, even if the petition is being misrepresented by the signature gatherer.
Because, you know, participating in a public debate about a public petition to our lawmakers, in public is a less important First Amendment right than a signature gatherer’s First Amendment right to ask, beg, plead, trick and coerce people into signing their petition(s).
In other words, “We will ENFORCE The People’s First Amendment rights by suppressing The People’s First Amendment rights! It’s Eyman’s paradox.
The initiative has two other marginally related sections (bringing up questions of multi-topic unconstitutionality, a recurring problem for Eyman initiatives). One section would give signature gathers six more months to collect signatures. This, obviously, reflects the fact that many of Eyman’s initiatives fail to qualify for the ballot because of an insufficient number of signatures.
The other marginally-related section tries to circumvent a court ruling that local governments can ignore petitions that can’t legitimately be put to a public vote under the RCW. Eyman simply cannot stand the fact that courts have told him to fuck off. So now he wants to change the law to force invalid initiatives onto the ballot.
Great use of public resources, huh?