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"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show
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"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming
December 07, 2011
Scott Walker, Sultan of Wisconsin
Scott Walker's administration just announced changes to the regulations governing demonstrations in Wisconsin:
Groups of four or more people must obtain permits for all activity and displays in state buildings and apply for those permits at least 72 hours in advance. The policy requires permits for 100 or more people outside the Capitol. The policy does provide some leeway for spontaneous gatherings triggered by unforeseen events.
Groups holding demonstrations could be charged for the costs of having extra police on hand for the event. Costs associated with a counterprotest could be charged to that second group. The costs would be $50 per hour per Capitol Police officer - costs for police officers from outside agencies would depend on the costs billed to the state. The police could require an advance payment as a requirement for getting a permit and also could require liability insurance or a bond.
When reading that I guessed that the State Department's annual Human Rights Report would criticize countries with similar policies, and thanks to Google, I quickly found out I was right:
Under the emergency powers, the [Brunei] government significantly restricted the right to assemble. According to the Societies Order, public gatherings of 10 or more persons require a government permit, and police have the authority to stop an unofficial assembly of five or more persons deemed likely to cause a disturbance of the peace.
Note that (1) Brunei is ruled by a literal Sultan and has been under martial law since 1962, and (2) its restrictions on freedom of assembly are in some respects LESS ONEROUS THAN WISCONSIN'S. Hopefully the State Department will soon release a Human Rights report examining the conditions in the sultanates of the upper midwest.
UPDATE: LorenzoStDuBios points out that I'm being too generous to Brunei, since their permitting requirement apparently restricts any kind of public gathering, whereas Wisconsin's new rule about four or more people gathering just applies to the inside of public buildings. I will change my proposed tourism slogan for the Badger State from "Wisconsin: More Oppressive Than Brunei" to "Wisconsin: Pending Further Changes, Still Somewhat Less Oppressive Than an Islamic Sultanate!"
—Jonathan SchwarzPosted at December 7, 2011 09:48 AM