What if?

by fmhilton

You read this article in the paper or on the Internet-what would you do?

United States to ban street protests

The United States government has announced it will enact new rules for public demonstrations, including a ban on street protests and other restrictions that opposition groups say are too repressive.

Despite being under pressure to improve civil liberties ahead of national elections expected next year, the Republican Party introduced legislation known as the Peaceful Assembly Bill that proposes a range of curbs on the public.

The legislation, which Congress is likely to approve as early as next month, effectively rejects many of the reforms demanded by opposition and human rights groups, which accused President Rick Perry of reneging on his promise to make the United States a more liberal and freer society.

The bill “is a total reversal of Perry’s promise of providing more freedoms to the people”, said Nancy Pelosi of the Democratic Party.

The planned law proposed by the Republican Party makes one concession – it removes a requirement for demonstrators to get a police permit, which in many cases is denied to opposition parties.

Demonstrators will nevertheless be required to give a 30-day notice to the police, who can impose various restrictions or even reject the proposed time and place for the demonstration.

They also cannot take to the streets, effectively forcing them to be confined to stadiums or public halls. They also cannot make statements that can “promote feelings of ill will”, according to the text of the bill.

Children under 15 would be barred from rallies, which cannot be staged near schools, hospitals or places of worship. Protesters could be fined up to $6,302 if they break the rules.

The President’s office said in a statement that the legislation “makes it easier for Americans to express their views without putting public order at risk” and represented the latest stage of Perry’s “progressive package of social and political reforms”.

American authorities faced strong criticism in July for cracking down on at least 20,000 protesters who marched in Washington to seek more electoral transparency. Police briefly arrested about 1,600 people and used tear gas and chemical-laced water in efforts to disperse the crowd.

The Republican Party has insisted that protests threaten public order. Opposition politicians say such warnings form an excuse for the government to stifle dissent and maintain its grip on power.

The Republican Party is expected to easily pass the bill because it has slightly less than a two-thirds majority in Congress.

In recent months, Perry has pledged to overhaul decades-old laws widely considered repressive, including ones that allow detention without trial.

The Democrats insists any reforms so far have been a superficial ploy to bolster the Republican Party’s support ahead of general elections expected by mid-2016.

You will notice that it isn’t quite reality, yet. Rick Perry is not the President of the United States. Our elections are a year away.

This is not a real event now for us.

But it is happening in another country right now, and it is being done-in Malaysia:

Malaysia to ban street protests

It can’t happen here, can it?

I’m not so sure.