From Justin Dove, Editor, The Crux:
Days before Americans celebrated their freedoms on July 4, freedom in Western civilization was dealt a massive blow.
On July 1, Spain’s horrifying new “gag” law went into effect – making peaceful protests and other forms of free speech illegal.
For now, Americans have little to worry about… But much like Greece’s bank holidays and “bail-ins,” Spain’s horrifying new law may be the model for what may happen to Americans in the not-so-distant future.
And, of course, it comes to us in the name of “public security.”
One of the most alarming aspects of Spain’s new law is that it effectively makes filming police misconduct illegal and subject to a fine of €30,000. Whistle-blowing is also now considered an act of “terrorism.” Essentially, anything that makes the government and law enforcement accountable is illegal. Of course, you won’t hear about this on the evening news…
Here’s what the New York Times buried in its opinion section back in April:
On April 10, a group called No Somos Delito or We Are Not a Crime, projected a hologram of protesting marchers filing in front of the Parliament building in Madrid. For the time being, virtual protests in the form of holograms are not illegal in Spain. Incredibly, however, almost every other kind of peaceful protest soon will be if a new law goes into effect as scheduled on July 1.
The law on public security — dubbed the “ley mordaza” or “gag law” — would define public protest by actual persons in front of Parliament and other government buildings as a “disturbance of public safety” punishable by a fine of 30,000 euros. People who join in spontaneous protests near utilities, transportation hubs, nuclear power plants or similar facilities would risk a jaw-dropping fine of €600,000. The “unauthorized use” of images of law enforcement authorities or police — presumably aimed at photojournalists or ordinary citizens with cameras taking pictures of cops or soldiers — would also draw a €30,000 fine, making it hard to document abuses.
The law was introduced in 2013 by the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose conservative party enjoys a majority in both houses of Parliament. The lower house approved the law in December, and, despite pleas from rights groups and the United Nations, the Senate approved it last month.
The law’s main purpose, it appears, is to help the ruling party maintain its hold on power by discouraging the anti-austerity protests that have snowballed into widespread support for the populist Podemos party. Podemos looks set to make major gains in elections this year.
Yesterday, Martin Armstrong broke down all the draconian aspects of the law on his blog, Armstrong Economics. It’s mind-boggling, really:
- If you photograph security personnel and then share these images on social media: up to €30,000 fine (particularly if photo exposes violence used against a member of the public). This fine could increase depending on the number of Instagram or social media followers you have.
- Tweet or retweet information or the “location of an organized protest” can now be interpreted as an act of terrorism as it incites others to “commit a crime” (now that “demonstrating” in many ways has become a crime). Sound “1984″-ish? Read about Orwell and his time in Spain.
- Snowden-like whistle blowing is now defined as an act of terrorism. If you write for a local publication, be careful what you print, whom you speak to, and whether the government is listening.
- Visiting or consulting terrorist websites – even for investigative purposes – can be interpreted as an act of terrorism. Make sure you use “Tor” browser, reject cookies, and don’t allow pop-ups. Not to mention, don’t post it on your Facebook timeline!
- Be careful with the royal jokes! Any satirical comment against the royal family is a new crime “against the Crown.” For example, “What did Leticia and the Bishop have to say after they ––” (SORRY CENSORED).
- No more hassling elected members of the government or local authorities – even if they say one thing in order to be elected, but then go and do the exact opposite. Confronting them about this hypocritical behavior. Even if you see them in the street chatting to a street cleaner, dining at their favorite expensive restaurant, or having their shoes shined by that physics graduate who cannot find a decent job in the country, hassling them about their behavior is now a criminal offence.
- Has your local river been so polluted by that plastic factory along the edge that all life has extinguished? Well, tough! Greenpeace or similar protests are now finable from €601-€30,000.
- Protests in a spontaneous way outside Parliament are now illegal. For example if Parliament passes a hugely unpopular bill, or are debating something extremely important to you or your community, it is now finable from €601 – €30.000. Tip: Use Google Maps to protest just around the corner – but don’t tweet the location!
- Obstructing an officer in the course of their business, “resisting arrest”, refusing to leave a demonstration when told, or getting in the way of a swinging baton are all now finable offences from €601 – €30.000.
- Showing lack of respect to officers of the law is an immediate fine of €100 – €600. Answering back, asking a disrespectful question, making a funny face, showing your bottom to an officer of the law, or telling him/her that their breath reminds you of your dog’s underparts is now, sadly, not advisable.
- Occupying, squatting, or refusing to leave an office, business, bank or other place until your complaint has been heard as a protest is now a €100 – €600 fine (no more flash mobs).
- Digital protests: Writing something that could technically “disturb the peace” is a now a crime. Bloggers beware, for no one has yet defined whose peace you could be disturbing.
All this, in a Western European country that we think of as “democratic” and “advanced.” As Armstrong quipped, “How does this differ in any what from the justification of imposing communism? This is the death of all freedom and it is upon our doorstep.”