We often think of laws as being etched in stone — like the Ten Commandments.
But there is a bill in the Nevada Legislature that is written on an Etch-a-Sketch. It is self-erasing.
Assembly Bill 356 opens by declaring:
“Sec. 2. A person shall not damage, injure, harm, threaten or maliciously disrupt the lawful activities of any business or any employee or representative of that business with the intent to coerce or intimidate that business.
“Sec. 3. A person shall not intentionally or recklessly destroy, mark or damage the property or merchandise owned by or in the control of any business.”
Damaging, injuring, harming and marking are already against the law, so what’s the point in piling on another law?
Then the bill wipes out the coerce and intimidate aspects altogether by stating:
“Sec. 4. The provisions of sections 2 and 3 of this act are not intended to infringe upon or impede any lawful exercise of rights provided by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, including, without limitation, lawful picketing …”
Lawful picketing is coercion and intimidation … and free speech. AB356 is a self-erasing law. It says thoy shalt not in one breath and thou mayest in the next.
We understand that Assembly member Michele Fiore is trying to find some way to curb the unsavory practices of union picketers, especially on the Strip where tourists are often the targets of vile language, but blocking traffic and doing physical harm are already illegal, though perhaps not aggressively enforced, and threatening violence is assault, also a crime. But vile language is protected speech.
If laws can’t prevent burning American flags or block protestors at the funerals of soldiers, they can’t stop union picketers from calling tourists scabs.
This bill is an expression of frustration and an exercise in futility.