Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

The citizen initiative depends on a few habits and institutions.

Free speech and free association, for instance. It does no good trying to gather signatures to put an issue to a public vote if one is badgered and beat down every time one tries.

Fair play is another. If the government doesn’t allow time to petition, or takes any excuse to invalidate a petition, then the democratic part of the citizen initiative goes out the window.

In recent years we’ve seen a growing sense of hardball against the initiative process. Harassment has become all too common. Many states have begun to “crack down” on gathered petitions, finding the niggliest neutrinos of law to invalidate petitions for initiatives they don’t like.

And now, in Utah, politicians combine post-signature unfairness with the harassing of signatories. State law already allows citizens to withdraw their signatures from a petition. But new legislation would exempt those seeking to remove signatures from the rules petitioners have to follow. The bill would also allow the political parties to call up signatories for a month after the petition is filed and harangue them with reasons why the iniative is a bad.

You guessed it, Utah has initiatives in the offing that politicians would like to off. One is an ethics measure that legislators especially despise. So they seek to twist the rules to scuttle the chance for an open, public vote.

Despicable, but all too common.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. voxoreason says:

    Are these initiatives reported in the news, say on local TV?

    Local TV news is a biggie “income stream.” Note the trouble that Leno’s move to 10 PM caused for local TV news, which had previously had one-hour dramas as the lead-in to the 11 PM news: they lost viewers (nation-wide, from 10 million viewers to 5 million viewers). Note what time Leno appeared *this* Monday. Now guess the reason.

    Just a thought but: mightn’t it be possible that if people watched the news, while writing down the names of advertisers, they could use this information to contact the TV station (with a list of their advertisers) AND the advertisers to advise them that they wouldn’t be watching the station’s news shows or doing biz with advertisers (auto dealers would seem to be affected by this, having enough problems as it is!) because the news wasn’t being reported. The Post Office could use the business these days and might need to raise the price of stamps!

    Wouldn’t that be a good reason NOT to watch local TV news? Can some judge or legislator force people to watch the local news or do biz with advertisers? What would auto dealers think?

    You could have your own personal Tea Party at home.

  2. Jake_Witmer says:

    That’s nothing compared to the crap I just put up with in Oregon, under their new anti-petitioning laws. I had to get a permit to speak in public, and the Secretary of state sent me a congratulation letter informing me that I had proudly given up my first amendment rights to free association. Among the things I was forbidden from doing? Circulating my own unpaid petition while working on a paid petition. (I guess they figured out that I might very well ask the citizens of Oregon to reinstate the first amendment to the US Constitution within their home state…)

    Call me up, Paul (or John Stossel, et al.) I’ll tell you all about it.


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