A Centerville, Virginia, man made news when he agreed to his wife’s demand that he stand at a busy intersection wearing a sign emblazoned “I Cheated: This is My Punishment.” His merciful wife ended the punishment after just a couple hours.
In recent years, a few judges have sporadically sought to shame criminals in similar fashion. Back in 2007, several people convicted of shoplifting opted to avoid a longer jail sentence by donning a sign outside the store they had ripped off, which read, “I Am a Thief, I Stole from Wal-Mart.” But Wal-Mart soon opted out of such spectacle.
Now, the California State Senate has passed new legislation to force folks to wear similar signs. But not for committing any crime.
Unless petitioning one’s government is now criminal.
State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier’s Senate Bill 448 seeks to harass and belittle the citizens who circulate petitions by making each wear a sign “on his or her chest” that reads “PAID SIGNATURE GATHERER” or “VOLUNTEER SIGNATURE GATHERER.” The sign would also inform the public which county the petitioner is registered to vote in, or must say, “NOT REGISTERED TO VOTE.” The lettering must be in at least 30-point type.
Sen. DeSaulnier calls this “transparency.” But transparency isn’t necessary for all petitioning, apparently: SB 448 doesn’t require those collecting signatures to put a state legislator on the ballot to wear such a sign.
It applies only to those who dare use the citizen initiative.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.