Hey, Solidarity Singers: Form a multibillion-dollar transnational corporation if you want free speech

So let me get this straight. In Scott Walker’s and SCOTUS’ America, corporations are people, unlimited campaign cash is speech, singing grandmas are scofflaws, and politicians who balance their budgets on the backs of kindergarten teachers but recoil like drugged lab monkeys at the grisly opening strains of “Blowin’ in the Wind” are praised for their toughness and resolve.

For the third day in a row on Friday, the duly appointed gendarmes of the Capitol arrested a gaggle of terrorists-in-training for singing without a license. While they’re at it, they might as well pop on over to the governor’s office and arrest Walker for governing without a brain.

This is tone deaf beyond belief, and I really have to question (even more than usual) Walker’s judgment. Unless his real intent is to firm up support among his nutty conservative base in advance of a presidential run by showing that he’s not afraid to crack some hippie octogenarian skull (metaphorically, of course), it’s hard to make sense of this one. (For a more personal take on this, read Rebecca Kemble’s excellent column in The Progressive recounting how her 80- and 85-year-old parents — one presumably a Crip and the other a Blood, but able to sing in joyous harmony nonetheless — were caught up in the first day’s dragnet.)

Yes, on Wednesday, the governor’s war on rhyme began as the Capitol Police arrested 22 wayward warblers. On Thursday, they nabbed another 27 and on Friday more than a dozen. Before you know it, they’ll have a lifetime supply of Journey lead singers in custody, but they’ll be no closer to making a coherent point.

Now, it’s undeniably true that there are recognized limits on free speech. You can’t slander people, you can’t scream obscenities at young children, you can’t yell “Scott Walker” at a crowded WEAC convention, etc. And the singers are singing without a permit, after all. But they’ve been at it for two years, and the wheels of government just kept churning along.

The reason it’s suddenly a problem? The only one I can think of is that Scott Walker has thin skin and his former personal bodyguard David Erwin, who now serves as chief of the Capitol Police, is doing his bidding.

A recent court order gives the state authority to require a permit for groups of 20 or more assembling in the Capitol. But as the ACLU’s Larry Dupuis told The Wisconsin State Journal, the state is in no way required to crack down on those groups. The Capitol Police could simply abide the raucous folk tunes and go about their business as they have for the last 700 days or so, and no elderly rabble-rousers would need to get caught up in the system. “It’s their choice to do that,” said Dupuis.

And what a choice it is.

But the Solidarity Singers do have options. They can form a multibillion-dollar transnational corporation and use a portion of their hefty profits to buy elections on behalf of candidates who are likely to bend to their will. You know, like a normal American.



All they need to do is funnel their unlimited cash (aka speech) through a Super PAC (maybe call it the Scott Walker Swan Song PAC), find a candidate to support and/or bribe, get him or her elected, and force the Capitol Police to call off the dogs. While they’re at it, they could pollute a watershed or two just for fun.

But until that day, the singers can be legally muzzled. That’s democracy in these United States in the Year of Our Lord 2013. And we should all be very proud of it, now shouldn’t we?

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine – your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.