A tall tree and short piece of rope are hard items to legislate, especially if subject to judicial review. However, thanks to Republican control of the Montana legislature, if environmental extremists want to terrorize the Big Sky State, it’s about to “go Western.”
That’s how Montanans say “it’s about to get real.”
All across the nation, innocent businesses, workers, and communities have had to be subject to the violence and vandalism of radicals who oppose petroleum production or the transportation of oil via pipelines. In places like South Dakota, such protestors have trashed the local environment, done millions of dollars in property damage, stopped civilians from traveling down roads and interstates, and assaulted the police. But Montana will now be an unsafe place for unsafe people who want to break the law in their protests.
Thankfully, last week the Montana legislature passed the best law in the United States aimed at curbing unlawful assemblies and violence done in the name of “anti-pipeline protests.” The bill, if signed by Governor Gianforte, will impose up to $150,000 in fines and 30 years in prison on individuals convicted of protest-related vandalism and $1.5 million in costs on any conspiring organization.
Contrary to news reports in left-leaning publications, the bill does not outlaw protests or any speech. It imposes fines upon that which is already a criminal activity, chiefly causing violence or the destruction of private or public property. Thanks to Critical Theory and political correctness run amok, some protests, like at South Dakota’s Standing Rock, have left the area in shambles and with deep environmental damages.
Montana is not alone in trying to protect states from vandals and violent protestors. Up to thirty states have some form of laws designed to clarify that destroying property, impeding traffic, or attacking the police does not qualify as a legal protest.
However, what is unique about the Montana law is that it imposes a conspiracy charge to groups that help to organize or provide logistical help to such protests. In other states, large dark-money organizations have organized from left-coast or beltway headquarters, encouraging the poor and ignorant to violate the law, promising to pay their bail. Under the new Montana law, they would also be held liable for damages.