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Shorter North Dakota Republicans: “Kill the Hippies and the Indians!”

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North Dakota Republicans have developed a quite rational response to the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests:

Republican lawmakers in North Dakota are taking aim at protesters with a handful of bills that would make another pipeline protest far more dangerous.

The oil-friendly legislature argues that its constituents are frustrated over the protests, which led federal authorities to halt construction of the $3.8-billion Dakota Access Pipeline as thousands of protesters braved cold weather and violence for months.

A bill that state GOP Rep. Keith Kempenich introduced would exempt drivers from liability if they accidentally hit a pedestrian, according to the Bismarck Tribune. House Bill 1203 was written up in direct response to groups of protesters blocking roadways, Kempenich told the paper. He claims protesters were seen jumping out in front of vehicles.

“It’s shifting the burden of proof from the motor vehicle driver to the pedestrian,” Kempenich said. “They’re intentionally putting themselves in danger.”

He admits that the law might be used in cases that don’t involve protests. But a few casualties of justice are apparently worth it; his bill would mitigate instances when panicked drivers might have accidentally “punched the accelerator rather than the brakes” as protesters blocked the roads.

That should go well. White people being able to kill Native Americans without the threat of punishment. Well, that’s a new event in American history!

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  • N__B

    North Dakota has a Stand Your Ground law. So if this bill becomes law, wouldn’t any pedestrian be justified – fearing for their life – in shooting any driver?

    • McAllen

      Only the white pedestrians.

    • Is the pedestrian white?

      • N__B

        Now I want to see stats for the country on the racial breakdown of drivers versus mass transit versus pedestrians versus bicyclists.

  • so-in-so

    Can we set up a convoy to circle the ND legislature’s parking lot?

    We can all agree to swear the representatives walked out in front of our cars without warning. Some maybe even did it several times…

  • CaptainBringdown

    Ah, the old “I didn’t punch Johnny; he moved his face in front of my fist” maneuver.

    • rcdrury

      This is a particularly appropriate analogy, as the protestors are quite intentionally moving themselves in front of moving cars.

  • Bonus fun: the cops there now have SAMs. Supposedly those are to protect them from evil Indian drones. Jebus.

    • John Revolta

      Arrows. Gotta shoot down them flaming arrows.

    • Morbo
      • Warren Terra

        You’ll note the disclaimer says they’re unarmed and there’s no authority to arm them … but not that there’s no ability to arm them.

        Though I can’t imagine even these would-be Rambos would be dumb enough to expend a massively expensive missile to take down a $300 drone, exploding shrapnel a couple hundred feet in the air above themselves and/or other people.

        • Ahuitzotl

          you’re way overestimating the cops – they are exactly that dumb

  • BigHank53

    Perhaps next summer, while Representative Kempenich is spending eight weeks recovering from his broken femur, he can contemplate his medical bankruptcy and shiny new opiate addiction. I predict some fascinating bills from him in the next session!

    Sarcasm aside, why do idiots like this never imagine they’d ever be on the wrong side of one their own laws?

    • so-in-so

      ‘Cause they’re white, and Conservative, and Christian…

    • Robespierre

      Because they are rich, powerful and the right colour.

  • DrDick

    Some things never change.

  • Judas Peckerwood

    Nothing sociopathic about that proposed legislation, nope.

    • rcdrury

      Nope! Hopefully, legislatures everywhere will follow suit.

  • keta

    Glenn Reynolds thinks this is nifty legislation.

    • spearmint66

      Surprised they didn’t name the bill after him. Also surprised they had the restraint to keep “accidentally” out of quotation marks.

    • Warren Terra

      Glenn Reynolds is only disappointed the legislation doesn’t legalize the attaching of anti-protester spikes or flamethrowers to your car.

      (I haven’t checked; it doesn’t, does it? Is it too late for an amendment?)

      • guthrie

        I believe cars with flamethrowers attached to discourage attempted carjackings were at least advertised, if not sold, in South Africa years ago.

        • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

          Wow, learned something new.

        • Warren Terra

          Yeah I was alluding to that in my comment.

          But, South African cars are right-side drive, so Glenn and his buddies can’t just bring them over for use here.

    • DrDick

      Glenn Reynolds thinks

      Assumes facts not in evidence.

    • rcdrury

      Glenn Reynolds is a pretty smart guy!

  • Warren Terra

    A bill that state GOP Rep. Keith Kempenich introduced would exempt drivers from liability if they accidentally hit a pedestrian, according to the Bismarck Tribune. House Bill 1203 was written up in direct response to groups of protesters blocking roadways, Kempenich told the paper. He claims protesters were seen jumping out in front of vehicles.

    Now, it’s easy to deride Kempenich, just beause he is either making up or repeating an obvious falsehood. And yet: the menace is real! Just exactly this form of protest is well documented to have occurred, perpetrated by a hysterical demonstrator on behalf of a special-interest group. The protester was killed and the driver was thrown from his vehicle but recovered; more than a hundred years later people are still debating whether the protester intended their demonstration to be as violent as it turned out.

    • Hogan

      That is some badass shit.

  • efgoldman

    So the first time a police officer goes out in the middle of the street, say, to let kids cross, and the driver keeps going….
    They just don’t understand the whole concept of “consequences”. do they?
    What could possibly go wrong?

    • muddy

      Bowling for crossing guards.

    • Dagmar

      You overestimate the analytical abilities of the ND legislature. And underestimate the racism.

      • rcdrury

        How is this racist?

        1) Roadway obstructors can be of any race; and
        2) the bill clearly states that the actions of the driver must be completely unintentional with no criminal intent. (Hint: Intentionally hitting someone with your car constitutes criminal intent, unless it is a necessary act of self-defense.)

  • Craigo

    Related, sort of:

    I’ve been told that a jurisdictional loophole has created a situation where whites (or blacks, or any non-member of a recognized tribe) can commit a felony short of murder with impunity on tribal land, as reservation police only have authority over their members, and the local and state agencies don’t have authority over the res. (Feds would still have jurisdiction, but good luck finding an AUSA in ND or NM who would give a damn.) How much of this is true?

    • alexceres

      Not true. There is federal law prohibiting American citizens from committing murder and other felonies abroad. The FBI can arrest you once you get back to US jurisdiction. This was discussed quite a bit when the Feds “neglected” to enforce it upon military contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq in the W days.

      Here’s the best reference I can find at the moment: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/94-166.pdf

      • Warren Terra

        Craigo’s comment isn’t in conflict with yours. Craigo is saying he’d heard some version of the following:
        1) Tribal law enforcement authorities on reservations have limited powers to prosecute or punish non-members of the tribe;
        2) It’s up to the Feds, meaning the local AUSA;
        3) The Feds don’t bother for much short of murder.

        You’re suggesting (3) would be aberrant (as in your example of the deliberate judicial blindness in Afghanistan and Iraq). But you don’t know, I don’t think. (I have a vague recollection similar to the substance of Craigo’s comment, but I have nothing useful to add to it).

        • Craigo

          That was my sense, yes. Thank you both, I haven’t had time recently to research this properly.

    • Juicy_Joel

      Fortunately the 2013 re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act allowed tribes to bring cases against non-natives for domestic violence crimes and violations of protection orders.

      (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2014/0207/Violence-Against-Women-Act-Tribes-have-new-authority-over-non-natives)

      • rm

        . . . something Republicans fought hard to block, and luckily were unsuccessful.

      • Craigo

        Good to hear.

  • KNX

    The text of the bill is, if anything, even crazier than the quoted article makes it sound:

    “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a driver of a motor vehicle who negligently causes injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway may not be held liable for any damages.”

    This is not “shifting the burden of proof”–the law explicitly states that even if the pedestrian proves the driver negligently causes the accident, the driver cannot be held liable (a corresponding provision in HB 1203 states that the driver in such a scenario “not guilty of an offense.”).

    The phrase “obstructing vehicular traffic” is not further defined, so the interpretation of that phrase would be critical, but as written the law would appear to exempt even a drunk driver who ran over a pedestrian not in a crosswalk, unless the driver intended to run over the pedestrian.

    • McAllen

      Also, how would they possibly prove intent to murder, especially given that Kempenich offers “I stepped on the gas instead of the brakes. Whoopsie!” as a legitimate excuse?

  • Dilan Esper

    This is a terrible law because ot basically encourages assault and perjury.

    That said, protesters who block access to things for purposes other than getting arrested in a show of civil disobedience have never really been my favorite people. As we have seen in abortion clinic cases, protesters don’t get to shut down a business just because they disagree with it. The First Amendment protects their right to be there and to be heard, and is sacred. But blocking cars is not a proper protest. If people are doing that they should be arrested (but not run over).

    • Sentient AI from the Future

      Oh, go fuck yourself.

      • Dilan Esper

        Do you want to explain your theory of how people have the right to block the streets?

        For extra credit, apply that analysis to abortion clinics.

        • Sentient AI from the Future

          Like I said, go fuck yourself.

        • Sentient AI from the Future

          And just to be clear, i say this as both a bicyclist and a clinic defense volunteer:

          Go fuck yourself.

          • Attezz

            This is harsh, Dilan supports the protests!

            Just up until the point that they may inconvenience him in the slightest way possible, then, they deserve to be vehicular manslaughtered.

        • Heron

          There was a facebook post going around awhile ago that explained in pretty succinctly but I can’t find it, unfortunately.

          Read This Washington Post Article
          for the history of blocking roads and the tactical purpose of it.

          The point of the post I can’t find was this: Living with oppression and discrimination is infuriating, frustrating, and makes you feel powerless. Blocking a road shares that feeling with people who don’t experience it. By blocking a road they are putting you, the commuter who ignores their situation, through a small example of what they go through emotionally everyday. You hate having your commute ruined? Consider what it must be like to live everyday worried that your child could be killed over literally nothing by a police officer. You’re worried that services will be disrupted? Consider what it’d be like to live in a neighborhood the police and ambulances and fire trucks won’t come to quickly, or at all. They’re putting you through something like what they go through, since you(the public) obviously aren’t listening to them when they complain about these things since they haven’t yet been fixed.

          As to the “right” to do this, it’s peaceable assembly to petition redress of grievances. It’s right there in the 1st Amendment.

          As to abortion clinics, those are private businesses not public property so the right to block access to them or gather on their premises is more restricted than the right to peaceably gather on a public thoroughfare. Also, those protesting are not personally harmed by what they’re protesting so there is no grievance to petition against, which makes the 1st Amendment grounds of their actions questionable. Also-Also, abortion protests can hardly be called peaceful considering the vileness they yell, the threats they make, and the frequency with which they physically assault staff and patients. This is quite different from holding hands across a road and that you don’t see the difference doesn’t say very flattering things about your discernment or ability to reason. Also-Also-Also the primary and professed motivation for most abortion clinic protestors is religious, and the state cannot favor any particular religious speech over any other, so the support and special protection they are afforded by many state and local governments places them in questionable religious establishment territory. Alsox4, another clearly stated purpose of anti-abortion protests is to put a particular business out of business, which constitutes harassment; in the same way it would be illegal for me, sans grievance like injury by the company, to harass and block customers and staff of an OfficeMax, it ought to be illegal to do the same to an abortion clinic. Comparing this to highway protests, those are more general and not targeted, specifically, at harming a particular business, so this harassment line doesn’t apply.

          Basically, they have entirely different motivations, an entirely different moral and legal context, and as such shouldn’t be extended the same protections that the BLM and Dakota Access protests should. They are different issues entirely.

          • DAS

            By blocking a road they are putting you, the commuter who ignores their situation, through a small example of what they go through emotionally everyday. You hate having your commute ruined?

            IME, most of the people who have their commute ruined by protests are those who are just as powerless and underprivileged as the protesters themselves. You block a road and people who drive from and to their well to do suburbs only need to slightly adjust their route home. However, the working stiffs stuck taking the bus whose route goes on the road you’re blocking are more than just minorly inconvenienced.

      • DrDick

        Martin Luther King seconds that sentiment.

    • DAS

      IMHO, it depends on whose access is being blocked. If your protest is blocking the access of people trying to destroy something you are trying to save or people trying to build something you don’t want built, blocking streets makes sense. If your protest inconveniences the powerful and privileged*, blocking the streets makes sense.

      OTOH, if your protest means some poor person living paycheck to paycheck, on whose behalf you are ostensibly protesting, can’t get to work and loses a day’s pay or can’t return home on time and hence has to deal with extra child care expenses that they cannot afford, you damn well either pay that person back or not block the road. Also, you better not interfere with ambulances or firetrucks dealing with emergencies.

      *of course there remains the question of who decides who is privileged, a decision often made by middle bourgeois academics like myself, who fail to see the immense privilege they themselves have in deciding “oh, you’re privileged, so we don’t have to listen to your narrative as we’ve already listened enough to the privileged”

      • Origami Isopod

        But quite a few protests block access for both demographics. I sympathize with poor people in difficult work situations who would suffer disproportionate fallout from a protest blocking a road (or interfering with rail service), but I’m not sure I’d want to take such protests away categorically, because that degree of disruption can be very effective.

    • Brett

      As Heron said, I think you can easily distinguish between protesting on a public road versus trying to cut off access to a private business – although that runs into complications when you start thinking about strikes, since a picket line is usually meant to obstruct access to a private business, right?

  • rm

    Does the bill provide for accidentally paying a bounty to a driver who accidentally scalps the dead pedestrian?

    • Steve LaBonne

      Shh, don’t give them any ideas.

  • Dagmar

    ND legislature: Pro-Life unless you are inconveniencing them when they are driving.

  • rm

    To be fair, it is already extremely hard to be held accountable for killing a cyclist with your automobile, anywhere in the country.

  • Dagmar

    Unofficial theme song for this blog post: Randy Newman “Rednecks”

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