Raise revenue and penalize protest, all in one Spanish policy

by on November 29, 2013 at 2:48 pm in Current Affairs, History, Law | Permalink

Spain’s conservative government agreed on Friday to toughen penalties for unauthorized street protests up to a possible 600,000 euro ($816,000) fine, a crackdown that belies the peaceful record of the anti-austerity protests of recent years.

Leftists and civil rights activists have labeled the bill the “Kick in the teeth law” because it penalizes a battery of protest measures in what they say is a disregard for democracy in a country that only emerged from right-wing dictatorship in the late 1970s.

But Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose People’s Party (PP) has an absolute majority in parliament, has said the Citizens’ Security Law guarantees freedom and will have the support of a majority of Spaniards.

“Offensive” slogans against Spain will be eligible for fines up to 30,000 euros.  There is more here, via Pol Antras.

Ray Lopez November 29, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Same thing or worse will happen in Washington, DC if you protest without a permit. Same as in Moscow, Russia, or Singapore. Governments all over the world are the same, whether elected or not, it’s often just a matter of degrees. The theory is the citizens can vote out the government four years later if they disagree strongly enough.

mike November 29, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Actually as someone intimately familiar with those particular laws you are incorrect. We actually have pretty incredible speech protections in the USA thanks to a quirk of path dependence and the lunatic shitlib courts of the 2nd half of the 20th century. Basically, because it was dumbass hippie bullshit and shitlib lunacy that the government was trying to crack down on, and the court was stuffied with shitlibs and hippies, they decided that speech was the most sacred value (other than abortion) in the Constitution. Same with DC protest law, since 99% of protests are shitlib stuck-in-68ers just like the local government the law is extremely lenient even for blatant violations.

uffs November 29, 2013 at 11:19 pm

What did I just “read”?

Ray Lopez November 30, 2013 at 1:00 am

Lies by mike. You will get arrested in DC for attending an illegal rally. You will not go to jail nor pay a big fine, but the arrest record is enough to deter people who wish to become white collar professionals. I know from experience related to by friends (I myself don’t protest, I just fund causes I believe in). As a consequence, US protests are attended to by “professional” or “diehard” types like the Occupy Wall Street crowd, not by ‘normal’ people.

mike November 30, 2013 at 1:12 am

Lies by Ray… no, some truths by Ray, but false accusations of “lies”. Yes, absolutely as you say “US [DC] protests are attended to by “professional” or “diehard” types like the Occupy Wall Street crowd”. But I never made any claims about the employability of someone with a protesting arrest or even a conviction their record. From what I’ve seen, most of these people are “professional” or “diehard” protestors as you say and aren’t at all worried about their employment prospects (they are almost entirely lunatic shitlib hippie women with no aspiration to white collar professional jobs). But they aren’t being stuck with hundred thousand dollar fines, either. The worst they get is some community service, basically being forced to put in time at a DV cuntshelter or a soup kitchen or something for a few hours rather than standing around with a sign like they want to do. These Spanish fine levels might not amount to much more in practice, but they’re certainly much more of a threat.

Therapsid November 30, 2013 at 1:38 am

Mike – you’re wrong.

The ACLU has represented the Klu Klux Klan *repeatedly* over the course of decades.

Ray Lopez November 30, 2013 at 1:39 am

@mike’s 1:12 am comment: LOL! I get the last word. You live on this board, posting 2 minutes after I did, and you proved my point–that normal people don’t protest in the US anymore than they do in Spain, due to the laws in place. Exactly as I said. You fine point about fines being harsher in Spain than the USA may or may not be true but it’s beside the point, which is the chilling effect on free speech such laws have. And I’m not talking about having a KKK rally scheduled for a black neighborhood to be blocked. Anyway on your point, as Andreas Moser says, the Spanish law will eventually be overturned no doubt.

Alan Coffey November 30, 2013 at 8:01 am

The head of my religious denomination just got arrested protesting in DC and was lauded for it. I guess that says something…

dan1111 November 30, 2013 at 3:15 am

Ray, requiring permits for a protest is not the same thing. An event that clogs public areas with people is a disruption to everyone else and needs to be regulated for that reason. Because Washington D.C. is the center of U.S. politics, lack of regulation of public gatherings could easily bring the city to a standstill. This regulation exists to protect the rights of others to use public spaces, not to restrict speech. There are very strong legal protections that prevent this regulation from being applied to silence certain types of speech.

What Spain is doing is different in kind: they are proposing restrictions based on the type of speech (slogans offensive to Spain) and the group doing the protesting (restrictions on labor protests). There is no analogue for that in the U.S.

Rahul November 30, 2013 at 8:34 am

I get your point. As an aside though, often a protest is fundamentally meant to be disruptive. It derives a lot of its power from said disruption. Look at strikes, courting arrest, picket lines, marches, etc. Historically, the whole idea of a protest has often been disruption. Not violence, but disruption yes.

The permit system does handicap that a bit. I’m not saying US permits are selective but in the long run permits may just lead to all kinds of protests losing their bite.

Ray Lopez December 1, 2013 at 1:08 pm

@dan1111 – Oh please, only a lawyer would appreciate your small points. You can easily rewrite the Spanish law so the law appears to be content neutral, but in fact achieves the same thing. Just say that any protest of more than 100 people will be banned because it might disrupt traffic, unless held on a weekend after normal shopping or restaurant hours (i.e., after midnight). If the protest is deemed to incite riot, such as the burning of the flag (illegal in the USA btw?), then it will be banned. So effectively you’ve banned any anti-government protest, since it might endanger either the flow of traffic or ‘public safety’. As for the Fourth of July crowds or New Year’s Eve as in the USA? Well since it’s not political or pro-government, of course these events will be allowed. Again, the wording will be cleverly drafted by constitutional lawyers working for the city to avoid challenge. Lawyers after all are gatekeepers for the status quo. (Personally BTW I don’t protest–I just fund people behind the scenes, like a mini-Koch bro).

Andreas Moser November 29, 2013 at 4:08 pm

That’s exactly the kind of law of which everyone knows that it will eventually be scrapped by the European Court of Human Rights, resulting in Spain having to pay out far more in compensation that they ever earned in fines.

Ray Lopez November 29, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Pfft! The EU Court of Human Rights, please. The last resort for desperate asylum seekers. Every African I met in Athens was a political dissident seeking asylum. All 100k of them.

Ray Lopez November 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm

And here is Lord Justice Laws et. al. (what a name!) on the EU Ct of H. Rights:

(“Senior judge: European court of human rights undermining democratic process – Broadside from UK supreme court justice Lord Sumption reinforces speech made by Lord Justice Laws earlier this week”)

Adrian Ratnapala November 30, 2013 at 5:17 am

Until a few months ago the chief justice of England and Wales was Justice Igor Judge.

Significant Meaning November 29, 2013 at 7:33 pm

You met “100k Africans” in Greece? “

prior_approval November 30, 2013 at 12:00 am

No, he met 100,000 Africans in Athens. Which is interesting, considering how actual asylum seekers from an actual war zone are treated.

A fact that would explain why he probably did not meet too many Syrians –

‘For more than a decade, Greece has been the main entry point for illegal immigrants and asylum seekers from Asia and Africa. There, however, they find not the promised land, but a broken immigration and asylum system.

Asylum seekers are detained in overcrowded, squalid camps. Human rights groups and international media have repeatedly criticized this drama.

The situation of Syrian refugees in particular has stirred up debate. In 2012, Greece arrested 8,000 Syrians for entering the country illegally. According to UN data, only two Syrians were granted asylum last year.’ http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/asylum-policy-and-treatment-of-refugees-in-the-european-union-a-926939.html

The article provides an overview of just how cushy it is to be someone attempting to find asylum in the EU.

Ray Lopez November 30, 2013 at 1:08 am

@prior_a: I think your last sentence was ironic, but in fact all the refugees I met in Greece, including Athens, including the villages, were economic refugees not political. Perhaps one was political, since he claimed he was Christian coming from a Muslim land where the US engaged in a war. He had a menial Greek government job as opposed to being in the private sector. I personally think there should be open borders even for the USA. What you will get, as TC alluded to, is all the dreamers and schemers who think the USA is paved with gold (there are many many of these types). When they find out the contrary a lot will move back to their home countries but in the process of churn world GDP will get a one-shot multi-trillion dollar boost. You want more? Well better patent laws will IMO give the world a multi-trillion dollar boost indefinitely, not one-time. I just can’t prove it though… future generations will prove me right someday… you read it here first! Alex T had his thought experiments to the contrary.

prior_approval November 30, 2013 at 6:34 am

Well, again, of 8,000 people fleeing a war zone with more than 100,000 casualties, two were granted asylum by Greece. The others were obviously not seeking asylum from a country in a convulsive civil war, but instead were just illegally entering Greece.

However, there is a bit of distinction between those who manage to reach a country and then go through the legal process of having asylum granted, and those who reach a country, and then simply do their best to improve their lot.

Then there is the whole question of transit within the EU – a bit of recent background.

‘Italy, Malta, Greece and Spain — the main gateways for refugees from the south — had pushed for the topic to be put on the meeting’s agenda in the hopes of achieving better burden-sharing, but the talks yielded neither concessions from northern Europeans nor more funding for EU border patrol agency Frontex.

Germany and others pointed out that they already receive significantly more asylum applications per capita than Italy and other southern countries.

Thousands of migrants reach Italy’s shores every year, but they often use the country only as a transit point. Germany received about 80,000 asylum applications in 2012, while Italy registered 16,000, according to EU statistics.’ http://bigstory.ap.org/article/hundreds-migrants-rescued-sea-near-italy

I think it is fair to say that Greece has a much larger problem with illegal immigration than Germany. However, illegal immigration is not the same as asylum seekers attempting to escape a civil war. Not that the Greeks agree with this perspective, apparently.

mike November 29, 2013 at 5:32 pm

It’s sort of hypocritical because these sound like mostly content-neutral measures (ostensibly) while other countries have banned entire ideologies and political parties and I’m sure the ECHR has no problem with that as long as they’re the “wrong” parties and ideologies. In the USA we have correctly recognized that the right to speech should be more concerned about outlawing particular ideologies and less concerned (though still concerned) about reasonable limits on the method of expression.

PS: I know this is prior_approval bait and I just want to let him know I will not read his comment (I scroll past all his comments no matter how many Page Down’s it takes) so save yourself the time

Therapsid November 29, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Civil libertarians are typically opposed both to protest and free speech restrictions and to prohibitions on political parties and ideologies.

Sometimes those “shitlibs” as you put it, are more than willing to defend the free speech rights of reactionary lunatics such as yourself.

TMC November 29, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Typically not the liberals willing to defend free speech as they are usually the offenders.
But I do agree with the stance. Let them protest, even if it’s against not wasting their own money.

mike November 30, 2013 at 12:44 am

No, in my experience shitlibs have no interest in defending free speech on principle, but we have robust free speech protections because the lunatic liberal courts went to extremes to protect shitlib speech in the second half of the 20th century. Like I said. There is absolutely a mob (of normals as well as judges) ready to “distinguish” all that precedent and not afford the same protections even to modern-day milquetoast conservatives (content-based) as well as outlawing content-neutral expressive acts that are seen to benefit non-leftist causes (see reaction to Citizens United). Shitlibs who don’t feel bound by the shitlib precedents set by the Court protecting shitlib conduct are 100% ready to go straight up Nazi on speech they don’t like – “hate speech” or whatever.

mike November 30, 2013 at 12:49 am

I mean, as someone reading the tea leaves, it’s terrifying how eager the federal courts look to crack down on speech protections now that normal traditional Americans (“conservatives”) are the ones the government is trying to suppress

8 November 29, 2013 at 9:40 pm

That’s assuming the current EU government outlasts the Spanish government. I’d put my money on Spain.

chip November 29, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Catalans are not allowed to peacefully leave Spain.

And in Gibraltar you are not allowed to peacefully remain out of Spain.

In both cases, the government will un-peacefully respond with fines and gunboat incursions.

On a (possibly) completely different tangent, I was listening to the robotocist Rodney Brooks the other day and he said sales of the robotic vacuum cleaner the Roomba had the highest market penetration in Spain.

Brooks argument was that despite massive unemployment people won’t jump at the chance to be house-cleaners and will still want to delegate certain work to robots. Though the argument may instead be despite massive unemployment some people just refuse an opportunity to work.

jerseycityjoan November 29, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I am confused by your comment.

Is it not potential EMPLOYERS who would buy household labor saving devices to avoid hiring household help?

You seem to be saying potential EMPLOYEES are the decision makers here: that “people won’t jump at the chance to be house-cleaners and will still want to delegate certain work to robots” and that “despite massive unemployment some people just refuse an opportunity to work.”

I do not see how job hunters are more than passive bystanders here. At a time of economic crises, people in Spain are responding by doing more things at home for themselves so they don’t have to pay an outsider. How does that become the responsibiity and fault of the unemloyed?

TMC November 29, 2013 at 6:46 pm

All about price Joan.

chip November 30, 2013 at 12:28 am

” At a time of economic crises, people in Spain are responding by doing more things at home for themselves so they don’t have to pay an outsider.”

The Roomba is $700. If they were cost-conscious and didn’t want to pay an outsider I think they could probably push a vacuum around themselves.

Youth unemployment in Spain is well over 50%. If the young were actively looking for work they could easily provide a cost-effective alternative to the Roomba.

But they’re not.

ChrisA November 29, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Personally I don’t see the use of demonstrations in a democracy, except to manipulate the media. If you want to change a law or have the country go in a different direction, start a political party and convince people through your arguments. All too typically we see the media focus on a demonstration of a few thousand people in a country of many millions, as if this was actually represents a significant number of people’s views. A good example of this is the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, actually supported by a few hundred people at most, but getting acres of newsprint.

GiT November 29, 2013 at 8:42 pm

“actually supported by a few hundred people at most, but getting acres of newsprint.”

There were more than a few hundred OWS encampmemts in the US alone.

8 November 29, 2013 at 9:47 pm

OWS was an astro-turf campaign and fizzled once the leaders pulled the plug.

GiT November 30, 2013 at 12:58 am

No, it wasn’t.

jerseycityjoan November 29, 2013 at 10:33 pm

We only have two major parties here. (Yes, there have been many small parties but they have come and gone and the Democrats and Republicans are still winning almost all of our elections.)

Both are over 100 years old. I don’t see how forming a new political party to get anything done can be a solution. The Democrats and Republicans are far older than any of us.

It is far easier to try convince a party to go along with something new than to get a new major party up and running in the US.

jerseycityjoan November 29, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Whoops. The second paragraph, second sentence should have been “The Democratic and Republican parties are far older than any of us.”

Adrian Ratnapala November 30, 2013 at 5:22 am

Manipulating the media is pretty important.

ChrisA November 30, 2013 at 6:25 am

@ Adrian
“Manipulating the media is pretty important.” – agree it is an effective political tool, but I don’t see why it should be constitutionally protected. In essence banning demonstrations could be argued as good policy because it prevents manipulation of public opinion by vocal minorities.

jerseycityjoan November 30, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Would you like to see a policy like that in the US?

FC November 29, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Like Bender B. Rodriguez, leftists only love mobs when they are in them.

Therapsid November 29, 2013 at 11:27 pm

A pretty banal observation, since the same can be said about rightists and mobs.

mike November 30, 2013 at 1:01 am

lots of things “can be said”, it doesn’t make them true

Therapsid November 30, 2013 at 1:29 am

If you don’t want to call Golden Dawn gangs in Greece mobs but characterize Occupy Wall Street folks as such, fine.

The rest of us will recognize you’re living in a right-wing fantasy world.

You’re so delusional that you turn off people that agree with much of what you have to say. But like extremists in general, whether communist or racial supremacist, you only want to appeal to fellow purists.

Mike November 30, 2013 at 8:54 am

Aside from the fact that everyone knows Nazis (and therefore neo-Nazis) are evil and that progressives are not, what about Golden Dawn isn’t of the left? Golden Dawn is very much into Greek socialism and they mainly want to keep their goodies without the EU or IMF or whoever telling them they can’t have them.

prior_approval November 30, 2013 at 10:48 am

‘what about Golden Dawn isn’t of the left?’

Hitler worship? A quote from Golden Dawn’s founder -

‘In an article published in 1987 in the Golden Dawn magazine titled “Hitler for 1000 years”, its editor Michaloliakos showed his support for Nazism and white supremacy.[124] Specifically he wrote, “We are the faithful soldiers of the National Socialist idea and nothing else” and “[...] WE EXIST, and continue the battle, the battle for the final victory of our race”.[124] He ends the article by writing “1987, 42 years later, with our thought and soul given to the last great battle, with our thought and soul given to the black and red banners, with our thought and soul given to the memory of our great Leader, we raise our right hand up, we salute the Sun and with the courage, that is compelled by our military honor and our National Socialist duty we shout full of passion, faith to the future and our visions: HEIL HITLER!”.[124] Furthermore he uses capital letters for pronouns referring to Hitler (“by Himself”, “His people”).’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Dawn_(political_party)#Allegations_of_Nazism

I have no idea why people such as Nikolaos Michaloliakos can express themselves so plainly, and still be misunderstood by those attempting to defend them as being something other than they explicitly claim to be. He ends this article with ‘HEIL HITLER,’ which is not exactly a code phrase that is only understood by a select few. And not something you hear seriously from anyone but Nazis. Consider this a pro tip – anyone saying that has made it simple to clearly know that they are a Nazi, without having to worry that maybe, just maybe, they could actually be a leftist in wolf’s clothing.

whatever November 30, 2013 at 12:05 pm


And Hitler was a Socialist.

mike November 30, 2013 at 6:14 pm


It says a lot more about you than it does about me that you would assume I would not call Golden Dawn gangs in Greece mobs. In fact, I can’t think of a single mainstream political figure or journalist in America who has openly allied or identified with Golden Dawn unlike OWS so the equivalence you attempt to draw actually refutes your argument and proves the point you were arguing against.

GiT December 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm

What the hell are you babbling about? OWS did not ally or identify with Golden Dawn. If they allied or identified with anyone in Greece it would be the anti-fascist Syriza.

Axa November 30, 2013 at 5:15 am

I don’t think it’s about revenue, it is more about a dictatorship. A quick translation gives: “Police is the responsible of telling who breaks the law, a police testimony is enough to jail the protester and apply the fine, judges are not necessary anymore to decide if the law was broken. If the protester considers he didn’t broke the law, anyway pays the fine to leave jail and then goes to appeal court,”. The problem here is that the law tries to regulate offensive speech. In a few words, if a policeman says he saw you burning a Spain flag or wearing a mask in a protest you pay big. You may appeal with a judge, and may get your cash back……….a couple years later.

You don’t have to do anything, all is necessary is that someone saw you and you’re guilty. Appeal later.


freethinker November 30, 2013 at 5:19 am

“Offensive” slogans against Spain will be eligible for fines up to 30,000 euros . Who decides what s “Offensive”? Will this new law be misused by the ruling government to harass anyone who is critical of its policies?

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