Wisconsin capitol bans recording, flags, reading, balloons, chairs, bags, backpacks, photography, etc etc etc

"Populist" Wisconsin governor Scott Walker continues to restrict the freedom of Wisconsinites to seek redress of grievances in their state capitol. The latest "decorum" rules handed down by Walker's sergeant-at-arms include a ban on signs, silently reading, photography, video or audio recording, bags, backpacks, clapping, cheering, balloons, crockpots, food storage, beds, sleeping bags, musical instruments, flags, chairs, and anything "inconsistent" with closing the building at end of day.

More rules released for State Capitol visitors (Thanks, Elix, via Submitterator!)

(Image: Madison Wisconsin Protest, Capitol Square [IMG_2782], a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from ontask's photostream)


  1. How exactly does one justify banning “silent reading”?

    “I’m sorry, that woman over there is reading and it’s causing a commotion. Summon the guards, release the hounds.”

    That building belongs to the people of Wisconsin. They can do with it what they damn well please.

  2. I’m sure Tea Party know-nothings will show up to protest this ‘big government’, anti-freedom measure of Walker’s……..right?

  3. It’s the goal of politicians to introduce value judgements into the law, such as “inconsistent,” and y’all look ripe for a Tasering.

  4. So I suppose if people showed up in Madison with a flag, and they would not let them bring it into the capitol building, they’d have no objection to them burning it on the steps in order to comply with this inane regulation? (Rhetorical, folks, don’t get your drawers in a twist.)

    What next, goose-stepping guards?

    Pity this troublesome governor isn’t eligible for recall until the end of the year.

  5. Perhaps the governor’s jealous of people who can read without moving their lips?

    Seriously? The man couldn’t get any more exaggeratedly “Evil Management” if he banned colours and decreed the capital must only painted in various shades of grey.

    Perhaps he’s been watching too much of The Child That Smelt Funny, from the author of Salad Fingers.

  6. No silent reading? So will they start kicking reps out for reading bills to themselves or do they need to read out loud like simpletons?

    You can’t lean over the railing? Seriously?

    I bet they’d ok bringing guns in like in AZ or NH.

    Wow, Walker is beyond d-baggery, he is a sociopath.

  7. Um, if he’s violating the state constitution, and a court order, why isn’t he being removed? I recall they said “we are complying, look, 8 people at a time.” That’s not really the same as “public access” >.>
    And now this?

  8. Didn’t a federal judge just recently rule that the government cannot stop people from photographing or recording activities on government property, with very few exceptions (like restricted parts of military bases)?

  9. I see no explicit ban on bringing in plain cardboard and breakdancing in the capital. I say everybody bust a ‘spin’ or two like Walker has been this entire time….

  10. As for populist authoritarianism, who was it that said something like “the masses are feminine and want a firm leader”? I think he may have been Austrian.

  11. …fish bowls, wire-framed glasses, miniskirts, eleven kinds of cheese, plaid, ennui, pointed sticks, goatees, fresh fruit, small children, decaffeinated coffee, everything bagels…

  12. I’ve had running questions since the first court order to keep the capitol open was delivered: How do you effectively enforce court orders on the governor? How deep must shenanigans run before the judge that issued the order rules the governor in contempt? If found in contempt, who will be sent to arrest him?

  13. I sure as hell hope no one is actually following these ridiculous orders. Let them arrest hundreds of people for reading, and a few more for clapping, and see what that does for public opinion.

  14. Many of those restrictions are specifically for members of the public viewing the Assembly or Senate while they are in session, not for general access to the building. Before you get pissed off for the wrong reasons, read the link. It specifies which things are banned from the meeting chambers (mostly for good reason, and unchanged from before this started) and things which are banned from the capitol as a whole, putting them on much shakier ground.

  15. What concerns me is that Governor Scott Walker doesn’t think his actions are ending his political career. He must think they are enhancing his career or he wouldn’t be doing them.

    1. Well, it is enhancing his career. After he’s recalled (I hope!) he’ll have a job waiting for him at Koch Industries. They’ve bought him, after all. Word has it he’d get to be Executive Vice president or some other slimy shit like that. I wish this fucker would just resign! Asshole.

    2. I think he doesn’t care. How much you wanna bet he’s got some cushy Board Member position lined up, in which he gets 1.5mil/year just for breathing, for when he gets canned?

      1. …yeah, pretty much what I already said… and, the bill was just forced through tonight.

    1. Or tar and feathers either. This movie needs to end with this jag-bag being run out of town on a rail.

    2. It doesn’t say anything pitchforks and torches does it?

      No, but it also doesn’t say anything about boiling oil or molten lead.

  16. Silent reading — how can they tell?

    “Officer, I swear I was just looking at the pictures.”

  17. Don’t miss out on where it says that people in the Gallery aren’t allowed to:
    * talk
    * wear a hat
    * cheer or jeer

    Let’s see if Walker’s ringers are required to follow these rules, if he dares bring them back in.

    I’m noticing a lack of Tea Party response in here. C’mon, folks, where’s your defense of these limitations on American citizens’ rights?

  18. If the Republicans can’t pass their disgusting bill without the Democrats, how can they pass these rules?

  19. Or tar and feathers either. This movie needs to end with this jag-bag being run out of town on a rail.

    Too late; he already scrapped Wisconsin’s rail project.

  20. I also question the legality of banning photography/videography.

    I note it doesn’t say you can’t hum. Which would be better to hum when Walker appears, the music used when the Wicked Witch sends her flying monkeys after Dorothy, or the Imperial March, from “The Empire Strikes Back”? Or perhaps the latter when the Gov. appears and the former when someone tries to stop someone from doing something reasonable (like, say, reading)?

  21. Most of those rules seem prudent to keep the business of the government running. “Peaceable assembly” doesn’t not mean “right to disrupt”.

    The next election cycle in WI should be very interesting.

    1. Yeah, reading silently is so disruptive. Did your logic circuit get disengaged, or was it just your bullshit detector? These rules serve no purpose except to make sure that protesters are as uncomfortable as possible, or to enable the arrest of them for the infraction of being human, so that they will leave and he get get about the dirty work of screwing over the people of Wisconsin.

    2. Or, more importantly, where’s your proof?

      I think the right to peacefully protest on government (read publicly owned) property isn’t as conditional as you think.

  22. All those stupid rules and they couldn’t make room for a ban on walking around Farmers’ Market clockwise?

  23. Does this mean that it is against the rules to sliently read who is present in the legislature and it is against the rules to read how they vote?

  24. @Vnend:
    You can’t do this, this would be copyright infringement!!!

    But I have a little problem with the silent reading – it’s good that you can read aloud, but what if you silently read the rules – you are already violating these rules with reading them, but without reading them you can’t know the rules – there is a certain amount of Logic *not* there and I wonder what the legal consequences are then. You aren’t allowed to read the rules – can you be *whatever* based on the rules?

  25. or to enable the arrest of them for the infraction of being human

    Indeed, and the question now is will the protesters disobey these ridiculous rules, and how will the idiot Walker respond.

  26. A bunch of people need to go there and silently read.

    Throwing out someone reading the Constitution is going to have some nice PR to it.

    1. A bunch of people need to go there and silently read.

      Throwing out someone reading the Constitution is going to have some nice PR to it.

      This! This this this this this this this. If I was in Wisconsin, three guesses what I’d do.

  27. I see that some higher impulse prevented them from any attempt to forbid people from engaging in silent prayer.

  28. Why hasn’t this man been shoved out of office for a flagrant violation of our First Amendment right to assembly?

    I mean, he makes no bones about the fact that he is protest-breaking by violating the Wisconsin and US Constitutions.

  29. “a ban on signs, silently reading, photography, video or audio recording, bags, backpacks, clapping, cheering, balloons, crockpots, food storage, beds, sleeping bags, musical instruments, flags, chairs, …”

    … and the letter “Z”?

  30. Banning silently reading? That’s an invitation for people to read aloud. A bunch of people should read aloud together from a book. Different people could read different parts! Maybe Shakespeare? Get on it, Wisconsinites!

    1. Unfortunately, talking is also against the rules.

      Basically, the only thing permitted is to sit silently and write down notes in a write-only fashion (can’t have any of that reading going on!). Essentially, you may only express yourself by appearing.

  31. @Vnend: OOOOO! The Imperial March, from “The Empire Strikes Back” with KAZOOS! They’re not on the list…yet.

  32. What about signing? (ASL) I think they’d have a very difficult time disallowing that.

  33. I think it’s now safe to say that these guys are officially caricatures. Wisconsin is being run by a hastily-drawn political cartoon.

  34. Okay, I decided to read the article linked and the original rules just to make sure this wasn’t being misinterpreted.

    My conclusion is that this is indeed a tactic to make protestors as uncomfortable and incapable of assembling as possible, as well as limiting their ability to communicate to everyone else. Reasons being…

    In the Senate Gallery:

    1) No reading books or newspapers – This is not disruptive or destructive, anywhere, ever. It’s already been mentioned many many times.

    2) No audio recordings – While I can understand video recordings, I can’t imagine how an audio recorder could be disruptive unless the user was really malicious and like.. threw it at someone, but then it is no longer an audio recorder in purpose. This essentially limits communication to word of mouth… outside the building.

    3) Dismissal and/or confiscation of items upon breaking these rules. Note that the original post says “law enforcement officers will not assume responsibility for items not allowed in the gallery”(http://capaccess.blogspot.com/). So naturally no recordings will leave this hall.

    4) “These rules are subject to changes by the Senate Organization Committee at any time and without prior notice.” No potential for abuse there, nope, not at all.

    In the capitol building in general:

    1) No chairs or pillows – While I can understand not having mattresses, simple portable comforts like these do not infringe upon “the plan to depart the building at the posted closing time”. At least sitting on the floor isn’t banned yet (except for in the Assembly Gallery).

    2) No signs or flags – Yeah, just.. how does one justify that?

    3) No PAs – Does nothing to impede aforementioned plan, does make it harder to rally the protestors.

    Overall these rules just have a malicious undertone, which given the situation, is not surprising.

  35. I completely disagree with Walker but I at least half-respected him for sticking to his guns but now this…is beyond stupid this is PALIN (TM) STUPID.

  36. Walker acts like he is a king from the Dark Ages rather than an American governor. King Walker’s rule of Wisconsin is crushing his people — 1st by destroying them economically and now by taking away their liberty. It appears that politicians are no longer bound by law or reason. Now that their words are instant decree, they have become our Royal Leaders.

    God save the King!

  37. With what he is doing to education, reading in the capitol won’t be an issue. People won’t know how to read.

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