Auditing Massachusetts Law: Crimes Against Gov’ts

This is a new feature where I’m going to audit many of the General Laws of Massachusetts so as to show basic violations of freedom. Some of these crimes and punishments are utterly absurd. I didn’t include it in this segment, but my very utterance of that could somehow be considered treason under the vague language of Massachusetts Law.

Flag Burning/Flag Misuse

– Chapter 264: Section 5. Whoever publicly burns or otherwise mutilates, tramples upon, defaces or treats contemptuously the flag of the United States or of Massachusetts…shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
– Chapter 264. Section 7. Whoever publicly mutilates, tramples upon, defaces or treats contemptuously the flag or emblem of a foreign country at peace with the United States…shall be punished by a fine of not less than five nor more than fifty dollars.
– Chapter 264. Section 8. Whoever displays the flag or emblem of a foreign country upon the outside of a state, county, city or town building or public schoolhouse shall be punished by a fine of not more than twenty dollars.

Screwing With The National Anthem
– Chapter 264. Section 9. Whoever plays, sings or renders the “Star Spangled Banner”, or any part thereof, as dance music, as an exit march or as a part of a medley of any kind, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars.

Anarchy
– Chapter 264. Section 11. Whoever by speech or by exhibition, distribution or promulgation of any written or printed document, paper or pictorial representation advocates, advises, counsels or incites assault upon any public official, or the killing of any person, or the unlawful destruction of real or personal property, or the overthrow by force or violence or other unlawful means of the government of the commonwealth or of the United States, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than three years, or in jail for not more than two and one half years, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars; provided, that this section shall not be construed as reducing the penalty now imposed for the violation of any law.

Subversive Organizations/Membership
– Chapter 264. Section 16. The term “subversive organization” as used in sections seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty-one, twenty-two and twenty-three of this chapter shall mean any form of association of three or more persons, however named or characterized, and by whatever legal or non-legal entity or non-entity it be established, and whether incorporated or otherwise for the common purpose of advocating, advising, counseling or inciting the overthrow by force or violence, or by other unlawful means, of the government of the commonwealth or of the United States.
– Chapter 264. Section 22. Whoever being in charge of an auditorium, hall or other building shall knowingly permit it to be used by the Communist Party or by an organization which has been adjudicated a subversive organization under the provisions of section eighteen shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
– Chapter 264. Section 19. Any person who becomes or remains a member of any organization knowing it to be a subversive organization shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than three years or in jail for not more than two and one half years or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars.

Communist Party
– Chapter 264. Section 16A. The Communist Party is hereby declared to be a subversive organization.

4 thoughts on “Auditing Massachusetts Law: Crimes Against Gov’ts”

  1. “Whoever publicly mutilates, tramples upon, defaces or treats contemptuously the flag or emblem of a foreign country at peace with the United States…shall be punished by a fine of not less than five nor more than fifty dollars.” When I see this I hear the opening bars of the Hatikva…

    “Whoever plays, sings or renders the “Star Spangled Banner”, or any part thereof, as dance music, as an exit march or as a part of a medley of any kind, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars.”

    Defeating that one is easy, say that you’re playing “To Anacreon in Heaven”.

  2. As ridiculous as most of these laws are, I wonder how much they’re actually enforced. That would be the *real* test, as there are plenty of laws related to freedom of expression that aren’t enforced – more like guidelines than actual laws. For example, in Canada, hate speech is against the law, but for the most part that law isn’t enforced.

    In regards to the Mass law prohibiting threats of violence against the government, I can actually get behind that one. Peaceful anarchy is one thing, but killing in the name of your beliefs, or threatening to, is something that is rightfully against the law. It’s one thing for me to say “I hate John Kerry’s guts,” but I could totally support any moves toward apprehending someone who went as far as to threaten violence against him.

  3. I see the law to be against peaceful anarchy as well. It seems like the state could quite easily find some way to derange the text of the law to include non-violent embrace of anarchistic principles. For instance, what are “other unlawful means” — could that include the mere existence of “subversive organizations”? Other sections of Chapter 264 have been amended, these ones could at least be written clearer or removed.

  4. Yeah I second Glen and also Ben, historically speaking, the government has uses such shady laws as excuses to lock up (or attempt) subversives, mostly the popular/influential ones i.e. 68 DNC when they rounded up various activists and charged them with conspiracy to incite a riot; some of them hadn’t even met and it is clear that the police caused most of the violence. They were set up essentially, having even been wiretapped, amongst other violations of their rights. But, you see these kinds of laws try to justify said actions by pointing to the writings and speeches of the aforementioned activists, which may propose Revolutionary Violence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s