Intimidation in politics is always wrong
Attempting to intimidate people who are taking active parts in politics is not acceptable. Period.
It appears to be happening in some areas of Ohio, however.
A bill signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine earlier this year is at the root of the problem. Known as House Bill 6, the measure will establish charges of as much as 85 cents per month on residential electric bills. The proceeds will be used to bail out nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions, which has said the stations will close without as much as $150 million per year in state subsidies.
Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts is seeking to get a referendum on the ballot to repeal the law. To do that, OACB needs petitions bearing valid signatures of 265,774 registered voters.
Some of those collecting signatures have complained about being harassed, even assaulted, by people hired to oppose the referendum drive.
Enough complaints have been received that Secretary of State Dave Yost has warned “blockers” not to interfere with those circulating petitions.
One “blocker” was fired by FieldWorks, the Washington, D.C., company hired by HB 6 supporters to battle the proposed referendum. That came after the “blocker” was charged with slapping a cellphone out of the hand of a woman circulating petitions.
Let us be clear: Freedom of speech does not permit harassment — certainly not assault. If FieldWorks cannot control its “blockers,” it should call them off.
Anyone caught engaging in such misbehavior ought to be arrested by local law enforcement agencies, then prosecuted and punished.