A new law in Wyoming that bans citizens from science and free speech has caused a number of concerns. Critics of the law say that it is an attempt to cover up Wyoming’s toxic waterways, a consequence of wide scale cattle ranching. Others suggest that the law is also intended to divert amateur scientists from raising alarm about the pending eruption of Yellowstone, which scientists have long warned would be catastrophic for much of the country. Slate.com reports:
The new law is of breathtaking scope. It makes it a crime to “collect resource data” from any “open land,” meaning any land outside of a city or town, whether it’s federal, state, or privately owned. The statute defines the word collect as any method to “preserve information in any form,” including taking a “photograph” so long as the person gathering that information intends to submit it to a federal or state agency. In other words, if you discover an environmental disaster in Wyoming, even one that poses an imminent threat to public health, you’re obliged, according to this law, to keep it to yourself.
Anyone with a passing familiarity with our Constitution will recognize that the Wyoming law is unconstitutional. It runs afoul of the supremacy clause because it interferes with the purposes of federal environmental statutes by making it impossible for citizens to collect the information necessary to bring an enforcement lawsuit. The Wyoming law also violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech because it singles out speech about natural resources for burdensome regulation and makes it a crime to engage in a variety of expressive and artistic activities. And finally, it specifically criminalizes public engagement with federal and state agencies and therefore violates another right guaranteed by the First Amendment: the right to petition the government.
This new law is so wide in its scope that it could easily be abused by police or other legal agencies. Imagine you are trying to film a police interaction and suddenly you are going to jail because the background images may contain scientific data. And even if this law is never misused or abused by law enforcement, giving police the power to determine what constitutes science and to monitor scientific inquiry seems way outside the training you get at the diploma mills that are pumping cops out. Not even a graduate of a law enforcement program at the most prestigious university that offers them would be qualified to make accurate determinations about scientific matters.
Amateur science has long been an important part of human discovery and land conservation. Banning it casts Wyoming into an ideological pit of institutionalized ignorance. Often many academic and corporate scientists are unwilling to challenge the agendas of their funding sources, so laymen empiricism is a crucial part of increasing human knowledge and protecting natural resources. Laws like this make it clear that our entire legal system is constructed for the benefit of the select few; and that law enforcement officers are merely hired goons tasked with protecting their elite masters agendas. Paid for by you. I gotta admit, thats-a-spicy-a-scam!