Tag Archives: Liberty

Pack the Council Meeting

Come out and help send a strong message to the Council. The people of Columbia are united against corporate handouts in the form of EEZs and TIFs, blight, and eminent domain abuse. Help pull Columbia out of the plutocratic race to the bottom! 

Recall petitions will be available for signing! 



KCF Endorses Show-Me Cannabis Regulation

Keep Columbia Free is proud to endorse Show-Me Cannabis Regulation

From the Show-Me Cannabis Regulation website:

           Show-Me Cannabis Regulation is an association of organizations and individuals who believe that cannabis prohibition is a failed policy, and regulating cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol would better control the production, distribution and consumption of cannabis than the current criminal market system does.

           Show-Me Cannabis Regulation seeks to engage Missourians in a serious, public discussion about the issues associated with the cannabis consumption, including medical cannabis, industrial hemp, public safety and economic cost/benefit analysis in order to address problems associated with the current, failed policy.

           Because there is no legal access to cannabis, nearly 30 million Americans last year met their consumer demand from a federally illegal market.  Without the accountability and transparency of governmental oversight over this business, violent criminals have complete control of the marijuana market in a manner similar to the days of alcohol prohibition.  Show-Me Cannabis Regulation seeks to address these problems by returning control of cannabis to government and private business, rather than criminal enterprise.

Keep Columbia Free believes that an end to America’s racist drug war is long overdue. Ending the prohibition of cannabis in Missouri is an important and sensible step on the road to ending that war and the violence it brings to our communities.

Keep Columbia Free supports Show-Me Cannabis regulation for the following reasons.

1. Our modern drug war is an extension of the repugnant Jim Crow Laws which followed the Civil War. As victims of the drug war, blacks are NOT more likely than whites to use marijuana, but are several times more likely to be both arrested and/or imprisoned for non-violent marijuana offenses. The bigoted application of racist drug laws must end.

2. Cannabis prohibition creates a lucrative and dangerous black market, benefiting criminals who protect their income by force. Law enforcement has proven useless in combating this black market as levels of drug usage remain constant or are on the rise and black market drug-related violence remains prevalent. Bringing cannabis into the realm of legal commerce would do a great deal to keep our law enforcement officers and children safe by removing a source of income and activity from indiscriminate street peddlers and violent, armed drug gangs. 

3. Bringing an end to cannabis prohibition by allowing cannabis to be sold legally and regulated in a manner similar to alcohol and by allowing industrial hemp to be cultivated as a legal agricultural product would provide a much needed economic boost to the urban and rural economies of Missouri. This new market would be an important source for jobs, income, and tax revenue for our state and its citizens. 

4. Personal sovereignty or self-ownership is an important and basic Natural Right, central to the liberty we celebrate in these United States.  Adults should be free to do with their bodies as they see fit as long as their actions do not violate the rights of others. Cannabis prohibition is a violation of this right and therefor an insult and threat to the constitutional fabric of our free society. While Keep Columbia Free does not endorse the use of cannabis, or any other inebriant,  we recognize and respect the rights of free adults to do so.

You can help end government sanctioned racism, curb youth access to drugs, keep our streets safe from black market drug violence, bring a much needed lift to Missouri’s economy, and secure basic human liberty by supporting cannibis legalization. Keep Columbia Free encourages everyone to join in supporting Show-Me Cannabis Regulation

Read the proposed initiative HERE

Take action HERE



Rex Rebstock on Immigration


Free Immigration: “Judge not lest ye be judged”


“He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither…”

The above was a complaint about the tyranny of George III, from a little document you may have heard about called the Declaration of Independence. This document also makes the outrageous claim “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” How does the desire for a healthy level of immigration and a declaration of human equality jive with our current immigration policy? The unfortunate fact of the matter is that it doesn’t. How does vigorous defense of our borders and aggressive enforcement of demanding immigration laws jive with American ideals? It doesn’t.

I quote that document with the idea that perhaps some here might have some inkling of respect for the sentiments expressed within, and I contend that if one looks at the issue from a practical economic standpoint, or a moral standpoint, or the uniquely American natural law-based political philosophical standpoint, permitting free migration into this country is both beneficial and just. I further contend that our current system, as well as those changes most often proposed are on the other hand detrimental to both the economy and to the individuals excluded from that economy as so-called “illegal immigrants.” Finally, I contend that the arguments used against such free migration are illogical, counter-productive, anathema to traditional American ideals, and instead dependent on the kind of tribal, collectivistic and anti-individual ideology some of the opponents of free immigration find so abhorrent in other situations.

In answer to all the complaints that these immigrants are a drain on the economy because as non-citizens they don’t pay the same taxes but are beneficiaries of government programs, I say the solution is simple: allow them to become citizens. They want to work and pay rent and participate in our economy. That’s why they come here. If you stop them from participating in contributing, then it is your fault if their effect is a net negative. As a legal worker, they would contribute to and draw from the public coffers in the same ways that natural born citizens do.

In answer to the complaint that they take jobs from native workers and unfairly compete by accepting a lower wage, I say the solution is simple: allow them to become citizens. As citizens they will be subject to all the regulations that any other Americans are, and won’t be any more likely to accept a sub-standard wage than any other citizen in a comparable situation.

In answer to the complaint that they aren’t assimilated to our culture and don’t speak the language, I say the solution is simple: allow them to become citizens. It worked with the Italians, Irish, Chinese, and Eastern Europeans that flooded into the country in previous decades. Most of them didn’t speak the language at first, and by necessity gathered together into neighborhoods in which the culture of their home country was dominant. That phenomenon lasts about a generation, but it doesn’t last forever. Do you not see that “No Irish Need Apply” signs in windows were a shameful thing and that those people were ignorant and short-sighted? Why would you want to emulate them?

In answer to the claim that it their fault they’re not citizens, because there is a process, I say that the process is perhaps much more burdensome than you pretend. How many of we who have been blessed with birthright citizenship could deal with the hundreds of pages of bureaucratic nonsense and tens of thousands of dollars of expense required? Would you accept a reform of the law back, perhaps, to the standards and procedures used at Ellis Island, that worked so well in the past? How would that be different than a general amnesty?

In answer to the claim that you wouldn’t really mind if only they would follow the laws to enter the country, I say that among you are people for whom that clearly isn’t true. Have you heard of the term “anchor babies?” They are the manifestation of a legal solution to the problem of finding a way to enter the country. Families of anchor babies were using the laws on the books to accomplish their immigration, as requested, but the response wasn’t “There you go, thank you for entering legally” as one might expect, but is instead “They’ve found a loophole! Let us change not only our laws but the very constitution to prevent it!” One simply can’t, in good faith, argue that following the laws is all that is asked at the same time as increasing the burden of those laws.

In answer to the complaint that they bring drug violence over the border, I say that rather it is us exporting said violence. Without our misguided and self-destructive policies, and our demand that neighbors comply, the phenomenon simply would not exist. Such a claim could have just as easily been made against Canadians during alcohol prohibition. It’s not the people, but the counter-productive, nanny-state, “progressive” laws that make drug trade so profitable and forces disputes involving it out of the court system. Armed conflict, kidnapping, and gang warfare are a product of the drug laws and in no way connected to immigration.

In answer to the complaint that they are by definition illegal because they have already broken laws, and law breakers shouldn’t be permitted to enter our society, I say that some estimates indicate that the average adult citizen commits three felonies a day. Certainly almost everyone over the age of 18 could be convicted of some felony-level violation of the immense and perverse mountain of regulations with which we have been burdened by collectivist ideology. As a wise philosopher once said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Only saints who promptly turn themselves in each time they exceed a speed limit can pretend that they don’t recognize the difference between the importants and value of different laws. To declare that laws must be obeyed and can never be immoral or misguided, mustn’t one also condemn the likes of Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Harriet Tubman, and Patrick Henry, who openly opposed and violated unjust laws? Isn’t that view akin to a blessing the perfectly legal atrocities committed by legitimate governments throughout history? Where do you draw the line? I know where I draw the line, and moving from one location to another without written approval is not in the same class as murder, kidnapping, and theft. The fact is that the laws on the books are outrageous and shouldn’t be used by themselves as a justification for any deprivation of the rights claimed in the Declaration and described in the Constitution.

In answer to the complaint that the supply of labor needs to be kept in check to keep wages at a certain level, I argue that policies that artificially inflate wages above the market value are an unfair burden on all of the other residents who aren’t necessarily protected by such policies. Even if everyone were, it is a simple task to show that wages are factored into the cost of products, and by raising wages one increases costs, which must be paid by consumers. When the costs of consumer products rise, there is a demand for higher wages, and the cycle perpetuates itself. The virtue or lack of virtue in the idea of centrally planning the economy can be addressed elsewhere, but allowing monopolies and cartels to prevent their own competition is generally understood to be detrimental to those not included in the cartel. Limiting competition in certain types of labor is no different.

In answer to the complaint that the supply of low-wage labor helps keep the price of certain foods low, I say shame on you. I haven’t heard this one in a while, but the idea that we shouldn’t allow, for example, migrant workers to become citizens because their current jobs pay the low wages that make produce so inexpensive was all over the news media for a few years. Legally forcing certain workers to accept a lower wage than others is oppressive in the clearest sense of the word, and akin to sweatshops and prison labor, and only a small step away from serfdom and slavery.

In answer to the complaint that during times of economic distress immigration should be curtailed, I say that perhaps the relationship between immigration and economic health aren’t quite as simple. Clearly arguments can be made that in a recession or depression where consumer spending is below what is desired, perhaps an increase in consumers might be beneficial. In a market with a glut of available housing, perhaps new residents eager to rent and buy would be a benefit. Perhaps unemployment isn’t only a product of too many people wanting jobs. A doubling of the unemployment rate in the last few years wasn’t a result of a doubling of the working population. Certainly if we look at the greatest economic booms and bust in the last century, the booms follow a loosening of immigration restrictions and the busts follow an increase in restrictions. If the relationship is what these complainants pretend, wouldn’t one would expect the opposite?

In answer to the claim that it’s really a matter of respecting property rights, that entering the country illegally is akin to trespassing and burglary, I say that this is the by far the most pernicious of all assertions discussed. Setting aside the inherent necessity of seeing the land as the property of the state and not the individuals, the argument clearly doesn’t apply to immigrants. They aren’t invaders laying claim to the property of U.S. Citizens. They are workers and consumers who upon arrival will rent housing or purchase property. A landlord who can’t rent his property isn’t helped by limiting immigration. He’s hurt by it, and doubly hurt because taxes are extracted to fund the damage to his livelihood. If an employee or a landlord want to do business with any individual, and that individual wants to do business with them, what right have third, unharmed, parties to interfere, on any basis? If you have a problem with the ways that your tax money is being spent, isn’t your problem with the system that extracts them? If a mugger uses stolen money to buy a sandwich, how much blame should be laid on the restaurant?

Invariably three types of illegal immigrants are talked about. Many talk of the wanton criminals who take advantage of the confusing and ineffectual policies on the border to commit crimes, or who fail to follow other laws because as fugitives there’s no reason to get minimum mandatory insurance or to avoid DUIs. Many talk about MS-13 and other drug gangs that bring military-level conflict over the border into southern states. These are easy targets. Few are willing to directly complain about the dishwashers and hotel maids and landscapers and other peaceful people who make up the vast majority of illegal immigrants. How many of these latter examples should suffer to try to prevent the former, especially when the efforts being made facilitate the true criminals. That itinerant central-american rapist is aided by immigration policy. Uninsured and unlicensed motorists aren’t uninsured and unlicensed because they don’t want to be, but because they can’t be. They are shut out of the system. Drug gangs draw their profits from the prohibition. Without that profit there would be no funding for all of those weapons and vehicles, and there would certainly be no incentive for anyone to risk their life smuggling legal substances and immigrants over the border. All of the rules that fail to stop these people are successful at one thing: forcing the peaceful and otherwise law-abiding people who want to come here to participate in our society and economy to live in the shadows, constantly in fear of ICE, unable to legally do the things that opponents of immigration demand they do. Conflating the profiteers and the victims together into an imaginary group simply because they arrive from the same cardinal direction, or share a common language, is dishonest.

    I’ve given a hint to the types of people who are harmed by restricting immigration: consumers, homeowners, the immigrants themselves. Who, then, benefits?

  • Clearly, true criminals are aided by the policy. They can commit horrendous crimes, and face no more punishment than merely being deported back into Mexico, who returns them to the border hoping to be rid of them.
  • Exploitative corporations, unwilling to compete in good faith, take advantage of the illegal status of immigrants to pay them slave wages.
  • Racist organizations can take advantage of the consequences of forced poverty and legal disenfranchisement to show what they pretend is an entire race in a poor light. By preventing assimilation they can foment fear and paranoia that would otherwise be difficult to demonstrate.
  • Drug cartels, human smugglers, and other organized crime are of course dependent on these policies. Without restrictions on the trade in drugs and the limitation on the right to migrate, these industry simply wouldn’t exist.
  • Finally, the immigration industrial complex, a confluence of public and private sector interests that profit from the industry of enforcing immigration laws, like so many other public-private partnerships, rely upon the creation and fueling of an otherwise non-existent problem to provide a raison d’être. Other corporations whose only customer is the security state follow right behind. Without irrational fear and oppressive regulation, their industry wouldn’t exist, either.
  • Certainly there are others, but these benefit the most. I can understand that there is a chance that your wage might drop if the legal labor market expands. I disagree that this is a real problem, but even if you’re right, how much of your wage would you be willing to give up to help stop these evil people? Is what you’re being paid enough to buy your support for them?

The practical consequences of laws like Alabama’s is to establish a Gestapo police state in which everyone must constantly prove that they are innocent, rather than the society envisioned by our founders in which free men were to free from such harassment, and left do as they liked until proven guilty. If your ideal is some fascist or communist collective, then by all means demand that a person should be required to maintain and present papers at every interaction with government officials and upon the entry of any contract. Demand that people should be stopped at every opportunity to prove that they have the right to walk down the street, or drive a car, or enter into trade with other peaceful people. But demand those things only if what you really want is that police state, because that’s what you’re going to get. Maybe you’re placated by the idea that they will demand such proof only from those who inspire a “reasonable suspicion.” I’ll refuse to play the “racist card” here, and instead ask you to imagine the kind of “reasonable suspicion” that might be acceptable to a government that issues MIAC reports and Homeland Security Bulletins to be on the look out for Veterans and Ron Paul supporters and Tea Partiers and people with 2nd amendment bumper stickers, a security state that tells its stormtroopers to be on the lookout for anyone flying an American flag a little too prominently, or who talks a little too passionately in favor of the Constitution, or who might be a “religious extremist” in the eyes of the left. You may not look Mexican, and you may keep such patriotic displays out of plain sight, and you may keep quiet about your respect for the 10th amendment, or your opposition to the Federal Reserve, but when you support these kinds of laws you are granting license to the kinds of people that some day might ask you for papers and will cite one of the thousands of esoteric laws you might have broken, or might claim that they have reason to believe that you might be giving material support to right-wing terrorists and haul you off. They’ve done it before, they are currently doing it, and if we cheer as they do it to some group just because we’re fortunate enough to not be in that particular group because of some irrational fear, then there is no reason to expect that they won’t ever do it to us.

I would much rather take the risk that I might have to participate in an active, free market full of vibrant competition than secure a little temporary protection from boogeymen by selling off my liberty.


Cicada Ice Cream — it’s Natural, it’s in Demand, and it’s Illegal (by default)

Something is bugging Steve Spellman so it’s time for another installment of Steve Spellman, On Liberty. In this piece, part of which will likely be published in the Columbia Missourian, Steve takes on the pesky city government that seeks to limit the most basic of actions in an attempt to somehow save us from our snacks.

Columbia, Missouri might be famous for many things: the University of Missouri’s flagship campus, the MKT & KATY Trail, the nation’s best state games — the Show-Me State Games, Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton’s boyhood home, and the SWAT raid video showing police shooting dogs last year.  If nothing else, it has now become known the world over for the place where cicada ice cream was produced, that is, until the makers were intimidated away by over-restrictive health code regulations.

“You Want Flies With That, Sir?”

Cicadas are often confused with locusts, but this batch only comes out of the ground every 13 years.  Columbia is one town that has them flying all over the place: in people’s hair, all over trees, etc. Their mating buzz is loud: it’s a combination of annoying and amusing, depending on one’s temperament. 

The novelty of the moment inspired a brainstorm among the staff at Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream, a local downtown hipster spot.  So when their creativity became reality, Cicada Ice Cream was born.  Once word of its existence and availability got out, the first (and only) half-batch sold out within an hour.  There’s also been a mixture of stories (now spread around the world) about how the local City of Columbia Health Department put the kibosh on it — only some of which is true. 

“No Ice Cream for you” 

It was reported by the store manager, that the cicadas were fully boiled, in keeping with standard sanitary food preparation – so not just dirty bugs thrown in a tub of Vanilla.  I went and talked with a guy I know who works there, Tony Layson, who clarified that after Sparky’s first made some and sold out of it, the owner became concerned about what the health code might say about using these non-standard ingredients. 

So he proactively called the City Health Department to inquire about the guidelines (if there were any) for preparing cicadas.  The Health Department staffer replied with a chuckle and something like “you know you can’t do that.”  The Health Department official wasn’t overly harsh, but made it clear that: 1.) all ingredients in commercial food must come from a certified source, and 2.) the Health Code does not specifically address how cicadas should be cooked. 

Beware the Naturally-Occuring Ingredients 

So wild, natural ingredients directly harvested from nature, especially natural ingredients not specifically on the government’s list of allowed foods, are not allowed. So by this logic, if a local restaurateur legally shot a deer, or grew his/her own tomatoes or lettuce, etc., and even if the food were fresh, and from a seemingly healthy animal or plant, and the food were fully and safely cooked, the food derived from natural processes could still not be served in a restaurant, unless the restaurateur had the proper certification.  I suppose if there were a certified collector of cicadas that met the food safety and inspection criteria, and then sold it to a restaurant, only then could the restaurant (or ice cream shop, in this case) use that material in its food served to voluntarily paying customers, who knew exactly what they were ingesting—and then only if the letter of the law addressed the lawful method by which the specific critter could be cooked for human consumption.  That’s because you must have permission from the authorities, whose regulations exist to keep you safe.  Hence the Health Department’s, “you can’t do that,” even for food that might be good for you.

So cicada ice cream appears to be illegal, but here’s the thing:  people bought it. Lots of people gladly went out of their way to rush to Sparky’s to purchase it with their own hard-earned money.  And they told their friends, and they were happy about it, and there have been no reports of any resulting sickness.  So the ice cream shop voluntarily made it and sold it, and the customers gladly, voluntarily bought it and ate it.  And it’s against the law.

You Can’t Trust Anybody, Even the Trustworthy 

Can’t we trust a local merchant who obviously cares about serving the members of his/her community with a product they clearly want?  Can’t we trust our fellow citizens to choose what they eat?  If the food were bad, the word would spread quickly and people wouldn’t buy it anymore.  If it actually hurt people, the law is sufficient to bring charges against the food service provider.  If the customer used the product and then went and hurt somebody under the influence of that product, there are already laws in place to handle such situations.

Even if the law could be set up to be responsive enough to accommodate new issues that arise (like how to prepare a specific variety of bug that appears for the first time in over a decade), the bigger issue is why we are so subservient to an authority that has the force of law — the guns of government — to enforce such petty restrictions on human behavior — an authority to which we are so trained to be subservient that even responsible people feel they must first ask for permission to peacefully live their lives and voluntarily interact with their fellow man.

The War on Some Foods

To be clear, the law claims jurisdiction over what food may be sold. If any part of the food product is not specifically detailed in the Health Code, it apparently defaults to being outside the bounds of the law. That is to say that cicada ice cream vendors and purchasers are outlaws.  We are so conditioned to observe this authority, even when it is so obviously unreasonable, that we are just thankful the police aren’t directed to arrest both the store owners and their customers who bought this contraband before its illegality was discovered.

Many people would not buy cicada ice cream.  I’m not sure I would.  People do a lot of things I wouldn’t do.  I surely do things other people might not want to do.  But I don’t support laws that unduly restrict human interaction and creativity, to restrict things I wouldn’t do, or don’t approve of, or don’t understand.  But I don’t believe the Health Code is purposefully sinister; it’s just dumb, or at least parts of it, and altogether is really complex — which might actually be worse. I’m glad Sparky’s at least tried to serve the community and it’s too bad our City government won’t allow them to.


“Normal” Organic Produce is OK to Sell, Just Not Where It’s Grown

Though, this is not the first limit on reasonable (even desirable) economic interactions here in Columbia in recent times, a local ordinance has limited where a local group can sell fresh produce.  The Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture is a local not-for-profit coalition that advocates for local gardening of fresh produce while the group maintains a small urban farm and several community gardens around town. On one of several urban garden plots near the city center, they operate a simple street-side stand a few days a week, selling corn and tomatoes and radishes, etc.  I’ve bought a few things there myself.  This spring, it came to their attention that their urban farm was zoned for residential use only and did not allow for “commercial” selling of their produce.  In keeping with the demands of city government, the group relocated their stand a block or so away where a nearby business allowed them to set up in a (commercially-zoned) parking lot.  So they moved to be within the bounds of the law, but the rules are obviously outside the bounds of common-sense.  Hopefully they can get permission to sell on their own land in the near future. Desirable behavior is unduly restricted by red tape.  I’m glad they found a work-around to this over-regulation.

Downtown Redevelopment Welcomed, Except When It’s Not 

Just last January, a respected local developer submitted plans to the City Planning and Zoning Commission for permission to rezone a parcel for their “College and Walnut” apartment building project.  This would be an infill project to redevelop a surface parking lot and 4 older homes.  The plans looked great, and seemed to be exactly what many residents, college students, and even city planners have said for some time they wished developers would produce in the community.  But the Commission turned them down, in a close vote.  Former P&Z commissioner (and now elected City Council member) Helen Anthony was quoted as explaining, “the building itself was perfect for downtown — just the innovative development that we need. It was beautiful and multi-use. My issue was that they were asking for open zoning.”  I understand the zoning the commission desired would have given the City government more control over how the property is used. 

So the commission wanted to have additional control over the requested standard commercial zoning before allowing the builders to use their own money to build a very desirable building on their own land that would, of course, be constructed to the latest building codes.  And, unlike a number of other local downtown developers lately, they were not asking for any subsidies or tax discounts. 

Read the Missourian story HERE

The developers were trying to make a living by serving their community with an apartment building, but the system wouldn’t allow them to because it didn’t fit the established rules, or the preferences of the authorities.  At least Councilwoman Anthony admits, “We need to go back and change some of the ways we do zoning.”  The City Council wisely chose to override the Planning and Zoning Commission and grant the reasonable rezoning request, so this desirable improvement to the community can go forward.   I’m glad the standard government response did not scare them away, and they were allowed to improve the community.

Low-Income  Residential In-Fill OK, If You Jump Through The Hoops… And Wait a Few Years

A few years ago a local photographer, Amir Ziv, got an idea for an in-fill redevelopment near the city center.  He applied to the City to build three “cottage” homes on two adjacent vacant lots in a low-income neighborhood.  Though one City Commissioner said they “would like to give a developer who’s trying to do something outside of the box some leeway,” they didn’t likethe way he had the modest garages pointed.  The project also got classified as an apartment building, so he needed to pay tens of thousands of dollars to unnecessarily upgrade the sewer lines, etc.   Mr. Ziv responded that the extra sewer cost would break his budget — even responding that if the city requires it, the city should pay for it themselves.  The result was a 2 year standoff, until the City Council, though not making an exception from the rules for this case, ended up approving to blow $15,000of taxpayer money for a wasteful upgrade to a sewer line.  But that’s the rules.  What’s that again about “job creation?”  I’m glad Mr. Ziv was resilient enough to be allowed to provide more innovative low income housing in our community, in spite of an illogical authority that greatly delayed the project and added additional costs to be borne by the tax payer.

But It’s Not Really About The Cicadas 

Government exists to protect our rights and to bring to justice people who unfortunately choose to kill, steal, defraud, or poison their fellow citizens.  But when the law seeks to protect us from each other in so many complex ways, even with benevolent intentions, the collateral damage is often the stifling of human creativity, otherwise peaceful interactions, and diverse activities.  I admit the fact that cicada ice cream is not specifically provided for in the local Health Code, therefore you can’t put the things in ice cream, may seem trivial.  The story is silly, except that this case is so representative of endless other liberties – both in the civil and economic sense – that we have lost over time. 

Our individual and collective freedoms are subtlety lost to the endless laws and regulations on the books that no human can possibly keep track of.  These are regulations on autopilot – that assume to take our freedoms by default (even if in order to “protect” us) and are held up as seemingly gracious to give us at least some of the freedoms that were ours to begin with.  Therefore we are trained to feel compelled to ask for permission from authorities before living our lives peacefully and voluntarily with each other.  “Am I allowed to do that?” – well, you know you better ask for permission first. 

Any laws that prevent us from living as naturally and peacefully as we desire, are themselves unnatural laws. 

Steve Spellman is a life-long Boone County citizen and (among other things) hosts the Mid-Missouri Freedom Forum,” exploring the diverse concepts of human freedom each Tuesday 5:00PM-6:00PM, on local community radio station 89.5FM KOPN (streaming at www.kopn.org/listen) in beautiful downtown Columbia, Missouri.


Jonathan “Ryan” March Interview

Last week, Mitch and I sat down with Jonathan “Ryan” March whose home was raided by the Columbia, MO S.W.A.T. team in 2008. The S.W.A.T. team was at his home to look for marijuana. Ryan had no prior felonies and no history of violence. During the raid, Ryan’s two retreating dogs were shot and killed. In this video, Ryan March discusses what it is like to be a victim of the drug war.  

Interestingly, on the City of Columbia website we found a promotional video for the CPD S.W.A.T team in which CPD Officer John Warner, who was the officer wearing the helmet camera during the raid on Mr. March’s home, tells how he enjoys the adrenaline rush he gets from such raids. One would hope that S.W.A.T. officers would see these violent raids as a necessary evil instead of a source of entertainment. One wonders what the S.W.A.T. officers are doing for kicks now that Chief Burton has put the brakes on the service of narcotics search warrants via S.W.A.T. dynamic entry. Perhaps the department should invest in an Xbox. Here is the clip of Warner describing why he likes being on the S.W.A.T. team.


And just for fun, here is an excerpt from The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Enjoy.


CPD SWAT Killed Two Retreating Dogs in 2008 — Video


This is a video of the Columbia, MO SWAT team serving a search warrant for marijuana on 03.07.2008 at the home of Mr. Jonathan March.
According to Attorney Dan Viets, “Mr. March had no prior felony convictions” at the time of the raid and he did “possess firearms which were absolutely legal and constitutionally protected.”
During the raid, 5 concussion grenades were exploded in and around the home. One of the grenades exploded near the feet of the young lady visitor, seen in the video, who, at the time, was seated on the couch. Two additional grenades were exploded subsequent to the arrest on the premise that the CPD needed to prove that the previous 5 grenades had done no damage. The grenades left clear charred remains on the carpet and other areas of the home.
During sworn testimony taken by Viets, the SWAT officers who executed this raid acknowledged that they had shot to death two dogs with their machine guns. Both dogs were shot in the back while retreating. One of the dogs is shot at around the 6:30 mark in the video as an officer tops the stairs, passes a suspect on the floor, and steps into a bedroom. You can see a glimpse of the dead dog as the officer stands in the doorway. The dog is obviously facing away from the officer. At 6:55 you can see another injured dog struggling in the hall.
It is important to note that this raid took place before Chief Ken Burton accepted his position with the CPD. Due to the overwhelming public outcry stemming from a more recent yet similar raid under his command, Chief Burton has, for the time being,  reigned in the use of his SWAT team to serve search warrants for non-violent crimes and criminals.
While the prevalence of violent, paramilitary raids has waned in Columbia, this type of raid is happening somewhere in the United States right now. Please speak out against this government sanctioned domestic terrorism.

Fred Schmidt Betrays First Ward

During Monday night’s Columbia City Council meeting, the council voted unanimously to provide funding for government surveillance cameras in Downtown Columbia. For most of us who have followed the camera debate, the “yes” votes from the establishment voting block comprised of McDavid, Dudley, Kespohl, and Thornhill, three of whom rode the crime/fear/camera stalking horse into office, came as no surprise. Even Anthony’s vote was predictable and Hoppe’s not too surprising.

It was Fred Schmidt who shocked the crowd with his vote in favor of the cameras as he fell lock-step in line with the empirically baseless, pro-camera, establishment zeitgeist that has affected many Columbians outside the First Ward. The First Ward, represented by Schmidt, voted overwhelmingly against the camera initiative in April of 2010. Fred even campaigned on his opposition to the downtown cameras during his run for the First Ward seat as evidenced by this excerpt from the Columbia Missourian.

All four First Ward candidates opposed the installation of downtown cameras — a result of Proposition 1, a ballot initiative that won approval in the April 2010 municipal election. A majority of First Ward voters rejected the proposition in that election.

“The voters spoke on this,” Schmidt said. “The city overwhelmingly voted for them. Ward one voted overwhelmingly against them.” He noted the cameras are a “perception of safety.”

And this excerpt from Fred’s own campaign website:

I do not support the city’s widespread use of surveillance cameras in downtown Columbia, especially when downtown is singled out as the location, in spite of crime being much more prevalent in other locations. I do support the use of surveillance cameras being installed by private businesses and the public installation of cameras in public facilities, such as parking garages or city buildings. This stance, I believe, is a more restrictive use of cameras but one that upholds current legislation as passed by voters.

This about face from Fred “Flip-Flop” Schmidt begs the question… “why?” Fred did raise quite a bit of money for a First Ward campaign, spending $12,403.12 on his candidacy. Even in local elections, money comes with strings attached. Is somebody pulling Fred’s strings?

It could also be that Fred simply told a lie. Perhaps Fred is planning a career in politics and is simply practicing his forked tongue technique for the day when he moves up to the big leagues. Lying seems to be a requirement for both Democrat and Republican politicians.

The saddest part of the situation is that just when the First Ward needs a strong voice on the council the most, their new representative, Fred Schmidt, shows his true colors as an authoritarian establishment shill.