Tag Archives: War on Drugs

Puppycide in Fulton, MO

A few days ago, SWAT officers of the Fulton (Missouri) Police Department shot and killed a dog while serving a “narcotics” search warrant. The residents of the house asked if they could cage the dog. The officers denied the request, ordering that the dog to be chained to a tree. The dog got loose and was then shot eight times, the first six shots wounding the dog and the last two point-blank, shotgun blasts killing it. After finishing off the first dog, the officers first maced and then turned their guns on caged puppies only stopping when confronted by concerned neighbors. 

After kicking in doors, killing a family pet, pepper-spraying and attempting to kill two caged puppies, and generally terrorizing a neighborhood, the only charge filed against the Fulton man was misdemeanor marijuana possession. He was released the same day. Par for the course in the War on Drugs. We’ve certainly seen plenty of similar dog executions here in Columbia. We’ve interviewed grieving dog owners and shown proof that the dogs were shot while running away from officers. And don’t forget the infamous SWAT raid that made Columbia, MO the dog shooting capital of the world. A guess Fulton wants in on the action.

http://www.komu.com/news/update-fulton-dog-died-man-arrested-in-a-drug-search/

*Puppycide is a term coined by Radley Balko

 

Share

Cannabis v. Child Molestation: Which is Worse?

If you ask America’s perverted criminal justice system you’ll find that selling cannabis is more than twice as bad as molesting children (and stealing). In the past week, two stories demonstrating this fact appeared in the the Columbia Daily Tribune.

The first story reported that Eric McCauley of Columbia was sentenced to 23 years in prison for conspiracy to sell marijuana, the same plant smoked by both Barack Obama and Newt Gingrich. According to the Tribune…

          A 30-year-old Columbia man was sentenced yesterday in federal court to 23 years in prison without parole for his role in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana in Boone County.

          Convicted of 29 charges by a jury in March in Missouri’s Western District U.S. Court, Eric S. McCauley’s sentence is the result of his role in one of the Columbia Police Department’s largest-ever seizures of marijuana, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips. Law enforcement seized $224,663 in cash during the investigation, and in a 2007 search at a Columbia residence, 240 pounds of marijuana was found.

          McCauley was found guilty of drug trafficking, distribution, possession with the intent to distribute and money-laundering. Evidence indicated McCauley led a conspiracy responsible for distributing marijuana from 2005 to 2008, the news release said.

The local cops swiped 1/4 million dollars from this man and now the courts are sending him to prison on a 23-year sentence for crimes that involved no violence.

Compare McCauley’s story with this story which ran in the Tribune just four days later.

          A Columbia man who in separate cases pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $9,000 from a Burger King restaurant and photographing a 13-year-old boy’s genitals will serve 10 years in prison…

          Three photos of the victim’s genitals and buttocks were taken in September by McCollum, who told the court yesterday of his remorse and newfound motivation to overcome his past. He and his attorney argued for a suspended execution of his sentence, which would have placed him on probation.

          McCollum also is under investigation in Wyoming for the sexual assault of children, but charges have not yet been filed…

          Between March 5, 2010, and June 10, 2010, McCollum stole $8,909 from the Burger King at 3700 Hyde Park Ave. while working as an assistant manager, police said. McCollum was entering fake credit card totals to take money from cash sales.

 

Wow! A weed dealer, charged with no gun crimes, gets 23 years while a serial child-molester and thief gets only 10 years. Are our prisons so jammed with non-violent drug offenders that there is no room left for thieves and child-molesters? America’s criminal justice system is broken and the drug war is to blame.

 

 

Share

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

 

Share

AFR Guest Blog: Jonathan Whitworth’s Dismissed Civil Suit

Keep Columbia Free is happy to have a guest blogger in the house. Scott Alexander Meiner, a policy analyst at Americans For Forfeiture Reform, has penned a blog breaking down U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey’s recent ruling in the case stemming from Columbia’s infamous SWAT raid at the home of Jonathan and Brittany Whitworth. In his blog, Scott breaks down the problems with the ruling and the scourge that is “qualified immunity.” Enjoy…

BY SCOTT ALEXANDER MEINER, ON NOVEMBER 29TH, 2011

Last week, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey granted summary judgement to dismiss the civil rights suit (raised under 42 U.S.C. § 1983of Jonathan Whitworth, Brittany Whitworth, and their son. The civil rights claim stems from a February 2010 Columbia, Missouri SWAT raid that went viral when police footage was obtained by the Columbia Tribune.

At issue in the motion for summary judgement was whether the police officers’ discretionary behavior was reasonable, in the context of the situation, and whether it violated clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would be aware (Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982)Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989)).

Such motions, under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, are to be looked at in the most favorable light to the non-movant (CPD).

In reality, law enforcement is afforded such favorable light, via judicial imaginings of what might have been reasonable, that “qualified immunity provides ample protection to all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.”  Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335 (1986)

It is no surprise that Judge Laughrey was able to rationalize a context in which it might have been reasonable for an officer to kick Jonathan Whitworth in the head while he lay face down, unarmed, before a fully armed SWAT tactical unit.

“Thus, even if Hendrick indeed kicked Whitworth, a single kick to force swift compliance with an order, and to deter hesitation incompliance with future orders from a dangerous suspect, would be objectively reasonable in this context. It is also uncontested that Whitworth suffered no injury from this contact except pain.”  Whitworth v.  Bolinger

In the execution of the warrant, a paramilitary SWAT team entered the Whitworth’s family home. Police fired seven shots while in the Whitworth home. Both of the Whitworth family dogs were shot. One of the dogs was killed. The couple’s seven year old child was witness to the raid. Jonathan Whitworth was kicked in the head. Brittany Whitworth and her child were directed at gun point.  As a result of the the raid, the police were able to find some drug paraphernalia and a small amount of cannabis. The police, initially, charged the Whitworths with child endangerment.

“The Court agrees that ideally officers would execute search warrants without pointing a gun at women and children not suspected of committing a crime. On the other hand, where officers are aware that a dangerous suspect and two large dogs are on the property, a reasonable officer could, in the heat of the moment, rely on such tactics to prod individuals to move swiftly through a potentially dangerous situation. This is especially true, where shouting and gun-pointing occurred as Mrs. Whitworth and P.M. stepped over Mr.Whitworth–who was lying on the floor–and the danger of resistance by any of the Whitworths was arguably at its highest. In this context, the behavior alleged by the Whitworths did not violate a clearly established constitutional right. The SWAT officers are thus entitled to qualified immunity on this claim.” Whitworth v.  Bolinger

This is entirely consistent with scores of cases wherein citizens were plainly wronged and yet can find no corrective, civil recourse.

In 2010, Radley Balko described the false arrest and failed civil suit of Brian Kelly. The ordeal is as instructive as it is scary.

“When Rogers returned from writing a ticket, he noticed Kelly’s camera. Rogers demanded Kelly turn the camera off and hand it over to him. Kelly complied.

Rogers then returned to his car and called John Birbeck, an assistant district attorney in Cumberland County. Rogers asked Birbeck if Kelly’s recording violated Pennsylvania’s wiretapping law. Birbeck incorrectly told him it did. Rogers then called in back-up officers and placed Kelly under arrest. During the arrest, Rogers “bumped” (the term Kelly used in his lawsuit) Kelly, causing a staple from a rugby injury to rupture, causing Kelly’s leg to bleed. Kelly spent the night (27 hours) in jail. He was eventually charged with a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed would later tell the Patriot-News that while he sympathized with Kelly not being aware that what he did was illegal, and that he might (graciously!) allow Kelly to plead to a misdemeanor, “Obviously, ignorance of the law is no defense.”

Here’s the problem: Freed was the one who was ignorant of the law. So was Birbeck. And so was Rogers. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that recording on-duty public officials is not a violation of the state’s wiretapping law because public officials have no legitimate expectation of privacy while they’re on the job. The order for Kelly to stop videotaping was illegal. So was Kelly’s arrest and his incarceration. Freed eventually dropped all charges.

Kelly filed a civil rights lawsuit against Rogers and the town of Carlisle. In May of last year, Federal District Court Judge Yvette Kane dismissed Kelly’s suit. The reason? As a police officer, Rogers is protected by the doctrine of qualified immunity. In order to even get his case in front of a jury, Kelly has to show that Rogers (a) violated Kelly’s civil rights, and (b) the rights Rogers violated have been clearly established. Even if Kelly can meet those two burdens, he must also show that Roger’s actions in violating Kelly’s rights were unreasonable.

So it isn’t enough that the police are wrong about the law. They have to be very obviously wrong for you to collect any damages from a wrongful arrest.”

Kelly’s civil suit (Kelly v. Borough Of Carlisleclaimed that the arrest had violated his rights guaranteed by the First and Fourth Amendments. Upon dismissal by summary judgement, Kelly appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Kelly’s First Amendment claim was rejected. All claims against the Borough of Carlisle were rejected. The summary judgement on Kelly’s Fourth Amendment claim was vacated and remanded for further proceedings consistent with the Third Circuit’s analysis. The remand instructed,

“that police officer who relies in good faith on a prosecutor’s legal opinion that the arrest is warranted under the law is presumptively entitled to qualified immunity from Fourth Amendment claims premised on a lack of probable cause. That reliance must itself be objectively reasonable, however, because “a wave of the prosecutor’s wand cannot magically transform an unreasonable probable cause determination into a reasonable one.”  Accordingly, a plaintiff may rebut this presumption by showing that, under all the factual and legal circumstances surrounding the arrest, a reasonable officer would not have relied on the prosecutor’s advice.”

In analyzing the holding, Harvard Law Review noted,

“The Third Circuit had previously allocated the burdens of production reasonably: once the plaintiff established a prima facie case of wrongful arrest, the court required the police officer defendant to show probable cause, and it required the defendant to prove his or her qualified immunity defense. This arrangement accommodated the plaintiff’s limited right to pretrial discovery and the officer’s information advantage regarding the plaintiff’s arrest. The court’s opinion in Kelly will upset this sensible allocation in cases in which the police officer has consulted with a prosecutor: the plaintiff will now have the burden of showing that the officer was objectively unreasonable in following the advice. Kelly is representative of the plaintiffs on whom this burden will fall. He was neither committing nor about to commit a crime. A police officer nonetheless arrested him, and he went to jail. Because the arrest was made without probable cause, it violated Kelly’s Fourth Amendment right. Moreover, the law was clearly established in the relevant jurisdiction that the officer’s basis for arresting Kelly did not constitute probable cause. Thus, a reasonable officer would have known that he was violating Kelly’s rights. Yet, solely because a prosecutor confirmed the police officer’s inaccurate interpretation of the law, Kelly (and similarly situated civil rights plaintiffs) will now be required to produce evidence to rebut the judicially mandated inference that the police officer’s violation of his clearly established constitutional right was objectively reasonable. This presumption is unlikely to increase legal consultation; instead, it will allow courts to relieve law enforcement officers of their responsibility to exercise independent professional judgment and will decrease the likelihood that constitutional violations will be redressed.”

Qualified immunity has become so expansive that it frequently fails to correct these constitutional violations.

Simultaneously, law enforcement is increasingly funded by separate revenue streams that are not directly answerable to local voter intent.  Big money is coming in from asset forfeitures and federal law enforcement grants. Each dollar acquired outside of the legislative appropriation model is one less piece of control that the citizenry wield. The funds are not enough to ignore the citizenry, but we do see prioritization that is substantially at odds with voter intent.

The Whitworth warrant was predicated on unnamed sources that claimed Jonathan Whitworth was a major cannabis dealer. That was more than five years after Columbia, Missouri passed a proposition to make the enforcement of cannabis the lowest priority by law enforcement. The measure passed by a 61% to 39% vote.

An estimated 130-150 SWAT raids occur everyday in the United States. That is some 40,000-50,000 paramilitary operations every year.

We are simultaneously escalating domestic paramilitary activity, increasing immunity from prosecution, and ceding budgetary control.

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share

Four Things for a Better 2011 – A Personal Resolution

Let’s start 2011 off right with the first installment of Steve Spellman’s On Liberty column. Steve has agreed to become a regular contributor to the KCF site and we couldn’t be more excited!

 

 

 

 

Four Things for a Better 2011 – A Personal Resolution

by Steve Spellman

It’s been a whole two years ago now that I had the opportunity to have a guest op-ed published in the Columbia Missourian newspaper, in which I proposed my personal wishes for 2009:

1. End the “Out of Control Government Spending”

2. Make government more accountable to the people

3. Not allow contentious topics to personally divide people  

4. Get bikes and cars and pedestrians to “just get along.” 

We saw limited success with any of those, I’d say…

So… I could still list those same things, but my outlook has changed /grown since 2009, the world is different, and someone writing something feels an obligation to come up with fresh stuff…so here goes… my wish list for 2011.

 

1. Let’s Break Free of the Left/Right Political Paradigm — So our last Republican president more than doubled the national debt, said things like “I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system”, defending the bailouts “to make sure the economy doesn’t collapse.” – is that conservative?  And our current Democratic President has expanded his War Powers –expanded the Drug War and signed a Health Care bill that actually ended up subsidizing the very Medical and Pharmaceutical Industries he said he aimed to punish. Are these liberal/progressive attributes? 

So you love or hate Sarah Palin or Obama or Glenn Beck or Rachel Maddow or whoever, and you pick your side and dislike the other side.  And there’s conformity and peer pressure to follow the party line on whatever issue your side is running with. If you cross sides, you are suspect.  If you notice that war at least kills people, breaks things and is really expensive, well, you must be some hippie, tree-hugging commie-pinko.  Or, if you consider that maybe there wouldn’t have been a BP oil spill if we hadn’t restricted coastal drilling, thereby pushing oil drillers out into the riskier deep-water regions, well, you are some right-wing environment hating misanthrope.  Huh?  Are we still on the: “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mantra?

Expecting everybody to get along in a diverse country is indeed too much to ask, and maybe it is hard to know who to trust, but can’t we look beyond the old broken labels and teams and think for ourselves?

 

 

2. State Sovereignty – We may have forgotten, but we have this thing called the U.S. Constitution, or so I’ve heard.  When this country started, we had individual States that were sovereign political jurisdictions that voluntarily joined together to form a “Union.” And the Constitution forming that union delegates to the Feds only the powers Enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of that founding document.  They even added a Bill of Rights right away to specifically protect personal freedoms, including the 9th and 10th amendments, which basically say that if they missed some protection here, even that power defaults to the People, or to the States making of the union. This was designed to keep the Feds from having Carte Blanc to do whatever the devil they want. 

But the Feds now collect our tax money, then we send our members of Congress up to Washington to try to get some of it back, under certain conditions, with strings attached, and after administrative fees are deducted.   And many Federal Agencies tell States and Municipalities (and the people in them) what to do, even though the Constitution allows them to do no such thing.  And it becomes more imperative to get your guy elected (which logically attracts big money to do so), as the stakes for control of Washington are that much greater, as more things are determined there.

Therefore, I believe State Sovereignty is the #1 Liberty issue for 2011, as it is so over-arching to many of today’s problems:

Health Care legislation – the recent federal Health Care bill claims to help people, but where is this constitutionally authorized?  States already have the power to implement universal health care systems if they choose to (like Massachusetts) or not (like Missouri’s Health Care Freedom Act, considered to be an act of Nullification). 

Endless Wars & Military Spending – under a Constitutional military set-up there is no standing army and all service is voluntary.  If the President wants to call up the military, he needs Congress to declare war (originally with Senators appointed by the State governments), and the individual States had to be convinced to provide troops, via their state militias.  Peace advocates should consider states rights as a solution to their concerns.  Security advocates should too: the Feds failed to prevent 9/11, the TSA is a joke, and Arizona now has to secure its own borders.

Education – Again, the Federal Dept of Education is nowhere authorized in the Constitution.  Liberal/Progressives (and lots of other folks) didn’t like Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative. Conservatives (and others) are leery of Obama’s “Race to the Top.” People of all sorts should be looking for more local control (State, local, family) of education.  Testing standards, school accreditation, and a million other criteria are all arguable issues, but at least let States determine this, instead of the Feds who brutally politicize the classroom.

War on Drugs – Whether you think Drugs are good or bad, where in the Constitution is Drug Prohibition authorized?  At least alcohol prohibition was implemented by the amendment process and after it proved to be a disaster, was wisely repealed.  Some Californians are trying to get some marijuana prohibitions removed (more Nullification).  Even Christian Conservative Pat Robertson recently observed how the War on Drugs is tearing families apart and destroying lives (see video)

Sure, States aren’t perfect, and often do things they shouldn’t; but at least those decisions, for good or for bad, are made as close as possible to the people they effect.  I need to elaborate on this more in the future…

 

3. “Think Globally, Act Locally” — Cliché, yes, but I do care about people in other parts of the world.  At the same time, what to do about it?  So many issues seem so Global or National in scale that it can make one person feel so small and insignificant, and powerless. 

But you are significant to people you interact with on a regular basis, in person and in your own community.  I feel Washington is so lost (and far away), but Jeff City is less than an hour’s drive away, and I travel by the county government buildings most every day, same with City Hall.  I know people there, and they live in the same community as me. The stuff they decide affects me – in some ways more directly than the decisions made in far away capitols. 

So I resolve to focus more on State and Local political matters in 2011 than ever before.  The State government does and should determine a lot of things (see point #2 above).  The new Boone County Presiding Commissioner, Ed Robb, could surely use an additional observer as could the Columbia City Council as they search for a new City Manager, or see what tax-incentivized business is brought to town next, or the next camera on some street corner.  See, items of local interest abound!

 

4. I’m tired of Playing Defense – Oh there’s a real plethora of things to keep government accountable for.  Like Food Bills, and TSA agents molesting people in airports, and huge Parking Garages built to largely sit empty — the list is endless…  But don’t you get tired of just playing defense all the time?

Like in football (sports analogies are popular), if the other team always has ball possession, well, you’re defense is gonna get worn out – that’s a losing proposition.  Athough I’m all for personal responsibility, we do need political leaders to protect our freedoms and it would be nice to have more leaders who consistently make GOOD policy, or provide oratory to inspire folks.  Somebody to cheer for, or feel good about getting behind would sure be nice. 

On November 27th, I posted on my Facebook page, in conjunction with a video link of Congressman Ron Paul proposing on the House floor a bill to remedy the TSA insanity that the whole country was outraged about at the time:

“You know what I want for Christmas? For there to develop a suitable peer to Ron Paul in Congress so I could watch somebody else’s video clips from the House floor that I could stand to listen to regularly. Which strikes me why Ron Paul supporters can seem cult-like: Ron Paul this, Ron Paul that. If the guy had somebody that knew [their] stuff near as well and was as articulate and passionate, well great, because (not that Dr. Paul is so unpleasant, but) I’d love to look at somebody else for a while, other than this elderly fellow, to get good speeches from inside the Federal Government.”

Well, his son, Rand has been elected from Kentucky to the Senate (Cheers, Breck!), and many of the new guys in both chambers are more liberty-oriented than every before –we’ll see what becomes of all that. Or, closer to home, our “Liberty Pal,” Tracy Ward, is running for City Council over in Kansas City and now Mitch Richards, one of our own local activists (& KCF organizing member), is throwing his hat into the ring running for 1st Ward City Council here in Columbia. What if we could influence and support local candidates for office?

I’d subscribe to these guys’ You-Tube Channels if I were you.

And local politics is more personable.  In fact, I have been friends for several years with Fred Schmidt , also a 1st Ward Candidate; a fair-dealing, smart guy in his own right.  See, that’s positive.

 

Overall, I found it far too easy to be negative in 2010.  So in 2011, I will be more positive, think for myself in the swim against the mainstream left/right tide, stand up for Missouri, clarify my local focus, and proactively take it to the streets.

That’s my take.  I respect your right to have your own priorities, but thanks for your consideration, nonetheless. 

 

Happy New Year,

Steve

 

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.

* The title is a take on the classic 1859 work “On Liberty” by English philosopher John Stuart Mill, to whom Steve admittedly does not hold a candle.

 

Share