No Safe Seat at the Feast

by Sunni Maravillosa

Breathe in ... breathe out. Good. Do it again. I didn't need the literal help remembering to breathe as I pounded through the frigid streets of this midwestern town, but repeating that phrase in my mind helped calm me. It also helped quell the all-too-real nausea that swept over me, and blocked reviewing what I'd just heard that caused it.

A group of us -- Hunter, a couple other LRT friends and Knights, and my family -- had just sat down to what promised to be a nice dinner. Jeff Jordan, AKA "the Hunter" to almost all his friends for years, had just been released from prison in Ohio. A traffic stop for speeding had turned into a nightmare (you can catch up on the story if necessary at the Liberty Round Table's web site). Apparently something during the stop spooked the Ohio Highway patrolman (he claims he saw spare magazines or something like that on Hunter's belt), and upon searching Hunter, apparently found two loaded weapons concealed on his person. After two nights in jail, Hunter was free on bond, and facing a felony charge of carrying a concealed weapon in Ohio. We were among the several friends close enough to help get him food, shelter, and clothing while the OHP retained possession of Hunter's SUV and all its contents.

Hunter had told us about the stop, of course, and now we were moving on to other topics ... including those days in jail. It was chilling to hear my very good friend, a longtime ally in the freedom fight, talking about how "it wasn't so bad" and how his jailers (Ashland county sheriffs, not the OHP) "were just doing their jobs". How could an individual who loves freedom as much as Hunter does actually say those things?? But I've never been in jail; I've never undergone the ordeals of realizing my worst nightmare is coming true, of dealing with those who think it's acceptable to restrict my freedom for something as trivial as driving faster than they think acceptable or painting my fence an unapproved color; I've never been tossed in a cell for days, unable to access anyone who might help, unknowing if anyone knows what's happened to me ... or cares about it. Until I have, I can't say what my response would be.

Then, after Hunter started winding down, first one friend, then another, began telling similar tales. Only some of them were even worse -- they'd done nothing wrong, yet come to the unwanted attention of LEOs (law enforcement officers) anyway. One recounted how he'd discovered his pickup truck missing from its usual parking spot. When he called the police to report the theft, he got tossed in jail -- and left there for a week! -- because an LEO claimed to have received an anonymous tip that someone "saw somebody selling pot from it". Nothing was found on my friend during the search, and his alibis all checked out, yet he was kept in a cage simply because some cop wanted him to be there.

Another spoke up, telling how he'd been something of a lead-foot when he was younger, and the local cops liked to harass him. After finding an "unregistered" handgun in his car during one traffic stop (this was in a state that allows concealed carry, but also allows pre-emption, so knowing all the local laws is next to impossible), he was held for several days while the LEOs apparently tried to get some dirt on him. Having failed, he was eventually released -- but he never got his gun back, of course.

My mind began to spin -- how could these things have happened? I looked at my dear friends -- all of them individuals whom I know, and trust with my life -- and the thought of them being caged like animals simply because some jackboot was on a power trip became too much for me to bear. Trying to utter something about needing some fresh air, I grabbed my coat and headed out the door.

Breathe in ... breathe out. Good. Do it again. I'm not a Pollyanna; I know that the justice system is heavily rigged in the state's favor, and, being an entity of the state, it has become the "just us" system in terms of those it "protects and serves". I regularly discover news reports of similar -- or even worse -- outrages peaceable individuals suffer at the hands of politicians, police, and courts alike in my work. So I'm not naive about what's going on. Still, to hear all this was a shock. Why didn't they ever tell me? .... What good would it have done to know?

I found myself outside the town's "administrative complex" -- where the police, local court, and other busybodies are housed. Suddenly sapped of energy, I sank onto a bench. Staring at the low, ugly utilitarian box, nearly empty at the relatively late hour, I tried to understand. How can those who work in that place actually think they're doing good? What goes through their minds to justify their thefts of people's time, money, and lives, every single day?

I couldn't, of course. I've never wanted to control others, for as long as I can remember in my adult life. If a person left me alone, I'd leave him alone. If someone wanted my cooperation, she'd get it if she could persuade me that doing so was in my interest as well; threats and other strong-arm tactics simply brought out my stubbornness. It had a lot of exercise courtesy of my siblings as I was growing up; rarely is it bested.

A police car drove by; the man inside looked at me with more than a passing glance. I considered my dress -- jeans, cowboy boots, black leather coat -- and the possessions in my pockets, some of which would undoubtedly "alarm" him, maybe even be illegal to carry, and I realized that if he wanted to, he could come back and give me the same treatment Hunter and my other friends had experienced. Maybe even worse. I no doubt looked "suspicious", an unfamiliar person sitting alone on that cold January night. As soon as I thought I'd be out of his visual range, I got up and went back to join the others, taking a circuitous route just in case he tried to find me.

Breathe in ... breathe out. Good. Do it again. As I pounded my way through the streets, barely better for my walk, a Rush tune popped into my head -- not an unusual occurrence for me. But the song was one I don't often think of; the lyric that came to mind goes "There is no safe seat at the feast ..."

I almost laughed at the irony and despair that surged through me. So many individuals still believe the myth of America -- that this is the freest country on the planet, that if you're right you'll get your day in court and you'll be vindicated by the jury, in a fair trial that is your "right". So many Libertarians cling to the idea that the machinery of the state works, that it's just "in the wrong hands" -- and that if Libertarians are elected, the machinery will work properly. So many libertarians believe that some amount of "state service" is necessary to ensure and protect our liberties -- that voluntary arrangements and free markets just cannot provide for the well-being of peaceable individuals, nor build healthy societies.

Here's a metaphorical clue-by-four for everyone who fits into one of those categories: There is no safe seat at the feast. If you grant the state any authority over your property, body, or time, it will trickle through that chink and carve a cave out of your life and your mind. There's simply no way to accommodate both individual liberty and the involuntary rule of some over others.

While I'm giving them away, here's another clue-by-four: No one will ever value your freedom as much as you. If you value it little, you'll get what you deserve. If you value it highly and act accordingly, the road will be rough, but at least at the end of your days you'll be able to hold your head high, knowing that that you fought a good and righteous fight.

published at Endervidualism on  2/13/04

Sunni Maravillosa has a web site with a great blog and many other features, visit it at - http://www.sunnimaravillosa.com/