L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 54, August 31, 1999
"We didn't start the fire ..."
Wo Sind Deine Papieren?
by Scott Paul Graves
Special to TLE
Last weekend, I went camping with same friends. We took along all the
requirements for a successful camping excursion; bikes, alcohol,
tobacco and firearms. Sort of a BATF weekend. The bikes, of course,
were off road motorcycles, and that is where our story gets
entertaining. We were camping in a National Forest Area, where it is
legal to discharge firearms, where no permit is required for camping,
where there are none of the usual signs listing every little crime
you can commit. A very nice place to go, or so we thought.
Well, our story begins with us returning to camp, after a good long
ride. We were looking forward to roasting sausages over an open fire.
On a personal note, my Blair Witch Project Semi-Official Weenie
Roaster worked flawlessly, and I was very proud of my engineering
feat. After we had eaten, and were thinking about an afternoon of
battling the evil minions of the soda can army, a green Jeep Cherokee
pulled up, and out came a fellow we refer to as "The Tree Nazi".
This fellow came over and engaged us in polite conversation, and
asked us about the bikes. We of course were vague about details,
knowing what these Nazis were capable of. After determining that we
intended to ride the bikes, he told us that we needed "Ze Papers!!" A
permit was required, not for hiking, biking, horseback riding, or
camping. Only for motorcycles. No sign told us about the permits, we
were "expected to know". The Tree Nazi told us that ignorance was no
defense and he could arrest us. We could look forward to 6 months in
jail and up to $5000 in fines. All for riding some rebuilt bikes in a
wilderness area, without permits that we knew nothing about.
We politely asked the Tree Nazi for a brochure of laws that applied
to these Wilderness areas, but he claimed no such paper existed, and
that he, "had all the laws in his head." Sounds like the typical
southern sheriff of the 50's and 60's saying, "Boy, I am the law
round these parts, git a rope." The Dutch Connection was with us, and
in his usual cynical manner asked the Tree Nazi about the legality of
breathing, to which the thug replied that breathing was fine,
oblivious to the connotation of tyranny his statement held. This is a
rather frightening thought, that the state will arrest you for such
"crimes" you were ignorant of. Now certainly I do not argue if you
somehow were unaware that murder was illegal you would get away with
it. I say that if a countries legal code takes more than a few 3 by 5
cards to print it on, you have too much government.
We have thousands of laws on the books in this country, at local,
county, state and federal level, the violation of the least of them
will result in severe punishment. When you start adding in
regulations various agencies place upon industry, you get into the
millions. Again, violation of the least of them will result in severe
punishment. When ignorance of the law is no defense, how can you
defend yourself? A lawyer would have to be kept on retainer, and you
would have to double check each activity you were about to engage in.
I wonder if being a lawyer and being in Congress would be a conflict
of interest? Passing laws that they will later interpret for clients
could be looked at as a misuse of power. Drumming up business for
when they loose an election and return to private practice. No wonder
our legal system went down the toilet when the majority of Congress
was no longer businessmen, but lawyers. I have to ask, if I were to
go around putting super glue in locks so as to get more business
fixing those same locks, would that be moral? I think it would be,
using the "Official Congressional Morality Model".
Scott Paul Graves e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
President and CEO of Lawyers Guns and Money Ltd.
adding epicycles: "... a last-ditch attempt to patch up an already
fatally flawed theory by the addition of further improbabilities."
-- Source: Instant Physics, by Tony Rothman, Ph.D.
Sounds like every "guns are bad" argument I ever heard. -- TLE
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