L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 277, June 27, 2004
"...the traffic jam at the spaceport..."
Tag-Teaming the Hunter
Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise
I don't usually go in for sports analogies, but it is so very apt in the case of Jeffrey "Hunter" Jordan versus Verizon Communications and the state of Ohio.
Tag team wrestling.
Just in case you haven't encountered any of the articles running in papers around the country and on web news services around the world, or heard any of the radio reports, or visited the various websites covering the case, let me recapitulate: While on vacation, Jordan was returning home to New Hampshire after spending the Christmas holiday with his family in Kansas. His route took him through Ashland County, Ohio, where he was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon with a license. (Yes, you did read that correctly.)
The Ohio State Highway Patrol, for reasons of their own (either incredible stupidity and incompetence or a desire to destroy Jordan's reputation with intentional lies, take your pick) announced to the media that Jordan's car alarm remote control key fob was an explosives detonator, his perfectly legal and properly stored semi-auto rifle was an assault rifle, and his Lord of the Rings collectors replica sword and brush-clearing machete were part of a "weapons stash."
At this point, someone saw fit to contact Jordan's employer, Verizon Communications, to share these lies with management. Verizon then violated its contract with Jordan's union by suspending him without pay, neglecting little details like required hearings or even giving a reason for the suspension. Suddenly, Jordan was deprived of the income he would need to fight the bogus charge in Ohio.
Ashland County Prosecutor Robert DeSanto sent the case to a grand jury, conveniently forgetting to mention to them that Ohio law permitted concealed carry in some circumstances, that Jordan had a CCW permit, and that the law under which he was asking them to indict the man was obsolete, having been superseded by a new law making it even clearer that concealed carry is legal. Jordan was not allowed to meet the grand jury and speak in his own defense. Naturally, he was indicted, arraigned, and a trial date set.
Verizon, apparently having figured out that it would end up having to give Jordan his back pay for the months of unjustified suspension, found a way out of its mess without giving him money that he could use for his legal defense. Verizon simply fired Jordan, retroactively to the day after it had suspended him. The apparent rationale for the firing was that Jordan was a criminal. Of course, it ignored the fact that no court had determined that. So much for presumed innocence.
Possibly embarrassed by the international attention drawn by the affair, DeSanto moved the case to another court which can only handle misdemeanors, not the felony charge Jordan had been slapped with originally. Clearly a plea bargain had been made.
Jordan's union had been negotiating with Verizon. It isn't hard to figure that once two idiot managers had gotten it into this mess -- Verizon would have to maintain the position that "Ohio says Jordan is a felon, so we can fire him." But suddenly that was no longer the case. How embarrassing for Verizon; it might have to actually settle with Jordan and the union.
Even as Jordan was on the road to Ashland, Ohio to ink the deal, DeSanto yanked the offer. And he moved to delay Jordan's trial for another three and a half months.
I can just imagine Verizon executives chuckling gleefully at the coincidental restoral of their excuse for depriving Jordan of his income. And if DeSanto follows the news, he is surely aware that Jordan still has no job income to pay his lawyers to fight him in court. At this point, you have to figure that Verizon and DeSanto couldn't be tag-teaming Jordan any better than if they were doing it intentionally. Isn't coincidence great?
But DeSanto and Verizon forgot that tag team matches generally involve teams in both corners. Jordan is not alone; he is backed up by activists, writers, speakers, lawyers, civil rights organizations, and anonymous individuals from around the world.
So DeSanto and the prosecutor's office can look forward to continuing media scrutiny and criticism during an election year. And Verizon now has a boycott which has already cost them much more than Jordan's withheld pay, and has become the target of a googlebombing project. And plenty of individuals are donating money to help cover Jordan's legal and living expenses in spite of the other teams efforts.
But a government and a multi-billion dollar corporation have far more assets at their disposal than does Jordan, with the disparity growing greater as Jordan's money is depleted. He can use a few more partners to help cover the legal fees, pay his mortgage, and buy food. Chip in if you can.
And together freedom lovers can start tag-teaming DeSanto and Verizon.