Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 627, July 10, 2011

"The US Constitution is a Trojan Horse"

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Like Hell You Will!
by William Stone III

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

As readers of The Libertarian Enterprise know, last January I was involved in an incident in which libertarian activist Shaun Lee was sent to a psychiatric ward on entirely trumped-up charges. In that instance, she was released in a matter of hours thanks to the activism of libertarians around the world. It was, as we termed at the time, “a win for the good guys.”

On July 2, 2011—the 235th anniversary of the approval of the Declaration of Independance (it was signed on July 4)—we scored another win, using the same methods. Freedom movement activists should take particular note of how this was accomplished. This is how we win.

On Saturday, an activist who uses the online alias Ethan Lee Vita was hitchhiking through central Illinois with his friend Nicola Zawsome. They were stopped by Officer John C. Mobeck of the Bartonville, Illinois police. Mobeck asked Ethan if Ethan had ever been fingerprinted: Ethan replied that he had. Mobeck asked why: Ethan replied that he didn't see how it was relevant.

At that point, Ethan was arrested for obstruction of justice. Nicola was cited on lesser charges—though she was repeatedly threatened with arrest. Only her acceptance of citations kept her out of jail.

Keep in mind that at no time were either Ethan or Nicola in violation of any law, nor were they uncooperative. Ethan simply wondered why it should be necessary to provide information about a prior fingerprinting that had absolutely no bearing on the current circumstances.

Also keep in mind that this was a three-day holiday weekend. Businesses (including attorneys) were closed for the Independance Day holiday. By arresting Ethan on the first day of the long weekend, Mobeck’s explicit intent was that Ethan should rot in a cage for a full three days, pending a hearing on Tuesday.

Nicola was summarily abandoned. She had few resources, no money for a motel room, no friends in the area, and nowhere to turn. The officer’s intent was that she sleep alone in the ditch, in a strange city, hundreds of miles from home.

She sent a plea for help on Twitter and Facebook using Ethan’s accounts.

This crossed the news feed of Shaun Lee, Jim Davidson, and myself. While we’re not local to Peoria by an means, we are at least in the same general vicinity (give or take a State). We re-broadcast her call for help.

Phone calls were made—including a cold-call to McLean County, Illinois Libertarian Party Chairman Lex Green, who sent out feelers. A Facebook friend, Josh Carter, offered to drive three hours from St. Louis to Peoria. Ultimately an anonymous, kind-hearted local Peorian took in Nicola for the weekend.

A ChipIn was started for Ethan’s bail of $244. Four hours later, we had the money in a PayPal account. Unfortunately, it takes several days for money to be transferred out of a PayPal account and into a brick-and-mortar bank.

Requests were made for someone to cover the amount with physical cash in exchange for transfer into their PayPal account. In minutes, Brad Spangler announced that he had a PayPal debit card.

Come morning, the cash was transferred to Brad in Kansas City; Brad ordered a Western Union wire transfer online, and Nicola posted bail in Peoria.

The result: the bad guys’ villainous plans were foiled in less than eighteen hours.

As with all unwarranted arrests, it isn’t a complete win. Unfortunately, a complete win became impossible the moment this particular police officer was given a badge. However, in this case, the bad guys had intended that Ethan rot in a cage for three straight days—over the Independance Day holiday.

Allow that to sink in for a moment:

This is the holiday in which Americans celebrate the birth of the only nation on Earth in which an individual is free to own him or herself. Two centuries later, conditions have degraded so badly that peaceful, non-violent individuals’ lives may interrupted for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

One was intended to spend three days in a cage. The other—well, frankly, they could have cared less about her. They took Ethan to a cage and left Nicola to sleep in the ditch.

But we stopped them.

Using the power of the Internet, social networking, and free online services, we stood up and told the bad guys, “Like hell you will!”

Ethan still faces a hearing. Hopefully he’ll get a judge with some sense, who will realize that John Mobeck is a cruel, heartless excuse for a human being who wouldn’t comprehend the meaning of “To Protect and Serve,” if you branded it across his forehead. Unfortunately, in this day and age, one can never be sure. Freedom activists are being jailed ever more frequently and for increasingly immoral reasons.

But this is how we win. This is how we stop the bad guys in their tracks and foil their plans. We talk to each other, we broadcast to our social networks, and we use the tools that run on the Internet—they are, after all, free. We don’t leave each other behind, under any circumstances. When one of us has a problem, the rest of us pull together, shout our injustice from the rooftops, and we come running.

Most of all, we use our brains. We think through the possibilities. We throw our individual talents and ideas at a problem until the problem is solved.

Amazingly, it’s easy. Throughout all this, the only individual who had to so much as leave their computer was the person who came to Nicola’s aid in Peoria. The rest of us just kept our eyes open, pointed, clicked, typed, and made phone calls. Some generous souls gave money for bail, but with only one exception these were small amounts. Because of the nature of ChipIn and social networks, even the large donors didn’t have to contribute much: no single donation exceeded $80.

My deepest thanks go out to everyone who participated, particularly the ChipIn donors and the individual who came to Nicola’s aid in Peoria. As always, my sometimes-cohorts Shaun Lee and Brad Spangler deserve a big pat on the back.

Once more, it’s a proud day to be a libertarian. A vicious law enforcement agent intended that a peaceful individual should spend his Independance Day in a cage—and his friend should spend her nights alone in a ditch. As individuals, we stood up, stood together, and said, “Like hell you will!”

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