Toeing the Line

This Country Is Going to Jail

November 16, 2012

Reading through the EPA’s bragging blog is enough to make you deathly ill. Case after case is proudly listed as they waste people’s time on hunches and throw people in jail for things nobody can understand. Krister Evertson is an inventor and entrepreneur (remember those?) who is trying to create things that improve our lives. But while transporting some sodium metal he “failed to take protective measures to reduce the risk that the transported material would react and damage persons or property” and was sentenced to two years in prison with a half-million-dollar fine. He didn’t damage anyone’s property, but he may have. His company is now bankrupt. Thanks, guys!

In New Mexico, there is a wildlife preserve that is so sacred, you can get arrested merely for walking on it. Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser learned this the hard way when he went to jail for possibly wandering on it while stranded in a blizzard. The forestry officials quizzed him after he recovered from the ordeal in the hospital. They told him they wanted to help him find his snowmobile. Based on his hazy recollection of his route, they postulated that he must have come through the reserve. They hit him with a $5,000 fine and six months in prison. Were they worried he broke a frozen branch while stumbling through the snow?

In northern Idaho, Jack Baron asked the local government if he could unblock a ditch that was flooding his land. They said fine, but after he did it, the EPA gave him a fine. They claimed he was—get this—disturbing a wetland. This brought a felony charge and tens of thousands of dollars of debt. He and his wife lost everything and now live in a trailer.

Our incarceration rate is higher than that in China, Russia, Cuba, or Iran. We have “5 percent of the world’s population. But…almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.” There is a drug arrest in this country every 19 seconds. Charles Lynch faced 100 years in prison for selling medical marijuana legally. There are around 75,000 arrests yearly for prostitution.

If someone violates your rights, run and tell a police officer or a grownup. No, wait—run away from the police officer. Nope, don’t do that, either. OK, if an authority figure violates your rights, tell the world. Film it and put it on YouTube. You might get arrested, but you’ll get released because these people hate attention. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

On Tuesday, a tourist from Atlanta sued the city of New York for false arrest. Cops trapped him into “stealing” $27 by leaving it in an empty old purse under a bench. As he put it to the New York Post, “I couldn’t believe New York City has the resources to have five undercover police officers sitting all day in the bushes looking for people like me.”

But this isn’t only New York City, it’s the entire country. And it’s not only picking up discarded purses that’s a crime, it’s everything. We’ve gone from a country where everyone is born a sinner to one where everyone grows up to be a criminal. Our sins used to be between us and God. Now that we’ve granted the state with godlike power, it’s up to them to assign our penance. Well, I for one ain’t havin’ it. It’s time we remembered the first word on the Gadsden flag is “Don’t.”


Daily updates with TM’s latest