Archive for the ‘Civil Liberties’ Category

He’d Buy a Hundred Pounds of Yeast and Some Copper Line…

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Legendary mountain moonshiner Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton has been arrested:

ATF Agent Gregory E. Moore wrote in a federal complaint unsealed Friday that an undercover agent has in less than two months bought from Sutton some 300 gallons of the untaxed liquor and was poised to buy another 500 gallons in a single transaction. Authorities instead opted to raid Sutton’s three properties, including a barn and an old school bus he allegedly used to store his ’shine, Moore wrote.

In those Thursday raids, authorities seized more than 850 gallons of moonshine and three stills with capacities of 1,000 gallons each. They also discovered “hundreds of gallons” of mash and other moonshine-making ingredients, according to a release by U.S. Attorney Russ Dedrick.

If court records and Internet accounts are correct, Sutton is an old-school moonshine man willing to do just about anything to outsmart the revenuers and protect his meal ticket. He has a list of prior convictions, including one for assaulting someone with a gun with the intent to kill, and a nasty reputation. The ATF alleged in the complaint that he went armed during his transactions with the undercover agent.

Although Sutton’s reputation as a moonshiner was well-known, he hasn’t racked up charges for making the booze since the 1970s. That changed when a still exploded at his home on Upper Road last April.

“Several local fire departments responded,” Moore wrote. “The fire was extinguished and (Sutton) was interviewed. During the interview, Sutton admitted his knowledge of the presence of approximately 650 gallons of untaxed alcohol, commonly referred to as moonshine, and further admitted to knowingly and willingly manufacturing the moonshine with the operable moonshine still that was on his property.”

Why is the ATF wasting time harassing this harmless old man?* So he makes moonshine. Why should anyone care? It’s in his blood. It’s what he does. His daddy and granddaddy probably did also. And his ancestors for centuries before, all the way back to Scotland. It was a way of life for Appalachian folks for many years. Heck, I’m sure some of my ancestors did it. The government isn’t prosecuting him because they care about safety, but because he isn’t paying taxes on it.

Moonshining a dangerous, unsavory work–but no one is forced to do it. Moonshine is fading away now, with the liberalization of liquor laws and such. Sutton is part of a dying breed. The government wants to bury his ilk for good. I say leave him be.

*No, I don’t doubt that he could be dangerous, but only to those who threaten his way of life. Leave him alone and I suspect he’ll leave you alone.

Cross posted at Tennesseefree

Partisan Prostitution Prosecution

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Michael Barone has some interesting thoughts on Eliot Spitzer and his prostitution charges. Barone points out that prostitution openly exists in our society and we seem pretty selective in how we enforce the laws against it. But this raises a bigger question: Should there be laws against it?

That Spitzer is a scumbag is undeniable. He should resign if for no other reason than sheer stupidity. Prostitution is a moral scourge, and we should expect more from our elected officials. But should it be illegal? I think not.

Prostitution is exploitative, but only to those who choose to be exploited. I feel great sympathy for many of the women involved as I think most do not actually want to be prostitutes. But I don’t believe putting them is jail is going to save them. Only they can do that, through choices or faith. We can (and should) certainly try to point them in right direction, but only they can change their lives.

In the meantime, forcing them underground and under the “protection” of pimps and gangsters is not beneficial to anyone. Prostitution should be legalized, with some regulation to prevent the spread of STDs and to remove the criminal element (as much as possible).

We should certainly make moral judgments about leaders who would involve themselves in such debasing behavior, but it doesn’t follow that such behavior should be illegal.

Cross posted at Tennesseefree

Yay Fascism!

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

The Federal Censorship Commission is at it again:

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $1.4 million fine against 52 ABC Television Network stations over a 2003 broadcast of cop drama NYPD Blue.

The fine is for a scene where a boy surprises a woman as she prepares to take a shower. The scene depicted “multiple, close-up views” of the woman’s “nude buttocks” according to an agency order issued late Friday.

So five years after the fact we get the FCC coming to protect us from the horrors of nude buttocks. I wish Congress would abolish this unconstitutional agency, but with the rise of Nanny-statism among the GOP and the legislate what is good mentality of the Democrats, the FCC will be around to suppress free speech for years to come.

Revenuers Give Up

Monday, January 7th, 2008

This is good news:

The state Revenue Department says it is ending its surveillance program to catch people bringing too many cigarettes into Tennessee to avoid higher taxes.

The whole program was nanny-statism from the start and I’m glad it’s being shelved. I doubt it’s for the reasons Commissioner Farr claims though. I bet my comspolitan friend Adrienne Royer isn’t happy…

Liberty is Unpopular

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Do all humans yearn to be free? Bret Stephens thinks not. He makes a strong argument.

Hating on Hate Crime Legislation

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

President Bush is about to use hid veto pin again, this time on a bill that would expand the definition of “hate crime” to crimes based on sexual orientation and gender. My initial reaction was good for him! “Hate crimes” legislation is an affront to the idea of equality under the law. In other words, those who murder someone for a reason other than race deserve lighter sentences.

Then Roger Abramson pointed out that Bush is generally in favor of federal “hate crimes” laws, just not those based on gender or sexual orientation (I’m guessing mostly the latter). A shame.

Gun Control Support Unchanged

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Gallup Guru reports:

Two new polls conducted since the Virginia Tech shooting deaths report measures of Americans’ attitudes towards gun control. There is little evidence in either of a surge in support for gun control in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Second Amendment Victory

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

I’m a little surprised by this. Surprised, but not disapointed:

NASHVILLE — In a surprise move, a House panel voted today to repeal a state law that forbids the carrying of handguns on property and buildings owned by state, county and city governments — including parks and playgrounds.”

I think the recent Virginia disaster — or catastrophe or nightmare or whatever you want to call it — has woken up a lot of people to the need for having guns available to law-abiding citizens,” said Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains. “I hope that is what this vote reflects.”

Bredesen’s Second Amendment Folly

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen apparently isn’t a big fan of the Second Amendment:

It appears that Phil Bredesen has a a beef with Senate Bill 1597 which would prohibit the Governor from confiscating weapons from law-abiding citizens or restricting the ability to purchase guns and ammunition during times of natural disaster or declared emergency. The Governor currently has this authority.

Republican Leader Mark Norris is receipt of a letter from Mary Freeman, the Governor’s Director of Legislation, requesting he “consider halting further action” on Senate Bill 1597. The missive states that the administration “disagrees with the intent of this legislation and therefore cannot support it.”

This isn’t good. The Second Amendment exists to protect Americans from bad situations. While hunting might be a nice result of the right to bear arms, the actual intent is to allow individuals to protect themselves, be it from criminals, terrorists, and even our own government. At times of nation crisis (Katrina, etc.), self protection is needed the most. That Bredesen would deny us the right to protect ourselves in such situations is scary indeed.

Is Big Brother Watching?

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

The editors of National Review argue that it’s time for the REAL ID ACT:

This unequivocal defense of the REAL ID Act is especially welcome in light of intense opposition to the law from some quarters. The ACLU and its fellow-travelers on the right have denounced the law as creating a national identification card, with the usual sophomoric references to the Gestapo. At the same time, state governments that have long been content with their laughably insecure identification documents are now objecting to the cost of complying with the new standards, and complaining of an unfunded mandate. The Maine legislature in January passed a nullification resolution “refus[ing] to implement the REAL ID Act.” Other states may follow Maine’s lead, and the National Governors Association has called for a delay of up to ten years.

Of the two main gripes—ideological and fiscal—the first is easy to deal with. The act simply does not create a national ID card. Any modern society must have a means of identifying people—for national security, business transactions, and more. Most countries have opted for unitary national-identification documents. The U.S., on the other hand, has over the years stumbled into a decentralized approach, with state motor-vehicle administrators taking the lead. Regardless of whether this system is ideal, it is the system we already have, and it needs to be more secure. Moreover, as Phyllis Schlafly has written, the REAL ID Act may be “the best way to prevent the demand for a national ID card, which might prove irresistible if we suffer another terrorist attack on our own soil.”

I’ll admit to getting the desire for such an act, given our broken borders and the constant terrorist threat. But I also have the same nagging feeling I get anytime I hear about an expansion of government. I also seriously doubt that the NR would be so quick to dismiss the critics if this legislation had been proposed by, oh say, Bill Clinton.

I frankly don’t have the answer, but I find myself inclined to oppose the REAL ID Act. Laws always have unintended consequences. You may like President Bush and think he won’t abuse this act, the fact remains that he won’t be president much longer and any power you give him you are also granting his successor.

UPDATE: This post is taking part in the Beltway Traffic Jam.