Freedom Updates: December 2, 2000

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com

Freedom Updates: December 2, 2000

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


DiLorenzo Touts Secession

Thomas DiLorenzo, Austrian Economist, political writer, and member of the Mises Institute, makes the case for the right of secession in a recent article. He writes:

The founders understood that democracy would inevitably evolve into a system of legalized plunder unless the plundered were given numerous escape routes and constitutional protections... The most important protection was the right of secession... (http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/dilorenzo2.html)

The piece adds to a growing body of popular writings in the wake of the botched elections and close presidential race that focuses attention on a political strategy once considered a sacred right. DiLorenzo encapsulates some of the American history surrounding secession.

It is unfortunate that the last serious secessionist movement in this country was marred by the evils of slavery. I have never spent the time to learn the history of the Civil War in as much depth as I'd like. However, I've sometimes wondered what America would look like today had the old Southern states simply beat Lincoln to the punch to free the slaves. That the Northern victors engaged in revisionist history I have no doubt. But certainly the abhorrent practice of slavery made it easier to demonize the South.

America's first secession (from Britain) continues to spark the passions of our fellow citizens (note the success of the film The Patriot). For too long the concept of secession has been unjustly linked to the coincidence of slavery during the 1800s. It's time to put secession back on its noble pedestal. Even if we deem such action imprudent at present, it should remain always in our minds a course of last resort.


Bini Gets Probation

Officer Joseph Bini, who signed the faulty search warrant that became Ismael Mena's death warrant, got probation on December 1. One man gets death, another probation. Equality under the law, Denver style.

Incredibly, Bini wants his job back. He said, "I believe the way I can make amends for what has occurred would be to return to the department with a new passion and understanding" (Rocky Mountain News December 2). What, like the "understanding" that it's wrong to SWAT raid an innocent man's house and kill him?

Bini also said, "I will not live a day without remembering the consequences of my participation." Unfortunately, Mena's wife and nine children probably feel that sentiment rather more strongly. At a bare minimum, Bini should be immediately fired and forced to repay the $400,000 restitution funded by Denver taxpayers.


The Felon Vote

Al Gore wants to "count every vote," unless you're in the military or in a heavily Republican county. In Florida, even felons can vote. The Associated Press relates, "At least 445 Florida felons voted illegally Nov. 7... The Miami Herald reported in its Friday editions." Whether the felons properly punched their chads or merely "dimpled" them was not discovered.


After Prohibition

The first criticisms I read of drug prohibition were those published by the Cato Institute. It was with some satisfaction, then, that I read Michelle Malkin's line in her December 2 Creators Syndicate column, "A new book of essays issued by the libertarian Cato Institute, After Prohibition: An Adult Approach to Drug Policies in the 21st Century, sheds harsh light on what eminent economist Milton Friedman calls the 'social tragedy' of drug prohibition." Malkin titled her article, "Another victim of failed drug war."

It's amazing to me how much ground we've gained on this issue just in my political lifetime. Ideas indeed have consequences. It might take awhile, but it's true.

As further evidence, Paul Campos wrote in the September 26 Rocky Mountain News, "The lessons of America's experience with Prohibition cannot be repeated often enough: To a large extent, our drug laws create the disease they are supposed to cure."

By the way, the Cato book can be purchased from Laissez Faire Books at the following web address:

http://www.laissezfairebooks.com/product.cfm?op=view&pid=ED8258&aid=10025


No 'Guilt' for Activist

Medical marijuana activist Rory Poliac pleaded guilty December 1 to misdemeanor possession of the drug (http://www.denverpost.com/news/news1202h.htm). Poliac, who takes marijuana to ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, originally faced a felony charge for cultivating the plant. Because of Poliac's high-profile case and health problems, Arapahoe County District Attorney Jim Peters showed leniency. (He's lucky the feds didn't prosecute the case.)

Score a partial victory for the good guys. However, even the fact that he had to plead "guilty" to a misdemeanor is abhorrent and a grave miscarriage of justice. There can be no "guilt" associated with gardening a medicinal plant. The only guilt lies with those who wrote the prohibitionist laws, those who arrested Poliac, and those who prosecuted him.

Note: Much of the material presented below deals with issues several weeks old. So if you only want breaking news, stop reading now.


Keep Reno Out of Paper Mergers

Janet Reno is the last person who has any business in the merger of the Denver newspapers. Yet the Rocky Mountain News ran the headline October 19 (4B), "Reno urged to hold hearings on News-Post business merger."

I think the merger will be bad for the community. My sympathies lie with the News, which seems to be getting the worse end of the deal. Probably the end-game will be a single paper called the Denver Rocky Mountain Post or some such.

However, my opinion is not relevant, either. The owners of the newspapers have the inalienable right to control their papers as they see fit, not as some fascist overseer demands.

Ultimately, freedom works best. Even though I think the mergers will have slightly negative consequences for readers in the short-term, upholding the principle of well-defined property rights is immeasurably more important to our well-being. Besides, with radio, television, and especially the internet, Coloradans can get timely news from around the world from a multitude of sources. Both the major Denver papers could disappear, and we would adjust swiftly. The most robust new medium, the internet, is also the least regulated by politicians and their bureaucratic minions. That's no accident.


More Review of Columbine Problems

Confirming earlier reports of bullying at Columbine High School, Regina Huerter discussed the problem in her The Culture of Columbine, a document produced for the Denver district attorney's office. She said in the report, "All students with whom I spoke, independent of their status at school, acknowledged there was bullying" Rocky Mountain News December 2, 4A). Columbine's principal had previously denied allegations of serious bullying, even though the problem has now been detailed in multiple studies.

A quote from an older paper describes another problem at Columbine: the police reaction during the crisis. The October 15 News quoted Adam Walinksy, who founded the military-style Police Corps: "You have to be staggered, stunned by the performance of the law enforcement people who were there -- standing around outside, dithering, trying to figure what the bureaucratic rules were while kids were bleeding to death in the halls."


Glass Takes on Clinton

Bob Glass, co-founder of the Tyranny Response Team, publisher of Partisan Magazine, owner of Paladin Arms in Longmont, helped organize a protest October 14 against Bill Clinton, in town that day for a fund-raiser.

The story in the Rocky Mountain News the next day shows that Glass' "in your face" strategy works well for some purposes. Glass was quoted in the paper: "Bill Clinton's administration has done more to diminish the concept of individual rights than any other in history... Instead of paying his respects to the brave young men and women who gave their lives for our freedom [in the Cole tragedy], he chose to come to Denver to fleece the flock."


Rosen a Real Champ

Sometimes I get so frustrated with Mike Rosen, and I've vocally opposed some of his positions. However, he was right on with his analysis of Amendment 22. I wanted to go on record as supporting Rosen for all the times he does the right thing. Rosen said in his Rocky Mountain News column October 27, "This is a feel-good proposal that will have no substantial effect on illegal gun use by criminals, while at the same time unnecessarily inconveniencing law-abiding citizens... The next 'loophole' gun-control activists would go after would be [other] kinds of private sales, working, in increments, toward their real goal: universal gun registration and, ultimately, confiscation." Maybe there's a radical in there somewhere, after all!

Notably, Rosen also took the libertarian position on medical marijuana and government waiting periods for abortion.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com