Life in Prison For Using a Gun in Self-Defense

by Will

Liberty Minute June 11 2014

Ronald Williams fired his gun in what he described as self-defense without injuring another human being – yet he was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

Williams fired five gunshots well above the heads of four gay men he believed were threatening him. His intention was to scare them away, not to injure them. Nevertheless, six years ago, he was convicted of four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, each of which carried a mandatory sentence of 20 years in prison.

Even if one assumes that Williams committed a crime, it’s not clear that his offense could be construed as assault, rather than reckless endangerment or unlawful discharge of a firearm. Furthermore, even if the assault charge were considered valid, nothing in Florida statutes requires that the sentences be served consecutively, rather than concurrently. If the latter option had been chosen, Williams would be facing twenty years in prison.

Williams is not the only Florida resident serving prison time for an act of armed self-defense. Marissa Alexander is currently serving three concurrent 20-year terms for firing a warning shot over the head of a man who had abused her.

Cases of this kind illustrate how the US wound up with the largest prison population in history.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Neither "Authority" nor "Revolution" Can Justify Murder

by Will

Liberty Minute June 10 2014

Three human beings were murdered in Las Vegas on June 8. Two of them were officers with the Metro Police Department, whose names have been widely publicized, and whose deaths will be the focus of an elaborate public ritual of state-focused mourning. The third, whose name has not been disclosed, was described as a “civilian,” which means that his violent death will not be similarly commemorated.

All three of the victims were irreplaceable human beings made in the image of our Creator, and were loved by their now-bereaved families. One of them, Officer Alyn Beck, was distantly related to me by marriage. Before killing themselves, the murderers reportedly described their crime as a revolutionary act.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval properly referred to the killings as an “act of senseless violence.” That description applies just as appropriately to scores of incidents in which officers of the Metro PD have killed or mutilated innocent people – and have never been held accountable for those crimes.

The act of murder arises from violent impulses innate to fallen, unredeemed man. It cannot be justified by invoking authority, or revolutionary designs. Just as all individuals are irreplaceable, all acts of murder are reprehensible.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Once You've Been the Hammer, it's no Fun to be the Nail

by Will

Liberty Minute June 9 2014

Sandy, Utah resident Mark Shurtleff recently joined the ever-growing ranks of Americans whose homes have been violated, and families have been terrorized, by SWAT raids.

Shurtleff’s 17-year-old daughter was  in the bathroom when the strangers in body armor trained the laser sights of automatic weapons on her chest and ordered her out of the home.

“These John Wayne wannabees, freakin’ Clinton Eastwood `Dirty Harry’ tactics were absolutely unacceptable and unneeded,” Shurtleff complained on a local talk radio program.

Shurtleff’s home was one of three hit by SWAT raids on the morning of June 3. Shurtleff is a former Utah attorney general. He and his successor, John Swallow, are suspected of campaign finance law violations. The third subject of the SWAT raids, Renae Cowley, is a former campaign staffer to Swallow.

Nobody associated with that investigation is suspected of a violent crime. The Utah State Police and FBI insist that the raids were carried out in compliance with the standard operating procedures that were followed during Shurtleff’s tenure in office, when he authorized SWAT raids against such targets as rave parties and video merchants suspected of copyright violations.

Shurtleff’s complaint is the predictable protest of a hammer unaccustomed to being treated like a nail.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

"The Future is Too Good to Waste on Lies"

by Will

Liberty Minute June 6 2014

Bowe Bergdahl’s detractors have depicted him as a coward, a shirker, a deserter, and a traitor. They claim that Bowe’s desertion cost the lives of U.S. soldiers sent to rescue him.

The claim that Americans lost their lives trying to find Bowe cannot be substantiated in US military records: Those casualties appear to have occurred after search and rescue operations were suspended.

Furthermore, one reason Bowe abandoned his post was his growing frustration over serving in a platoon that had lost all unit cohesion and military discipline. He also protested that the unit was being used to carry out pointless missions that entailed unnecessary risks to American lives, and inflicted a huge toll on Afghan civilians.

In an e-mail to his parents just before disappearing, Bowe reported that “The few good [sergeants] are getting out as soon as they can, and they are telling us privates to do the same.” He decided to act on that advice immediately, explaining to his parents that “The future is too good to waste on lies.”

In his reply to his son, Bob Bergdahl advised Bowe, “Obey your conscience.” For doing so, Bowe spent five years in Taliban captivity, which may be a prelude to years or decades in a US military prison.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Should Bob Bergdahl Sacrifice his Son on the Altar of the Nation-State?

by Will

Some Neo-cons Wish Bowe Hadn't Come Home

by Will

Liberty Minute June 3 2014

While the family of Bowe Bergdahl celebrates the release of the only American solider taken prisoner during the Afghan war, some supporters of that misbegotten venture are upset by the prisoner exchange that freed him.

Five years ago, Fox News contributor Ralph Peters described Bowe – who had expressed misgivings about the war in messages to his family – as a deserter and suggested that the Taliban would do the US a favor if they were to execute him.

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, an aspiring presidential contender, appears to believe that the greater good would have been served by letting Bowe remain in captivity. According to Cruz, exchanging five terrorists for a US POW gives “every other terrorist … an incentive to capture more soldiers."

The Gitmo detainees, however, had no proven role in terrorist attacks, on in attacks on US military personnel. Four of them were scheduled to be released within a year. As the Christian Science Monitor points out, the US government has supported Afghan figures whose backgrounds are at least as bad as that of the five released detainees.

Bowe Bergdahl’s release from Afghan detention is an unalloyed blessing. Tragically, thousands of other US military personnel remain deployed there as hostages of the US government’s institutional vanity.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Involuntary Servitude in Colorado

by Will


Liberty Minute June 2 2014


The State of Colorado doesn’t recognize the novel social arrangement called same-sex marriage. Denver businessman Jack Phillips, owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop, declines to accept business from same-sex couples who want wedding cakes.


Like the Colorado state government, Phillips refuses to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages. Apparently, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is an exclusive privilege enjoyed by the state government: Philips was threatened with fines and imprisonment for refusing to make a wedding cake for a homosexual couple.


Phillips inflicted no injury on the supposedly aggrieved couple who file a civil rights complaint against him. There were nineteen other bakeries in the area willing to accommodate them, and the couple soon found a baker willing to produce a cake decorated with the rainbow emblem of the gay rights movement. The administrative law judge who ruled against Philips granted that “Colorado does not recognize same-sex marriages” yet insisted, without explanation, that “[this] fact does not excuse discrimination” by a business owner.


The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ordered Phillips to submit to invasive scrutiny of his business practices, and inflict sensitivity training on his employees. Phillips has responded by announcing that he’ll simply stop making wedding cakes for anybody – unless, of course, the state’s tolerance Gestapo compels him to do so.


Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

What Country Are We Living In?

by Will


Liberty Minute May 30 2014


In Habersham County, Georgia, a SWAT team kicked in the door of a residence at 3:00 a.m. Without looking, one of the raiders hurled an incendiary grenade called a “flash-bang” into the living room. The grenade landed in a crib and exploded in the face of a sleeping 19-month-old baby, who suffered severe burns.


The raid was carried out after a confidential informant allegedly bought drugs at the home. The informant – almost certainly a petty criminal receiving both financial compensation and leniency from the police – insisted that no children were present at the address. The infant and his mother were visiting at the time of the raid.


Sheriff Joey Terrell declares that he stands behind what his SWAT team did, and that “There’s nothing to investigate, there’s nothing to look at.” Although his SWAT team was traumatized by the experience, it will continue staging military-style home invasions. According to the sheriff, “Bad things can happen. That’s just the world we live in.”


If anyone is to blame, Terrell maintains, it was the alleged drug dealers who resided at the home. Terrell characterized them as “domestic terrorists” – a term better applied to the kind of people who kick in doors at 3:00 a.m. and burn sleeping infants in their cribs.


Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Is Threatening a Terrorist a Crime?

by Will

Liberty Minute May 29 2014

In their candid moments, IRS officials express unalloyed contempt for the citizens whom they plunder. Former IRS revenue officer Richard Yancey recalls that his supervisors routinely employed “the language of war” and dehumanized their victims. One of them ended a profanity-laced tirade by telling Yancey: “Deadbeats – if it were up to me, I’d line ‘em all up against a wall and shoot them.”

Rhode Island resident Andrew Calcione expressed similar sentiments toward an IRS agent who demanded $330,000 in back taxes. In a moment of surpassing foolishness Calcione left a voicemail on the agent’s work phone threatening him and his family. He then left a second message containing something akin to an apology.

The agent, who represents an extortion syndicate, called the police. Now Calcione has been convicted of threatening a federal official and may spend twenty years in prison.

Former IRS District Chief David Patnoe observed that “More tax is collected by fear and intimidation than by the law. People are afraid of the IRS.” Such an agency is best described as a terrorist organization. There’s no excuse for Calcione to threaten the IRS agent or his family, but his ill-considered conduct was not substantively different from what the IRS does as a matter of public policy.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Why Are Elites Allowed to Promote Terrorism?

by Will

Liberty Minute May 28 2014

If the political class were ruled by the laws it makes for the rest of us, California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher would be in prison. More specifically, he would be in open-ended military custody without judicial remedy of any kind.


Rohrabacher was among the 230 Congressmen who recently voted to preserve a measure permitting the indefinite detention, without trial, of US citizens accused of providing “material support” to al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups.


For several decades, Rohrabacher has consistently supported radical Muslim groups. Just weeks prior to the 9/11 bombing he spoke at a fundraiser for the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army, a group allied with Osama bin Laden. That event took place about fifteen miles away from the site of the World Trade Center.


Rohrabacher was also among the most prominent advocates of the Iranian MEK, a Soviet-created group that killed US citizens in the 1970s and took part in the seizure of American hostages in 1979.


Despite being recognized as terrorist organizations, the KLA and the MEK were supported by the US as allies in efforts to undermine foreign governments Washington didn’t like.  


It is a federal crime to provide material support for terrorist groups. Why isn’t Dana Rohrabacher – along with dozens of other prominent political figures -- in prison?


Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

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