Friday, July 10, 2009

Sad Echo for a Tax Protestor

I've mentioned before how pathetic, in the literal sense, the lot of a tax protestor can be: the government may not only throw you in jail, but it can seize and sell your possessions to pay your tax bill. But wait, it gets worse.

Ed and Elaine Brown, the sadly confused tax protestors who were sentenced in absentia to five years imprisonment after declining to attend their own trial, and who then held off the government for about eight months in a bizarre standoff in which they were holed up in their home before finally being captured and incarcerated, now face even more legal trouble.

During the standoff, Ed and Elaine threatened an apocalyptic ending -- they foresaw themselves leaving their home either free, or in body bags. They gathered up many weapons to defend themselves against the Feds and suggested that they wouldn't be the only ones ending up dead.

Well, you can't do that. It's against the law. And yesterday Ed and Elaine were convicted of a smorgasbord of offenses relating to the standoff -- Conspiracy to Prevent Officers of the US from Discharging Their Duties, Carrying & Possessing a Firearm in Connection with a Crime of Violence, that kind of thing -- that will add a minimum of thirty years to their existing sentences. Given that both of them are in their 60s, it seems likely that neither of them will ever leave prison alive.

What a sad, sad outcome for mixed-up people. It just shows how much people can suffer from tax protestor arguments, especially when it appears (in my lay estimation) that they suffer from some kind of mental illness that exacerbates their inability to distinguish law from hooey. But even they have to learn a modicum of self-control. It's one thing to dislike taxes -- everybody does that. And you can entertain yourself with crazy beliefs about the invalidity of taxes, and even government generally, as much as you want. But failure to pay is a crime, and gathering up guns and bombs and threatening the Feds with death is a crime too. Stay away from it.


James Ashley said...

Honestly, the sad part about this story is people like you who gloat over their tragedy.

For anyone who cares about little things like freedom and justice, the Browns were (and are) heroes.

I guess no one should expect a law professor to have the first clue that lawyers have pretty much destroyed freedom and justice in this country. Leaving us with a government that no patriotic American could possibly support.

Jon Siegel said...

The Browns are not heroes. They are criminals. My latest post about them was hardly gloating. I was expressing some sympathy with people, such as the Browns, whose crimes result at least partly from their apparent mental illness. (Well, at least Ed. I'm less sure about Elaine.) But even taking that into account, the Browns should have been capable of understanding that the law requires them to pay taxes, and while they are not required to like doing so, it was against the law for them to fail to pay, and to resist arrest once convicted.

James Ashley said...

When we're less free than we were before the Revolution, the people who stand up to the nightmare "our" government and criminal justice have become are as heroic as the Founding Fathers.

In case you've forgotten, they were criminals, too.

"Our" government lost any shred of legitimacy when it started ignoring the Constitution on a pretty much constant basis. People like you and me who pay tribute to the jack-booted thugs are nothing more than cowardly traitors who are supporting the enemy.

Jon Siegel said...

Ed and Elaine Brown did not stand up to our government and refuse to pay taxes on the ground that government is unjust and that we are unfree. They made the ridiculous claim that there is no law requiring them to pay taxes. That's not being a hero; it's just being an idiot. (Except that, as I have said, they appear to be mentally ill.)

I might respect someone who refused to pay taxes out of deep moral disagreement with government action, but that person should expect to go to jail as a result.

Our revolutionary forefathers protested taxes, but they didn't claim those taxes didn't exist.

Also, our revolutionary forefathers did not protest taxation per se; they protested taxation without representation. After the Revolution, they set up a government with taxing powers.

Today, we have taxation with representation. The level of taxation is determined by our elected representatives. If you don't like it, vote for people who will lower taxes.

Comparing current tax protestors with our revolutionary founders is inappropriate.