Libertarian commentary #16-21C by Nathan Barton
Oh, come on! Just how stupid are we? Or is it really more sinister, and this isn’t a stupid mistake but a plain attempt to support the state and the tyranny of the do-gooders?
As readers of this commentary know, one of the news-aggregating sites I use is Freedom’s Phoenix, produced by Ernest Haycock and his family. They have a wide range of sources, some regular contributors, and some original material, and they do a pretty good job.
But… yeah, you know it’s coming. Sometimes, they do something really, really stupid. And they just did.
I’m going to name names, and rub noses into the mess.
On Wednesday, 25 May 2016, the Phoenix published this story which was taken by Freedomsphoenix Readerfou. (I don’t have the foggiest idea who that is.) It came from “WeAreChange.org” which in turn took it from “ThinkProgress.org,” both of which are Tranzi agitprop sites. The story looked familiar so I traced it back. The WeAreChange.org article is by Danny F. Quest, written 24 May 2016: “Wyoming Law Criminalizes Collecting Evidence of Pollution” with a sub-headline of “In Wyoming, Taking A Photo of a Polluted Stream Could Land You In Jail”.
So I went to the Wyoming legislature’s website, and found some interesting things. The story claims that Governor Mead signed this law which “criminalizes collecting evidence of pollution” in March. March 2016 is implied. The bill number was listed as Senate Bill 12. But when I went to the Wyoming website SB12 turned out to be a “Vietnam War Commemoration-2” bill. And nothing hoghoused in it.
But a search turned up SB12 from the 2015 session: a YEAR-plus ago. Aha! Found it! SB12 “Trespassing to collect data” [pdf]. And read it. Hmmm. Doesn’t sound quite the same as Freedom’s Phoenix and WeAreChange.org reported it, year-old or not. It is NOT a long bill, just over five pages, double-spaced. Not at all difficult to understand.
So I went to ThinkProgress.org. Here is an article written by Natasha Geiling, dateline of 13 May 2015! Aha!! I read the story, and there are all kinds of things that just don’t make sense. And it stirs memories; I recall reading about this bill over a year ago.
Natasha states that the law applies to “private, public, or federal” land. I read the bill: it ONLY mentions private land: nothing at all about public or federal. But she gives this horrible scenario about a hiker in a National Forest and tourists taking pictures in Yellowstone. And she quotes an assistant professor, Justin Pidot, at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, who wrote an article for Slate (another Tranzi website), and quotes Connie Wilbert, of the Wyoming chapter of the Sierra Club, which attacks the “poorly written and overly vague” law. Natasha goes on to lament the impact on “citizen science” and how the bill will keep people from doing valuable research and holding ranchers accountable, quoting her sources freely about how scary and bad the law is.
Natasha then quotes (with what I believe to be favor), yet another activist: Southern Fried Science’s Amy Freitag, who says there are some cases where trespassing might be the best way to obtain information about environmental problems. Cattle ranchers aren’t likely, she says, to allow someone onto their property to collect data they know might be used to restrict their grazing rights. If a scientist discovers illegal activity while trespassing, that means of discovery shouldn’t negate the fact that something illegal is going on. “The offenses of the trespassing should certainly not negate the evidence of another crime,” Freitag writes. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Eh, did you read that, coppers? Amy loves you! Warrants? Pfaugh! Due process? Pshaw! Private property? Forget about that. Amy’s (and Natasha’s) justification is the same used by the Gestapo, the Star Court, and every other hater of liberty that works for government. The argument of cops and CIA-types that justify torture to get information. She is INDEED right that “two wrongs don’t make a right,” but she twists it to mean the exact opposite of that fundamental truth.
The law very simply states that if you go onto private (got that, PRIVATE) land to gather “resource data” which you then submit to government agencies to try and prove something – that two things will happen. You will be prosecuted for trespassing on private property, and that state or local government agency will not be allowed to use that data (it is not admissible in any proceeding and cannot be kept by the agency).
Just like it is SUPPOSED to be under the Fourth Amendment (US Constitution). If a private investigators trespasses to collect information about the stolen money in your house, the cops and prosecutor can’t (well, aren’t supposed to) use that illegally-gathered information to prosecute you.
But back to my main point. As stupid and hideous as people like Amy and Natasha and Justin and Connie are, they are not nearly as stupid as Danny Quest and Freedomsphoenix Readerfour – and frankly, the editor(s) of Freedom’s Phoenix, who seemingly publish this as an example of the evil intentions and actions of the Wyoming State Government. And who get people all riled up about something that happened more than a year ago.
This law was designed to, and seemingly DOES, protect the rights of landowners, from government and the do-gooders who are the lackeys (and advocates) of government tyranny. Which is no doubt why the Tranzi activists at Slate, Think Progress, the Sierra Club and others got so huffy about it – and were so willing to lie in print about it. For Freedom’s Phoenix or any other publication or organization which claims to value liberty to aid the effort of those Tranzis like this is a betrayal of that liberty.
Ernest, Donna, and “Freedomsphoenix ReaderFour” – stop doing this sort of stupid thing. Do just a tiny bit of due diligence (just check the dates, for crying out loud!), think through the consequences, and do the research which you know HOW to do. Apply a modicum of common sense and understanding of liberty, and stop supporting those people who would subject us to tyranny “for our own good.”