Freedom of Speech: Still the Law of the Land

Freedom of Speech: Still the Law of the Land

A federal judge in Detroit has acquitted seven members of the Hutaree Militia of charges of sedition and planning to use weapons of mass destruction. Judge Victoria Roberts' decision means there will be no jury trial of the group and that all but two, who later pled guilty to illegal machine gun possession, will go free.

The militia members were arrested in March of 2010 after an informer taped many hours of conversation with them. Roberts ruled that while the Hutarees did a lot of talking about fighting the government, they did little or nothing in the way of actually taking action against it.

"What the government has shown, instead of a concrete agreement and plan to forcibly oppose the authority of the government, is that most—if not all—of these defendants held strong anti-government sentiments," Roberts said in a 28-page decision. "But the court must not guess about what defendants intended to do with their animosity."

The government's track record in this sort of case is not exactly stellar. I think we can assume that federal law enforcement and prosecutors are under pressure, real or imagined, to bring in some right-wing white Americans to balance their efforts against suspects connected to overseas extremism.

Fortunately, judges and juries understand that a lot of big talk is hardly equivalent to terrorism. I've encountered some few "militia" types in my time, and their main offense against society is being crashing bores who can chew your ear off about the Trilateral Commission or the Rothschilds. The chance of them overthrowing the government of the smallest county in North Dakota is pretty slim, much less the U.S. government. As one defendant's wife put it, "they couldn't overthrow F Troop," the bumbling cavalry troopers of the 1960s sitcom.

Trashing the government over coffee, wearing camo and running around the woods with a rifle is a crime only in the minds of people like Mike Bloomberg, and probably sums up an average November Saturday for 90% of the deer hunters in America. Let's hope that federal law enforcement takes the spanking it got in Detroit to heart and focuses more on real criminals, who are not in short supply there or elsewhere.

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