HOLDING THEIR FEET TO THE FIRE
Lynn M. Stuter
March 24, 2003
Since the tragic and heinous events of September 11, 2001, there hasn't been a broadcast go by that didn't make reference to terrorism. The media hype has been unbelievable, and the result has been face after face appearing on television with the message, "please, make us safe, make us secure." Of course, those who have pled for common sense and reference for our United States Constitution and Bill of Rights have been either ignored or personified as some "religious right" whacko.
Few people know about the passing of the Patriot Act, and what it entailed. Nor has any consideration or thought been given to the fact that there are laws on the books already to deal with terrorists -- foreign and domestic. If the existing laws aren't being enforced, what makes anyone think that more laws will be enforced either?
It is also logical to conclude that if current laws aren't being enforced, then new laws only serve to infringe on the rights of honest, law-abiding citizens. And if current laws, and new laws aren't enforced, then what? The road this process travels, naturally, is one in which more and more laws are passed until tyranny and a police state exist.
That appears to be where we are now. A recent incident in Spokane, Washington, should have people howling in protest. Yet there has been not one peep, either from people or the media.
This incident involved the Spokane County Sheriff's Office SWAT team. It seems that a Spokane Valley man, Dick Rydholm, has severe allergies that prescription allergy medications do not help. His remedy is over-the-counter allergy medications containing psuedophedrine, an ingredient also used in the manufacture of the illegal drug methamphetamine.
Because over the counter allergy medication is hard to come by now, by law stores are allowed to sell three boxes to one customer in a 24-hour period, Rydholm stocks up. It was also revealed that the individual purchased most of his allergy medication at one store, which, given the amount of media coverage concerning the tracking of purchases of over-the-counter allergy medication, should have given law enforcement their first clue that they should proceed with caution in the interests of preserving rights. In this day and age, no individual, with something to hide, would buy the bulk of his allergy medication from one store, or even two or three stores.
Although the amount of allergy medication this individual purchased did not fall within the guidelines set down to place him on the "radar screen" of law enforcement, one store decided the individual was purchasing a lot of allergy medication and reported the same to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office Investigative Support Unit.
It came out in the media that undercover officers had, over a period of several months, followed this individual about as he made his purchases, then followed him to his home. Did the home fit the scenario of a meth cooker? Did the area emit the smell so often associated with a meth lab? No, on both counts. But that didn't matter.
Late last week, the Spokane Sheriff's Office SWAT team ransacked the Rydholm's residence looking for illegal drugs and/or a meth lab. The Sheriff's Office claimed they left everything as they found it. The Rydholms say otherwise. Mr. Rydholm also stated that he was accused by Sheriff's detectives of either having a drug problem himself or buying the allergy medication for a meth lab.
Home alone at the time were three of the four teen or pre-teen Rydholm children whom, it turns out, are homeschooled. They were terrorized by the SWAT team who refused to tell them what was going on but told them to "get out of the way." The experience left the children frightened and confused that this type of thing could happen in America. They appear to have more cognizance of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, especially the Fourth Amendment, than the Spokane County Sheriff's Office does. That, alone, should frighten people.
The Spokane County Sheriff's Office's "justification" for this raid, in which, incidentally, they found nothing but a bunch of wide-eyed frightened Rydholm children? The Sheriff's Office was only doing what was "indicated in the public interest."
Let's dissect that statement. What was "indicated" and how was it "indicated?" The amount of over the counter allergy medication the man purchased didn't even meet the guidelines to place him on the "radar screen" of law enforcement. Yet the Spokane County Sheriff's Office indicated to the media that should the man continue to purchase quantities of over the counter allergy medication, he would come up on their "radar screen" again with indication that his home would be raided again.
In short, this raid wasn't indicated at all, which leaves one to conclude that this raid was the product of an over-zealous Sheriff's Office trying on for size new-found powers given it by laws that never should have been passed in the first place.
The Sheriff's Office carried out this raid "in the public interest." How so? When is it in the public interest to raid a home based on what the Sheriff's Office thinks might be going on in that home? The words "think" and "might" are not definitive, they are subjective. If this incident is allowed to stand, how long before homes will be raided on a daily, if not hourly basis, based on what the cops think might be going on there?
Not only this, but since when does the "public interest" outweigh the rights of the individual? "Public interest" is a term used in socialist/communist nations where collective rights outweigh individual rights. The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights ensure individual rights, not collective rights. The Fourth Amendment states:
"Security from unwarrantable search and seizure. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
Probable cause: A reasonable ground to suspect that a person has committed or is committing a crime or that a place contains specific items connected with a crime." (Black's Law Dictionary; Seventh Edition; 1999)
If people will stand for this, they will stand for anything. In the words of Edward Gibbon, speaking of the Athenians (sic):
"More than the people wanted rights, they wanted security, and in giving up their rights for security, they lost both."
The progression to conclusion is inevitable as "absolute power corrupts absolutely."
It is also of interest that the elected Sheriff of Spokane County, Mark Sterk, has been noticeably absent of comment on this incident. Sterk is a former Republican state Representative who resigned his seat in the Legislature when he was elected Sheriff of Spokane County. He is now serving his second term in that capacity. He has established good rapport with local media and often appears on local newscasts giving comment on various issues.
There has not been one editorial comment published about this incident. Not, of course, that editorial comments haven't been written or submitted. Just that they haven't been published.
How long before it will be "in the public interest" to:
• take children from their parents?
• remove from society those who believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights?
• remove from society those who believe in a Higher Authority, ie, God?
• remove from society those who do not hold to the government sanctioned beliefs?
It is prudent that we should heed the words of Reverend Martin Neimoler, the German Lutheran pastor arrested by Hitler's Gestapo in 1937. In Third Reich Germany,
"First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then, they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then, they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then, they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then, they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up."
When we fail to remember and heed history, we are bound to repeat it.
© 2003 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved
Mother and wife, Stuter has spent the past ten years researching systems theory with a particular emphasis on education. She home schooled two daughters, now grown and on their own. She has worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance and education reform. She networks nationwide with other researchers and citizens concerned with the transformation of our nation. She has traveled the United States and lived overseas. Web site: www.learn-usa.com E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org