I recently posted a story about Matthew Oldershaw, aka Yankee, being assaulted in Keene’s Central Square. Yankee suffered a broken shoulder and vertebra in his neck. There is video of the incident, including very clear still and motion images of his attacker and his cohorts. Dorrie O’Meara, a local businesswoman, was seen associating with the perpetrators of the attack, and police were reportedly on scene while the attackers were still there. No arrests have been made.
It would seem that if the city of Keene wanted to do something to stop the violence, arresting the perpetrator of the assault would be a good place to start. There certainly isn’t any shortage of evidence, and it’s not as if the Keene Police were too busy to arrest somebody. In fact, they arrested Rich Paul not too long after for an alleged violation of his probation.
Instead, City Councilor Randy L. Filiault is proposing restrictions on the use of chalk. That, rather than arrest the easily identifiable suspect of a brutal assault that broke a man’s neck, the city would propose new excuses for police to do violence to peaceful people, should trouble everybody. Chalking, presently, is legal in downtown Keene. Assault, clearly, is not. Rather than enforce the laws already on the books, the laws that are actually designed to protect people and deter victimization, the city demands more power.
Coming from New York, I really must warn the people of Keene, that this has been tried before elsewhere. Whenever a government, rather than addressing actual crime, simply demands more power over its people, you are dealing with a belligerent entity not at all interested in your well being. The reason the Free State Project, and people like myself who are not Free Staters but are sympathetic to their goals, chose New Hampshire, was because this hadn’t happened there yet. We were seeking a place to live where the government was more concerned with protecting person and property than controlling every aspect of its citizens lives.
If you take a look around America, indeed, the entire world, this is a pretty rare thing. These kind of power grabs are rather common in the world. The government promises to protect person and property, in return it steals property and kidnaps and murders people. When they fail to maintain their monopoly on violence, they simply demand more power. This also fails to stem the violence, and so they demand more power. Wash, rinse, repeat, the cycle of tyranny continues.
It’s not a difficult pattern to identify. If one takes even 30 seconds to think about it, it becomes rather obvious. Thanks to our public education system however, most people don’t even consider it.
Banning chalk is not going to do anything to stop the violence. In fact, it’s terribly unlikely to even stop the chalk. When chalk and violence continue to be a part of your lives, what power do you think the city will demand next? When that power fails to solve any problem, what power after that? How long before Keene begins looking a lot more like New York City than the quaint and relatively free place you now live in?
If we look around the world, freedom tends to be a one way street. That is to say, laws are rarely repealed, powers are never relinquished by governments. These powers, by the way, are not magic. It is not as if the city says “No chalk” and the chalk ceases to exist. All it is, is an excuse to do harm to people who use chalk in violation of the ordinance. Think about it. The Free Keene crowd is known for civil disobedience, if you ban chalk, what will happen? Somebody will show up and begin chalking in full view of the police.
Perhaps the police officer will demand he stop, and if he does not, then the officer will use whatever level of force is necessary to stop him. If the chalker goes peacefully, this may be as simple as placing him in handcuffs. If the chalker struggles, he will be beaten into submission. If the chalker is armed and resists, the officer will gun him down in Central Square. If the chalker wins the gun fight, then all the forces of the State will descend upon your city with armored personnel carriers and lock the place down while they search for the chalker. If the people of your city don’t take kindly to martial law and resist this, then the National Guard will be called in, and you may consider yourselves in a state of civil war.
All this, because the city failed to arrest somebody who broke a man’s neck in front of dozens of witnesses with cameras. He’s still out there, ready to break somebody else’s neck, and when he does, they’ll start this process all over again. As a refugee from the Empire State, it saddens me to see you falling victim to this vicious cycle, all because you couldn’t tolerate some hippies drawing peace signs on the pavement.
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