I didn’t fully appreciate while I was sitting in court waiting for Vernon Hershberger’s hearing to begin Friday afternoon in Baraboo, WI, that the delay was due to some important negotiations taking place outside the courtroom.
It was over whether Hershberger’s son, Andrew, could videotape the proceedings. I was aware there was a problem when I went out briefly into the hallway, and Andrew asked me whether I might be able to video the proceedings, since I was a media representative, and was sitting in a special media section up front. I agreed, though suggested it would be preferable if he came in and actually did it, since he knew much better how to use the camera. He said he had been told he couldn’t go in. The court officers present indicated when I was there that they had to inquire with higher ups as to whether he could come in and videotape. Andrew told me he would stick his head in and let me know when a decision came back.
I’ll let Hershberger pick up the story from there, from an account he wrote for his club members:
“I asked (court officials) about our video camera that Andrew was going to use to record the whole proceeding. They told me there is no way that we are allowed to take that camera inside the courtroom due to Judge’s orders. I told them that it is my constitutional right to have everything properly recorded when I am talking with government officials. I let them know that I will not go anywhere without that camera!
“I just stepped aside and sat down in a chair while they continued to scan the other people and to fill the courtroom. They continued to (try to) persuade me to go inside and sit down with family, then I could ask the Judge when the hearing starts. I firmly told them no.
“Finally it was 1:00 and they were getting nervous. I did not expect anything else besides going to jail if I don’t comply. But, I thought, I will rather go to jail than to go into the courtroom without the camera.
“After 1:00 they started conversing with the Judge and trying to make me a deal. I turned down four deals and then finally gave in when they said that Andrew could go inside and let David Gumpert operate the camera and that he (Andrew) could stand right beside him and show him how to operate it. When they finally got inside the courtroom it was 1:30.”
And that’s what happened. Andrew stood next to me as I operated the video camera to record the half-hour or so proceedings.
What’s instructive here is that the initial orders to the court officials were “no way on the video cameras.” When faced with a defendant who was prepared to stand up for his right to have the hearing be a matter of public record, the judge became personally involved in negotiating an arrangement that allowed Hershberger to have his camera in the courtroom.
A similar kind of situation came up during the hearing Friday, when the prosecutors said they had been prepared to present Hershberger with an offer for a settlement to the four misdemeanor charges against him at the scheduled pretrial hearing he refused to attend a couple weeks back, based on the court’s refusal to let him videotape those proceedings. The prosecutors on Friday wanted to hand Hershberger their offer letter during the hearing . One of them seemed about to dangle it from his hand.
Nothing doing, said Hershberger. He didn’t want it.
Damn, it certainly would have been tempting to me, had I been in Hershberger’s shoes, to see the offer. But, of course, it almost certainly specified terms that would have been repugnant to Hershberger–perhaps an offer to not be sentenced to any jail time if he agreed to refrain from supplying his food club members.
But Hershberger knew better than I did that accepting that offer letter was the first step down a path to certain defeat. Just as going into that courtroom without an advance commitment from the judge on the camera was a step down the same path. After all, you know, had Hershberger agreed to wait on the video decision, that the judge would have said no, and then Hershberger would have been stuck, since he was already in the courtroom.
The important lesson here is that if you going to do what Vernon Hershberger is doing, you have to be prepared to play “the game within the game.” It’s not unlike professional sports, where the teams are taking steps to intimidate (like “trash talk”), or distract, or wear the opposition down, or giving secret signals to each other, out of view of the casual fan.
Hershberger a long time ago made a decision “not to join in their game.” By that, he didn’t mean he’d opt out, but rather that he would refuse to participate in various shenanigans developed by the authorities to play fast and loose with our guaranteed rights. So while they regularly dangle various offers in front of him to tempt him toward the “easy” solution, he stands his ground, insists they abide by the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
Because there was a big crowd watching, the judge gave way to do what he knew he was obligated to do, and spoke soothingly to Hershberger in the courtroom. But that will only continue happening so long as the big crowds keep showing up, and keep watch.
Hershberger clearly knows how to play with the big boys. It’s up to us to continue keeping the glare of publicity on this situation, so they’ll keep playing by the rules. Otherwise, they won’t hesitate to lock Vernon Hershberger up, and throw away the keys.
Thanks to Deborah Evans for reminding us in a comment following my previous post, about the one-year anniversary of the start of the Food Sovereignty movement, which launched out of Maine. And to Gayle Loiselle for her recap, also in a comment following my previous post, of the happenings at the Rights Workshop held last Thursday evening
I’d like to recommend as well a nicely done column by Wisconsin columnist Joe Orso comparing Vernon Hershberger to Rosa Parks.
The one-year anniversary of the start of the Food Sovereignty movement is a good example of self-government that could possibly inspire the good people in Wisconsin.
Virtually every local community needs to recover or establish their Food Sovereignty as a matter of Common Law Right! The "Declaration of Food Independence" that was unveiled in Wisconsin just may be the first step in establishing Food Sovereignty there!
Mark's idea that: "Wisconsin must be seized by it's people." is true! How the people of Wisconsin do that is to be seen. It will probably be a growing process that evolves over the coming years. In any case – the little over six months time between now and September 25th can allow for real changes toward Real Food Sovereignty in Wisconsin! I will love to see all the further development! I would like to support that. How can I do that?
One thing I can certainly do is pray! Vernon has asked the club members for prayers. I hope that the prayers will continue. As Mark said this is a war and I'll add that there is a spiritual dimension to it that virtually every American can be made aware of and thereby support the spiritual victory that is needed here! How fortunate that Vernon is the point man on the front line! May great Spirit protect him, continue to strengthen him and guide him through all the steps to come!
Blessings on every individual who is supporting Vernon, our Common Law Rights to contract and Real Local Food Sovereignty!
That's a really great guess!
This is why I believe that it is most fortunate for all of us concerned that the issue has come to Vernon! And being able to "listen" is essential here! I wish that were contagious! ; > )
Something to be said of being grounded in the simplicity of truth and morals. Sure is missing in America.
God bless him!
Grace and truth!
In Pennsylvania not long ago Amish men were jailed for not sending their children to public school. Officials sniffed that public education was necessary to prepare children for life in the world. The Amish asked, Which world?
I couldnt agree with you more.
C. S. Lewis sums it up well, There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, Thy will be done, and those to whom God says, All right, then, have it your way.
The following statement by John F. Kennedys encapsulates well Vernons actions,
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
I will have to admit….37 felony counts and million dollar bail amounts seem pretty darn extreme. I guess the establishment is really pissed and what better way to bring pain and draw blood. Let this be a lesson to us all. If we are going to be rebels in the raw milk revolution better pay our taxes and pay your business license fees. To be a rebel on multiple fronts is not a good idea.
In truth….really….if you took a truth test of all farmers at a farmers market…most do not report the cold hard cash they receive from their consumers. James did nothing different than this,…he just did one thing different. He pissed on super mans cape and did it in public, and with defiance. The first raid begged the second raid. Whoops.
Another lesson to all.
Do we want to fight or do we want to win? Two different concepts. I do hope that James gets a reduced bail….he is no criminal. He is just a food rebel with friends that gave him bad advice. Where are they now?
One fight at a time.
"Even Dairy Farming Has a 1 Percent"
Sharon Palmer's charged with 'mortgage fraud' ? bit of black humor, there, in the country where the govt. itself facilitated the most massive mortgage fraud in history
"tax evasion"? … yeah, right, the dirtiest card of all … almost imposible to beat
little thieves lie stocked * in chains in prison
great thieves ride in carriages, wearing chains of gold
* stocked, means = in gazingstocks, where the public passed by and sneered. The modernday version of which is, prosecutorial grandstanding
Or if this is too much for you, consider this somewhat shorter (though much older) work:
Consider the following, about Proudhon:
"Proudhon believed that the common conception of property conflated two distinct components which, once identified, demonstrated the difference between property used to further tyranny and property used to protect liberty. He argued that the result of an individual's labor which is currently occupied or used is a legitimate form of property. Thus, he opposed unused land being regarded as property, believing that land can only be rightfully possessed by use or occupation (which he called "possession"). As an extension of his belief that legitimate property (possession) was the result of labor and occupation, he argued against such institutions as interest on loans and rent."
Slaves have no choice in their lives, they eat, drink, live, sleep and anything else according to the whims of their masters. Christians are forced to worship in the manner of their masters, Muslims are forced to eat pork, or not allowed to gather to pray at all. Every aspect of a slave’s life is controlled by others. Slaves live and die by a code they have no voice in making. They exist by the permission of the masters.
The only difference between the slaves of our past is that they knew they were slaves. We have been given the illusion of freedom, when in reality we have none.
There is a law controlling every part of our lives and we live in fear of being dragged to court and punished for any violation, including ones we don’t know about. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”
How can an entire population not be allowed the choice in what to eat?
It wasn’t that long ago that women could be arrested for wearing pants to a restaurant or to work!
Now we can be arrested for eating or selling foods not approved by the law!
IF these laws are for our safety, why are we punished as though it were a crime?
How is this the land of the free when the people are treated like caged animals in a zoo?
Free in spirit only.