Wisconsin’s milk regulators are determined to force dairy buying club owner Max Kane to turn stool pigeon. They’re hauling him into court tomorrow, terming him “an immediate danger to the public,” to convince a judge to force him to identify the dairy farmers who supply his buying club, under threat of jail.
And they’ve apparently decided that, for maximum symbolic effect, they’ll do it on Patriots’ Day. Yes, Monday is Patriots’ Day, which is the 235th anniversary of the battles of Concord (“the shot heard round the world”) and Lexington, the first battles of America’s Revolutionary War.
Seriously, I wish I could credit Wisconsin’s goons in business suits for appreciating the symbolism of possibly jailing Max Kane on Patriots’ Day, but I doubt they even realize what important historical events it commemorates (though schools are closed in Wisconsin). It happens to be a big deal holiday in Massachusetts (with the running of the Boston Marathon) and throughout New England, where the revolt against British rule escalated, and the early battles of the Revolutionary War were fought.
But the events of April 19, 1775, were prompted by several of the same abuses as Max Kane is experiencing. The British army regularly invaded residents’ homes seeking information about possible “troublemakers” (those fomenting resistance). The British thought nothing of using force to extract their information. Then, they’d throw the “troublemakers” in jail, or worse. It’s for that reason that America’s Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, include the rights against arbitrary search and seizure, and against self incrimination.
Max Kane faces a not dissimilar situation. He is being asked to provide information about DATCP’s version of “troublemakers”— the dairy farms that supply him with raw milk. Then DATCP will try to put them out of business. DATCP also wants the names of raw milk customers. The authorities haven’t yet tried to intimidate raw milk consumers with citations or jail, but then, who knows?
Now, you might say, the law is the law, and selling raw milk is illegal in Wisconsin. The problem is that it’s not entirely illegal—the law allows for “incidental” sales—and DATCP keeps changing its tune about what comprises incidental sales. One of the reasons there are so many dairies selling raw milk in the state, aside from huge demand, is that DATCP has varied from being permissive to its current iron fist approach, which is to be stricter than even the law requires. In other words, it’s entirely arbitrary in enforcing the law.
DATCP figures that by throwing Max Kane, a father with two young children and a wife seven-months pregnant, into jail and throwing away the key (contempt of court violations are essentially indeterminate jail sentences—rot in jail until you give the court what it wants) will force him to testify. As I said, not unlike what the British did to colonial residents.
Unlike colonial times, we do have freedom of speech in this country, and Max Kane has put up a web site in which he describes in a video the details of the state’s efforts to come down on him, and appeals for funds to help his family in the event he goes to jail.
And like many of the “troublemaker” colonists, Max Kane has decided to resist. He says he won’t provide information that could not only incriminate him, but also put hard-working farmers out of business.
As I understand it, Max will have legal representation when he goes to court tomorrow, and that could make a difference. While the big reason he’s in trouble is because of a joint effort by both DATCP and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (look at the emails and other documents on his new web site, which I have written about previously), he definitely didn’t help himself during a court hearing in December when he decided to forego legal representation.
Max could be the first individual in the current raw milk “war” to be jailed. He is willing to pay that penalty for the same reasons America’s patriots were willing to go to war against a seemingly unbeatable enemy in 1775: as he states in the video, he values his liberties too much. Unfortunately,we have a cadre of unelected officials who don’t care much for those freedoms…indeed, see them as inconveniences in their obsessive struggle against food rights. Max Kane deserves our support.