This past week some attention was focused on the problematic case of Brandon Raub. Raub is a former Marine who was taken from his house by a mix of Federal and local law enforcement, detained against his wishes, and all while law enforcement said very specifically and clearly that he was not being charged with any crime.
The issue was Facebook posts according to the non-arresting (yet still detaining) officers. The Feds couldn’t charge him with anything, so they turned to the local Chesterfield, Virginia police to have him held on a state law allowing temporary detention for mental reasons.
Apparently the federal government was spying on his interactions in a private Facebook game with his brother and sister, didn’t like what he said, and decided to find a way to essentially kidnap him from his house, put him in captivity, and hold him there until they could find a way to charge him with something.
The problem was that law enforcement said that he was most definitely not being arrested or charged with any crime. In fact, he was held longer than the allowed 72 hours before having an initial hearing.
Despite this, he was not free to leave and was being held against his will. The state (meaning law enforcement) merely had to find a single mental health expert (of the state’s choosing) to testify that Raub was not mentally stable, find a magistrate to sign off on it, and voila: Raub was transferred to the VA mental hospital in Salem, VA.
Again, all because the government didn’t like some of his posts on Facebook.
Dissent from government is not a crime, nor does it signal mental infirmity. Dissent is the point of the First Amendment – specifically, to say things that the government doesn’t like. Not being able to say things that the government doesn’t like is the mark of a tyrannical form of government. Thus, it cannot be construed any other way than that the entire reason for the First Amendment is to be able to say things that oppose the government or are not otherwise popular. Countries are rated based on their First Amendment freedoms and clearly, the United States is lacking.
Perhaps the worst part of all of this was that the order by Circuit Court Judge Allan Sherrett to ultimately free Raub noted specifically that the original petition signed off on by the magistrate was devoid of any facts. Here was an American citizen, a former Marine, held by the Federal government under the auspices of a state law, for statements that the government didn’t like, using a petition with no facts and signed off on by a local magistrate. This may beg the question as to whether federal agencies have any business upholding state law, but that is secondary to the larger issue at hand.
Fortunately for Raub, the Rutherford Institute took his case on and gained his release, but not after his liberty was wrongfully violated by the government for almost a week. Someone might say that the actions by the government fully confirmed any and all statements about the government that Raub might’ve allegedly made. The fact of the matter though, is that in this country, up until now anyways, that’s never been a crime – nor should it be.
The only explanation for the Feds spying on Raub’s Facebook activities (for which they certainly had no criminal warrant by their own admission) was that it was authorized by the PATRIOT Act. Keep in mind that this bit of legislation was passed by a Republican Congress and President with much acclaim as to how it would make us all safer.
If anything, that authority merely puts us in danger within our own homes. Tampering with civil liberties is no small issue, and free citizens are correct in denouncing this type of activity. Certainly, Raub’s lawyers will pursue civil charges against the various parties responsible, and hopefully the Commonwealth of Virginia will pursue criminal charges against those responsible as well. The words of another Virginian, Patrick Henry, are almost prophetic: “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”
Citizens of this country, if they are to remain free, must zealously guard, prosecute, oppose and otherwise use all manner of options available to them to protect their civil liberties. Other countries and civilizations that failed to do so now serve as historical warnings on what happens when they do not. There’s no alternative. It’s a matter of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Image:Peter F. Rothermel’s “Patrick Henry Before the Virginia House of Burgesses”; public domain