“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”
-attributed to George Washington
I thought of this when The Woodpile Report linked to Bob Unruh’s (WND) recap of this story:
If at first you don’t succeed at harassing a farmer out of business, try again…and again…and again. That has been the tack the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Hopewell Township have taken since 2012 against Amish farmer and FTCLDF member Chris Zook. Four times either the Commonwealth or the Township have brought a court action for alleged violations of either the local zoning code or the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code against Zook; each time the farmer has emerged victorious, FTCLDF General Counsel Gary Cox has represented Zook.
And what vileness had the dastardly Zook perpetrated?
All four actions against the farmer have stemmed from Zook’s building of a new barn on his farm to replace the original one that had been destroyed in a 2011 fire. Hopewell Township issued Zook a permit to rebuild his barn, but both the Township and the Commonwealth objected to Zook using part of the barn as a retail store. Zook is a farmer member of Community Alliance for Responsible Eco-farming (CARE), a private food buyers club, and only sells products to CARE consumer members at his store.
Gasp! Shameless commerce without paying the baksheesh!!
Barns are exempt as agricultural buildings from the Pennsylvania construction code, but both the Township and the Commonwealth have contended that since there is a retail store in the barn, it is actually a commercial building subject to local zoning requirements and the Commonwealth Uniform Construction Code (having to comply with the construction code would cost Zook thousands). The courts have rejected this argument in each of the four actions.
In the latest action, Cumberland County District Court dismissed criminal charges against Zook in a July 5 hearing on the grounds that the Commonwealth failed to cite any specific provision of law that Zook had violated. Evidently the Commonwealth has run out of violations to accuse Zook of over the same set of facts. As Cox noted after the latest hearing, the claims and charges brought against Zook in all four cases have been frivolous in nature.
The Commonwealth can appeal this latest court decision but has not indicated yet whether it will do so.
You might think that cooler heads might prevail and point out that the court costs far exceed any money they might get from this Enemy Of The People, but you’re probably wrong. We can’t have mere citizens getting away with stuff like this, you know.
Some (many/most) of you will point out that you don’t live in Pennsylvania generally or nearby, specifically. Me neither. And the only reason that anyone knows about this is because going after the same guy for the same thing four times is noteworthy. Do you want to take a guess at how many times a Government has prevailed the first time or the Victim caved? (hint: you can’t count that high)
Look, we all are concerned about Gun Control/Confiscation, the militarization of the police, the increasingly vitriolic way that politics are being conducted, just to pick three. Oh, and government overreach, so that’s four. And you know what? None of that matters. There is a small group of us that has written and read literally millions of words about these things, and the vast majority of folks simply don’t care. Don’t ever forget that the Founders started a shooting war with the planet’s preeminent power over less. What I’m getting at is that the proverbial Straw will be something seemingly trivial, something we’ll all pretty much dismiss when it happens. Until afterwards.