Friday, September 16, 2011

All for One and One for All

Maybe a better title would have been "A Tale of Two Guitars" but it seems as though Gibson is suffering from an increasingly common malady. Whether it goes by the name of over legislation or over criminalization, the results are the same. The law becomes increasingly more of a "Sword of Damocles" than a structural component of a freedom loving and stable society.

Gibson Guitars, if you are not familiar with the facts, has been raided twice. Once in 2009, when much of their stock of wood was confiscated supposedly because they were in violation of the Lacey Act. Gibson cooperated fully with the government, went to court and proved that they had not violated the Lacey Act. Their property has yet to be returned.
Then, in August of this year, Gibson Guitars was raided again. Raided by Government agents with automatic weapons. Again, supposedly because of violations of the Lacey Act. (For a more comprehensive overview, please check out the Gibson site.)

The next component to this story, is that Gibson's competitor, Martin Guitars, uses the same wood, from the same supplier in Madagascar, and yet, has suffered no raids. What's the difference? At the moment, the suggestion is that they made contributions to different political parties.

Whether or not this is the case, there is a significant interest in this case for all Americans.

First, the suggestion of political favoritism or even political motivation is particularly troubling. In other years, under other administrations, such could be dismissed as sour grapes far more easily. Statements from the head of the DOJ and Mr. Obama, among others seem to indicate that there is rampant, unethical use of government power and funds to reward and punish Americans at the whims of the current administration.

Then there is the matter of the confiscated property. How long should it take for property to be returned when charges have been proven to be unfounded? How long could the average American survive if their house or car were confiscated in this way? Would it significantly impact their standard of living? Where is justice in this situation?

Then there is the matter of the armed raids. Is it necessary to use that sort of force in a case where the company has been 100% cooperative with the government?
When the company has a good reputation in the community and there are no indicators that there would be any sort of resistance?

I know, it is important to be prepared for the unexpected in law enforcement work, but a little common sense and courtesy can go a long way. This was not a drug bust with people known to have weapons and engage in violence, it was a raid on a legitimate business that had already demonstrated full cooperation.

Finally,(at least for this post)there is the issue of the Lacey Act itself. In 1981, Congress removed the heightened proof standard of "willfully" from the statute, making "knowingly" the standard. There is an increasing amount of legislation making crimes out of things that most people would not ordinarily think of as criminal. It used to be said that ignorance of the law is no excuse. But, the law used to be fairly straightforward. An individual could deduce, with common sense, what was likely to be illegal and what would be fine. Not so any longer. In addition to the increased number of laws criminalizing actions, there is a lack of the requirement to show criminal intent in those laws.

Bearing all that in view, it appears that Gibson guitars is fighting the good fight for us all. Their case demonstrates all of these challenges at once. Do support Gibson by signing their petition here. And do keep an eye on how this case is handled. This is our nation. The duty to keep it free is ours. Do call your legislators...before it becomes illegal.

Gibson does make some lovely instruments.

"Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness." ~ Isaiah 59:9

1 comment:

Dr.D said...

This is so blatantly political it stinks to high Heaven! The DOJ is probably the most corrupt of all the severely corrupted departments in the criminal government we currently suffer under. The next administration is going to have a lot to do just to prosecute those guilty of crimes in this administration of which there will be thousands.

Why they pick on small fish like Gibson is really beyond me. Surely there are bigger "offenders" they could target to have a bigger impact?? They are just plain stupid!!