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Sex, Spice, and Small-Town Texas Justice: The Purple Zone Raid

A Rogue Prosecutor Makes the Drug War Personal

On the morning of May 7, 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched Project Synergy Phase II, a national "day of raids" in 29 states, with the goal of taking down purveyors of synthetic drugs who funnel their proceeds to Middle Eastern terrorist organizations.

DEA Raid on The Purple ZoneTom Cochran

The Purple Zone, a smoke shop in Alpine, Texas, owned by 29-year-old Ilana Lipsen, was the target of one of these raids. This particular raid was so heavy handed and its aftermath so clumsily handled by law enforcement that it drew national attention as a symbol of police militarization and the vagaries of laws pertaining to drug "analogues." Analogues are chemicals that are not prohibited but are similar enough to controlled substances that they become illegal depending on who interprets the data.

Even worse, The Purple Zone and its owner may have been targeted because of the personal vendetta of a single prosecutor. 

A Safe Little Town, Filled With Cops

Alpine, Texas has a population of a little more than 5,000 residents. It is quite literally in the middle of nowhere, more than 200 miles from El Paso, home to the nearest major airport, and 75 miles from Mexico. Because of the town's proximity to the border, it is classified as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which along with the relative isolation, makes it an attractive home to a great many in law enforcement, including members of federal agencies such the DEA and the Border Patrol. Sul Ross State University, the town's signature institution, hosts a law enforcement academy.

Alpine evokes the Texas libertarian ethos of a quiet, safe town where you can expect to be left alone. It's what draws both bohemian artists as well as culturally conservative folks. How one feels about Ilana Lipsen and The Purple Zone represents the schism between the two camps. 

"You either love me or you hate me," says Lipsen. "I've received anti-Semitic hate emails. I've been told to 'go back to Jew York.' I've had people come in my store and tell me it was 'fucked up" and that I was poisoning the youth of the town—even though I have a big sign that says '18 and Over' and I have an ID scanner. The bars here in Alpine don't have ID scanners, but I do!" 

Originally from Houston, Lipsen arrived in Alpine in 2003, when she enrolled at Sul Ross University to pursue her interest in Arabian horses by studying equine science. Though she would leave school before graduating, she still loved the wide-open spaces of Alpine and decided to make it her home, purchasing a ranch for her horses and going into business for herself. 

After antique furniture and pet supplies failed to keep her balance sheet in the black, she wracked her brain thinking about what was missing from the marketplace of this West Texas railroad town. The answer she came up with was sex toys and smoking accessories. And it worked. She called her store The Purple Zone, which thrives to this day thanks to a loyal, mostly college-aged consumer base interested in hookahs, vaporizing, and e-cigarattes.

Raids and Chemical Analogues

In March 2012, "10-12 men came in, SWAT team style" to the Purple Zone, Lipsen recalls. They told her she was not under arrest, but cuffed her and threw her in the back of a police van while they searched her store, seized personal property including computers, a cell phone, and hard drives. They also took numerous packets of what Lipsen sells as potpourri in the incense section of the store, adorned with the colorful brand names such as "Dr. Feelgood," "Scooby Snax" and "Bomb! Marley." 

Brewster County District Attorney Rod Ponton insists these items are "spice," or synthetic cannabanoids. But Lipsen notes, "You can buy these products online or in any gas station or smoke shop in Texas." She says that she throws out anyone who insinuates these products are used for anything other than making your house smell good. 

Eight months after the 2012 raid, police returned to arrest Lipsen and her mother, Rosa (who is not an owner or an employee of the store, but frequently visits to help clean the store and tend to her daughter's many pets) on felony charges of "possession and distribution of a controlled substance." 

Though the the Alpine PD and the DEA would make many undercover purchases at the Purple Zone over the next two years, lab tests turned up no controlled substances except for "MAN-2201," "XLR-11," and "UR-144," all of which were legal in Texas at the time of the raid. In fact, they would only become illegal in January 2013 when the federal government's Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act, signed by President Obama in July 2012, went into effect. 

The DEA insists the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986 affords them the power to prosecute possession of these substances because they are "similar to controlled substances." It is this enforcement of "analogues" that landed Lipsen with a felony indictment for products she believed to be legal. 

That wasn't just her opinion. Lipsen spends thousands of dollars having all the products she sells lab-tested for controlled substances and has the documentation to prove it. Prosecutor Ponton also knows how expensive drug testing can be. In March 2014, he went before the Brewster County Board of Commissioners, pleading for thousands of dollars of funds for additional testing on the seized potpourri packets but was refused out of hand.

Out of resources but intent on proving Ilana Lipsen's criminality, he would find a willing partner in the DEA, an agency without his office's budget limitations. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • SusanM||

    More news on the Gay Illuminati Conspiracy

    http://m.cdapress.com/news/loc.....l?mode=jqm

    [City Attorney Mike] Gridley wrote that the city will not prosecute legitimate nonprofit religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, or societies or other exempt organizations or anyone else as a result of their lawful exercise of their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion.

    In addition to exempting those groups, Gridley wrote that the anti-discrimination ordinance states that it "shall be construed and applied in a manner consistent with First Amendment jurisprudence regarding the freedom of speech and exercise of religion."

    When contacted by The Press for comment, Don Knapp said the Hitching Post is not operating as a not-for-profit religious corporation. He also said he does not know ADF Attorney David Cortman.
  • MegaloMonocle||

    The funny thing is, the second paragraph should render the first paragraph completely redundant.

    Your form of corporate organization has (or should have) exactly zero impact on your rights.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    ATTENTION: LAZY REASON EDITORS. OLD COMMENTS.

  • ||

    Land. Of. The. Free.

  • This Machine Kills MUH ROADZ||

    The DEA did not respond to our requests for comment, but Laila Rico, a representative from the DEA's El Paso office, told the Alpine Avalanche, "If you don't do what you're asked to do, that's what you're going to run into."

    Urge to smash things.... rising...

  • american socialist||

    Hi Anthony,

    This article is infuriating. Alas, it is unlikely to generate much debate in the commentariat as it is not about the majesty of rand Paul, the totalitarian tendency of the government giving someone, somewhere a subsidy to get an education or put solar panels on their roof, or the splendor of the idea of giving gazillionaires a tax cut. I thought in Texas of all places, where politicians talk about big government, that the chances of a DEA goon splintering your front door would be zero, but then there's this.

    Here's an idea for libertarians... Stop voting for right-wing Tea Party reactionaries.

  • Zeb||

    Do you have any more new ideas like this that no one has ever thought of before?

  • american socialist||

    "New ideas"

    I have one. Why not start voting for liberals, who have opposed the drug war from the beginning.

  • Catatafish||

    Like the two in the White House now?

    Brilliant suggestion.

  • american socialist||

    I'm a libertarian socialist so I view Obama as insufficiently radical on both those terms. It should be said, in his defense, that he did end the Iraq War, ended DOMA, and ended the bigoted Don't Ask, Don't Tell policies.

    By liberals, though, I was referring to people like peter defazio, Jim McDermott, and deval Patrick-- just to name a few that I admire.

  • Every Cop is a Criminal||

    "I'm a libertarian socialist"

    Is that akin to an endearing prick?

  • american socialist||

    No, it's more like a Reason.com commenter who prefers to engage in polite debate.

  • Catatafish||

    Socialism, by its very definition, strips liberty from the individual by way of force. Other than by engaging in Orwellian double-speak I have no idea how you cognitively can connect "libertarian" and "socialist."

  • american socialist||

    It's someone that wants government to stay out of all personal matters including all drug laws while maintaining that the government should have a role in regulating the economy, enforcing environmental laws, and building infrastructure. I'm also concerned with vast inequities in wealth and think the government should pay for all of the above through a redistributive income tax.

  • Catatafish||

    So you like the idea of stealing other people's property at the point of a gun, you'd just rather the government do the dirty work for you. I guess that's only "personal" to the people you're stealing from.

    Thanks for clearing that up.

  • Jima||

    Your comments on Socialism and it's (seemingly) obvious shortcomings are appreciated. Your lampooning of your debate opponent here had me laughing out loud. Thanks for that.

  • ace_m82||

    The "economy" is the aggregate of what individuals do with their money; this is incredibly personal (and sometimes involves drugs and the bedroom). All things you mention involve personal acts done with personal property. You want to fund this by stealing money from one group who has "too much" (because they earned it or stole it through governmental misuse).

    You cannot separate "personal issues" and economic ones. Go tell someone that you don't like his choice in Chevy or Ford (or Honda) for proof.

    You are logically inconsistent and therefore wrong.

  • MegaloMonocle||

    It's someone that wants government to stay out of all some personal matters including all drug laws while maintaining that the government should have a role in regulating the economy, enforcing environmental laws, and building infrastructure other personal matters.

    Helpful. Very helpful.

  • american socialist||

    Did I mention that as a socialist I enjoy overwrought arguments by right- wingers about how taxation equals theft? You mean people who cheat on their taxes end up going to jail (usually after a decade or so of procedural pretty-pleasing). Poor them. Poor cliven bundy. He's such a victim.

  • ||

    You really are upsetting some of the no-minds here!!

  • Irish||

    You really are upsetting some of the no-minds here!!

    I was going to say that this is great evidence that you've got the IQ of a very stupid squirrel, but that second exclamation mark and bizarre hyphenated neologism convinced me you're right.

    If you just added an LOL ROTFLMAO to the end of that abortion of a sentence, it would have really been a thing of beauty.

  • Irish||

    Did I mention that as a socialist I enjoy overwrought arguments by right- wingers about how taxation equals theft? You mean people who cheat on their taxes end up going to jail (usually after a decade or so of procedural pretty-pleasing). Poor them. Poor cliven bundy. He's such a victim.

    Yes, there is nothing theft-like about people taking 50% of someone's income and then using that money to give it all to other people.

    How is that stealing? Like, if I came and took your wallet because the government said it was okay, it's only fair that you go to jail if you don't give me your wallet. After all, everything the government says is moral is moral. Only teathuglicans think differently!

    I think it's amazing that people like you think flat out stealing from one person and giving to another is moral provided 51% of people think it's okay.

  • Sevo||

    Hi, dipshit!

    "I'm a libertarian socialist"
    You're a lying piece of shit.

  • Rev-Match||

    libertarian socialist

    These two words cannot be a single term. Here's why: The foundation of Libertarian ideology is that of voluntarism and that the initiation of force is immoral. On the other hand, socialism requires the initiation of force.

  • Lord at War||

    I'm a libertarian socialist.

    Your chosen name decribes you perfectly.

    You are a "socialist" who identifies with a "nationality".

    AKA "Fascist".

  • Thomas O.||

    Trouble is, the police unions are in the Democrats' camp along with those liberals. And they loves them some Drug War.

    I sympathize with the Purple Zone folks, and it sucks that they had to buckle under the heel of these mafiosos. But until we can kick all the law-and-order and religious-nut Republicans out of the Legislature, I'm afraid our wonderful state is a lost cause.

  • ace_m82||

    I would love to see an actual statistical analysis between the GOP who are law-and-order and religious ("nuts" as you call them, kind of unnecessarily). I would wager that they aren't even correlated that much...

    The most onerous GOP I can think of only mention their... beliefs would be too strong a word... when it's election time.

    Then again, there's Santorum... I really can't stand him or his accolades. I point out he voted to use taxpayers' money to fund Planned Parenthood and they actually defend him. Disgusting.

  • perlhaqr||

    I'd love to, but all the Democrat party runs are those filthy Progressives.

  • MegaloMonocle||

    liberals, who have opposed the drug war from the beginning.

    Liberals like FDR, who supported the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act and the Marihuana Transfer Tax Act?

    Or liberals like Bill Clinton, who signed the National Narcotics Leadership Act establishing the ONDCP, and presided over an increase in drug enforcement arrests (from wiki "In the 1980s, while the number of arrests for all crimes had risen by 28%, the number of arrests for drug offenses rose 126%")?

    Those liberals?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Drugs

  • american socialist||

    Your problem is that you don't know that bill Clinton isn't a liberal

  • Andrew S.||

    But is he a true Scotsman?

  • american socialist||

    It's pretty interesting that right-wingers have to come up with a Leftist president who died in office in 1945 and a "Southern leadership council" Democrat to support the thesis that liberals and Leftists are drug war nanny staters. Call me unconvinced. I hang around lots of liberals. Not one of them thinks we should punish people that smoke pot. I think its fine if you want to smoke crack. Not my business.

    There's a Democratically sponsored bill on congress right now that can't get outside of committee in a Republican controlled House. Maybe you guys are just too carried away that someone is getting a Welfare check somewhere to pay attention.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Tell us about all the non-violent drug war prisoners that Obama has pardoned. Oh, wait. He hasn't done that, and you're full of shit.

    -jcr

  • MoreFreedom||

    You seem to be mixing up liberal citizens with "liberal and Leftists" politicians. And while I'd say that 70% of the R politicians are against decriminalizing recreational drugs, there are few in the Democratic ranks who support it.

    You failed to provide a link to "a Democratically sponsored bill on congress" so I will: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....23528.html

    From my perspective, most politicians in both parties don't want to legalize drugs, because it reduces their power. Power they'd like to use for their personal reasons against others such as women who've rejected their advances.

  • Suellington||

    Joe Biden and Barrack Obama would count as good lil' drug warriors. But they probably are not liberal in your book so I guess they would not count.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Is Dianne Feistein of CA a liberal or leftists? Nancy Pelosi? Barbara Boxer, Gavin Newsome.

    All of those high profile democrat officeholders in CA fought like hell against the marijuana legalization initiative a few years ago.

    Or maybe you me liberal and leftists like they have MA,NY and Il again all of whom have fought off legalization.

    Or maybe you mean the lefties in CO who went down in flames for ramming through gun control. Also opposed legalization and are working to undermine it.

    The claim that the same Dems that want to outlaw Big Macs, e cigs and guns are so onboard with legalization mj is and always has been a huge fucking lie.

  • ||

    None of them are liberals, they're all progressives, the opposite of liberal.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    yes, yes in the pure meaning of the word. In common American though liberal = progressive. It's a battle that was lost a loonnggg time ago, and while I'd like to reclaim the original meaning of liberal doing so depends on society at large and not likely to happen. Especially when progressives will start calling themselves liberal now that the public is onto the progressive scam.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Which Liberals? The Democrats who have been just as happy to play the Law N' Order card to their working class constituents every chance they get? The Obama administration, which insists on attempting to carry on the War On Drugs in States that have given it up?

    There are rank-and-file types on the Left who are for legalization, but the Democrat Political Class is about evenly divided between the "whatever gets me elected" and actual fascists.

    I'm not saying that ANY other parties are better, at least here. But on the War On Drugs the Democrats have the moral stature of slime mold … and on a lot of other subjects.

  • John Galt||

    Seems I recall one very progressive, liberal Democrat William Randolph Hearst having a big in stirring up anti-drug paranoia in the very beginning. When one considers, as the article stated, much of the young lady in the article's misery has resulted from a 2012 bill signed into law by the ultra-liberal messiah residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC, and taking into account the very long, unbroken lineage of rabid liberal drug warriors from there all the way back to Hearst and the beginnings, one can only assume you're either trolling or about as ignorant as they come.

  • John C. Randolph||

    I've got news for you, leftard. Prohibition started out as the third great crusade of the "progressives", coming on the heels of the genocidal rampage against the plains indians.

    The left wing talks about ending the drug war, but when push comes to shove, the last thing any leftard politician is willing to do is REDUCE government power.

    -jcr

  • MoreFreedom||

    "Why not start voting for liberals, who have opposed the drug war from the beginning."

    Perhaps you can name one liberal who supports decriminalizing the use of drugs to support your allegation?

    I can name a faction that supports this, the libertarians and libertarian leaning Republicans. From what I see, liberals support more government, just like Obama/Holder support raids of medical marijuana clinics when Obama said he wouldn't. You apparently believe what they say, rather than what they do.

  • Harvey_Birdman90210||

    Lol, what? GTFO troll.

  • Catatafish||

    You're right. No one on this site has ever commented on the atrocities of the WoD, the regular affronts to the Fourth Amendment or the way due process is circumvented through abusive prosecution, overcharging and the plea bargain process.

    Mouthbreather.

  • american socialist||

    And you think this is the central focus of people in the Republican Party, who have been telling people for the last 40 years that they want to get the government off people's back?

    There are plenty of people who call themselves libertarians who buy that bullshit. Maybe it's time for them to start demanding some results or, at the very least, start getting incredulous looks from people who care about limiting government when they say that voting for Republicans is about promoting liberty.

  • Karl Hungus||

    And you think this is the central focus of people in the Republican Party, who have been telling people for the last 40 years that they want to get the government off people's back?

    I would say that every single regular commenter here realizes fully that the Republican Party has no inclination whatsoever to "get the government off people's back."

    There are plenty of people who call themselves libertarians who buy that bullshit.

    I agree - there are many people out there who call themselves libertarians without even realizing what the word means.

  • american socialist||

    "I would say that every single regular commenter here realizes fully that the Republican Party has no inclination whatsoever to "get the government off people's back."

    Right. I'll keep your comment handy for all the predictable harrumphing I see on this website on the morning of November 5.

  • MegaloMonocle||

    there are many people out there who call themselves libertarians without even realizing what the word means.

    [whoosh]

  • ||

    I really don't see that, it seems like most of the commentators here are just extreme Republicans. I am amazed by how little discussion there is of actually electing Libertarian party candidates. I don't believe any one who operates under a major party label has the independence to really, and consistently, govern as a Libertarian. Most of the commentators here sound like Bill O' Reily or some jerk like that

  • Irish||

    I really don't see that, it seems like most of the commentators here are just extreme Republicans.

    Yeah, extreme Republicans who consistently advocate the end of the drug war, the legalization of prostitution, and are generally non-interventionist in foreign policy.

    Since those are all Republican positions, you've got us. This reminds me of when a conservative came on here and claimed I was a leftist for saying mean things about the police. If actual Republicans call me a leftist, it's a pretty good sign that I'm not an arch-Republican.

  • SimonJester||

    Yep. Extreme Republican. I'm like Santorum on sterroids.

    That's me.

    Hurrrm ... let's to through the list.

    * Small, powerful, non-interventionist military.
    * End corporate welfare (particularly for financial institutions.)
    * Open, though controlled, borders.
    * Pro-choice.
    * Pro Gay marriage, "thrupple" marriages, line-marriages, group marriages, etc. (I'll approve it as quickly as you can think of a name.)
    * End the drug war.
    * Decriminalize posession of controlled substances.
    * Legalize (and allow to self-regulate) prostitution.
    * End subsidies for professional sports teams.
    * Demlitarize the police and all of the other paramilitary governmental organizations.
    * Term limits across the board, and short ones
    * Legalize most of the "big scarry" drugs.

    Wait -- this isn't going like KissAss above said it would. Now I'm confused.

  • Rev-Match||

    * Term limits across the board, and short ones

    This is my favorite. What better way to be a government "of, by and for" the people if not high turnover?

  • Sevo||

    poguemahoney|10.21.14 @ 10:02PM|#
    ..."Most of the commentators here sound like Bill O' Reily or some jerk like that"

    From and idjit who posts like commie-kid?

  • Migrant Log Picker||

    Sorta like associalist.

  • Catatafish||

    You're conflating the points in your original post. You said that the article "is unlikely to generate much debate in the commentariat as it is not about the majesty of rand Paul, the totalitarian tendency of the government giving someone, somewhere a subsidy to get an education or put solar panels on their roof, or the splendor of the idea of giving gazillionaires a tax cut."

    I refuted your ridiculous position by pointing out the issues raised in this article are RED FUCKING MEAT for the "commentariat" at Reason.

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|10.21.14 @ 4:03PM|#
    ..."There are plenty of people who call themselves libertarians who buy that bullshit."...

    There are plenty of imbeciles who buy into being proggies, too. Like you, you stupid pile of shit.

  • RussianPrimeMinister||

    MENDACIOUS. CUNT.

    Go back to Slate and spit your vitriolic nonsense at your own echo chamber.

  • Cindy||

    Please. WTF does this have to do with "tea party reactionaries?" This Ponton dude is a thug. Us right wing guys are all about less, smaller government. It is unconscionable that a small business owner , doing everything she knows to do to stay within the bounds of the law should be hammered by the DA in conjunction with the DEA. You are illogically smearing conservative people. What crawled up you and died?

  • american socialist||

    "Us right wing guys are all about less, smaller government"

    And the person you vote for thinks smaller government includes reigning in the DEA?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Obama certainly doesn't.

  • ||

    That's certainly true about all libertarians. Do you know where you are, or are you lost? Do you think this is Fox News? I wouldn't just reign in the DEA, I would abolish it.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Steam pressure got too high around page 3, so I stopped reading. Tar and feathers would have been applied long before things got that bad, back in the day.

    Immunity for this kind of shit is the enabler. If they had to pay through the nose, and with jail time, for their common thuggery, it would stop in a heartbeat.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Tar and feathers?

    You're too kind. I'd like to see the sons of bitches sentenced to 20 years with the letters L-E-O tattooed on their foreheads.

  • MegaloMonocle||

    Tattooed?

    Oh, because branding is too good for them?

  • Harvard||

    kwitcherbellyakin and respond yourself. Arsenic in bulk isn't too hard to find, which takes care of the dude's horses. For a tenth the amount the court appointed attorney is charging she can hire from El Paso a Mexican beating of the fuck so severe he'll eat from a straw for two months.

  • croaker||

    Aresnic? Why go to that trouble when you can get standard antifreeze anywhere. Just pour it in the horse's water and they'll drink it right up.

  • croaker||

    Tattoo on the forehead.

    Branding on both butt cheeks, so the other prisoners can be reminded who they're raping.

  • ||

    There's evil and then there's Rod Ponton and the DEA.

    Wow. Are these cunts and sonabitches EVIL.

    I'm speechless. In America.

  • SimonJester||

    Speechless is just the way the proggies want you. It is when you START speaking that they flip out. "Stupid, crap ass first-ammendment getting in the way of our utopia whever everyone thinks like me."

  • ||

    Tough work (harassing and ruining citizens), vital mission (except the dangerous ones.

    Assholes.

  • ||

    Sorry. 'Tough work, vital mission' is on the DEA website.

  • ||

    Does anyone read the comments on Reason's youtube link?

    Quite a few idiotic trolls.

  • RussianPrimeMinister||

    Does anyone read the comments on Reason.com?

    Quite a few idiotic trolls.

  • NealAppeal||

    Grab your foam donut. The nut-punches come fast and furious in this one.

  • ace_m82||

    "Nobody has the ability to fight the government for too long."

    Try me. Please try me. See how I fight. I fought the Marine Corps (while they were convinced they owned me) to a standstill.

    Shoot my dog. Attempt an arrest while I'm hurting no-one. Stage a no-knock raid. Don't make me show you what you've taught me (and what I've learned since then). Threaten my family.

    You don't have a monopoly on force; you just think you do. Don't make me prove how wrong you are.

  • Every Cop is a Criminal||

    So you'd last indefinitely if the EPA were fining you $250k per day?

  • ace_m82||

    I don't have that much to begin with. So one day, 100 years, no real difference.

  • croaker||

    'There is no man so free as one with nothing left to lose.'

  • Harvey_Birdman90210||

    Except your public defender will be too busy to care about your case. Unless you can afford a really expensive attorney (like me) you will lose. Sorry.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Well, that was pretty much a full-on nut punch.

  • Riven||

    Between this and the puppycide article earlier, I'm not sure I can walk for the rest of the day, and I don't even have the requisite equipment.

  • Lord at War||

    Riven-

    As others among the female commentariat have mentioned, a "cunt punt" has the same effect.

  • bjenkins92||

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  • Pendulum||

    Arielle's leg flew up and inadvertently struck the agent in the shin, after which the agent pinned her to the ground with the butt of his rifle.

    So Sis tried to Sweep the Leg?

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I have one problem with this article, and it is tangental to the story; the quote about "a small town paper's job"

    I'm sorry, but a small town paper's job is to sell advertising, thereby making money, or to disseminate the bias of whoever is supporting it while it loses money. The idea that "Journalists" have some higher calling to The Truth is so much bilge, as the current crop of Obama sycophants in the media clearly demonstrate. I acknowledge that the author did not say that bit himself; he just quoted it with implied approval.

    No paper is EVER free of bias. If it hasn't the bias of its owner, then it has the biases of its editors, reporters, and so forth. Anybody who believes that any media outlet is free of bias is too naive to be allowed out in the big wide world without a keeper, and probably believes that PBS at some time "kept the networks honest"… and in the Easter Bunny.

  • Migrant Log Picker||

    This^^^^Our little failing progressive rag teh Missoulian has a "city beat" reporter whose stories read like press releases from our 500 lb mayors "communications director" as he tries to steal a private water company through eminent domain.

    He claimed he could accomplish this theft for 500 k a year ago. Legal bills are already over a million and since the city is liable for all legal fees in these proceedings we are on the hook for far more. He's fucking with the Carlyle Group and their 2 grand an hour lawyers haven't even gotten close to entering the fray. I'll be laughing when this walrus get's bitch slapped and his proggy minions get hit in the wallet. Sadly lots of fixed income seniors home owners will be fucked by his chutzpah.

    Not ironically, said "cd" used to have the same job at the afore mentioned local rag. Investment advice, stay away from Lee Enterprises, their bankruptcy is only a matter of time.

  • John Galt||

    You live in Missoula? Poor fella. Nothing like drowning in a sea of some of the creepiest liberellas festering between the two coasts.

  • Harvard||

    That's puzzled me also. How is it that states populated with individuals who (outwardly at least) embody an aura of self determination and self dependency succumb to the liberal fucks that move in for the view?

  • Harvard||

    And if it's so easy for so few to drive an entire state's agenda, direction and very purpose; how is it we are not all moving to "our" new Free State?

  • Redmanfms||

    Leftists find it very important to be surrounded by other people who hold the exact same views, so you end up finding enclaves of radical leftderpery in otherwise red or purple states.

    It doesn't seem to matter to most non-leftists what their neighbors think. They seem to prioritize family, safety, quality of life, and jobs.

    My guess based on experience living in a leftist enclave.

  • John Galt||

    It seems very unlikely that the purpose of protecting free speech and freedom of the press was to create a high-priesthood of holy journalists to aid their masters in achieving absolute control over we politically unconnected commoners.

  • John Galt||

    Interesting article, however, by the fourth page a little attention to the sex toys angle could've broke the monotony a bit.

  • John C. Randolph||

    When he asked to see a search warrant, he claims a rifle-bearing DEA agent replied, "What are you, a fucking lawyer?"

    So much for DEA's pretense of being a law enforcement agency.

    -jcr

  • Cbalducc||

    Small towns can be the worst places for libertarians.

  • ||

    You said it. At least in this country. I can't remember where I heard the quote, but someone said something like 'God save us from nice little towns'.

  • sarcasmic||

    “Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein

    I live in a small town full of surly curmudgeons. I like it.

  • Árboles de la Barranca||

    So much for the progressive Obama administration being easier on drugs than his predecessor. No one loves a police state more than a progressive.

  • Irish||

    So much for the progressive Obama administration being easier on drugs than his predecessor. No one loves a police state more than a progressive.

    Yeah, somehow I doubt the abuses of police forces in small town Texas are the fault of the Obama administration.

  • ||

    Not that the Obama administration would be any different.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Obama would say he's setting up a commission to study the issue and report a recommendation to his AG in a year.

  • Rev-Match||

    prohibits purchasing ammunition while under indictment

    I though you were only supposed to lose rights upon conviction of a crime by a jury of your piers in open court.

  • Rev-Match||

    *peers, even.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's one of those things where you can't challenge it until you go to court, and as soon as you go to court it goes way giving you no standing to challenge it.

  • ||

    Current rocket scientists need to learn the H&R secret for folding space.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    The American Civil Liberties Union: On the front lines of defending religious freedom!

    "Despite gay marriage rulings, some Elvis-themed Vegas chapels doing it their way...

    "According to the American Civil Liberties Union, for-profit wedding chapels that turn away gay couples could be charged with a misdemeanor. The organization explained exceptions to the law only apply to religious institutions. “The difference between a church and a place of worship and a wedding chapel is that a wedding chapel is a business so that is covered under the Public Accommodations Law of Nevada,” Tod Story of the ACLU told News 8."

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....marriages/

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    It appears Nevada does not have a RFRA law, so they're probably right as a free exercise matter.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Good thing the legislature of Nevada rejected such an Act last year - there was no need for it:

    "nor were there an outpouring of concrete examples of violations that the Nevada Preservation of Religious Freedom Act was designed to cure."

    http://rfraperils.com/2014/03/.....in-nevada/

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Here's a fun exercise - find the provision of the state public accomodation law which applies to wedding chapels -

    http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-651.html

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    " (n) Any other establishment or place to which the public is invited or which is intended for public use"?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    bingo!

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Other service establishment probably also covers it

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I think RFRA's are Establishment Clause violations.

    Laws like these violate free speech rights. And anti discrimination laws generally should be struck down as violating a substantive due process right of free association that would treat religious and the non religious equally in their associations.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    All right, but free speech so far hasn't protected the bakers and photogs.

    And I'm not sure the wedding chapel owners will be sitting around waiting to assert their rights until Lester Maddox is allowed to re-establish his race-segregated restaurant.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Those cases haven't been ruled on by SCOTUS yet. Denial of cert isn't necessarily a comment on the merits.

    Either way, I'm not sure ushering a system of two tiered legal system with special privileges for the religious not existing for the non religious isn't a cure worse than the disease.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    The religious conservatives didn't pass these laws - it's not as if they sat around saying, "let's require all the secular people to recognize same-sex unions while giving ourselves an exemption!"

    They would love to have these laws repealed altogether - but until the public gets enlightened on this, religious dissenters will at least want to take advantage of laws giving them "special privileges" - laws like the First Amendment.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    The militia laws and draft laws - going back to before the country was founded - gave "special privileges" to religious dissenters known as conscientious objectors.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    They also had in England and in some states laws allowing only Protestants (or in some places only Christians, or only theist) to serve on juries, certain offices, etc.

    RFRA laws apply not in a few sensitive areas, but across the board of the laws. They create one legal system for the religious and another for the non religious institutionally.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    The First Amendment establishes a regime of freedom for the religious - including nontheists whose belief system can be considered religious.

    We seem to agree that many of these laws, as applied to non-religious people, are wrong or unconstitutional. But telling the religious to wait until the seculars get their rights means, IMHO, ignoring the First Amendment.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    But the First also has an Establishment Clause which I think frowns on institutionally favoring religion

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    But it doesn't seem to have frowned on the militia and conscsiription laws which exempted religious pacifists from military service. Under your reasoning, the Establishment Clause would require Quakers, Mennonites, etc. to be drafted whenever there's a draft.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I think the differences are explained at least in part in Scalia's opinion in Smith (which talked about how the 1st Amendment Free Exercise Clause being limited comports with our history of occasional legislative exemptions in areas like CO's)

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I think Scalia dropped the ball in that case - the various RFRAs were meant to reinstate the very constitutional precedents he wanted to overrule.

    Unlike you, though, he would allow legislatures to enact religious exemptions.

    Sometimes Homer nods, and sometimes Scalia messes up.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Funny, I thought of a broken clock concerning his opinion in Smith

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I thought of a working clock which sometimes gets dropped and has to get taken to the shop.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    So they're like the businesses that didn't push for crony laws, but since those laws exist they figured they might as well take their place at the trough?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Conscientious objectors are pigs at the trough?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    People advocating for their group to be included in the non discrimination laws are.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "Trough" suggests people lining up for government benefits. Being left alone isn't a government benefit.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Like renewable energy firms seeking tax breaks for their part of the industry only?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Lots of businesses try to get out from under oppressive taxes - that's not the problem, the problem is when they want their competitors taxed at a higher rate.

    So if we have a case of a church asking that its members be exempt from SSM laws while imposing such laws on people outside their church, you might have an analagous problem.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I see selective tax breaks as at least potentially problematic. YMMV of course.

    I'll end by saying this, it's the exact same thing I tell gays pushing to be included in non discrimination laws: apart from the philosophical issues, do you really think it's good for your group to be seen as pushing for special treatment? I'm partly opposed to a two tiered legal system for religious people and the non religious because I think it will ultimately foster animosity towards the religious and a sense of entitlement in them. As a religious person mysel I don't like either.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Well, I'll just conclude by saying that the religious better get accustomed to being disliked.

    "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." (Rom. 12:18)

    But sometimes there are people who don't want to live in peace, but to tell you how to practice your religion. I'd say lovingly protest in hopes of being permitted to live peaceably, or even to familiarize other people with the tenets of one's religion. Teachable moment.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Again:

    "Wedding chapels can’t say no to same-sex marriages, ACLU warns...

    "...chapels are public accommodations and have to follow the public accommodation law, [Clark County Clerk Diana] Alba said....

    "Reno resident and licensed minister George Flint, who has been performing weddings for 53 years, said those licensed by counties to perform weddings have to follow the law. He suggested that minsters who do not do so could have their licenses potentially voided for failing to perform same-sex marriages."

    http://www.reviewjournal.com/n.....aclu-warns

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    This kind of thing increasingly makes me think civil marriage should be totally divorced from religious (or non religious) ceremonies. If ministers don't want to be held to the standards of civil license issuers they shouldn't be doing that.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    You mean that marriages solemnized by a religious minister shouldn't be recognized by the state? Or recognized only if the minister is a SSM supporter?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Mark 12:17 ( I know you know that one)

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    You want to codify religious doctrines in the law?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Call it a policy preference for, well, let's call it a 'separation of church and state'

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    By treating people married in church the same as fornicators?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    How does the government treat fornicators?

    Bo's solution is fine with me. Let everyone go to the courthouse and file a marriage and as a separate issue let people conduct marriage ceremonies however they see fit. People won't automatically have a civil union as a consequence of a religious marriage ceremony and visa versa.

  • The artist known Dunphy||

    They have been for as long as law has existed.

    Last I checked, perjury and murder are illegal

    Hth

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "VIDEO: Atheism is winning, says Dawkins"

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/ne.....-1-6376419

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Thank God!

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I see what you did there

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Admit it...you laughed.

  • The artist known Dunphy||

    Dawkins problem is he is a New Atheism (tm) tool, and can't handle the superior NOMA arguments

    He is just a craptastic representative for atheism, whether he's spouting nonsense or drilling Ms Garrison in her constructed snizz

  • Sevo||

    The artist known Dunphy|10.25.14 @ 11:22PM|#
    "Dawkins problem is he is a New Atheism (tm) tool, and can't handle the superior NOMA arguments"

    NOMA "arguments" are bullshit.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    You aren't Dunphy.

    NotDunphy.

  • Gene||

    NotDunphy

    I've thought that as well; close though, he seems to have done some research.

  • Redmanfms||

    I've thought that as well; close though, he seems to have done some research.

    Not enough. He gets basic biographical facts about dumpster completely wrong. I always believed that dumpster wasn't actually a cop, just a toady with a badge fetish, but he was really consistent. It's pretty obvious this is just a dumpster impersonator.

    The fact that he has conspicuously avoided the cop shoots/beats/tazes people/dog/child threads since his arrival is a dead giveaway. Dumpster was on those threads like stink on shit.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Repairmen scribbled messages inside President Lincoln's watch -

    http://mashable.com/2014/10/23.....t-message/

  • Harvey_Birdman90210||

    Who cares? Spam elsewhere, cunt.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "Gino's bringing its deep-dish pizza to Mexico City"

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com.....exico-city

  • Harvey_Birdman90210||

    No one loves you. Fuckface.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "Ah'm pressin' all the right buttons, Cap'n, but I'm nae gettin' any response!"

  • The artist known Dunphy||

    Fucking spice hysteria is insane

    It's one of the latest raisons for this kind of overkill idiocy

  • tomasbyrnelfo||

    My roomate's aunt makes $71 /hour on the laptop . She has been out of a job for six months but last month her income was $12021 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
    You can try this out. ✫✫✫✫✫ www.jobsfish.com

  • Cbalducc||

    Now if Ms. Lipsen had moved to Comfort, Texas, she might have had an easier time of it, since that town was founded by German immigrants who were freethinkers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort,_Texas

  • RussianPrimeMinister||

    Where is FdA to demand his money back?

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    I will stand in for him: Reason, stop posting articles with old comments in them. Just DELETE the old comments and post the article. Is that hard? I will seriously re-consider donating to you guys again if you can't even do this for us.

  • Almanian!||

    #OLDCOMMENTSLIVESMATTER!!

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Thanks for picking up the slack Joe.

  • Gene||

    Just DELETE the old comments

    But then we lose some real gems from the comments, such as Harvey Birdmans' kind words to Eddie upthread.

  • userve32||

    I dont think that dude has a clue man.

    www.Way-Anon.tk

  • marygpaul||

    my best friend's step-aunt makes $67 hourly on the internet . She has been fired from work for 9 months but last month her check was $20596 just working on the internet for a few hours. you can try this out.............
    ➜➜➜➜➜ http://www.netjob70.com

  • userve32||

    Teexas people are jsut funny like that.

    www.Way-Anon.tk

  • ottiliesaragosa||

    my best friend's mother-in-law makes $68 /hour on the computer . She has been fired for 10 months but last month her payment was $15958 just working on the computer for a few hours. view it now.......
    ➜➜➜➜➜http://www.netjob70.com

  • SMCGRAW11||

    I lived in Alpine for 7 years and was briefly married to Rod Ponton. While married to Ponton and for a short time before, I was addicted to cocaine. On September 2, 2011, Ponton, the city attorney for Alpine, lied to the cops, telling them that we hadn't spoken in over 24 hours,that he was concerned for my safety and instructed officers to check on me at my friend's house. Ponton and I had spoken less than an hour before he called the cops. The cops surrounded the home, handcuffed and detained my friend and I. THEN one of the Sheriff's deputies called someone to request a search warrant. My friend and I were made to wait, handcuffed outside, while the warrant was prepared and brought over. Once officers had the warrant they searched the home and my friend and I were arrested.

    In my experienve Ponton uses the law to get revenge. Ponton could have helped me seek treatment, he preferred to have me arrested, humiliating me and my children. I went treatment and Ponton wrote my psychologist claiming horrible things about my character. Having known and treated me for a month before telling me of Ponton's letter, my psychologist commented that anyone who would attempt to undermine the drug treatment of another person is unethical.

    I believe Ponton manipulated any resource possible to go after Ilana and shut down her store. Ponton hated the store from its beginning. In my opinion Ponton doesn't worry about collateral damage; Ponton cares about revenge more than justice.

  • SMCGRAW11||

    I lived in Alpine for 7 years and was briefly married to Rod Ponton. While married to Ponton and for a short time before, I was addicted to cocaine. On September 2, 2011, Ponton, the city attorney for Alpine, lied to the cops, telling them that we hadn't spoken in over 24 hours,that he was concerned for my safety and instructed officers to check on me at my friend's house. Ponton and I had spoken less than an hour before he called the cops. The cops surrounded the home, handcuffed and detained my friend and I. THEN one of the Sheriff's deputies called someone to request a search warrant. My friend and I were made to wait, handcuffed outside, while the warrant was prepared and brought over. Once officers had the warrant they searched the home and my friend and I were arrested.

    In my experienve Ponton uses the law to get revenge. Ponton could have helped me seek treatment, he preferred to have me arrested, humiliating me and my children. I went treatment and Ponton wrote my psychologist claiming horrible things about my character. Having known and treated me for a month before telling me of Ponton's letter, my psychologist commented that anyone who would attempt to undermine the drug treatment of another person is unethical.

    I believe Ponton manipulated any resource possible to go after Ilana and shut down her store. Ponton hated the store from its beginning. In my opinion Ponton doesn't worry about collateral damage; Ponton cares about revenge more than justice.

  • SMCGRAW11||

    I lived in Alpine for 7 years and was briefly married to Rod Ponton. While married to Ponton and for a short time before, I was addicted to cocaine. On September 2, 2011, Ponton, the city attorney for Alpine, lied to the cops, telling them that we hadn't spoken in over 24 hours,that he was concerned for my safety and instructed officers to check on me at my friend's house. Ponton and I had spoken less than an hour before he called the cops. The cops surrounded the home, handcuffed and detained my friend and I. THEN one of the Sheriff's deputies called someone to request a search warrant. My friend and I were made to wait, handcuffed outside, while the warrant was prepared and brought over. Once officers had the warrant they searched the home and my friend and I were arrested.

    In my experienve Ponton uses the law to get revenge. Ponton could have helped me seek treatment, he preferred to have me arrested, humiliating me and my children. I went treatment and Ponton wrote my psychologist claiming horrible things about my character. Having known and treated me for a month before telling me of Ponton's letter, my psychologist commented that anyone who would attempt to undermine the drug treatment of another person is unethical.

    I believe Ponton manipulated any resource possible to go after Ilana and shut down her store. Ponton hated the store from its beginning. In my opinion Ponton doesn't worry about collateral damage; Ponton cares about revenge more than justice

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