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A Nation of Narcs

Americans have developed a nasty habit of inviting the state into people's lives for tiny offenses. Here are three ways to turn back the tide.

When I was a teenager, strangers would sometimes stop in front of our house to take pictures of our front yard. We lived on a run-down street with no sidewalks or paved driveways in what was then a low-income neighborhood in a low-income town 45 minutes outside Orlando. But people didn't stop because of the poverty. They stopped for my mom's butterfly garden.

I cannot name every plant she grew, but I remember her telling me once that our tiny yard drew every kind of butterfly that migrated through Central Florida. When the flowers were in bloom and the butterflies were in attendance, our home looked like a Monet come to life.

But not everybody liked the garden. One day the man who owned the rental house next door informed my mother that he thought she should tear it down and have a normal yard like everybody else on the block. In his opinion, the best way to maintain a lawn was to mow the grass down to the nub every two weeks. After their initial conversation, he pressured my mom to raze her garden whenever he visited his rental property.

She didn't have to appease him. We didn't live in a subdivision and weren't bound by the rules of a homeowner's association. But my mom is a peacemaker, and so she had my brother and I put up a trellis between his yard and ours to create a visual barrier. We thought that would do it. We were wrong.

Six months later, a code enforcement officer paid us a visit. The man who owned the house next door had filed a complaint, claiming he'd seen a rodent scuttle into and out of the garden. (This was probably true! A good garden is home to more than just a few plants.)

After touring the yard with my mom, the code enforcement officer informed her that we would need to tear most of it down. My mom pleaded and explained that the wild flowers sustained butterflies and bees and that there was order in the apparent wildness. She had, after all, designed and planted the entire thing.

The city gave her a week to clear the yard. After that, she would be fined several hundred dollars a day until our yard looked as militantly minimalist as the lawn next door. Broke as hell and busy raising two boys on her own, my mom ran a push mower through the most beautiful garden in town. Afterward, she wept.

I was reminded of that event last week, when the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health had told an independent hardware store it could no longer offer free popcorn to customers unless it installed kitchen equipment and submitted to regular inspections, as required by the 1984 California Uniform Retail Food Facility Law. Meanley and Son Hardware had given free popcorn to customers for the last 25 years without incident.

This is not the first time the county has clamped down on free popcorn in hardware stores, according to the Union-Tribune's Peter Rowe:

Three years ago, inspectors cited Encinitas' Crown Ace Hardware and San Carlos True Value Hardware.

"The Health Department came in," said San Carlos True Value manager Danielle Matheny, "and told us if we wanted to continue giving away free popcorn and coffee we'd have to install a bigger vent system, a bigger and better sink in the break room—a lot of rules and restrictions they put on us."

In both Encinitas and San Carlos, the stores dropped the practice. Inspectors so far have ignored Payton's, but El-Hajj figures it's just a matter of time.

"I feel sad," she said, "that some of the old traditions we have become so regulated."

Free popcorn is right down there with butterfly gardens in the reverse concern pyramid. There are probably people reading right now who think dedicating this many words to either one is borderline irresponsible, considering the abundance of problems plaguing humanity. But both intrusions share a common theme with more pressing incidents: They wouldn't have happened if someone—or perhaps multiple someones—hadn't decided to employ the state to settle a grievance best addressed by looking the other way:

Meanley and Son's fate was sealed with an anonymous tip phoned into the authorities. Employees popped the corn, but the rest of the operation was self-serve, with a scoop and bags set out for patrons. The tipster claimed some folks stuck their bare, potentially grimy, fingers into the machine, plucking out crunchy handfuls.

The person who complained about the popcorn has a lot in common with the neighbor who sicced the code enforcers on my mom. And they both have a lot in common with the New York lawyer recently caught on camera threatening to report a group of Spanish-speaking restaurant employees and customers to ICE; with whoever called police to report "a 'suspicious man' walking on the bike path with a baby" here in D.C. a few weeks back (the baby was his son); with the busybodies who regularly report parents for leaving their kids in the car while grabbing some groceries or upon spotting children playing without adult supervision; with the Buffalo union official who proudly rats out undocumented immigrants at job sites; with the bigots who treat the mere presence of black people in predominantly white spaces as a threat to their safety.

Three projects might help roll back the problem.

The first is to help people who find some of these stories outrageous and others inconsequential to see all of them as related. The parallels seem vibrant and stark to me, and perhaps to the average Reason reader, but not, I suspect, to everyone. Being black in a white space is not against the law, yet working without permission in the United States very clearly is. Cultivating a garden is not the same thing as violating a health statute.

Fair enough. But it's a short logical step from "That's illegal!" to "That might be illegal!" and from "That is unsafe!" to "That makes me feel uncomfortable!" You can help friends and family and partners think differently about when it's appropriate to invoke state power by sharing stories of times when calling in the authorities caused far more harm than the alternative. A lot of people don't seem to think very hard before calling the cops—it's free, it's fast, and there are no consequences for overreacting. You don't even have to give your name! Heck, I accidentally called 911 at the farmer's market a month ago when I mistook my phone's power button for the volume button and pressed it three times in a row. It's worth the time and trouble to ask people questions ("How would you feel if someone called the police because you let our kids play in the front yard by themselves?") that might have an impact on how they think about these things.

The second project is a political program: to drastically scale back the police powers of every arm of the state. Not just the police police, but the health police and the tax police and the zoning police. All those agencies work in concert. The person who refuses to pare back her garden gets a fine. If she doesn't pay the fine, she loses her driver's license. If she drives regardless, because her job or family needs her to, she gets arrested. The police state is a hydra, so let's treat it like one.

Lastly, we need to look for ways to block the pending age when algorithms take such steps for us. I may be alone in thinking Facebook's suicide intervention algorithm is a terrible idea, but it's only a matter of time before it sends cops to someone's house and the person dies at police hands rather than his own.

It is more important than ever to recognize the incredibly high stakes of inviting the state into other people's lives. An army of advocates are trying to help America's immigrant population but failing to make a difference at scale—not because these groups lack talent or commitment or knowledge, but because the state is a behemoth with infinite resources and a monopoly on violence. At the local level, the number of government agencies messing with people often outnumber the organizations fighting back.

So talk with your neighbors and friends and family. Complain to local officials. And try not to tap your iPhone's power button too many times.

Photo Credit: Edward Suazo

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  • wef||

    you're just anti-road

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Riggs, what was your mom's address, in case we want to send her some words of sympathy? Also, does the asshole neighbor live to the left or the right?

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yes, DOXXing is a GREAT idea to fight against the assholes! I wish Reason would get on board... Let us know the home addresses of the assholes, so that locals can go and "picket" their houses! Let's "socially ostracize" and "other" and "stigmatize" these assholes!

  • dchang0||

    Would it be doxxing if Riggs merely shared his own address and the date when his mom mowed her garden?

    (Leave it up to 4chan to research country property records, find the neighboring parcel, find the property owner at the time, find the name of the landlord that narced, find out where he lives now, and organize an expedition.)

  • Hittman||

    I've always thought that the people who implement this kind of nonsense should be doxed, and doxed hard. Their names, addresses, pictures and phone numbers should be plastered everywhere, on posters, on social media, and perhaps on a blog devoted to such doxing.

    Everyone involved in the enforcement should be doxed - the officials who approve it, the drones who visit the place to enforce it, and especially the cops who accompany them.

    Maybe if the little turds knew they'd become famous they'd slow down a bit.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    The police state is a hydra, so let's treat it like one

    You know what else works against hydras...?

  • Sansos||

    Heracles?

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Acid?

  • sarcasmic||

    Elizabeth Warren's face?

  • Yellow Tony||

    A thought that was a Greek myth?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I believe you're thinking of gorgons. Although her gaze probably works on hydras as well.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Her face actually does cauterize cuts.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    No, that's cyclopes.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    So, she's so ugly that she was accused by the Greeks of culturally appropriating their Medusa myth?

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    No, that's DWS, also embarrisingly enough from Florida.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Captain America?

  • Citizen X - #6||

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Neat.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Oh great, now everyone is going to be talking about when the hydra becomes a different hydra.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    +1 cnidarian of Theseus

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Blue Gouramis or Mollies?

  • Agammamon||

    Not Captain America.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Captain America?

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Captain Not America?

  • Jerryskids||

    So talk with your neighbors and friends and family.

    I find a good conversation starter with the neighbor is showing him my new woodchipper. My friends and family already know about the woodchipper.

  • albo||

    So that was Mrs. Lundegaard on the floor in there. And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper. And those three people in Brainerd. And for what? For a little bit of money. There's more to life than a little money, you know. Don't you know that? And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day. Well, I just don't understand it

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Leviathan doesn't exist in a vacuum.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    But a Kindori does.

  • GILMORE™||

    - Absolutely agree w/ sentiment of the piece.

    now, to digress:

    the thing re: the case of the "Racist Lawyer" (pictured)... which i think deserves greater attention, is... which is worse?

    - Him, for *threatening* to wield the force of the state against some suspected "illegals"*?

    - or social media (and the news media - who published 100 stories labeling him the "Racist Lawyer" before the day was out) for turning a short video clip into a public-crucifixion?

    e.g.

    " the City Council's Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus- sent a letter to the Manhattan Appeals Court today calling for Schlossberg to get disbarred, the Daily News reports. It follows the calls from Rep. Adriano Espaillat and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. for him to lose his right to practice law."

    fwiw, what little i've seen of the guy suggests he's a grade-A scumbag; that said, being a scumbag isn't a crime and public denouncement is fine, but it rarely seems to stop there.

    Given his threat of calling ICE would have no legal ramifications unless some employees *were* undocumented... who was really "using the force of the state" here? The "Racist"? or the witch-hunting media?

    both?

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    being a scumbag isn't a crime and public denouncement is fine, but it rarely seems to stop there.

    Too bad for him, I guess. All encompassing social media is a thing now and if you don't want to become a pariah then don't do dumb shit like that.

  • czikne||

    That's kind of a dumb take when government is being swayed by social media to discipline people they wouldn't otherwise discipline.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Yeah, you're right. Companies should just suck it up and take the loss of business for not firing a scumbag that nobody likes. Because the government might do it too.

  • czikne||

    Oh, ok, you fire off dumb takes and miss points.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Your point being but government? Yeah, excellent point that unfortunately had nothing to do with the issue at hand.

  • GILMORE™||

    ""The City Council's Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus- sent a letter to the Manhattan Appeals Court ...""

    Are you fucking blind

  • dchang0||

    Re: "All encompassing social media is a thing now and if you don't want to become a pariah then don't do dumb shit like that."

    This claim is still 100% true regardless of whether gov't is even involved later. Not a dumb take.

  • dchang0||

    Also, keep in mind that this sword cuts both ways. Police and politicians can be recorded too doing dumb shit, and social media can ruin them. From cops shooting unarmed men running away and then planting evidence (Walter Scott case) to Anthony Weiner losing public office (Carlos Danger!).

    They too need to be aware of the power of social media, just like anyone else in this day and age.

  • GILMORE™||

    yes, "too bad for him"

    Clearly everyone in media and politics who turned dude into whipping-post of the day is just acting the way these institutions totally should and there's nothing to see there.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Clearly he's the victim. I mean, acting like a complete twat while people are openly filming him is no big deal. Everyone else just needs to wash the sand out of their collective vaginas and get over it.

    Sorry, the public square is where douchebags are supposed to be exposed. And thanks to freedom of association, every person is allowed to decide how they'd prefer to interact with said douchebags.

  • Ogre||

    It's adorable that you think 'freedom of association' is still a thing.

  • GILMORE™||

    Its sad that points need to be spoonfed to you:

    but the question was whether this idea of "narcs" applies more fairly to

    - said scumbag's (never actually acted upon) invocation of the immigration-cops?
    - or the outraged twitterati and media goofs who turned the crucifixion of said guy into a field-day - which now involves actual "state officials" looking to have him disbarred.

    I am not pleading for sympathy for the douche. I'm suggesting there's 'misuse of power' in both examples, where one is "real" while the other was simply 'threatened'

    if you're too dumb to recognize the distinction being made, its not my fault.

  • GILMORE™||

    Its sad that points need to be spoonfed to you:

    but the question was whether this idea of "narcs" applies more fairly to

    - said scumbag's (never actually acted upon) invocation of the immigration-cops?
    - or the outraged twitterati and media goofs who turned the crucifixion of said guy into a field-day - which now involves actual "state officials" looking to have him disbarred.

    I am not pleading for sympathy for the douche. I'm suggesting there's 'misuse of power' in both examples, where one is "real" while the other was simply 'threatened'

    if you're too dumb to recognize the distinction being made, its not my fault.

  • EscherEnigma||

    I am not pleading for sympathy for the douche.


    Sure, but...

    You are saying that it's worse for folks to record a racist asshole and post the video online, then it is to be a racist asshole.

  • D-Pizzle||

    No, he's not. He's criticizing the people who are trying to compel the state to take action against the attorney. He's made that clear several times.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Gilmore has repeatedly assigned guilt for trying to "compel the state to take action" on "social media".

  • gimmedatribeye||

    What do you care if someone is a racist asshole? Let them live their life.

  • GILMORE™||

    ""You are saying that it's worse for folks to record a racist asshole and post the video online""

    No, that's the idiotic straw man you've constructed in order to avoid a very clear point

    namely, that witch-hunters end up ACTUALLY USING state-power to punish perceived transgressors, while shitty-racist dude simply threatens it; and then only toothlessly.

    If he had followed up on his threat the comparison would still be worth considering...

    - because - tho the guy is still a giant-asshole for doing so, calling ICE on suspected illegals is in fact why ICE exists. You may not like it, and i don't like it either, but until you change the laws, they enforce them, and people who violate laws risk being subject to enforcement

    - by contrast, when "guy appears in viral video acting like dick"?... organs of the state do not in fact exist to respond to irrational popular demands for disbarment and to destroy someone's life. Pleasing tho witch hunts might be

    of course this point was clear from the very beginning, and has only been confusing for some because they're either blindingly retarded or willfully obtuse.

  • Vladilyich||

    It's extremely doubtful that any of those employees were "illegals". A rather suiting punishment for this scumbag lawyer would be to tie him up and make him watch "West Side Story" for 72 hours straight! There are more Puerto Ricans (i.e., American citizens) in Manhattan than there are in San Juan!

    As for relying on ICE to get it right and only arrest undocumented Mexicans and not just haul anyone who is fluent in Spanish, if you believe the ICE pirates are that smart, send me about a kilo of what you've been smoking because it's a lot better that what I have.

  • GILMORE™||

    i like how you seem to think there's no dissonance between,

    "There are more Puerto Ricans (i.e., American citizens) in Manhattan than there are in San Juan!"

    and pretending the ICE in NYC are somehow sweeping up anyone who speaks spanish and trying to deport them.

  • Jakester||

    of course the leftist and hispanic NYC trash who dogged that man for his "racism" would never do that to bonafide racist criminals like the Nation of Islam or Al Sharpton

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    What a load of emotional drivel. Nobody cares about your feels, Riggs. If you can't state your point using logic and reason then you don't belong here.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    I recall there being three forms a persuasive argument can take: pathos, logos, and ethos.

    Persuade using feelings.
    Persuade using logic.
    Persuade as a result of the speaker.

    It's all fair game when it comes to changing hearts and minds, doesn't mean each approach will be effective for every listener.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Bullshit, this is a libertarian site and only logic and facts are welcome here.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Since when?

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Beats me, but that's what people keep saying.

  • GILMORE™||

    People like you, apparently?

  • EscherEnigma||

    Mostly the folks whining about "libruls" talking about "feelz". Y'all mock liberals/ progressives/ democrats/ normal-human-beings a lot for talking about their feelings in an attempt to persuade other people.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    There is also cockos - persuading by whipping out your huge hog.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I've found that leads to one of two results - it succeeds in persuading, or the situation is immediately rendered moot. Either way, it's a win for me.

  • gormadoc||

    Cuccos? Where's SIV when you need him?

  • sarcasmic||

    Libertarians don't have feelings.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    All libertarians are autistic basement-dwellers who lack empathy or any ability to relate to other human beings. It is known.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    1) my studio apartment doesn't have a basement

    and

    2) that's all I got.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Where do you keep all your Warhammer paraphenalia?

  • Greg F||

    More importantly ... where does he keep his orphans?

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    In tackle-boxes and on a few book shelves.

  • Agammamon||

    *technically*.

    But your 'studio apartment' is the basement of your mom's home.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Utterly ridiculous. Sadism by definition requires some degree of empathy.

  • StackOfCoins||

    There are probably people reading right now who think dedicating this many words to either one is borderline irresponsible, considering the abundance of problems plaguing humanity.
    The story of your mom getting intimidated by Goons is actually the saddest thing I've read this week. I can't imagine how infuriating someone intruding on my hobby would be (not that my hobby is as productive as making a beautiful garden, making the offense twice an injustice).

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Same here, this really made me sad. I wish I could have seen Mrs. Riggs' garden. I'm glad that Mike wrote this piece. I'd be lying if I said that similar occurences and thoughts haven't caused me consternation.

  • colorblindkid||

    "with the bigots who treat the mere presence of black people in predominantly white spaces as a threat to their safety."

    When I was in college, plenty of my white friends had the cops called on them for no goddamn reason. Some of them were arrested for no goddamn reason. One had two beers and got arrested for a public intox simply for walking home. Wasn't even peeing in a push or anything.

    Until we stop making this a race issue when it's largely not, police abuse will not be solved. Even if it is largely due to race that these things happen, the solutions have nothing to do with race. It is a distraction.

  • sarcasmic||

    Cops love college kids. They're usually too poor to hire representation, they think they actually have rights, but best of all they are not permanent residents. So they can be harassed, beaten up, and milked for cash without any consequence. It's not like their complaints will matter. They'll be moving away soon enough.

    The police problem is a class issue. They don't generally fuck with wealthy people. Wealthy people have lawyers. Politicians tend to listen to wealthy people. They do love to fuck with poor people. It just so happens that in many areas most of the poor people are black. So of course they get fucked with. But not because they are black. Because they are poor.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    There you go, bringing class into it again...

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    This is why I keep telling people: we need to bring back the monarchy. A mandate from the masses just isn't a basis for a system of government.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    What about watery tarts tossing scimitars?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    That is no way to refer to the fine samite-clad ladies distributing swords to our sovereigns.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ...
    Megan Markle wearing wet samite ...

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I said the ones distributing the swords, not the ones whetting them.

  • Paloma||

    There was that time that Henry Louis Gates got arrested for breaking into his own house.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Walking while young male is a thing

  • Hugh Akston||

    I may be alone in thinking Facebook's suicide intervention algorithm is a terrible idea

    You're not alone Riggs. We're in this together.

  • StackOfCoins||

    I would suggest the algorithm is a symptom of the disease: Facebook itself.

    Delete your Facebook.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Wouldn't a functioning suicide intervention algorithm simply block the identified target from Facebook?

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    You're not alone Riggs. We're in this together.

    So it's a pact?

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, it would be a pact if it had socialist goals, but since it is not socialist, it is a conspiracy, not a pact.
    Now up against the wall and stop resisting!

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Three projects might help roll back the problem

    And their names are M41A, U1 and M240.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    And my axe!

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    So Third Age. Gimli's rocking one of these now.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Oh please. Any dwarf not carrying two USAS-12s would be laughed out of Moria.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Unlike you, dwarves are experienced and pragmatic warriors, who are well aware of the lower reliability of self-loading shotgun designs and the deleterious effect of dual-wielding upon accuracy and reload speed.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Riggs, why didn't you fight back with a code-enforcement battle with the neighbor next door? It's the American way. Surely something on his property was out of order.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    On a serious note, what code did your mom violate?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Everyone is violating something. All that needs is for it to be found.

  • StackOfCoins||

    This really. It is a labyrinth of regulations.

    Surely a just, wise and important use of government: mandating the content of lawns.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    All the world's a vampire coven, we're just the blood cattle.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Even if they couldn't find something after the fact, they made her destroy her own hard work and then cry about it, which was kind of the point to begin with.

  • sarcasmic||

    Everyone is violating something. All that needs is for it to be found.

    "Show me the man, and I'll show you the crime."

    - Lavrentiy Beria, head of Joseph Stalin's secret police

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    [shows BUCS]

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Lavrentiy Beria: [breaks down weeping]

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    You misspelled "[claps him on the back and asks what he's been up to]"

  • Yellow Tony||

    This might be rude, but I think Mr. Riggs' mother attempted to become a witch. Using butterflies to dominate the country is a very real threat in this post-truth world, and that specific plant was the first step in her master plan. I for one am thankful of our overlords for protecting us from his mother's pernicious endeavors.

  • Steve Davis||

    I was curious as well, this doesn't jibe with any part of Central Florida I knew. Was thinking maybe Lake Mary?

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    Lake Mary never was "run down" "low income".

    I'm thinking Kissimmee, Winter Garden or Christmas.

    Anyways, goon on ya Mike!

    Fuck the Nanny State and those that aspire to wear her jackboots.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    YOUR mom violated a ton of codes last night, let me tell you.

  • Yellow Tony||

    Does your entire diet consist of low-hanging fruit?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    No, but sometimes it does taste sweet.

  • Yellow Tony||

    I'm not talking about your sexual escapades with Juice.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Juice is Paul's mom?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    You gotta supplement that with some low-hanging meat.

    [persuades with cockos]

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    *nods in agreement but doesn't know why*

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    What code? That's like asking 'which Constitutional Right?'

    Asking the law to explain or justify itself is what doomed her. Law is irrelevant outside of a courtroom.

  • Qsl||

    Or at the very least looked into suing the city.

    One of the side-effects of over-regulated everything is often the state is also bound by just as many regulations in how they conduct things. Yeah, most of the time you can't fight city hall, but you can make certain their 27B/6 is filled out completely, and, should you have the time, make the city counsel meetings more lively. They tend to quiet down if public scrutiny is focused on them.

    The city here recently went through a spate of overzealous code enforcement at the behest of the local bustbodies. Long story short, waste management is now through the city and everyone's taxes went up.

    Not exactly the outcome they were planning.

  • Steve Davis||

    So, I assume you retaliated severely against this neighbor.

  • Yellow Tony||

    Depends on if you think rams, trebuchets, and arbalests (not the advanced mech) constitute a severe retaliation.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    The Secret in Their Eyes (the Argentine original, not the shitty American remake) was partially based on what Riggs is still doing to the guy.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Except they left out the grizzly bears.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    When he is done, the neighbor is off to Crusty's for the next human centipede warrior to be used in the arena.

  • Paper Wasp||

    It's too bad the cops in Riggs' hometown didn't function like they do in Dublin, so I've heard.

    Worked with a team in Dublin at one job long ago. One of the Dublin team was an American who used to tell some good stories about harsh lessons she learned trying to do things the American way over there. She had asshole neighbors in her apartment building who were a bunch of hard-partying drunks who had people coming and going at all hours. One night, she'd had enough, and she called the cops. Bad idea. The cops came to her apartment and looked around for any possible "citations" they could find. They were there to collect bribes. They collected £100 off her for an unlicensed cat and an American-Costco-sized bottle of ibuprofen that they said wasn't legal in Ireland. They did fuck-all about the neighbors.

    Now if asshole neighbor in this case had Code Enforcement crawling up his ass about a deck built too close to a setback or some front steps that were an inch higher than code, that would have been beautiful.

  • Yellow Tony||

    When I was a teenager, strangers would sometimes stop in front of our house to take pictures of our front yard.


    I had the same experience! Did your strangers arrive in ice trucks and vans too?

  • Juice||

    In his opinion, the best way to maintain a lawn was to mow the grass down to the nub every two weeks.

    Letting the lawn grow for 2 weeks in Florida? That would take some serious mower power, especially for St. Aug grass.

    Besides, your lawn will be more susceptible to weeds if you cut it too low.

  • Silverleaf||

    This is precisely why I want to retire onto 200 acres of woodland. Surrounded by a wall. With outward-facing automated machine gun nests every 25 yards with overlapping fields of fire.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Go to the desert. It's cheaper and your turrets will have clear sight.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    As will the hand-me-down 40mm grenade launchers and anti-materiel rifles the cops bring. A wise warrior uses the jungle; like a chameleon.

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    Fixed fortifications are monuments to man's stupidity.

    I know, mass land with fortifications was my first thought as well, so I don't like it either. And yet, it's true. Damn it.

    If this were a strategy/tactics game, I'd say our best bet would be victory by economic conquest, but who freaking knows any more.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    In a real zombie movie, the first three hundred would have been the end of them.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Numerous studies by distinguished war colleges and military historians the world over have affirmed that Wehrmacht infantry were, in fact, significantly more combat effective than zombies of equivalent numbers and training.

  • Silverleaf||

    And here I thought the machine gun nests were simply a polite way of asking people to stay off my lawn...

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Complain to local officials.

    ISN'T THAT WHAT GOT US INTO THIS MESS IN THE FIRST PLACE?!!

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Where is vigilante justice on this list?

  • ricketson||

    I was confused by that too. Is Riggs making a distinction between calling the police directly (as though this is an emergency) and the slow-burn method of harassing people through bureaucracy?

  • Juice||

    Speaking of narcs.

    Calling Your Lawyer's Cell From Jail? What You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You.

    One inmate awaiting trial on drug charges mentioned to his lawyer that he had just gone through detox.

    The call was recorded by the Orleans Parish Sheriff's office, and his statement was used to prove that a needle the inmate was carrying when he was arrested had been used for illegal drugs, according to the inmate's lawyer, Thomas Frampton. He was convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia.

    "It ended up being the critical evidence," said Mr. Frampton, who was then a public defender in New Orleans and is now a lecturer at Harvard Law School. Mr. Frampton objected to the inclusion of the evidence, but the judge disagreed.

    I'll bet he was given no other way to speak to his lawyer.

    This is America, folks.

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    Oh. I liked that a great deal. Very good job, Riggs.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Aaron Schlossberg seems a natural to be a regular commenter at reason.com. Anyone know his handle?

  • DajjaI||

    I read the whole thing to the end. What do I win?

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    *hands Dajjal a participation award*

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The right to comment accurately?

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Whew. Good to know I don't need to read the articles.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Is it too much to ask that people just mind their own fucking business?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    yes

  • JuanQPublic||

    Unfortunately, yes, that is too much to ask for some people.

  • crufus||

    "The second project is a political program: to drastically scale back the police powers of every arm of the state."

    That's swimming against the tide.

  • Conchfritters||

    Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.

  • Longtobefree||

    Nice rental property ya got there. You got fire insurance?
    Oh, by the way, someone pointed out the the cops that your tenants do a lot of drugs. Ever hear of asset forfeiture?
    Gee, Mr. inspector, I think those vermin actually came from that poorly maintained slum next door, where all the druggies hang out. It may be coincidence, but most of the parties start the night that the landlord drops by - - - -

    Stooping to their level may not be pleasant, but it can be effective.

    And, oh by the way, the common denominator is all those stories is individual freedom and property rights against government control of the populace. So support the second amendment, even if half the number of kids that get killed in school buses get shot because of government infringement of the constitution.

    Welcome to the revolution.

  • John C. Randolph||

    It's really easy for a rental house to burn down in between tenants... Just saying.

    -jcr

  • Ayn R. Key||

    Those statists who say "This is such a small thing, I can't believe you are taking the time to comment on it" do not see the irony in their position. They took the time to regulate it.

  • Ayn R. Key||

    Those statists who say "This is such a small thing, I can't believe you are taking the time to comment on it" do not see the irony in their position. They took the time to regulate it.

  • Nominalis||

    I live in a backwards town in an uncivilized nation called Canada where you are not allowed to drink a beer in public unless you are inside a licensed establishment. Our "Zero Tolerance for Alcohol" bylaws allow the beer and wine narcs to actually use their cellphones for something besides annoying their relatives. And now the government is replacing 8 cannabis laws with 41 new laws and calling it "legalization". So now if you smoke pot in public the 911 junkies will have a whole new toolbox of complaints to lay. And if anyone can actually see any of your 4 legal plants then the neighbourhood narcs can initiate a process that can quite easily land you in prison. It's to protect "the children". Yes, we have the little fun-wreckers in Canada to.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    Speaking of "an uncivilized nation called Canada", where is my favorite Kanuckistaner?
    Haven't seen him in a while ...

  • DenverJ||

    What we need are common sense child laws.

  • Ayn R. Key||

    Those statists who say "This is such a small thing, I can't believe you are taking the time to comment on it" do not see the irony of their own position. They are taking the time to regulate it.

  • JuanQPublic||

    Great article, and I hope your mom got her garden back at some point.

    Both the popcorn story and the one about "suspicious" people are most certainly related, and agreed people need to directly communicate more, in person. Community.

  • Chipper Jonze||

    She should have gotten some C. sativa seeds, thrown them in the guy's back yard, waited a few weeks, and then shown him what a narc really looks like.

  • Spookk||

    Story has a lot of holes in it for someone who spent a lot of time actually fighting back against BS like that.

  • XM||

    A racist malcontent calling the cops on black people isn't really an example of "inviting the government in our lives". That's no different from a prank caller calling in a bomb threat.

    I've had some "get off my lawn" run ins with older white people. If all of them were racist, I could probably count them in one hand. It had no real effect on my life, just as a gazillion preteenish Mexican and black kids buy fraps at Starbucks without any incident.

    There is segment of busybody nannies in our society who would call in the cops to reports on kids playing by themselves. The answer to that is prudence and common sense. I'm still going to call the cops on black kids if I can tell they're putting themselves or others in danger, government intervention or not. That's a separate issue from heavy handed regulations like lawn Nazis that are public and widespread.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    My mom's response to any control freak behavior is "Misery loves company". She's right...

  • Rockabilly||

    Fuck you narcs - I'll fucking drink grow eat smoke and fuck all what I want..

  • vek||

    Trying to equate people who illegally came into a foreign country with somebody giving away free popcorn is a bit of a stretch... The potential for problems are orders of magnitude greater.

  • Gary Trieste||

    I've had many clashes with idiotic local zoning LEOs.
    I usually file a federal civil rights action against the town, citing some federal right, with an application for an injunction pending trial.
    I expect to lose it even if my argument has merit, but it forces the town to hire a federal attorney and makes their lives a lot harder, and it preempts fines.

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