»  National Review Online

September 7th, 2001

  Attorney General Janet Ashcroft?

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In Robert Bolt's wonderful play A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More is subjected to a show trial because, for reasons of conscience, he will not take an oath acknowledging King Henry's supremacy over the English church. Found guilty by a rigged jury, and knowing he will be executed for his "crime," Sir Thomas says the following:

I do none harm, I say none harm, I think none harm. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive, in good faith I long not to live.

We all know, from the example of Waco, that doing none harm, saying none harm and thinking none harm were not enough to keep a man — nor a woman, nor a child, either — alive in the America of Bill and Hillary Clinton. I forget whether Janet Reno was Hillary's third or fourth choice for the affirmative-action slot of Female Attorney General; but along with everyone else who cares about liberty, I shall not soon forget the cold-eyed cruelty with which that sinister creature ("very big and very scary," testified one of her victims, 17-year-old Ileana Fuster) dispatched those who were so foolish, or so stubborn, as to cross her and her battalions of armed thugs.

But all that is behind us now, isn't it? We now have a Republican administration, right? And an Attorney General, John Ashcroft, who is not keen on torturing 17-year-old girls, burning cultists alive, protecting FBI snipers who had used the wives of eccentric mountain men for target practice, or kissing Fidel Castro's backside. Don't we?

Well, you might have asked Tom Crosslin or Rolland Rohm. Up to a few days ago you might, that is. This week they were both shot dead: Crosslin, aged 47, on Monday by an FBI agent; Rohm, aged 28, on Tuesday by a Michigan State trooper. Crosslin was the founder and owner of Rainbow Farm in Vandalia, Michigan, where Rohm also lived. As of the time of writing, Rainbow Farm's website is still available, and I suggest you take a look at it to see the background to this story. I particularly direct your attention to the farm's "mission statement," which you can get to by clicking the "Purpose" link on the website's first page.

Crosslin was a libertarian and a keen proponent of marijuana legalization. When he bought the 34-acre farm 15 years ago, it seems to have been with the express purpose of making it a haven for, as he says in that mission statement, "the medical, spiritual, and responsible recreational uses of marijuana." Rock concerts were held on the property. At one, in May 1998, an expensive car that was about to be forfeited to the U.S. government as part of a drug investigation was set in front of the concert stage where concert-goers, egged on by the vehicle's owner, smashed it to pieces with hammers. Another concert, last June, featured Merle Haggard, an old favorite of mine. (Sample quote, for those who don't know the man: "Look at the past 25 years — we went downhill, and if people don't realize it, they don't have their [expletive] eyes on … In 1960, when I came out of prison as an ex-convict, I had more freedom under parolee supervision than there's available to an average citizen in America right now … God almighty, what have we done to each other?")

Such blatant disrespect for the government's authority over our lives and property did not, of course, go unnoticed. To further compound the offense, Crosslin kept guns to protect his property. Marijuana! Guns! Pretty soon the state police had a court affidavit filed to stop the rock concerts. In testimony supporting the affidavit, witnesses reported seeing children as young as 13 smoking pot in front of adults. If that doesn't shock you rigid, another witness saw even younger children, aged 7 and 8, subjected to the sight of adults walking around naked and embracing. When, last Friday, Crosslin skipped a court date related to drugs and weapons charges, the mighty engine of law enforcement rumbled into action. Not only local police, but also the Feds were involved, because Crosslin was suspected of shooting at a TV news helicopter — a federal offense under Title 18 (I.2, Sec. 32) of the U.S. code.

Tom Crosslin was not the type to yield meekly. There quickly developed one of those "standoffs" we are so familiar with now, in which heavily-armed and trained agents of the nation and the state surround a citizen who has declined to bend over and squeal like a pig for their amusement. You might suppose that the obvious tactic for the authorities in such a case would be to cut off the suspect's electricity and water, hunker down, and wait him out. This never seems to happen. Spotting Crosslin walking across his property with a long gun in his hand, an FBI man shot him dead. Rohm met a similar fate at the hands of a state trooper the next day. In both cases we are told, by the authorities, that the man "pointed his gun at the officers."

There is much more to the case than this, and you can read the details for yourself if you feel inclined, on the news wires (available via Drudge) or the pages of local newspapers like the Detroit Free Press (which, however, does not seem much inclined to question the government line). Crosslin seems to have been on the point of losing his property, in some measure because of government harassment. Rohm was involved in a child custody case. Bonds had been revoked, the legality of firearms questioned. It's not a simple case. I must say, though, that in my own readings I have come across nothing to prove that either man was a danger to anyone, certainly not before the government began to threaten and intimidate them. To the best of my knowledge they did none harm, said none harm, and thought none harm. The general temper of the Crosslin project can be gauged from the closing paragraph of that mission statement:

Rainbow Farm DOES NOT promote the use of illicit drugs by anyone, nor do we condone or encourage the use of tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana by minors. We do not encourage breaking laws. We work hard to change attitudes and bad laws from within the system of government currently in place. We support that system of government and we feel privileged to live in America.

The man who wrote that no longer lives in America, or anywhere else. He was shot in the head late Monday afternoon by an FBI agent. That agent's boss, new FBI head Robert Mueller, has made no comment on the case that I can locate. Neither has his boss, Attorney General Janet Ashcroft. Oh, sorry: that should be John Ashcroft, of course.