The Creeping Hand of the State

John A. Quayle blueoval57 at VERIZON.NET
Mon May 11 14:21:27 MDT 2009

         [Is is me, or have we devolved into a society of "us versus them" 
when it comes to the so-called long arm of the law? This is disturbing! - JAQ:]

The Creeping Hand of the State

by <mailto:makleen2 at>Michael Kleen

Exclusive to STR

May 11, 2009

On March 7, 2009, during a city council meeting in Duncanville, Texas, 
Councilman Paul Ford stood up to protest the city’s new red light cameras. 
He wanted to amend the city code to allow a jury trial for motorists who 
contested tickets issued by the cameras, and had previously clashed with 
the mayor, David Green, over the issue. Instead of allowing Ford to have 
his say, Mayor Green turned off the audio on the chamber’s video recorder 
and ordered the police chief to remove the councilmember. Ford was dragged 
from the room and had to be treated for injuries sustained in the arrest.

Elsewhere in Texas , an anonymous tipster led a Solid Waste Services 
officer to the doors of the warehouse of the Rhizome Collective, a 
nonprofit organization in Austin . The warehouse had been built in 1952, 
but because the owners had made a few modifications to the structure, the 
city government demanded that the building be brought up to 2009 code 
specifications. Austin gave the owners one month to either sell the 
property, or hire contractors to assess the potential cost and apply for 
the permits to make repairs. Even if the permits were granted, the owners 
would have a mere 60 days to fix the violations or face a daunting series 
of fines. Members of the Rhizome Collective were forced to vacate the 
property after they were unable to meet the demands of the city. The 
collective had been a community leader in training citizens how to live 
sustainably and self-sufficiently in an urban environment.

Then there was the raid by Texas Child Protective Services against a 
community of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 
members in Eldorado , Texas in April of last year. Acting on an anonymous 
tip that later turned out to be a hoax, Texas police raided the compound, 
removed all 533 children, and placed them in state custody whether or not 
they had anything to do with the allegations of abuse. While in their 
custody, the Texas CPS forced the children to submit to DNA tests, as well 
as physical and psychological examinations. A letter sent to the prosecutor 
by some of the children’s mothers read, in part, “the physical examinations 
were horrifying to the children. The exposure to these conditions is 

After all was said and done, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the FLDS 
children had been taken without due cause and ordered them returned to 
their parents. One of the abducted women, who the Texas CPS claimed to be a 
minor, was actually 22 years old. Half of the alleged teen mothers turned 
out to be adults, and at least one had never been pregnant at all.

In August 2003, the city of Balch Springs, Texas , told a group of senior 
citizens they weren’t allowed to pray before meals or sing gospel songs at 
the city-owned senior center. None of the activities had been sanctioned by 
city employees, and the prayer had been voluntary. The seniors sued, won, 
and the court decision compelled the Balch Springs City Council to “adopt a 
policy that will permit speakers to address center members without regard 
to the content or viewpoint of the address.” Imagine, being forced to 
recognize the fundamental right of free speech!

For a state whose residents are so adamant about loving liberty, we can see 
that Texas is not immune from the creeping hand of government. The 
aforementioned incidences are frightening examples of state power run amok, 
and although they all happened in Texas , they could have come from any 
state in the US . Luckily, two of these four examples ended with a court 
upholding the rights of the victims (an increasingly rare occurrence), but 
imagine what this government would do without that basic check on its power?

The examples of Councilman Ford, the Rhizome Collective, the FLDS raid, and 
the seniors in Balch Springs illustrate exactly what would happen­and what 
naturally happens­when the actions of government officials are not 
restrained. If a small town mayor has no qualms about arresting and 
forcibly removing a political rival over a disagreement about red light 
cameras, imagine what he would do if he had the power to abolish freedom of 
speech altogether? Can it be assumed that he would even hesitate if doing 
so was to his advantage?

Unfortunately, governments no longer need to directly abridge our basic 
liberties; they bind our ability to exercise them in bureaucratic red tape. 
In the case of the Rhizome Collective, the city of Austin went above and 
beyond subterfuge to shut down the collective. They simply made it 
virtually impossible for the warehouse owners to comply with their 

The lesson learned from these four incidences is that anyone who is not 
dependent on the state, or who teaches independence to others, is a threat 
to the state’s growing monopoly over our daily lives. Moreover, as we have 
seen with the raid on the FLDS, government officials will not hesitate to 
lie if it furthers their agenda. Anonymous calls are used to justify 
invading the privacy of citizens, and layers upon layers of regulations 
control dissent. Even city council members are subject to arrest if they 
speak out against something as simple as tickets issued by red light 
cameras without the option of a jury trial.

If unchecked, an activist state will impose itself on every area of our 
lives. While bureaucrats already, to some extent, tell us who we can marry 
and what we can do to our own property, now they want to tell us where we 
can pray and when we can protest. Like a thief in the night, once they gain 
entrance to your home, they help themselves to all inside. We must lock the 
door and throw away the key before it is too late.

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<mailto:makleen2 at>Michael Kleen is the publisher of Black Oak 
Presents, a quarterly digital magazine of Middle American art and culture 
and proprietor of <>Black Oak Media.  His 
columns have appeared in the Rock River Times, Daily Eastern News, Daily 
Egyptian, and on  He is also the author of One Voice, a pamphlet 
of columns regarding issues in contemporary America.

<>Michael Kleen Archive
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