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Flip a coin

Glenn Reynolds wrote about this case as an example of Homeland Security out of control. I figured I’d take a look at it and condemn it; from his description it looked pretty open and shut. In fact, from the article, it looked pretty open and shut. Sure, the guy’s a right winger, but that’s no excuse for persecuting him.

On the other hand, if he’s really taking a job at a gun store in order to collect names and home addresses of police in preparation for violent activity, that’s kind of the sort of thing you’d expect the cops to be worried about. So is Wynn telling the truth?

He claims that he’s never advocated violence. From the Militia of Georgia January 2003 newsletter, which he wrote:

“For years, I’ve given that analogy about a man who does not have a legal right to take away your money but, should he pull a gun and demand your money, he has the power to do so. For years, when I’ve made that analogy, many of you have let your testosterone and macho attitude take over and say, ‘Oh yeah, he may pull a gun but, I’m prepared and he’ll have to eat a few bullets….. blah, blah, blah…’ Well, friends, here it is, put up or shut up time…”

When Jimmy Wynn says he doesn’t advocate violence against police, he means he doesn’t advocate violence against “lawful” police. It’s a cute out. He doesn’t consider the current government to be lawful.

Also from the Patrioteer, by a different author: “If someone wants to know if the militia is ‘kind of skinhead hate group’ you will spend a great deal of time trying to prove that the bulk of the militia movement is not promoting racism.” Here’s the Forsythe Covenant, which was adopted by Wynn’s group in 1987. “The burgeoning non-white population explosion within our borders must be brought under control.” Yeah, they don’t promote racism.

So that’s Jimmy Wynn. He’s advocated violent revolution and he’s a racist. What does that mean about the news story?

Not much, actually. Either the GBI had evidence that he was collecting data illegally or they didn’t. Tipping off the store owner is way out of line. If there’s an issue, the GBI has plenty of power to investigate. Suspicion, even when it’s a guy like Jimmy Wynn, is not a very good reason to get someone fired. Do this kind of thing without due process, and all you’ve got is another martyr with another talking point that he can use to draw more people into the militia movement.

And, um, that’s exactly the position the GBI took on the matter. The agent who made the mistake was reprimanded and transferred. The GBI legal director said “more than likely contributed to, if not caused, the termination of a subject’s job because of his association with a particular group with no evidence of a crime being planned or committed…”

So in answer to Glenn’s question, “Who will speak out against this resurgence of McCarthyism?” I would have to say “The officer’s superiors are doing a pretty good job of that.” Tempest in a teapot.

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