They Fought the Law


…and the law won. For now at least. Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s report on this week’s Federal raid of the Gibson Guitar factories.

You read that correctly. Our Justice Department has seen fit to sic the law dogs on a guitar factory.

Gibson responds thusly. And there’s this interview with their CEO from Dana Loesch, in which he asserts the government’s position is “prove your innocence or we’ll shut you down.”

Think about that statement. NO ONE in this country has to prove their innocence of a single damned thing, no matter what they’re charged with. Burden of proof falls on the accuser, not the accused.

Giving them the benefit of the doubt — and I am, based on that quaint little “innocent until proven guilty” notion — this raises a number of bothersome questions.

Why do the Feds have it in for Gibson? Because this isn’t the first time this has happened. Do they not have the same concerns with Fender or Paul Reed Smith (now there’s some fine woodwork) for that matter? If not, why? Did someone in Nashville not grease the right palms in DC?

Even more to the point: assuming Gibson’s legal interpretation is correct, what in hell is the US Justice Department smoking to make it think it has a duty to enforce Indian law? What kind of precedent are they trying to establish? Because you’d better believe a bunch of crafty government lawyers are thinking just that any time they venture off into what is essentially uncharted territory. If they’re not, then Justice is scraping the bottom of the law-school barrel. Which maybe they are.

After first reading of this yesterday, I realized something: it seems that almost every single day, I stumble into yet another story of unbelievable government overreach. For all of last decade’s caterwauling about the Patriot Act, our present situation seems to be much worse on any number of fronts. Some of it appears to be clear harassment by the government of industries it just doesn’t like. In others, so much has been quietly criminalized that just about anyone could be brought up on Federal charges if they decided to look hard enough.

To recount a few examples:

The parents of a little girl in Virginia are fined over $500 because she nursed an injured bird back to health. Too bad it turned out be an endangered species.

NRLB vs. Boeing. ‘Nuff said there.

EPA regulating dust. Seriously: dust. A naturally occuring pollutant.

I’ll add more to the list when there’s time.

What is going on here? I’m pretty sure I know, but want to hear what everyone else thinks. Are we finally becoming the banana republic so many of us feared when The One was elected?

UPDATE: Apparently the answer to the last question is yes. Should other non-union businesses whose executives donate to Republicans (and compete with Democratic donors) be looking over their shoulders?

(In the interest of disclosure, I’m a big Gibson fan. I own an early 70’s Les Paul.)

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