One of the ways you know you live in a police state is when the police exempt themselves from the law and enforce made-up laws on the populace without any repercussions.
For instance, legal tender laws.
They define as legal tender “United States coins and currency” for “all debts, public charges, taxes and dues” (Federal Coinage Act of 1965).
It says so, right on the money.
Billy Spaulding of Manchester, NH discovered that this law can be ignored by the same police who issued him a ticket for violating another law.
One they approved of and so enforce.
Spaulding received a parking ticket for parking too near a fire hydrant. It is against the law.
But when he showed up at the county clerk’s office to pay the $75 fine, as per the law, the clerk would not accept payment. Which Spaulding attempted to make using pennies.
Which may be inconvenient for the clerk. But legal tender, nonetheless. The law is the law. Except when it isn’t.
“You’re not paying it like this,” the irritated clerk told Spaulding. And proceeded to call in a squadron of cops to enforce this violation of the law.
The cops showed up and instead of correcting the clerk as to the law, informing him that while it might be a hassle to count out $75 in pennies, the law is that pennies are money and just as valid under the law as paper money.
The clerk’s refusal to accept lawful money absolves Spaulding of any further obligation to pay.
Or should have.
He made the attempt; his payment was refused.
But that’s not the way it goes, no matter what the law is.
How about if Spaulding had reached into the clerk’s till and snatched a handful of pennies? Wouldn’t that be theft as much as if he’d grabbed a handful of dollar bills? Are we to believe the cops would not have arrested him on the spot for stealing pennies? Would the charges have been less serious? Would the judge, at sentencing, have said: Oh, he only took pennies; no big deal. You are free to go . . . ?
So why is using pennies to pay a debt any less valid under the law?
But that doesn’t matter when you haven’t got the gun and the badge. When you do, the law is whatever you want it to be.
So the cops – rather than ensuring that Spaulding’s legal right to pay his fine using legal tender was respected – began to harass Spaulding, who had committed no crime. “You don’t have a bank account?” one of them asks. His partner says something about the clerk not having a coin counter.
Which is immaterial.
Pennies, like dimes and quarters, are are “coins” – money – duly issued by the U.S. Mint and per the law are legal tender for “all debts, public charged, taxes and dues.”
Like it or not.
Including the law that it’s legal to film public servants in public.
The Manchester cops sicced on Spaulding by the annoyed county clerk did not like that Spaulding’s friend was video recording the encounter and ordered him to shut off the camera based on the non-law that “you have to advise us” if you’re recording. Which is not the law. Indeed, is contrary to the law – which states that there is no expectation of privacy in a public area and it is absolutely legal to video record government workers – this includes cops and clerks – out in public performing their “official duties.” The courts – including the Supreme Court – have affirmed this, repeatedly.
Nonetheless, the cops shut down the video – using threats and intimidation, which is assault under the law.
Were they arrested?
No, of course not. Notwithstanding that their assault is on video and not debatable. Yet if a citizen committed exactly the same legal offense, he’d have been arrested. Try it yourself and see. Go up to a cop and insist that he turn off his camera – and back that up with a clear threat that you will take it if he does not.
Tell a cop writing you a ticket that what he’s doing isn’t legal (even though it is) and refuse to accept the ticket, as the clerk refused to accept Spaulding’s money. Everyone knows what will happen because everyone knows there is a double standard. The law isn’t even the law. It is whatever those who enforce it decide they think it is.
Law enforcement isn’t expected to know the law – and self-exempts itself from the law. We, on the other hand, are expected to obey whatever they say, regardless of the law.
One of the ironies of this particular encounter is that Spaulding is a former Marine, who (ostensibly) was “fighting for our freedoms.” He received a stern lesson about what he actually fought for.
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