If you’re like most Americans, you haven’t been following the story of Ed and Elaine Brown, because it has enjoyed very little coverage by the major news media. But the story has been unfolding for six months now, and unless you’re from New Hampshire (where local newspapers seem to be the only outlets covering this story at all), you’ve probably not even heard of the Browns.
What started out as your typical garden-variety tax protest, that had great potential for change in this country, has degenerated into some kind of anti-establishment, hippie carnival. And if this report is true, it’s actually something just shy of a Klan meeting.
I supported the Browns at first. Their position was clear and well-articulated. They didn’t believe they were obligated to pay the income tax. They didn’t recognize the authority of a federal court to prosecute them for the crime. As a result of their position and the court’s refusal to admit some of their evidence, they boycotted their trial and returned to the relative safety of their home. A home which has invariably been referred to by the media as a “compound.” In fact, CNN showed total disregard for its obligation to remain unbiased when it ran a story on June 21 with the headline “Tax dodgers taunt police from hilltop compound.” A story that has subsequently been removed from their site, but is still in Google’s cache.
As I have continued following the story, almost exclusively through the blogosphere, it has become increasingly difficult for me to continue supporting them in their protest. Their arguments in interviews have evolved from succinct and well-reasoned to something that can only be described as kooky, while their 110-acre estate has become a veritable Lollapalooza for the tinfoil-hat crowd. Various reports describe the Brown’s driveway as a gauntlet of freaks in lawn chairs spewing hatred of everything from the government and taxes to the Freemasons and the Illuminati. What is this, a Dan Brown novel?
We all know this is going to end badly for the Browns. They will most likely be killed in a Waco-style raid (that the government will ultimately cover-up to the point that none of us will ever know the truth), or they will simply be taken into custody, and never heard from again as they waste away in prison for the “crime” of simply wanting to hold on to what rightfully belongs to them. But it is a shame that the Brown’s are either too overwhelmed by their situation, or too crazy, to see how they have mismanaged things.
Their press conference back in June featuring Randy Weaver was a stroke of PR genius. It set the tone for the entire standoff, and put the government on notice that We The People were watching and we had not forgotten the jack-booted thuggery of Ruby Ridge and Waco. There was great potential there to keep expanding public awareness and focusing pressure on the government. Then the whole thing turned into Woodstock.
Alas, things are too far gone now to get back on message. It is too late to use this situation to bring the fundamental problems with the federal income tax to the attention of the American people. It saddens me that the Browns are forgetting the principles that brought them here and instead seem willing to martyr themselves for the sake of a bunch of retarded conspiracy theorists. Rather than standing up to injustice and taking their place in history, they will become nothing more than a punchline.