rect quantity of drugs is found—no matter if he can be implicatedrnin the crime. Commercial fishermen have lost theirrnlivelihoods when agents found a deckhand with a stash, andrnone young lady lost her car when her brother, who had borrowedrnit, was convicted on drug charges. In one recent case inrnCalifornia, government agents inventoried a millionaire’s propertyrnbefore breaking in late at night to search the premises forrnevidence of his wife’s assumed drug use. They found nothing,rnbut they did shoot and kill the householder.rnI should be the last person to minimize the drug problem inrnthe United States, and I would cheerfully advocate the deathrnpenalty for anyone over 21 peddling drugs to anyone under 18,rnbut these cases of government regulators seizing property theyrnhave invaded in search of contraband sound all too much likernthose of the Boston merchants defended by James Otis inrn1761.rnThe most serious attacks on American households havernbeen directed against gunowners. Once again, privacy is invadedrnand property is seized on the claim that a regulation hasrnbeen violated or that a form has not been filled out, a tax paid.rnIn many cases, it turns out, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,rnand Firearms has made a mistake. In Colville, Washington,rnATF agents, acting on the accusation of a certifiably insane informant,rnburst in upon a mother of a 21-month-old child shernhad been bathing and would not even allow her to rescue thernchild from the bathtub. But the perils of such wrongfully accusedrngunowners, though real, are nothing compared to the trialsrnof Randy Weaver’s wife and son and David Koresh’s followers,rnall killed because of alleged infractions of firearmsrnregulations. In both eases the ATF agents were acting on improperrnwarrants; in both cases they shot first and reserved theirrnquestions until after the funerals.rnMany Americans are unhappy with the violence that hasrnbeen perpetrated recently by federal agents, but because of ignorancernor cowardice they cannot make the connection withrnthe train of abuses that led to the independence of the UnitedrnStates. We have a Congress filled with members of two partiesrnwho prattle on merrily about our rights and liberties underrndemocracy, and the President himself was blowing smoke justrnthe other day, when “Lady Liberty” was restored to her placernatop the Capitol. But America is no longer either the Land ofrnthe Free or the Home of the Brave. If it were, the federalrngovernment’s outrages and usurpations would have provokedrnrebellion years ago. But Natty Bumppo is no longer a hero, andrnwe would laugh at a man who burned down his own house, unlessrnit was to get the insurance money. After all, in a democracy,rnwe have the freedom to enslave our neighbors. Whorncould ask for more?rnSo long as we worship the gilded statue of democracy, we canrnnever be free. As James Fenimore Cooper realized, democraciesrnwere more likely to repress individuality than monarchies.rnThe danger lay in the temptation to see majority rule as thernbastion of liberty: “Numbers, however, may oppress as well asrnone or a few, and when such oppression occurs, it is usually ofrnthe worst character. The habit of seeing the publiek rule, isrngradually accustoming the American mind to an interferencernwith private rights that is slowly undermining the individualityrnof the American character.”rnThe erosion of character on which Cooper remarked hasrngone so far as to make us incapable of individual liberty, but ourrnservility has not bought us safety—it hardly ever does. Instead,rnwe are ever more exposed, in our homes, our businesses, andrnour automobiles, to the “petty revenue officers” of an empirernthat seems all too willing to offer us Patrick Henry’s choice ofrnliberty or death.rnAlbae Meditatiornby Peter RussellrnAlready it’s getting light and the first birdsrnAre twittering in the walnut tree, and yournAre hidden everywhere from my fallacious eye.rnSome of the pale green leaves at this hourrnAppear bright yellow, smooth grey of the walnut barkrnJet like the young giri’s cable braids swinging like bell ropes.rnThere is a mirror you cannot see and a rose in it.rnSun is already up behind the trees,rnBut the moon, lemon-coloured, lingers reluctantrnLike the windhover before he drops. Everywhere you.rnBody and spirit, screened by each ovate leaf. What should Irnsay?rnGreen leaves, running water, a beautiful face. It is permittedrnTo love these things with a passion pure but intense?rnThe young boy with his cap awry passesrnWith his fishing-rod and his wicker basket.rnBut what is it between my eye and the passing of Beauty?rnThe prism of air and the sun’s transparent lightrnBend in perpetual duel the living rods.rnWherever Beauty is revealed, there out of necessityrnLove must grow. Why should todayrnBe an exception? Love is its own reality.rnA metaphor is a bridge to reality. SurelyrnA single thought of that Beauty is a ladderrnTo higher branches. I am a straw to Love’s amber.rnAnd willing to be tossed to and fro on the windrnOf whatever makes for cohesion in our mutable world.rnRunning water, green leaves, reflections,rnA beautiful face. The weir and the waterfall.rnLove is a medicine that makes pains into cures.rnBut there are people who think that Love is a mere illusion.rnLike physicians and vendors of money and weaponsrnAnd the learned in universities and the assessors of culture.rnStone, if you wish, is bread, is living flesh.rnAnd the rough wine of the country is Love himself.rnThere is no sweeter poison to drink than Love,rnNo sickness more bracing than this sickness of Love.rnLove is the cat o’nine tails that strips off the skin.rnImplanting a coat of many colors where beforernThere was only a grey epidemic of scale and scab.rn14/CHRONICLESrnrnrn