It’s not often that I read a long article that starts off with me getting angry (remember, my general mood is best described as “irritable” at the best of times) and having my anger grow to nigh-ungovernable rage. But this article managed to get me there quite effortlessly. Here’s a taste:
On his way to hunt on his father’s land during the first week of December 2017, Hunter Rainwaters was driving a side-by-side through the property when he noticed an oddity positioned roughly 4’ off the ground. He popped the brakes, backed toward the object and looked in surprise at a trail camera belted to a tree.
“I didn’t see any words or stickers on it, but I knew right away it wasn’t ours,” Hunter Rainwaters recalls.
Following the hunt, he drove back onto the family property and spotted a second trail camera attached to a tree with several branches removed to allow for an unimpeded lens view. Rainwaters dialed his father’s cellphone, and described the two cameras: “I was shaken up when my son called and I knew immediately it had to be the TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency),” Rainwaters recalls.
Deeply disturbed, Rainwaters arrived home later in the afternoon and took a look at the two cameras, mulling over whether to remove the pair. Two days later, with Rainwaters in limbo on what action to take — both cameras disappeared.
“The cameras were collecting pictures of us hunting, driving and just our lives,” he adds. “One of the cameras was even recording footage up to the back of my tenant’s house.”
That’s bad enough. But it gets worse. (And I’ve added emphasis.)
Can the government place cameras and monitoring equipment on a private citizen’s land at will, or conduct surveillance and stakeouts on private land, without probable cause or a search warrant? Indeed, according to the U.S. Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) interpretation of the Fourth Amendment. Welcome to Open Fields.
The vast majority of Americans assume law enforcement needs a warrant to carry out surveillance, but for roughly a century, SCOTUS has ruled that private land — is not private. Fourth Amendment protections against “unreasonable searches and seizures” expressed in the Bill of Rights only apply to an individual’s immediate dwelling area, according to SCOTUS.
Had the government agency mounted their little snoopies on utility poles on the public road off the property, I would have just shrugged. But to come onto the land without a warrant or permission?
Somewhere, Feliks Dzerzhinsky is chuckling his ass off.
Me, had I discovered this shit on my land and ascertained that there was no label that it was government property, I think I would have moved well back out of range of the camera and performed a little long-range shooting exercise.
“After all, Yeronner, I actually thought it was poachers, scanning my land to see if there was any game for them to hunt illegally. I never for a moment thought that this skullduggery could be the work of the Gummint!“
(My other thought was to plant a Claymore mine at the base of the tree, but no doubt someone’s going to have a problem with this. )
Apart from my beef with the bastard government agency, my equally-enraged beef is with the fucking shysters on the Supreme Court.
Just as I don’t need some asshole judge to “explain” the meaning of the Second Amendment to me, I don’t need these turds to “explain” the meaning of the Fourth Amendment to me, either.
Private property is just that: private. And the sole function of government — any government — is to protect that right and ensure that it isn’t transgressed, by anyone. Looking at the Fourth, I can see the problem:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
So, in the exquisite nature of lawyers to parse the law literally and look for loopholes, the word “houses” is taken to mean just the area enclosed by walls, and thus government agents can pretty much run roughshod over one’s outdoor property (just as the TWRA did in the above story), as often and for any reason they deem fit.
Listen: everybody knows that the nature of government — of all governments — is eventually to oppress otherwise law-abiding citizens. The only way this can be preempted is to force the would-be oppressors to convince a judge that what they want to do has a clear and compelling justification. If the judge is just going to sign whatever they put in front of him and pat them on the head as they go on their way… what’s the fucking point of having a judge in the first place?
I’ve said this many, many times on this blog before: whenever you get a situation where an individual starts whacking government officials and agents, the vast majority of the time it’s because the government is messing with his property in some way or another. So do not be surprised when landowners start taking potshots at these bastards.
And if I were sitting on a jury to judge a homicide charge against the landowner under these circumstances, I would die before voting for a conviction.
I’ve slotted this post into the “Two Minute Hate” category at the top; let me tell you, the hatred is going to last a lot longer than that.