Days of defiance

Politics + Other Mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  March 20, 2013

Rebellion is healthy. Ask any doctor.

Standing in the streets and throwing rocks at the cops is excellent cardio exercise. Then, there's all that running when the National Guard advances. Finally, there's the cooling-down period, going limp when the sheriff's deputies try to snap on the cuffs or relaxing inside a survivalist outpost surrounded by federal marshals.

Physical fitness isn't the only advantage of defying the government. Sometimes, contrary behavior results in changes in national policy (the civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam-war protests), court challenges (abortion, gay rights) and visits from the Internal Revenue Service (attachment of wages, periods of incarceration).

Of course, your attitude toward civil disobedience may be influenced by your political ideology. Liberals were delighted when Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana, a move that puts both states at odds with federal law. The left still heartily applauds initiatives from California to Maine that ignore national drug statutes in order to allow sick people access to medical pot.

Conservatives, by nature less inclined to insubordination, still found something admirable in Arizona's ill-fated attempt to subvert federal immigration law, Arkansas's legally shaky effort to skirt Roe v. Wade by outlawing abortions after 12 weeks, or states such as Missouri, South Carolina, North Dakota, and Texas that threaten not to enforce the Obama administration's gun-control measures.

What all these uprisings have in common is that they're focused on issues of importance. Rights hang in the balance. Justice is on the line. Truth is being spoken to power.

Here in Maine, nine towns have joined this movement. They've said they won't tolerate interference by the jackbooted forces of oppression. They echo the words of Patrick Henry: "Perfect freedom is as necessary to the health and vigor of commerce as it is to the health and vigor of citizenship."

They claim their residents have a constitutional right to sell . . . lard.

That may not be exactly what Mr. Henry had in mind, not to mention those medical professionals who've endorsed the healthy aspects of rebellion. But you have to stand against tyranny wherever it crops up.

These towns say agricultural products produced and sold locally are not subject to regulation by any state or federal government entity. According to the Bangor Daily News, Deborah Evans of Brooksville, the latest town to join the cause, makes lard in her kitchen, which she sells to neighbors without the benefit of inspections of her facilities.

That's as illegal as rounding up folks who look foreign was in Arizona or forcing a pregnant woman to carry a fetus to term will soon be in Arkansas.

Evans isn't bothered by her outlaw status. She claims she's going to put a label on her product that says, "I proudly make this lard in my home kitchen without federal or state guidelines or permissions."

She has a point. Federal and state oversight didn't do squat in 2011 to prevent 20 people from falling ill after eating contaminated ground beef sold by Hannaford supermarkets. In spite of regulations up the wazoo, government inspectors were unable to find the source of the crud that made those customers sick. And months of dithering since the incident have yet to produce better rules that might prevent similar occurrences in the future.

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