Thursday, May 29, 2008


Yesterday was one of the strangest on record for the Ranney household. It was about 2:00 in the afternoon. I was in the back bedroom quietly practicing guitar in a attempt to avoid bothering my wife as she took an afternoon nap, so I missed the whole thing, but she told me how she answered a knock on the door to find a small herd of DEA agents at our door.

It wasn’t hard for her to identify them. They wore black T-shirts with big letters across the front – Drug Force or Drug Enforcement, she’s not sure. At moments like that one tends to lose a little focus. Badges hung from lanyards around their necks and guns bulged at their hips. At the door were a man and a woman. Two men stood in the driveway.

They said they would like to ask her a few questions. They knew our names and asked for me, but she thought I must have left so she said she thought I was gone fishing.

They said that they had some information that we might be growing marijuana. She laughed, then asked them in and invited them to look through the house and around the yard where, of course, they found nothing more than flowers, berries and some river cane that grows along our south fence that they thought was corn.

Spotting the minnow seines I have laid over my strawberries to keep the birds out, the man suggested that maybe I had bought them over the internet and that might have triggered their raid. Minnow seines trigger a drug raid!?!?

They left satisfied that the whole thing was a mistake, and my wife was satisfied that it was just a freak incident that was more funny than sinister. They were very polite through the whole incident, and she feels that they realized they had made a mistake the instant they entered the house. I agree that it is laughable – a bit of Barney Fife law enforcement on the home front – but at the same time it disturbs me that the police would take such a strong action based on what had to be scanty information at best.

And what would have happened if, as I have been thinking about doing, I had decided at that moment to clean my old shotgun? What would they have done with those guns on their hips if long haired old me had walked through the bedroom door with a gun in my hand after my wife had told them I was gone?

We have a young relative who has gone so wrong that she stole a significant amount of money from her grandmother who rightly filed a complaint that generated an arrest warrant. That was nearly a year ago. The girl still roams the streets of Springfield taking what she wants from anyone she gets near. The police don’t have the time to bust her, but they are running around trying to crack the whip on people with no past record and no present criminal activity. On what grounds?

That’s the question that sticks in my head. On what grounds do they assume there is cause to come knocking on our door as though we are common criminals? On what grounds do they think they have the right to assume guilt before having any evidence at all? On what grounds do the police take this kind of action with no prior investigation?

Did my hair, the peace pole in my front yard or the articles I have published in the newspaper lead some neighbor to conclude that I must be a drugged out radical and so call the police? Did the police, assuming that the caller was a fine upstanding citizen and we were scum, decide to make a quick bust and clear out the riff-raff without first finding out who we were and what kind of people we are?

I keep going back to the officer’s comment about the nets on my strawberries. Could all this have come about because of some website one of us accidentally visited, but which is a place the police monitor to identify potential drug pushers? Can I not visit any website I want without fear that the police will knock down my door? Don’t the police need more information than that a person might have visited a certain website before they invade their privacy?

How closely does our friendly police department monitor our actions? Who is looking over our shoulders and from where and why?

I’ve asked Claire McCaskill’s office to investigate this incident and try to find out why this happened, but I don’t have much faith in that either. As her representative told me, it is likely that the only answer they’ll get about it is, “Sorry, but we can’t divulge that information.” Of course, if that is their answer, I’d like to know why not. But I don’t think I’ll ever get an answer to that either.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

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