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12/19/2003 Archived Entry: "Give Me Liberty 2004 -- Don't believe it!"

WHAT IS IT WITH THE GIVE ME LIBERTY CONFERENCE, ANYWAY? Two months ago, Bob Schultz's We the People anti-income-tax group published a speakers lineup for the January 2004 GML conference that included every luminary but God. Walter Williams would be there. Charley Reese. Nat Hentoff. James Bovard. Ron Paul. Rep. Henry Hyde. Attorney Mark Lane. Constitutional scholar and Yale professor Akhil Reed Amar. Judge Roy Moore (of 10 Commandments fame). Alan Keyes. Journalist Bernard Goldberg. Joseph Farah. And -- get this! -- Mel Gibson.

The little teeny caveat that these were merely "invited speakers" and "subject to change" was easy to miss. And it was rather beside the point to begin with. You might list one speaker with such a caveat if that speaker had said, "I'm really interested but not sure I can make it." No one with sense or honor would list a whole slate of invitees that way.

If you're a well-known person invited to speak at a public event, and an organizer begins publicizing your presence without even checking to see whether you're vaguely interested -- you would be pissed, seriously. You're being very cynically used for your PR value. And if you're a person thinking of paying money to attend the conference, you'd have even more right to be outraged. The applicable term is bait-and-switch.

I notice they've gradually been removing "speakers" over time. Bovard is gone (at his request). But Mel Gibson and all those others are still listed. A month before the conference, there's still absolutely no way of telling how many of the famous individuals being offered as bait will be there. I'll bet most of them don't know they're being advertised as speakers.

Now, for five days, We the People has had an article at the top of their Web site proclaiming " 2nd Amendment Battle Leaders Come To The GML 2004 National Conference." They claim their Second Amendment panel will be moderated by columnist Joseph Sobran and will include Larry Pratt of GOA, Angel Shamaya of KeepandBearArms.com, And JPFO's Aaron Zelman, among others. And there are no "invited speaker/subject to change" asterisks after their names.Well, I haven't asked the rest of those folks, but I know for sure that Aaron Zelman never committed to attend the conference -- and has told We the People twice to remove his name.

I believe in tax resistance. I believe the income tax is both theft and slavery. I believe all taxation is morally wrong and the income tax is one of the worst of the lot. I believe the beast of tyranny won't die until we starve it to death by withdrawing what it feeds on -- tax money.

But I've mostly stayed away from the organized "tax protest" movement because 1) the arcane legal theories on which it relies completely miss the essentials of the matter, 2) the arcane legal theories on which it relies are mostly wrong, 3) the arcane legal theories on which it relies will get you in unnecessary trouble even if they're absolutely, 100 percent correct, and 4) the movement is full of scam artists and it's sometimes impossible to distinguish the sincere, correct crusader from the sleazeball.

Bob Schultz has always looked to me like one of the sincere ones. His hunger strikes and bold attempts to gain public hearings from the fedgov have seemed real, even if -- pardon the pun -- fruitless. But listing speakers who've never even given an interested sniff to your invitation is sleazy. And continuing to list them after they've said no is deceptive, dishonest, manipulative, and fraudulent.

(FOLLOW-UP POST 1/1/04: "I'm guilty of malicious misrepresentation!"

Posted by Claire @ 10:44 AM CST

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