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By Michael Voth

I'm sure Michael Voth, my Cross-Country Cousin, didn't envision being included in this special "confrontation" section when he sent me this e-mail letter. But he was good-natured enough to let me post his off-the-wall take on bureaucrats and meddlesome neighbors.

Dear Cousin,

I have sometimes wondered o'er your insistence about privacy in e-mail communications, but am maybe growing a little more circumspect myself. Uncle Ragnar was down here this week for a visit. He's safe at home now, but got caught in a major 4th Amendment violation on the way home. It was apparently Federal DEA and some California state boys. I've always been a sorta out-loud person, and maybe lacking in manners, but I've always known which fork fit the salad and that you don't want to later wash a fork at all if you and another Viking are just eating a few dozen tacos and bears around a big old fire.

Several law enforcement officers have crossed my path recently, and I'm starting to wonder why. They have been visiting my home, which my son's dog Scraps guards with a passion and several teeth, lucky for us. Scraps tries to hold the bureaucrats at bay till the supposed masters come home to pet him and try to shoot the bureaucrats, who never show up while we're home, since their office hours are likely the same as ours. Go figure.

The only way we even know they were here is often due to the stuff Scraps coughs up after eating them. You have some of the usual stuff: Lucky Chow dog food, yesterday's cooked pig, some firewood and such.

I always get a little nervous when I find a deputy sheriff's badge in my yard, especially when it has a lotta teeth marks on it and is mixed with the remains of a toupee and a government license plate.

"Scraps, ol' boy," I say, "Where's the rest of the SWAT team?"


I have never really loved a dog this much. I thought I didn't like dogs. A couple of things have come up in the past month or so which have changed my opinion.

If you're gonna believe in something, I honestly think it's better that it be something steady, like a huge male Labrador doggy, your own water supply, and a sturdy quarter mare with soul and practice and no government license plate nailed to her ass end.

The county I live in wants a little bitty license plate for Scraps. We live in a civilized county, and suffer the benefits of democratic rule by democratic fiat. Do you think Scraps cares about their efforts to civilize him? I care, because that dog protects my son and me.

When I hear a gunshot with no respondent bark, I will know then that the great dog is gone, as am I, and that democracy has triumphed after all, regardless of my efforts to stave off my neighbors and just be left alone.

One or maybe three of my neighbors is trying to do me in. He, she or they have seen fit to use our local county governmentally-ill police powers against me.

In the last month I have had to: have removed an old sports car from my property by the worst man I ever met, blow up a flat tire and put a fake license plate on my prime non-equestrian gas-guzzling four-hoof-drive escape vehicle, bail Scraps out of the dog jail, treat said Scraps for some disease he got while in dog jail, interview law enforcement representatives of the local sheriff's department and the United States Forest Service because some asshole reported me for taking a load of garbage down a Forest Service road, which incidentally is the local road to the dump, on the speculation I might dump the load in the woods.

This stuff pretty much broils my innards. I don't litter, except when I visit Phoenix or El Paso, where I just naturally figure that tobacco spit is a little more attractive than all that damned pavement. I don't let my dog run loose too much. I maintain a 6-foot fence around my little plot of redneck heaven. I did, indeed, store a an old Z-car for a former girlfriend on my spread, and one of the hooves on the old International Scout did need shoeing. I guess I erred in thinking that tires could go flat without much objection from other folks, and that you could still love women who didn't love you anymore and it was still legal to care about their futures and the damned Z-cars.

The problems I'm having with authorities these days are induced, not by the authorities themselves, but by the spitefulness of folks who seem to think it's okay to use the full police powers of government against any and all, on whatever whim, no matter how frivolous the complaint.

These days suggest that Thoreau is dated, for most folks now lead lives of very noisy disrepair. They can vote, and they know how to call the cops. Neighbors are more dangerous to me than muggers, for even I can figure out how to defend myself against honest highwaymen.

Yr Cousin,

(c) 1999 Michael Voth

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26 February, 1999