A few days ago, my editors sent me a letter from the state of Massachusetts stating that I am an essential worker.
In the midst of the stay-at-home orders from Governor Charlie Baker and his buddy, Phil Scott, the governor of Vermont, where my wife and I are riding out the pandemic, this is a critical legal distinction that allows me to continue to engage in news gathering outside of my home.
I made the mistake of showing the letter to my wife.
“You?” she said, incredulous. “Essential?”
She started laughing and has been laughing pretty much ever since.
I think she has cabin fever, or maybe even a real fever.
I’m no doctor, but I think the missus is a couple days shy of chasing me into the bathroom, chopping a hole in the door, then sticking her head through and shouting, “Here’s Johnny!”
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. But the opposite is true, too.
So I decided to go outside, sit in my car and call somebody.
“And just who,” my wife asked, “are you going to talk to?”
“Nobody,” I replied, walking out the door.
Nobody lives in Keene, N.H., about 60 miles away from where we’re staying in Vermont. Last year, he legally changed his given name, Rich Paul, to, well, Nobody.
Nobody is part of the libertarian Free State movement. He thinks government is too big and pretty much useless, and believes people should smoke more weed, which, in the middle of a pandemic, sounds pretty reasonable to me.
Nobody didn’t fare so well in the mayoral election last year.
“I got about 2 percent of the vote,” he said.
He saw the vote as tactical.
“Clearly,” he said, “the good citizens of Keene would prefer I be governor.”
So now he’s challenging Governor Chris Sununu.
I talked to Nobody for an hour, and I must be crazy, because I’m pretty sure he is and he made more sense than most people I’ve talked to the last few weeks.
Nobody thinks Charlie Baker’s decision to keep the liquor stores open while shutting down the recreational cannabis shops is logically and morally inconsistent, and even potentially dangerous, depriving people of a substance that reduces stress at a time of heightened anxiety.
“I know alcoholics who stopped drinking because it was killing them and now they smoke weed,” Nobody said. “If you deprive them of marijuana, they’re going to start drinking again. That’s dumb.”
Nobody’s critics like to dismiss him by pointing out that he has a long criminal record.
He freely admits to his run-ins with the law, saying, “I can’t even count how many times I’ve been arrested.”
But he says most of his arrests were misdemeanors, and insists some others amounted to harassment, that law enforcement’s interest in him is based on a false belief that he supports potentially violent subversion. He says his most serious infraction was a setup.
“I sold a pound of weed to a guy I used to buy ecstasy from,” he said.
The guy was wearing a wire for the feds.
“The most dangerous drug cartel in America is Big Pharma,” said Nobody, “and the government is their muscle.”
Hmm. I can’t imagine why the government hates this guy.
Undaunted, Nobody has scheduled a rally at the state capital, on Aprils Fools Day, no less, challenging what he calls Sununu’s arbitrary ban on gatherings of 10 or more people. He is willing to take the risk of being arrested and even infected to make a point.
“I’m going to update my will to say don’t give me a respirator if I get the virus, because I will have brought it on myself,” he said. “Frankly, if it weren’t for the governor’s order, I wouldn’t go to Concord, I’d just stay hunkered down in my house. I’m more scared of the government than the virus.”
Until April 1, he’s sitting tight at his house in Keene, where the lights are on and Nobody’s home.
For those who have not seen it, here is the video of the resolution of the machete case.
I’d like to address two criticisms that I heard:
1) “Your license was suspended, so they should have arrested you, why are you complaining?”
If they had just arrested me for Operating while Suspended, the case would be no big deal.
But charging me with a felony while knowing I was innocent is dirty pool, and it has to be addressed.
2) “You knew they might arrest you for the machete. Why did you have it in your trunk?”
Yes, I knew they might arrest me for the machete. I’m sure this happens to people all the time. Many of those people were probably intimidated into taking a plea and doing 3 months in jail, as they tried to do to me.
But I was not breaking the law, and it is their job to know what the the law says and to enforce it. It is not “enforcing the law” when you prosecute someone you know to be innocent.
Also, to prosecute me for a machete implies that they could prosecute me for using a sharp knife while eating a steak .. or for doing my job, since at the time I worked as a dishwasher in a steakhouse, and if you go with their “You cannot have anything hard, heavy, or sharp” interpretation of the law, I could never handle ANY tool … not even a car!