Well, Here’s a conundrum…

A while back, I self-righteously declaimed, “You either love liberty for everybody, or you don’t love liberty.” I, of course, am without sin in that regard and can feel free to throw as many stones as I like.

Or maybe, not so much. Because I came on a David Codrea Gun Rights Examiner piece this morning that put my self-righteousness to the test.

Last month a fellow named John Shipley was convicted in federal court on weapons trafficking charges, keeping false records and committing “straw man” purchases. He was convicted by a jury, and I don’t know whether he broke those laws or not. I do know that at least most of the laws he may have broken, shouldn’t have been laws. I simply see no evidence that John Shipley hurt a soul. In this case, at least. Normally, outrages like this get me really mad.

So what’s my problem in this case? Well…I have to admit it’s a matter of prejudice. You see…

John Shipley is an FBI agent. From the web site set up by his family, we learn that he worked really hard to get into the FBI, and once there…

After graduation from the academy John was assigned to the FBI office in El Paso, Texas and for the past thirteen (13) years has worked as a Special Agent. John was a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team for 5 years, became a certified FBI Sniper in 2001 and has conducted many investigations. John was recognized with the Department of Justice / Federal Bureau of Investigation Certificate of Achievement from Director Robert S. Mueller in September 2002.

He is, in short, not my friend or yours. There’s plenty of evidence that he’d have happily participated in railroading you or me on the same charges from which he now dangles. Now, why the ATF went after him, of all people, I don’t know. He’s hardly the only cop who deals guns for his own collection. After all, he’s an “only one.”

And yet…


By my own reckoning on such matters, he did nothing wrong. I should be outraged for him. Instead I’m sitting here nursing schadenfreude. As Mama Liberty said in the comments to Codrea’s piece,

Justice must be equal for everyone. Justice built on the principles of non-aggression, self ownership and personal responsibility, of course.

If we deny justice to anyone, regardless of the reason, we deny our own. I hope this man finds justice, and the truth about non-aggression and self ownership/responsibility.

*SIGH* Yeah, ML. I guess I do, too. And then I hope he goes back to being a firefighter, which is a much more honorable trade.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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7 Responses to Well, Here’s a conundrum…

  1. Anonymous says:

    By my reckoning, this man is a criminal who did plenty wrong.

    He’s been a parasite on productive citizens for 13 long years, living on stolen money to support his chosen lifestyle.

    Add to that his nearly certain participation in many overt acts of violence against innocents who had done nothing to harm any person or property.

    I respect both you and ML, but I think you allow your notion of justice to be confused with the trappings and pomp of government courts.

    This man is a criminal. Now he will spend time in prison. That is justice.

    You and ML worry that the words used to put him in prison don’t match the facts of his many crimes. Of course they don’t, courts are government operations, multi-century monopolies that use violence to achieve their goals. They produce ever lower quality product at ever higher costs.

    The wonder here is that a real crook finally gets his just deserts. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    There is no injustice here, and no conflict with your morals or ethics. Just ignore the words of the court (you normally do that anyway) and concentrate on actions and consequences.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sort of a “live by the sword, die by the sword” ironic justice as I see it. K

  3. My dear Mr. Anonymous, I do not mean to disparage you in any way, however I have an observation to make in regards to your comment.

    I have heard almost these very sentiments “By my reckoning, this man is a criminal who did plenty wrong.” from policing type folks justifying their actions. I also hear “they may have not done this thing wrong, but I know they have done other things that we can’t touch them for.”

    That can NOT be good when we echo their thoughts and deeds to justify ours.

  4. Can’t buy the “let ‘im fry” logic, Anon #1. Does it sting sometimes to have to defend a creep? Sure it does. But that’s liberty, my friend. It’s not about defending your obvious friends from your obvious common enemies. Liberty is secure when one can come to the defense of an Only One, or a Klansman, or any other human being who is prosecuted for a “crime” with no victim.

    (When shottists ingrain Jeff Cooper’s safety rules into their minds and hands, it’s not for a clear, sunny day at the range. Rather, those rules will save your ass when everything else has gone to hell. Somehow, the principle seems just the same here.)

    Now…the guy appears to be a dedicated Fibbie, which doubtless means he should be on the hook for many unconscionable aggressions. By all means let civil courts take those up, honestly. But the minute we fry someone just because we can hang ‘im on something, we have become what we behold, and it’s all over but the shouting.

    Let the SOB go for the “crime” that didn’t hurt anyone. Perhaps he will learn his lesson. If not? May the intended victim of his next actual crime teach him a lesson in unintended consequences.

  5. Anonymous says:

    WE are not doing anything to this man. He is being served by the same courts he willingly served.

    I’m not advocating that WE go after him or any other professional criminal. By all means let honest courts sort it out.

    But there is the rub. There are no honest courts today. Not even close.

    I see a clear distinction between advocating that others be treated as this man was, versus noting that justice has been served in this case.

    He did crimes. Now he is in prison. The words on the paper used to put him in prison don’t match those crimes, but the punishment is at least roughly proportionate to what he did.

    Given the utter failure of courts to produce justice, this is one of their better jobs.

    It’s not an ideal solution. Working towards such ends is not consistent with liberty. But I certainly won’t be losing any sleep or questioning my values because deeply flawed courts gave one creep what he so desperately deserved.

  6. Your point about Master eating its own is certainly well taken, Anon. No argument there. 🙂

    And you may notice that I carefully chose the term “civil courts”. That does not mean “legal courts”, as I believe as you do that begging Master for any sort of answer, even arbitration, is an exercise in failure.

    I just can’t let the event go by without at least observing it and stating the defense of the current victim, however vile. I’ve got the Niemoller stanza too firmly in my head these days…

  7. jack says:

    Let just say I doubt the inmates of a Konzentrazionlager would lose much sleep over one of the guards being pushed from the watchtower by some other guard…

    I hope fibbie’s friends will retaliate against F-troopers responsible… perhaps triggering outright war? Wouldn’t that be something to watch 😉

To the stake with the heretic!