The Green Gestapo Is Here

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Chico, California resident Jeff Newman, 53, is a life-long avid skier who now operates a painting business. As a sideline, Newman “tunes” skis and teaches others how to perform this kind of maintenance.

With the exception of a decade he spent in the employment of the Forest Service, Newman has made an honest living. A few weeks ago he and some friends he had met in the employ of the  Sylvan Socialist agency visited Colby Meadows in the Lassen National Forest, one of their favorite skiing destinations.

Years ago, Newman and his friends had built a bulletin board — with the cooperation of the Forest Service — on which could be posted maps and emergency information. During their recent visit, one of Newman’s friends, Larry Chrisman, posted an advertisement for Newman’s ski tuning service on the otherwise vacant bulletin board.

Neither of them thought more of the matter until a few days ago, when an armed, truculent Sylvan Socialist (that is, SS) troglodyte named Paul Zohovetz materialized on Newman’s doorstep in full battle array. Newman initially thought Zohovetz was a customer. Quite the opposite was the case: He had traveled more than fifty miles to threaten Newman with a citation for posting a commercial flier without the specific permission of the SS.

As is often the case in such situations, the foul-tempered armed functionary began to harass Newman about matters that had nothing to do with the flier.

“I’m not sure what this is all about,” Newman complained.

“You’re under arrest,” snarled Zohovetz by way of reply.

Newman commanded the armed intruder to leave his property. Zohovetz, already guilty of criminal trespass, compounded the crime by threatening to attack Newman with a deadly weapon by pointing his Taser at the man’s face and neck.

Yes, now even the Forest Service has a cadre of thugs who carry portable electro-shock torture devices.

“He had this look in his eyes like he wanted to beat the crap out of me,” Newman recalled. A diabetic who suffers from permanent nervous system damage, Newman was understandably concerned that a Taser attack would kill him. So as any rational person would, he fled into his house. His deranged assailant, badly overestimating his physical prowess, tried to kick down the door, succeeding only in leaving a muddy footprint.

Newman called Chrisman to his home as a witness. Zohovetz, having failed in his effort to bully the mild-mannered Newman by himself, called for backup from the local police department. After his friend arrived, Newman emerged from the house, only to be handcuffed. As a result of not taking insulin yet that day, he went into convulsions.

Satisfied that he’d made whatever point he sought to make, Zohovetz released Newman and told him that he was only issuing a “warning” regarding the flier. He also issued a citation for “threatening an officer,” a charge that carries a six month jail sentence and a $5,000 fine.

The appropriately named SS spokesman John Heil insists that Zohovetz behaved appropriately by driving 50 miles to issue a “warning” and then needlessly escalating a trivial matter into a life-threatening confrontation.

This incident offers an infuriating counterpoint to Audi’s bizarre “Green Police” Superbowl ad, which sought to extract humor from the prospect of living under the all-encompassing scrutiny of a futuristic eco-Gestapo. What Audi’s marketing department played for laughs is already deadly serious business in much of the occupied West.

10:20 pm on February 11, 2010