Practical Anarchism Saves Old Woman From A Needless Arrest

Gerry Suttle had never received so much as a parking ticket before being informed by police in Riesel, Texas that a warrant had been issued for her arrest. The 75-year-old woman had failed to appear in court to answer a citation issued against her because her grass had grown too high. Riesel is a town of about 1,000 people, and the tiny clique calling itself the city government displays the efficiency that characterizes every such entity of any size: Suttle never received the letter demanding that she appear before the judge.

Under what residents of Texas are told to call the “law,” an arrest warrant results in immediate suspension of the subject’s license to drive. As a result, this terrified 75-year-old woman was effectively under house arrest. The lawn, which was on a piece of property Suttle owned across from her home, was far too big for her to mow by herself, particularly under the summer sun in central Texas.

Four young brothers who live in the same central Texas town saw the news report and volunteered to mow the elderly woman’s very large lawn, a hot and time-intensive job that would be much to arduous for the 75-year-old to do by herself. Several other neighbors quickly joined in and made short work of what could have been a day-long project.

The statist approach to this problem was to issue an extortion note (more commonly called a “citation”), then threaten to kidnap the elderly woman when she didn’t pay the demanded amount. The anarchist — which is to say, human — approach was for her neighbors to volunteer personal time to help her.

“Well, that’s commendable, but without the threat of punishment the yard wouldn’t have been mowed,” a typical authoritarian would probably object. A good and sufficient reply would be: So what? Nobody was injured by the height of Suttle’s grass, which was, after all, on her own property. Those who understand and cherish property rights understand that the lawn was hers to tend or neglect as she saw fit. The demands made by the local political class in Riesel, and the armed officials who enforce their demands, make sense only if we accept the Communist proposition that the State is the default owner of everything, and private property only enjoys a contingent existence.

In the fashion of Pharaoh increasing the brick production quota while withholding straw from the Hebrew slaves, everything the Riesel junta did was designed to exacerbate a “problem” created by its own immoral actions. People who claim that society can’t exist without the fictive entity called the state might be instinctively appalled by the treatment of Gerry Suttle, but they have no moral or logical reason to object to it.

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11:29 am on June 11, 2015

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