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Forum Post: Peace has a day in Court - Cindy Sheehan

Posted 7 years ago on March 13, 2013, 2:01 a.m. EST by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

For those of you who know me and have been following my story, you know that part of my resistance to the US Empire is my refusal to pay income taxes.

This morning (April 19th), a new episode unfolded in my ongoing struggle with the IRS and the Empire the agency is nestled in.

I was subpoenaed to appear in the 9th Circuit court of the US Federal Court system in Sacramento, California—my state’s capitol.

For background, I have had two meetings with the IRS agent assigned to my case where I expressed to him my unwillingness, due to my principles, to participate in funding a system that commits crimes almost every second of every day. At this point, the IRS is trying to collect 105 grand that it says I owe for the tax years 2005-2006. I first became a war tax refuser in 2005.

My defense is one based on a far superior morality than one practiced by the US government and the fact that my outspokenness against this immorality, and my notoriety in doing so, has put me into a precarious position in a climate where free speech and peaceful protest is being suppressed, sometimes very violently, as we have increasingly witnessed.

In the past after about 15 arrests, I have also had many opportunities to appear in court, federal and otherwise, in front of judges who never showed one bit of compassion or sympathy towards the protesters’ first amendment right trumping the governments’ harsh rules and laws profoundly inhibiting those rights.

I have never once “gotten off” using a defense based on the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution.

In that Bill of Rights, there’s an especially pesky little 1st Amendment that says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Yet Congress and other legislative bodies routinely pass these laws prohibiting the free exercise of speech and the right to peaceably assemble and our protests become more and more meaningless as we are pushed farther and farther away from our, for want of a better word, targets. In addition, the police state is increasingly chasing protesters away by tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, sound weaponry and other supposedly "non-lethal" means.

When I decided to be a conscientious objector to war tax, I knew that the consequence could be harassment and/or punishment, but I decided to do it long before I became well known as a gadfly to Empire. I was willing to accept those consequences because I felt that if I were put on trial, the reasons that I don’t fund war crimes would have to also be put on trial, and I think it’s the only way that the illegality of the wars can actually get a hearing.

I have an advisor who is an experienced tax attorney who advises the National War Tax Resister’s Coordinating Committee and he feels that the Empire may be targeting me to get publicity and to intimidate others from taking the same course of action that I actually encourage others to do, so he could inform me as to what usually happens every step of the way, but my case could be “special” and contain many surprises, a few which did occur in court today.

Before I continue, I’d like to say that since I have become an antiwar “criminal,” my respect for the legal profession has grown by leaps and bounds. I have always managed to attract some amazing attorneys to help me in my cases always on a pro bono basis and this case is no exception. My attorney of record in California is San Francisco attorney, Dennis Cunningham, who has been involved in many protest cases and advising us is Peter Goldberger in Pennsylvania. I am so thankful for the help of my attorneys and for the NWRTCC and I honestly don’t know what I would do without their legal help and peer support.

To find out what happened with Cindy's case go here:

http://cindysheehanssoapbox.blogspot.com/2012/04/peace-has-day-in-court-cindy-sheehan.html

53 Comments

53 Comments


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[-] 1 points by windyacres (1197) 7 years ago

I admire your courage. I hope that the illgality of the wars can actually get a hearing.

Your growing respect for the legal profession is very hopeful. We need them for the cause. I look forward to journalists, veterans, and corp executives joining the cause.

[-] -1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

You can tell this directly to Cindy here:

http://cindysheehanssoapbox.blogspot.com/p/contact-us.html

[-] 2 points by windyacres (1197) 7 years ago

Thanks, will do.

[-] 0 points by blacksad (-58) 7 years ago

Poor Cindy. I hate the way Pelosi used her, then threw her to the curb.

[-] -1 points by highlander3 (-62) 7 years ago

Did it occur to you that the taxes you refuse to pay may be taxes that would go to fund entitlement programs for the poor?

[-] -1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

If you had the choice to either prevent the deaths of innocent civilians or to prevent the poverty of others, which would you choose?

[-] 0 points by highlander3 (-62) 7 years ago

I am speaking from the point of reality. The New Testament states that there will be wars and rumors of wars till the end of time. So, now that we have come to the conclusion that war is an inevitable part of life, we can look at the next question. Any war will bring about the death of civilians, that is the reality of modern war. We have and will fight in Afganistan as we did in Iraq. We could carpet bomb cities like we did in Dresden, Tokyo, and Cologne. We could use Agent Orange to defoliate and poison entire regions, or we can use accurate, pinpoint weapons that will have the greatest risk to taking out the enemy while at the same time minimizing civilian casualties. Now, regarding the poverty of others, I imagine that will lead directly to death if they can't afford health care, or if law enforcement was hampered because people refused to pay taxes. So, I chose to prevent the poverty of others, in this context

[-] 1 points by DSamms (-294) 7 years ago

That's your right. And she's chosen her path, out of conscience. I respect that, greatly. But from a Constitutional perspective, I think she is choosing the wrong battle. And of course they're making an example of her. That's what martyrs are for...

[-] -1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

What would be the proper way to protest the war?

[-] 0 points by DSamms (-294) 7 years ago

Replying here...

[-] 2 points by jrhirsch (4337) from Sun City, CA 5 hours ago

Glad you stuck to your principle and voted for Jill. l voted for Rocky. Of the 98.5% who voted for the two major parties, very few acted on principle and acted out of fear instead.

I've already taken a shot at your proposal. It's not moving so why waste another bullet? Time to move on to subjects that matter. ↥twinkle ↧stinkle permalink


"[W]hy waste another bullet?" jrhirsch says. "Time to move on to subjects that matter."

And what might those subjects be? You also say I should "Choose a better method." OK, I'll bite. What do you suggest?

[-] -1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

An amendment that would limit total political campaign contributions to 1% of the median U.S. personal income (currently $27,000), per person or entity, per year, and also limited to the locality of the donor.

[-] 0 points by DSamms (-294) 7 years ago

That's a good start. Worked on a similar project back in the early nineties. Limited to the voting district is the key, I think. I like the way you structure the contribution limit.

How do you view our current political and economic circumstances?

[-] -1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

The crucial test of this amendment would depend on it's Constitutionality. The wealthy would say it's a violation of their right to free speech. I would argue that they are violating the spirit of free speech by speaking a hundred times louder and a thousand times farther, drowning out others right to be heard. The right of free speech means nothing if it isn't also fair speech.

Political and economic power in this country is concentrated in the hands of the few. This supposed Democracy is a mockery.

[-] 0 points by DSamms (-294) 7 years ago

If it's proposed and ratified properly, it becomes part of the Constitution and therefore it's Constitutionality is not in question. How it's interpreted and applied is however...

I agree: "Political and economic power in this country is concentrated in the hands of the few. This supposed Democracy is a mockery."

But specifically this is a democratic republic. We elect Congressmen every two years (entire House and 1/3 of the Senate), and a President every fourth (or rather presidential electors). Our only other democratic exercise of power comes in the jury box -- civil, criminal and grand juries. Our elections legitimize our government. Our juries legitimize our laws.

[-] 0 points by DSamms (-294) 7 years ago

You know my advocacy. Do you care to discuss it on its merits?

[-] 0 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

A sledgehammer might destroy the fine china the wasp rests on. Choose a better method.

[-] 1 points by DSamms (-294) 7 years ago

So, make your counter proposal. What do you have?

[-] 0 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

Remove the source of nourishment that's setting on the plate and it will die.

[-] 1 points by DSamms (-294) 7 years ago

That's nothing. So you have nothing better? Do you understand the logic of the situation? If you have nothing better than this, my proposal wins by default. You brought nothing to the table.

[-] -1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

Whose strategy has made more progress in ending the war? Yours or Cindy's?

[-] -1 points by DSamms (-294) 7 years ago

Neither as far as I can tell. You willing to step into her shoes?

Cindy has my admiration. She's taken a principled stand. Are you standing with her in substance or thought? The reason I do not support withholding taxes as a first measure in protest, is because if participation is not immediate, widespread and massively supported, if overwhelming support is not guaranteed, the few who do protest become martyrs. They stand alone, individually facing the full wrath of government.

If, after a movement builds demonstrated and massive public support, it becomes a different matter. But as a matter of principle, I do not support actions that martyr people unnecessarily.

[-] -2 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

That's the same argument for not voting for a third party candidate. I would like to vote for a third party, but if not enough other people do, I won't either. That's the difference between acting on principle and talking about it. Those who don't act don't have principle.

[-] -2 points by DSamms (-294) 7 years ago

Then third party candidates not being elected is your fault. I voted for Jill in the presidential just past. She was the only candidate I could vote for in good conscience. If more people voted their conscience, rather than play the twin-party's "sky is falling game", we wouldn't be in this mess. But here we sit...

And, by voting for Jill, by voting democratically, I did not run the risk of arrest, trial and imprisonment. Which is why I advocate withdrawing our consent in elections.

I've got a proposal on the table. Counter it. Tell me what you think.

"Aim low boys, they're ridin' ponies..."

[-] -2 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

Glad you stuck to your principle and voted for Jill. l voted for Rocky. Of the 98.5% who voted for the two major parties, very few acted on principle and acted out of fear instead.

I've already taken a shot at your proposal. It's not moving so why waste another bullet? Time to move on to subjects that matter.

[-] -1 points by Micah (-58) 7 years ago

She put herslf in the position that shes in.

[-] -1 points by DSamms (-294) 7 years ago

Yes. That is an accurate statement. The reason I do not support withholding taxes as a first measure in protest, is because if participation is not immediate, widespread and massively supported, if overwhelming support is not guaranteed, the few who do protest become martyrs. They stand alone, facing the full wrath of government.

[-] -2 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

While many of us here have chosen the relatively safe position of writing against injustice, she has courageously chosen to place herself, physically, financially, and emotionally, on the side of justice for the past eight years.

[Removed]

[-] -1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

Because Jesus said "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars" does not excuse your support for war. He also said "the poor you will always have with you". Should you also try to excuse yourself from helping them as well?

[-] -1 points by OTP (-203) from Tampa, FL 7 years ago

Incredible post.

[-] -3 points by engineer4 (331) 7 years ago

She should pay her taxes, same as everyone else. Imagine the mess if everyone declared that they would not pay. She is stating she is anti-war, but by her actions, she is also anti-every government program, including all the good ones. And by this selfish act, other people have to make up the difference.

[-] -1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

She paid with the life of her son for a war that did not need to be fought. How many other families paid their fair share with the blood of their offspring? I would much prefer the mess caused by people's refusal to pay taxes than continue support for the brutal mess of continuous war.

When a government wages unnecessary war, it's criminality eclipses all of the good done by other programs. If a good man goes on a murderous rampage, he must be stopped, no matter how beneficial his present good works may be.

http://nwtrcc.org/how_to_resist.php

https://act.myngp.com/Forms/-8494070372197466112

[-] -3 points by engineer4 (331) 7 years ago

I know the about her loss, and tragic as it is, the failure to pay tax as a protest is not the way to go. While her intentions are noble, her tax protest is not. That is a selfish act and forces others to make up the difference. I am not arguing about whether or not the mid east wars are right or wrong, but the refusal to pay taxes as a protest. So here is the question: if it was ruled by the courts that this tax protest was legal, what do you think others would do? Answer: refuse to pay taxes as protest, but more likely just as an excuse. It is just a wrong protest.

[-] -1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

I can't think of a more morally correct way to protest the wars. Our tax funds purchase the weapons that propel this war continually forward, cutting those funds will put a stop to it.

If you think that our votes and petitions should be the only proper way to protest, then Thoreau's refusal to pay the poll tax, Rosa Park's refusal to give up her bus seat, and Ghandi's refusal to pay the salt tax were also improper. Each of these protests was directed at the root of injustice and that is where all protests MUST be directed!

[-] -1 points by engineer4 (331) 7 years ago

The problem is that the assumption that all money goes to fund wars. And it does not. That is the problem. One just can not say that "I won't pay my taxes because the money is funding war". It's incorrect logic. What I am saying is protest in a different way. You know that everyone would use that type of justification to avoid all kinds of things. What if pro life people stop paying taxes because the money supports abortion? What happens if people stop paying because they disagree with a particular policy? Any policy, any regulation, any anything. It's chaos, and that is why it is the wrong type of protest. Protest can be directed, but since individual taxes are not directed, it not effective method of protest. This is not an argument of her belief that war is wrong, unjust or immoral, but an argument that the method chosen is flawed and wrong.

[-] -1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

Some people choose to protest the war by deducting the portion of their tax that is spent for war.

http://www.warresisters.org/federalpiechart

While U.S. soldiers, Taliban, freedom fighters, and innocent civilians are being killed, maimed, and tortured by the tens of thousands, you are more concerned that others might also use civil disobedience? That the resulting economic chaos might disrupt our country's business as usual.

Civil disobedience is a willful act of noncooperation with injustice. It is every person's right and every human beings duty to do so.

[-] -1 points by engineer4 (331) 7 years ago

I do not think that you are understanding my response. Civil disobedience is not the argument. I support anyone's right to that or any other form of protest with the exception of tax protest.. My point is that the protest to not pay taxes because one disagrees with a policy, etc is wrong and not only penalizes the intended target but also everyone else due to the shortfall of revenue. Your response is more emotional due to your position on war (which I respect), rather than logical. And yes, the economic chaos would disrupt business as usual, but the greater harm would fall, as usual, to the less fortunate who rely on assistance, etc.

Let's suppose, for instance, that I believe that because the government is responsible for allowing pollution due to fracking leases, which poisons the ground water where i get my supply, should I be allowed protest that by non payment of taxes?

Or, how about this: you have a strong position as regarding the conduct of war, so why do you continue pay your taxes since some of the money is used for the very thing you oppose?

[-] -2 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

When Martin Luther King led the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, the bus company and it's employees all suffered economic hardship. In this case the much greater hardship of continuous racism suffered by the blacks justified the temporary hardship of the bus company and it's employees.

The same logic applies to Afghanistan but in this case it's not about racism but terror, murder, torture, and the complete loss of social stability for the Afghan people. There is no comparison between the plight of the poor in America and the death and destruction happening in Afghanistan.

Protesting pollution caused by fracking by withholding taxes is your choice alone, although it should be directed to the corporation responsible for the pollution.

Why do you assume I pay taxes?

[-] 0 points by engineer4 (331) 7 years ago

I was assuming you are employed. I disagree with your logic on this one. Witholding taxes is not a lawful form of protest. If you do not pay, then you suffer the consequences. One is free to decide not to pay, but one also assumes the accountability of that illegal action.

[-] 2 points by Gillian (1842) 7 years ago

Is income tax legal? Of course, we've all been drinking the kool-aid in order to avoid harsh penalties but, does anyone ever question the legality behind it or the necessity of it? After all, this country didn't start collecting income tax until the early 1900's. I think most Americans are too afraid to even learn that the income tax doesn't have the application that the IRS would have them believe. Is income tax necessary for the gov't to function? We pay hundreds of taxes already..everything we purchase, use, consume..gets taxed. Would state taxes provide sufficient revenue?

It just seems to me that the only entities benefiting from our hard earned money are the special interests that end up getting bailed out when they abuse our money. If our income was not taxed, that money would be more widely distributed by the tax payers who would directly benefit by spending it on things that meet their current needs which would also help to signifcantly reduce the ' welfare' that is currently needed to assist individuals and families.

Seems to me that withholding taxes is a HUGE and could be a most effective protest against misuse and abuse of federal tax dollars. Would you give your money to anyone who will abuse it, waste it, use it to further corrupt business practice and to profit from war? I would bet that most Americans would find more than enough reasons to justify nonpayment of income tax if they actually took the time to educate themselves on how their money is being used.

We're always between a rock and hard place it seems but, I believe that it's immoral to tolerate and agree with something simply because it's easier to do so and lessens the short-term burden on others. This is exactly why America suffers as it does today. Defending truth is always perceived as radical and revolutionary in a world where deception is easier, more lucrative and more popular.

Sheehan annoyed me in the beginning ( and to a lesser degree still does) because she was one of those pro-war Bush fans who proudly displayed her support with all those bumper stickers, American flags and other cheap pro-war paraphernalia. As soon as her hero was killed by the defense complex that he proudly served, she became anti-war. I don't have a lot of respect for that kind of fair-weathered approach to life. Granted, she needed to believe at the time that her son was doing the ' right' thing for his country and once she discovered that her son's life had been taken in vain, became quite angry. In that respect, I can empathize and respect her new-found wisdom. Still, I can't help but wonder if she would be this ' disobedient' today had her son survived and returned.

[-] 0 points by engineer4 (331) 7 years ago

Did not wish to get into a legality of taxation, but current law is that we pay. To choose to not pay is a poor choice for a form of protest. Anyone with a bone to pick with the government could just refuse based on non agreement with policy or law. This goes for state and local as well. To rule that this is ok would be a terrible precedent and create absolute turmoil. One could imagine if one disagrees with state policy, or even actions of local school board and refuse to pay taxes. Everyone would stop paying. Not everyone agrees with everything or everyone, but to use the idea of disagreement as a reason for non payment is just wrong. And that is exactly what her protest is: she disagrees with policy (and the result effect of that policy). We live in a society where majority rules, and that does not give reason for the non majority to refuse to pay.

[-] 2 points by Gillian (1842) 7 years ago

Majority may rule but majorities throughout history have been very wrong. All it takes is one leader, bad or good, intelligent or down right stupid to create a majority. There's always more non-thinking followers than leaders. Thank goodness there were mavericks who were willing to question the status quo and stand up against it in order to force change. Any majority is just temporary until someone else comes along and creates another to replace it. In any event, there are always going to be mindless sheeples that will do anything the majority wants them to...good or bad. We can't make people grow a conscience.

And, you're right, everyone would stop paying taxes if the majority did. But, that wouldn't matter IF they abolished income tax anyway. At least we'd all be doing the right thing for a change instead of everyone doing the wrong thing.

Zero income tax would benefit this country in numerous ways- mostly by keeping enough money in the citizens pocket and by ultimately reducing the high cost of just about everything ( by keeping it out of the special interests' pockets). I think a lot about how my great grandparents and my grandparents lived and how they were able to live a fairly decent life and receive a good education despite the depression and other obstacles. My grandfather for example, an engineer, was able to pay for his degree at Georgia Tech by waiting tables one semester, then using that money to pay for the next semester. He and his brother alternated semesters. They were able to keep all their tip money unlike today and they could afford their tuition without a loan. Even if they needed a loan, the school would have loaned them the money, not the state, not the federal gov't. That was during the Great Depression of all things. We can't go back and live like those in the great depression but we can certainly begin by putting more money in the citizen's pocket and less in the hands of our wasteful government and it's corporate allies.

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

Good comment = Majority may rule but majorities throughout history have been very wrong. All it takes is one leader, bad or good, intelligent or down right stupid to create a majority. There's always more non-thinking followers than leaders. Thank goodness there were mavericks who were willing to question the status quo and stand up against it in order to force change. Any majority is just temporary until someone else comes along and creates another to replace it. In any event, there are always going to be mindless sheeples that will do anything the majority wants them to...good or bad. We can't make people grow a conscience.


But I think that this is where the Occupy movements are unique. They are not pushing a leader - NOPE - they are pushing Education on ISSUES.

There will always be sheeple - But - we can educate those that are not - to better effect as well.

[-] 2 points by Gillian (1842) 7 years ago

Yes, OWS is a great source of information but I wish that they had more public exposure like The Real Housewives of Orange County. Ya know? I want to hear about how kids around the country want to become social activists, not wrestling housewives who leach off of wealthy men. ( although I'm considering doing that in my next life..hahahah)

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

LOL - liar = leach off of wealthy men

Reality shows - sheesh what a waste of time - but they are the modern day Soap Opera - designed to distract people from the world that "IS" around them.

[-] 1 points by engineer4 (331) 7 years ago

Ah, but who is doing the education, and will everyone agree on the subject matter, tone, slant, etc. There are lots of sheeple out there, but after education, would they necessarily agree with you or your opposite? Do you think it is possible to have a neutral based information system?

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

Texas School Board Suppository.

Institutionalizing lies.

http://www.salon.com/2013/03/16/the_south_still_lies_about_the_civil_war/

Would you like to talk about who's "forcing" teachers to teach lies like creationism, and what party is a party to that?

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

I think it is possible to teach people to see facts and disregard fluff.

[-] -2 points by OTP (-203) from Tampa, FL 7 years ago

Good points.

[-] 0 points by engineer4 (331) 7 years ago

Yes, there have been many "bad" majorities in history. And I do not like the current tax system either. But we need some form of collecting revenue for local, state and federal. I would not agree to a VAT system, that is regressive. Unfortunately, costs have risen to a point where it becomes dificult for more and more classes of people to live as they did in the past. But we live in a world market now, where resources will continue to be more limited. Just wait until Africa moves fully into this global market.

[-] -3 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

Civil disobedience is rarely a lawful form of protest. If you pay the tax, then the Afghans and American soldiers suffer the consequences of your action.

[-] -2 points by engineer4 (331) 7 years ago

So do you pay taxes?

[-] -1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 7 years ago

As little as possible.

[-] 0 points by engineer4 (331) 7 years ago

Amen to that!