A family of tax dodges in New Hampshire is vowing to fight the feds to the death over back taxes of a million smackers. According to an ABC report, Ed and Elaine Brown are holed up in their concrete home, armed to the gills, and prepared to hold out until hell freezes over before they will ever be taken alive. They contend that income tax is illegal and the government has no constitutional right to make them pay. Don't get me wrong - I'm all for anyone who can pull off claiming the federal income tax is unconstitutional and putting the staff of the IRS on the street selling pencils out of little tin cups, but no one has managed to succeed at this yet. But for everyone concerned, I have no desire to see this standoff become another Ruby Ridge. Apparently the Feds don't either, who seem to just be watching and waiting for the browns' generator fuel to run dry. In a decidedly un-Waco like show of incredible patience, the G-Men have messed with these folks for a year before deciding last week to shut off the electricity and their Internet connection.
Wnat makes this relevant to this blog are the statements of Mr. Brown. He held a press conference on the front porch last week to explain his carefully considered legal opinion. With his pistol jammed in his waistband, he claimed that he could not receive a fair trial in a federal court because "the court system falls under freemasonry."
"There are no longer any lawful courts. The Freemasons have taken over our nation. … [Freemasons want] to take over our nation and all nations on the planet," Brown said.
Meanwhile in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on June 12th, one Mr. Sonny Rene Stermole shot and killed his next door neighbor, Mr. Mark A Wright, who was on his way out to the grill with a plate of meat. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal,
Stermole decided some time ago that Wright was not only a terrorist in touch with Libyan despot Moammar Gadhafi, but also was tied in with Mafia members, biker gangs, El Rukn street gangsters from Chicago and various other figures out to do him harm. Stermole had worried for many years that his shadowy enemies would come after him and guarded himself accordingly: They threatened to attack his wife, so he never married, and they used Wright to stalk him, so he got a digital camera to document it, he told police.
Stermole shot Wright 8 times, then calmly walked back into his house. Wright's wife apparently said to Stermole after witnessing the shooting, "Rene, you done lost your mind."
Stermole has spent the last ten years claiming there was a vast, Masonic conspiracy in which Chicago gang members came after him. His website, America's Subversion: The Enemy Within (pardon me for not bothering to link to it) is indeed proof that Rene done lost his mind. These nutbags are generally harmless paranoids. Unfortunately, Mark Wright is proof that they are not always harmless. No word yet on whether Wright was a Mason or not. I kinda doubt it.
Over in Ohio, the Masonic Center in Toledo is making plans to close and move to the sub-suburbs, and apparently the local fishwrap, theToledo Blade, has decided that Freemasons are to blame for the destruction of their downtown, the flight of citizens to the suburbs in 60's, and now the death of "legitimate" theater in northwest Ohio. It seems the Scottish Rite owned a building with a theater downtown that they closed in the late sixties in favor of a new suburban location. The Blade then claimed the new facility amounted to "selfish sabotage of community efforts to rejuvenate downtown Toledo." As a result, claimeth the Blade,, the Masons were to blame for "the accelerated decline of the city core."
Now, the Masons are wrecking Toledo again.
Now the Masons intend to make their abandonment of downtown Toledo complete by relocating what remains of their operations at the Zenobia Shrine to an as yet undisclosed location in Perrysburg Township.
When they cite the inadequacy of their present location, they need to keep in mind the real reason for their diminished ranks: the Masons just don’t have the same appeal to prospective members they did a generation or two ago.
Our feelings have nothing to do with the good works of the Masons and their remaining lodges, especially on behalf of young burn victims. For all of that, they deserve public gratitude.
But their commendable deeds are compromised by yet another decision that reaffirms a history and a pattern of resistance to the welfare of a community which has supported for so long their humanitarian efforts.
Oh come now. Who abandoned who?
Midst this great caterwaul, the lineup of art that the Blade is lamenting seems to consist of three performances of Riverdance, a couple of stand-up comics, something with the appalling moniker, "Redneck Comedy Live," and a musical based on Billy Joel's songs, "Movin' Out," which does not, by the way, feature the former Mr. Christie Brinkley himself.
I would submit that Toledo's theater offerings are based upon what sells tickets there, and that if the Scottish Rite and the Toledo Masonic Center are struggling to keep the theater open, it is because the citizens of Toledo have failed to support it. Or the Masons for that matter. Who at the Blade is a member of the fraternity? You can bet in the 1960s there were members roaming the hall of the city's paper, but no more.
Don't misread me here. I don't know the financial situation in Toledo. I've been to the Masonic Center earlier this year to speak to the new members of the Scottish Rite, but I have no dog in this fight. However, I am sickened every time I read about major cities where there are magnificent Masonic Temples that are historic and architectural gems that Freemasons abandon. Chicago's downtown once boasted the tallest skyscraper in the world, the 22 story Masonic Building. The Masons of Chicago had magnificent facilities, including the Shrine Theater and the Scottish Rite. Now, all are sold or demolished, and there is no Masonic presence in downtown Chicago.
Detroit's Masonic Temple, the largest purpose-built Masonic building in the world, has just been abandoned by the Shrine and the Scottish Rite, who both seem to be willing to spend untold millions of dollars just so they don't have to be in the Detroit Temple anymore. They fled to the suburbs, leaving behind a handful of lodges and the York Rite. Yet, Detroit heavy-hitter and Little Caesar's owner Mike Ilitch apparently sees great potential in the very neighborhood the Rite and the Shrine abandoned and is interested in managing the Masonic Temple.
Why do we go on abandoning the centers of our cities where the skyscrapers are filled with the very men we are seeking? And why do we not see the magnificence and the value in our Temples that other developers see? They are only white elephants if we fail to use them and maintain them and promote them properly.
In too many cases, our visionless leaders have fled to the comfort and miserly, uninspired anonymity of steel pole barns. What sickens me is that the builders of the fraternity erected these Temples for their brothers at great personal expense and sacrifice,and expected us to do more and even greater things. Instead, we call them white elephants and treat them as a burden. I blame the Masons who have kept our dues criminally low for five decades and the close-minded, short-sighted custodians of them who refused for decades to start foundations and keep the vision of our greatness alive. Worse, we seem as a fraternity to be attempting to pitch as many of these Temples overboard as fast as possible, just as we are poised on the edge of what may be the biggest increase in membership in half a century. It seems almost like the desire is to murder our own posterity quickly before some group of young kids come in with a plan to save them.