The prospect of liberty is the one that binds us all. A passion that crosses party and ideological boundaries. Some found their way towards liberty on the right side of the tracks. But many still found their path the hard way. We made mistakes, but we also saw the system of misgivings first hand. I like so many others, fall in the latter category. I am a felon. And although I’ve served my debt to society for a non-violent offense, I still find myself absolutely astounded at the ways our past can still be used against us.
If you’re both a felon and a liberty advocate, listen up. Yesterday was a rude awakening. And I know I’m not the only one caught with my pants down here. I live in a remote cabin in the Rockies. First thing I do to get my day started is boil a cup of coffee and head out to my deck for a smoke. I just happened to be out there yesterday when I heard the gobble of a turkey. Now, I’ve learned from experience when you hear that call, that if you plan on doing anything about it you need to head out ASAP. Turkey, although a slow ambling creature, can surprisingly cover a lot of ground in a short period of time.
So I was in a rush to get out the door, but of course, before I left, I snapped off a savage little selfie in my hunting camo holding a little something and posted to Facebook. I got a weird feeling that seemed like second guessing myself but didn’t feel like wasting time. I had a gobble to find. After coming up shorthanded on the quest to find the source of my phantom gobble, I decided to head to town for a few supplies, mainly one in particular. It’s a 12 miles trek from where I live so you can bet I had my thumb out. The things I do for coffee.
So I’m about 8 miles into my journey and I can hear a truck letting off the gas; which after 8 miles in the desert is a slight mix of heaven and promise for hydration. My day was finally going to turn around. I instantly realized what a big old fat pile of NOPE that thought was. The driver was not only a paranoid schizophrenic, but he was creeping past me with a 38 pointed at my chest through his passenger window. I’m not going to repeat what he said word for word as it stands to make a sailor blush, but it was something to the effect of: “I’ll give you a ride, shoot you, and dump you in a ditch…” Yeah. I don’t know either. I said he was a paranoid schizophrenic because this same exact guy had picked me up about 3 months prior.
We had exchanged small talk and gotten along fairly well as we both had separatist leanings. But something was a bit off about the guy. He stared off into space for a bit too long if you get my drift here. So after the lovely death threat cherry on top of my day, the guy just drives off. Leaving me quite perplexed as to what the hell just happened. It’s an odd feeling getting a gun pulled on you, but even stranger when it’s out of the blue like this was. The situation calls for disbelief until the whole damn thing is over. And if you’re a felon like me you feel utterly violated.
Your right to protect yourself is inherent, yet the government can take that away? That’s not right, and that’s not justice. So I finished my wanderings into town pissed off. I gathered my precious coffee and a few other odds and ends before taking to Facebook live to vent my frustrations. (as is customary and a perfectly healthy response at the rate my day was going. No sooner had I pressed “Stop” on my video, my phone starts ringing. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the movie “Hot Tub Time Machine”, but every hometown group of friends has an asshole. David is our asshole.
But he’s always there to tell me some real shit when I need to hear it. So I pick up and he flies right into it David style: “Dude…you realize you just mentioned having a felony right…?” I had a feeling I knew where this was going. “…well that photo you posted this morning could cause some conflict of interest,” I argued that it had been forever anyways and none of my friends would even be paying attention to something like that, besides they weren’t even mine to be worried about. I’m safe right? But the voice in the back of my head was saying “He’s right you know…” right alongside Morgan Freeman pointing his finger.
But. I’m stubborn by nature. So after shooting the breeze with Dave for a minute I just kept up my walk through town on my way home. I didn’t want to give up that easy. The photo was really cool looking, what can I say? It had the potential for a profile pic that wasn’t set to “Temporary”. It hadn’t even been a half hour when my phone magically started ringing again. This time it was Curtis Hart, AKA Jacen Freeman, founder of the “Because Liberty” podcast and the reasoning behind many a pedophile serving time right now. (I recently joined his team at Because Liberty although we’ve been friends and fellow liberty advocates for years… Hell he’s basically my Obi Wan Kenobi and was the one who told me “You sound like a Libertarian” in the first place.)
Anyways, what he had to say sealed the deal. He started out sounding a lot like a David echo, but he had an even more pressing story to tell me. And although I didn’t appreciate the full ramifications at the time, it would soon dawn on both of us that a dangerous precedent was being set here. The story is not his own, but it’s from a fellow liberty advocate he knows locally. And this same scenario can happen to so many of us who regretfully haven’t always been so diligent with walking on the right side of the law.
Here’s the scoop according to Curtis (with additional info I added in parentheses): “My buddy (Activist Chris Ponte) was a cop watcher in Portland, Oregon. (Also was a fellow member of the Libertarian Party, involved in the group “Police the Police”, and started his own program called “Oregon Cop Block”.) He showed up at the Portland Police Chief’s house to interview him regarding an officer involved in the shooting in Portland. The chief, in an attempt to dissuade Chris, tried to get a restraining order placed in him but was unable to do so due to the fact Mr. Ponte only attempted to question him once and didn’t return for a second round of questioning. (which does NOT constitute harassment…are you taking notes? This next part you might want to start.)
The cops got pissed he was poking his nose in their affairs, and it especially chapped their ass he had the balls to go to the chief’s house without any repercussions. So they pulled the oldest trick in the book: Playing Dirty. (Shocking, I know.) They had access to his rap sheet and by proxy knew of his past felony charge, but they also had access to his Facebook. They scrolled through his posts, comments, reactions, and photos until they found what they were looking for: A photo of him with someone else’s gun. (might I add not uncommon for liberty-minded individuals.) They used that one photo to seal a conviction of Felon in the possession of a firearm” and handed him a two-year sentence doing FEDERAL TIME.
He turned himself in without incident just a few days ago on August 20th, 2018. He’s telling me all this but by now that little voice in my head from earlier has become a dull roar. I let Curtis know I get his message loud and clear. “Second time in a half hour I’ve heard this song man.” I excused myself from our phone call with an obvious flavor of urgency and started cleaning house. I googled the Facebook policy about whether or not data is truly deleted when you deleted something off Facebook. The answer is yes, the only catch is it takes a couple of days.
Coincidentally I started writing this article a couple days ago so I’m in the clear to talk about it. If anyone were to “stumble” on photos I’ve deleted past the two-day mark, it would be a violation of corporate privacy laws at Facebook and therefore should both be inadmissible in court and grounds for a lawsuit. And as I sorted through my posts and photos, I took note of how easily I had let myself slip up.
I don’t come across as a hardened criminal (because I’m not) and most people around me simply don’t know. It’s not exactly something you toss around the dinner table for family hour in this small mountain community. Add onto that environment a lot of time that has compounded since my original charge over ten years ago and you can see how a carelessness can grow towards what you should be worried about; and how easily do we slip into the mentality that our personal social media accounts are somehow our private domains. They’re not.
And then the sheer gravity of the precedent Chris Ponte’s case began to sink in. “Oh my God. How many freedom fighters out would be caught red-handed with something incriminating on their profiles right now? How many have already gone down for this?” And I felt a bit sick to my stomach when I realized odds are extremely high the Feds are using this racket right now, as we speak, to set up others who have spoken out against them.
Simply put, this is one of the latest weapons our government can use to either “lean on” someone to get them to shut up, or if they’re considered a more immediate and credible threat, completely disposed of and silenced in a federal penitentiary. When all the sheep nod their heads you can’t expect much more than silence from the lambs. Wake up to the reality of what is going on here. Our First Amendment rights are being used against us, to not only trample on technicalities with our Second Amendment rights but as a very means to silence liberty advocates all together and throw away the key.
There was hardly any media coverage of this case that wasn’t slanted outside Chris’s favor. To the media and their constituents, if you’re a felon you deserve it. And very little was mentioned at all about the shady tactics currently being utilized by our government. They want this new little strategy of theirs to stay quiet. And here’s why: We have the ability to take this away from them. And they know it.
Rarely do liberty advocates find themselves in a place where they can directly take action against the corruption our government employs behind the scenes. NOW is your chance, OUR chance, to DO SOMETHING. Take a few minutes out of your day if you have a checkered past. Clean your social media up YESTERDAY. DO NOT WAIT. If you didn’t fall along the wayside of the tracks you can still help spread the word about the truth of what’s going on here. Please.
There is absolutely NO REASON whatsoever another advocate for liberty should get entrapped like this. If we spread the word now and people actually take appropriate measures to make sure their noses are clean, we have the power to take a volatile weapon right out from underneath our government before it can cause serious harm to our people. Please help get the word out. Warn those you think might be in danger. Share, share, and share this message. Even the smallest amount of attention towards this could make the biggest impact in someone else’s life. No one deserves to be set up like this, let’s make sure it never happens again.
You can read more by Jeremy Sallgren on Think Liberty here.