A Libertarian radio host and political activist has been sentenced
to 100 days in prison for refusing to remove a couch from his
Furthermore, the trial was held behind closed doors
after the judge ordered proceedings moved to a private room away
from spectators. The reason? The defendant took a full six seconds
to sit down.
Ian "Freeman" Bernard, presenter of the
nationally syndicated libertarian show Free
Talk Live, was taken into custody and received a
thirty day jail term for contempt of court last Friday.
When details of the closed hearing later emerged,
Freeman had received another two thirty day sentences and a further
ten day term for refusing to pay a fine and remove the couch in
In the video below, note how Freeman begins to sit
down along with everyone else in the room, but as the judge calls
his name he pauses and seems confused about whether he is supposed
to stand to attention or sit down.
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The original charge came about
earlier this year when a housing inspector visited Freeman’s
property in Keene, New Hampshire, following up a complaint, and
him for having a couch in the yard.
Freeman managed to capture the
incident on camera:
Freeman questioned the charge
and agreed to remove the offending piece of furniture as long
as he could speak with the person that made the complaint. This
request was refused and the matter went to trial.
Rockwell Blog notes that the trial was used as a
showpiece to send a message to activists like Freeman and his
There is a backstory to all
of this. The local despots have been keeping a close eye on
the activists, no doubt reading the web forums and keeping informed
of their plans for peaceful noncompliance and civil disobedience.
Thus, this entire court appearance was planned and executed
Local activists did recently
make some headway into getting the court to allow the panning
of video cameras in the court. As a listener of the show, I
believe that another reason why Bernard was moved to an alternate
courtroom was to prevent video of this from getting out.
Also note that in the video, when
the courtroom is ordered to all rise, the bailiff takes a long
look at everyone else to make sure they are complying with the
order. This is because everyone in attendance was threatened with
arrest beforehand should they defy the judge as a form of protest.
Keene blog, which bills itself as an outlet for "liberty
minded activists", has more on this.
“It was oppressive,”
said Dale Everett, 40, of Keene. “They had a notice posted
obviously targeting us, liberty activists, saying that anyone
who didn’t stand for the judge would be ’subject
to sanction.’ So I left. I wasn’t prepared to get
Another resident commented
that the courtroom at Freeman’s trial was crammed with police
“to try and outnumber the liberty activists.”
Freeman has clearly been used as an example of the
treatment you should expect should you stand up for your own personal
liberty and attempt to publicly expose any possible violations
made upon it by state authorities.
Freeman's show runs on 43 states across the country
and will continue to air while he serves jail time.