The Bush administration’s attempted prosecution of the organizers of the Conch Republic Cub sailboat regatta is an example of the very worst kind of heavy handed, wasteful, and vindictive government one can imagine. The two sailors who organized this formerly friendly race have been put through hell, facing a possible federal sentence of fifteen years in prison. Think about living with that for the past ten or twelve months….. for organizing a sailboat race. Even the charges filed against them were specious and trumped up: The idea of them acting illegally as an unregistered travel agency in the process of organizing the race is a stretch of reason beyond comprehension.
Ocean sailors are, by nature, an independent lot. We are comfortable plotting our own course in the briny deep, to seek out foreign ports. We savor the thrill and challenge of such pursuit. To be made criminally liable for going anywhere on this blue planet smacks only of tyranny and abuse of authority. By what right we would ask? Certainly nothing envisioned by the Founding Fathers who cherished freedom as few have. The unfettered right to travel has even been confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Eisenhower years when legislators first began this legal monkey business related to Cuba, and tried to install a direct travel ban. Later legislation involving the Treasury Department and OFAC with “unpermitted spending” was only a devious dodge to the logic and spirit of that court ruling, and
continues to be so today. They should be ashamed, every last one of them involved in this travesty of law.
Mr. Bush’s recent “proclamation” allowing arrest, confiscation and public sale of a sailboat on the “suspicion” that it “may” travel in Cuban waters is further proof of just how far this nonsense has gone. It is to Mr. Bush’s eternal demerit that he would stoop to such tactics, whatever the twisted logic. Calling on powers under the title of “National Emergency,” Bill Clinton in ‘96, to his discredit, unwittingly empowered Mr. Bush to take such scurrulious actions. When we allow the reason of law to be wharped in such perverted ways we undermine the very fabric of the republic….and invite more willfull abuse of granted authority. Only from the minds of lawyers does such malarky eminate. And the worst part is that nobody seems to care. Or at least we don’t hear about it.
Well, some do, the ones most directly affected, like ocean sailors, and lovers of liberty and individual civil freedoms. Speaking for one sailor, I can tell you such shenanigans stink to high heaven, like a plugged up head on a ten-man ship, and should be repudiated in the strongest terms. To do otherwise is to empower the Beast who would steal all your liberties.