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L. Neil Smith's
Number 602, January 9, 2011

"The right to buy weapons is the right to be free."
—A.E. van Vogt (1951)

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Chalk One Up For The Good Guys!
Shaun Lee: Saturday, January 8, 2010
by William Stone III

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Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

As many of you know by now, the last 24 hours have been extremely harsh on Shaun Lee. It would have been considerably harsher, had it not been for the combined, spontaneous efforts of libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, and freedom-lovers around the world.

It was the proudest day I've had since I first embraced the Zero Aggression Principle.

I can't give you the full details, because I don't know them all. I can only tell you my part of the story as I participated in it "on the ground."

Please don't mistake the following report to mean that I claim credit for the events and victory we won in our battle today. It was a combined effort of many, many individuals, acting individually, with the goal of helping one person who had been clearly and obviously wronged. I do not deserve the credit and am not attempting to take it.

However, I can only tell the story as I saw it with my own eyes, so that's the story you're going to get.

At about 3:00 AM, I was awakened with a combination of acid reflux and an urgent need to relieve myself. As I knew the acid reflux would take some time to normalize, I flipped open my netbook.

Returning from the bathroom, I scrolled through my Facebook news feed. I noted that about half an hour previously, Jim Davidson had put out a desperate plea for help for Shaun Lee.

Shaun's one of my Facebook friends, we've exchanged some private correspondence, and I knew she was working for Individual Sovereignty University—a venture I entirely support philosophically. I also knew from our private correspondence that she was living in less than ideal circumstances:

Her marriage is in trouble, she and her husband largely unemployed (hit hard by the current depression), and they and their children were living in less than ideal circumstances with her husband's parents.

But Jim's plea shook me. Here's why:

Early Saturday morning (around 1:00 AM, I believe, but I may be wrong), Shaun was pushed down a flight of stairs by her husband, suffering an injury to her knee. She attempted to make a 911 call, but the responding sheriff's deputies were intercepted by her father-in-law.

As it happens, her father-in-law is an ex-FBI agent, familiar with most of the law enforcement officials in the Jefferson City, Missouri area—if not much of the State itself.

Shaun's father-in-law fed the deputies a pack of lies about the incident, telling them that Shaun was psychologically unstable. This became the tip of an iceberg of which we learned later. The deputies departed without investigating the incident.

Shaun was then denied access to her cell phone, the houseland-line, and any other form of communication with the outside world. However, they failed to confiscate her computer, and Shaun sent out a plea for help.

Unwilling to remain in this abusive environment any longer and fearing for her children's safety, Shaun asked assistance to remove herself and her children from it.

Enter Jim Davidson and his plea for volunteers to go to Jefferson City, Missouri to assist with this.

It was a Saturday, and while it was a hike between Des Moines, Iowa and Jefferson City, Missouri, I decided that the only thing to do was respond. I corresponded with Jim and others on Facebook and left the house as soon as I could.

Jim was also able to round up Brad Spangler. At about 10:30 AM, the three of us rendezvoused north of Jefferson City.

Jim had already done a lot of legwork by this time: he'd contacted one of Shaun's relatives to act as an intermediary if possible. Knowing that we would walk into a potentially hostile situation, it was hoped that this relative might act to restrain intervention by law enforcement.

My initial role was to be that of documentor. Using my Motorola Droid and Qik account for immediate streaming and cross-posting to YouTube, I would simply film all activities. In the event that law enforcement became an issue, my job was to make sure it was on public record.

Ultimately, the relative who was supposed to act as intermediary proved unreliable. We therefore went to Shaun's parents-in-law's home to proceed with the first part of the plan, which was to recover a vehicle belonging to Individual Sovereignty University. This would also allow some direct communication with Shaun.

Dutifully, I recorded the event, from a safe distance. That portion seemed to go relatively smoothly. After recovering the vehicle, we retired to a nearby restaurant to await arrival of Shaun's relative.

The relative became nonresponsive to any communications.

Through other channels (primarily Facebook), we were getting reports that sheriff's deputies and paramedics had been dispatched to Shaun's home. Since I was unknown to Shaun's family by virtue of having kept my distance, we decided that I should check the validity of the claim.

I drove past the home: no emergency personnel were present, and two of the three vehicles that had been in the driveway were gone.

Now beginning to smell something fishy, I placed a 911 call on Shaun's behalf. I explained who I was, that I was concerned that Shaun was being held incommunicado and against her will, and specifically referenced the associated 911 call placed earlier that morning.

That's when the bombshell dropped:

The 911 operator informed me that "additional psychological evidence" had been given to the responding deputies. She asked if I'd like to speak to the sergeant assigned to the matter. I gave my name and number, then returned to the restaurant to meet with Jim and Brad.

I come from a family of psychologists. I know the terminology. From a legal perspective, "additional psychological evidence" could mean only one thing: Shaun's husband and in-laws were moving to have her taken for psychiatric evaluation with an eye toward commitment in an institution.

I dropped the bombshell on Jim and Brad, and they sprang into action. Within minutes, libertarians, freedom-lovers, and concerned people in general all over the world were made aware of the situation—largely via Facebook.

While they worked, the sergeant called me. While he couldn't discuss specifics because I wasn't a relative, he did offer this information:

As the sergeant and I spoke, Shaun was being transported to the University of Missouri Psychiatric Hospital in nearby Columbia, Missouri.

Jim, Brad, and I piled into our cars and high-tailed it for Columbia.

On the way, I looked up the name and number of a Columbia attorney, reasoning that the only way to fight this would be to get representation as soon as possible. Fortunately, we found an attorney who not only specialized in the kind of law in question, but had an emergency number to contact him after hours. I did so, spoke with him for some minutes, and got an idea of the legal issues involved.

It seemed likely that Shaun would be held for several days, following which a hearing would occur to assess her mental state. The attorney could offer us little advice except his willingness to represent her should we wish to retain him.

When we arrived at the University of Missouri Psychiatric Hospital, we had an extraordinary stroke of good luck: Shaun had only minutes earlier been admitted to the Emergency Room. Procedure requires a patient to be admitted to the ER prior to being taken to the psychiatric wing. As we waited to see her, the two sheriff's deputies who had transported her left the ER, telling us that Shaun was, indeed, inside.

This was incredibly good luck. Almost anyone can visit a stable ER patient, while visitation in the psychiatric wing proper is more complex—quite likely impossible for a new patient.

However, luck was with us, and as Brad feverishly communicated with individuals on Facebook, Jim begged and cajoled for additional support. Our assumption was that if Shaun was to avoid institutionalization, she would need serious legal help—and fast.

Friends responded. A Facebook group for Shaun was started. Donations for her legal fund began to come in—this in a matter of less than half an hour.

Ultimately, we were permitted to see Shaun. She was, in my estimation, in amazingly good spirits given the circumstances. She had with her a copy of the paperwork used to put her in this position, was ready to fight it however necessary, and in general holding up far better than anyone in her position had any right to be.

I was frankly impressed.

Also, one must consider that while I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist, I am the child of two psychologists. Furthermore, I've never hesitated to seek psychological or psychiatric treatment when necessary. For the first 25 years of my life, I was—by virtue of growing up with psychologists—occasionally exposed to people who have serious psychological problems.

Shaun was exhibiting absolutely none. She was upset, to be sure, but more angry at the situation. This became more apparent as she rattled off the details of the paperwork used to put her in the hospital— which, frankly, were a tissue of lies.

In one particular case, it was alleged that she had taken 20mg of a drug—a dosage so high as to not only be dangerous, but immediately obvious in any drug screening. Shaun had insisted on full blood work and urinalysis specifically to disprove this claim.

I was present in the room when the nurse returned with the results of the drug screening: 100% clean, without even a trace of alcohol despite the fact that she had visited a neighborhood bar with her husband the night before.

Indeed, it was the neighborhood bar that was alleged to have caused her knee injury. According to the statement made by her husband's family, Shaun had been severely intoxicated and injured her knee when falling off a barstool.

It should be understood that Shaun was in a fair amount of pain from the injury and had difficulty standing because of it. It would be inconceivable that someone could injure their leg by falling from a barstool, yet still shuffle home with it and endure it for the better part of 18 hours.

In my inexpert opinion, based solely on what I've picked up from living with psychologists, Shaun was entirely in possession of her faculties, in no way suicidal, nor a danger to anyone else. She seemed angry, worried about the safety of her children, and worried about the possibility of institutionalization—as any sane individual would be, under the circumstances.

While the deputies had not allowed her to collect her purse, phone, or other belongings before transporting her, I was still in possession of my trusty Motorola Droid.

I pulled up the Facebook app, brought up my News Feed, and handed it to her. It was literally filled with nothing but the seething anger and righteous indignation at Shaun's predicament, plans to get her out of it as soon as possible, and well-wishers that she never even knew existed.

Shaun was visibly moved. I suspect that the outpouring of goodwill and determination to get her out of this situation was overwhelming. She was visibly moved to tears, and we simply let her browse as long as she liked. Jim and Brad assured her that "the family" was with her, now—and we weren't going to let her rot.

We spent the better part of two hours with Shaun before she was transferred to the Psychiatric wing proper. When we left, we assured her that everything possible would be done and that her libertarian family would not stop until she was free.

We returned to a hotel that Jim had booked for himself and Brad. Jim hadn't slept for the better part of 48 hours by this point and was sorely in need of rest. Brad was looking pretty bushed as well. I considered staying, but it seemed that Shaun would probably be under observation for several days at best, and there was really nothing more I could do.

I headed for home—after Jim graciously gave me the money for gas. I am, admittedly, unemployed, and gas expenses had eaten what little I had in savings. Thanks to his generosity, I will be able to pay a couple of bills that might otherwise have been delayed.

I assumed my part in the affair was over.

However, about two hours later, I received a call from the psychiatrist assigned to assess Shaun as part of her admittance to the psychiatric wing. She wanted my impressions. I'd like to think that perhaps Shaun suggested she talk to me, as I'd made clear to Shaun what lay in store for her in the psychiatric wing and suggested some ways to deal with it.

I answered the psychiatrist's questions truthfully, more or less as I've detailed my impression of Shaun here.

It was at this point that a second bombshell dropped:

The psychiatrist could find no reason to keep Shaun in the psychiatric wing—and certainly not a mental facility. After hearing my impressions and statements (which, fortunately, I can state in psychological terms), she could see absolutely no reason for Shaun to be there at all.

The psychiatrist informed me that Shaun would be released that evening.

I joyously called Jim and Brad and advised them to drive over immediately to pick her up. There was a delay in the administrative details necessary to release her, but in the end, Jim and Brad drove Shaun back to the hotel scant hours after she was admitted.

In my limited psychological experience, this is unprecedented. Usually, a psychiatrist will recommend at least a period of 24 hours for observation, just to be on the safe side. Yet Shaun's mental faculties were so obviously clear that the psychiatrist gave her a clean bill of mental health after a single interview.

Tonight, Shaun rests in a hotel in Columbia, Missouri, a free woman— thanks to the thousands, perhaps millions of libertarians who came to her aid.

I should be clear that her problems are far from over. We won a single battle in what is a war. Shaun's children and belongings still reside with her husband's family. Her children are in danger, in an abusive environment. She probably faces a costly legal battle to remove them from that environment—a battle I'm sure Jim and Brad will be working on come the dawn.

To be honest, I feel a twinge of guilt as I type this at my desk at home. Had I known Shaun would be released so soon, I wouldn't have left.

However, I understand that other brave libertarian volunteers from Kansas City and other areas are converging on the area this night and tomorrow—and if Jim, Brad, or any of them call, I'll gladly lend my help again.

But today was a massive, awesome victory. Together, we completely averted Shaun's husband's and father-in-law's attempt to subvert the rule of law simply to cover their own abusive natures. We liberated Shaun from the clutches of a process that could easily have destroyed her.

And in addition, we left her in a position to press criminal charges against those who conspired to do it.

It has been a great day to be a libertarian. I'm proud of everyone who contributed, to those who started legal funds to those who coordinated communications to those who publicized this wrong and those who pledged their well wishes and prayers.

Without all of us—all of us—Shaun would not be a free woman tonight.

That said, I cannot let pass the untiring contribution and effort of my friend and comrade-in-arms Jim Davidson, nor that of Brad Spangler. Jim in particular was running on almost 48 hours without sleep, yet never once failed to rise to the occasion.

If libertarians saluted, I'd salute them both. Since we don't, I'll just say that it's damned comforting to know that I have them at my back.

Well done, everyone. This was a glorious victory in a battle. The rest of the war must still be won, but for today, we can definitely chalk one up for the good guys.

Well done.


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