The Couch Enforcer

One week ago, someone claiming to be from CITY OF KEENE “Code Enforcement” threatened me over a couch in my tenants’ yard. They use the couch for birdwatching and it has been there for longer than I can remember. Now the Blue Light Gang has a problem with it? Whose property is this, anyway?

Today, 08/26/08 he returned and I had my camera ready.


What’s that on his chest? A DEA logo with a skull in it? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about a man that would wear something like that. Turns out Carl Patten Jr. was a Keene Police Detective, now retired. That means he’s collecting a sweet government pension while still working as the “Housing Inspector” for City of Keene Code Enforcement. I don’t know if he’s worked for the DEA or just worships them.

Not that I have agreed to their services, but let’s take a look at his ticket just for fun, shall we? He’s got the address, but who is he ticketing? Bureaucrats can be so lazy they don’t even fill out their own forms correctly. Oh yeah, he didn’t bother to circle the hundred dollar fine or anything else.

Cameras plus questions make Blue Light Gang members very uncomfortable. Will Carl return next week with another of his tickets? Watch FreeKeene.com for the latest.

Discuss on this forum thread.

58 comments
James
James

That code enforcement guy looks like a drunk !

In the end this is about the love of money in America taking presidence over all other meaningfull values.The purpose of most codes and code enforcement is to safe gaurd not quality of life or human safety but the monetary value of the property in question.Here in the land of the free,we have traded freedom for commercialism.The results as you can see are devistating.Natural rights are confused with privaleges of wealth,and people are frequently incaecerated for petty violations of codes and the such for the sake of financial concerns,as if a price could be attached to a mans freedom.

EvoldicA
EvoldicA

Wow. I never noticed the couch. I guess someone is trying to substantiate their job.. Sounds like upper management calling useless meetings to prove their worth.

Sylvia
Sylvia

Not that this should be a reason to celebrate but Ian's video was shot on my birthday. My boyfriend surprised me with it a few weeks later, a belated gift, but one of the best yet.

Can't wait to move to the SHIRE.

Rock on, Sylvia

GetYourFactsCorrect
GetYourFactsCorrect

I love how people comment on 'all the FSPers' and how they are 'invading'.

Have you met many FSPers? How do you know that many of us don't vote, join the rotary, join the PTA and volunteer in our towns?

What a blank statement!

Do all Democrats love the war? (they must I mean most of them voted for it back in 2003)

Do all GOP hang out in bathrooms tapping their feet at airports?

All FSPers are young huh?

Ignorance hurts.

Tina
Tina

I am a resident of Keene who (reluctantly) filed a complaint back in April with Keene Code Enforcement against a neighbor for having an unregistered truck on our property line, as well as running a business out of our quiet, residential zone...not to mention filling up our deeded right of ways with his unused camper and business equipment. My complaint was passed to Carl Patten who called me on the telephone and in a very condescending manner told me that our neighbors were within their rights to park as many trucks as they wanted and that he 'didn't see' the engine block sitting in the driveway, or the pallet of bricks and stone that are strewn about the driveway...nor did he notice the unregistered truck in their yard. Next thing I learned, Carl is FRIENDS with this person who is clearly violating our deeded rights. Our Realtor was told by code enforcement last week that I called to have the file closed a few months ago(which I did not). So....now that I hear about your situation, I can clearly see that Mr. Patten brings favoritism into his work ethic...hmmm, perhaps he would allow you to put a couch in MY front yard and you and your tenants can do all the bird watching you would like because obviously, on my street, this stuff is allowed. We may be on different sides of the political track but we obviously have a similar gripe about how a city employee handles his job...Good luck to you...I am definitely staying tuned.

Curt Springer
Curt Springer

To follow on to Cynthia,

first find out what local ordinance or clause is the basis for this "illegal" couch. Then trace back to see if it is actually authorized by state statute.

NH is not a home rule state. Towns and cities have no powers at all except as granted to them by the state legislature.

But people in towns and cities, especially the ones most involved in town government (which includes me) don't like to acknowledge this. Especially in towns with town meetings where they think they are like a little Congress or something.

I find it hard to believe that they could nail you anywhere in NH for a couch on your lawn that is in active use. And I would go so far as to say that even if it were junk, one piece of junk does not a junkyard make.

I always say that the most important legislative body in my town is the General Court, not my town meeting. And I'm thankful for that. I know most of you all hate government but our state laws are actually pretty well thought out and reasonable. The problem is often that locals want to enforce what they think the law says or what they would like it to say, not what it actually says.

Also if it is worth it to you, hire a lawyer to say what you could say yourself if you did the research. Local grandees behave when a lawyer walks into the room with you or if you give them a written opinion from a law office.

severin
severin

Keep up the good work Ian, you didn't pick this fight, the government picked it for you. I fought the city a few years back over a window tint violation, and I remember some of my libertarian friends bitching to me that it was not worth it and I needed to find a better cause. The fact was that I didn't "find" the cause, it was foisted upon me. The same situation here, you didn't place the couch to be a nuisance (it isn't even your couch).

What the bureaucrats don’t seem to understand is that you are not breaking any law if there is no victim, and a couch or a tinted window or any number of so called “laws” are illegitimate because there is no victim and everyone of them should be fought as hard as you know how to fight them. If every victimless “crime” was fought as hard as possible, even the most trivial “crime” would become more of a nuisance to the government than it is worth and you might start seeing these laws repealed as they simply become more costly in both dollars and publicity than it is worth.

John Delano
John Delano

If the guy comes back, and you decide to actually get rid of the couch, say to him that you will get rid of it immediately. Then set it on fire right in front of him.

Good job exposing who he is. I often think that the Blue Light Gang members should be exposed when I hear stories about their behavior.

Unfortunately for Mr. Fred Parsells, libertarians (or whatever Ian wants to call them) tend to move in the opposite direction of what he would like. My experience has shown me that old libertarians are those who have become radical libertarians. He seems to be confusing us with some hippie movement.

Brede Armozel
Brede Armozel

WHOA MAMA!! stated, "Oh well, as Ditto noted above, they’re young."

Not to be rude, but age has little to do with intelligence after a certain point (around 14 years for most humans) as the function of intelligence is not linear to the longevity of the person (getting older does not imply one is getting smarter). Therefore, your argument on that point is quite illogical at the very least and insulting at the very most.

Gabe
Gabe

In a civil society a neighbor who doesn't like the lawn furniture next door may go over to his neighbor and say hey "I've got some patio furniture I was going to gt rid of as I"m buying some new stuff but I thought you might like to use it instead of that old moldy couch. You know the indoor furniture can become a eyesore outside after a while" This might be seen as a little rude, it could be softened up, however calling in armed skull thugs to threaten with fines is the height of barbarianism in my opinion.

Nevertheless, the governemnt wants us to fight with our neighbors, when we do that we can't focus on the REAL ENEMY; the state...so please do try to make conciliatory efforts towards your neighbors...if your neighbors are your friends you can combine to get that skull thug fired and save the town some money.

Gabe
Gabe

GREAT JOB! I'll pay money for more clips along these lines. Why does skull guy get so upset about a video of him? why does he feel so self-righteous in handing out sloppily filled out $100 tickets for what people have on their private property?

Not everyone has $1000 for fancy outdoor patio furniture. If you want neighbors that spend $1000 on chich outdoor furniture then you'll need to move to a fancier town than Keene, try Greenwich CT...otherwise the Keene taxpayers are being ripped off by skull wearing thugs. Keene citizens may benefit from knowing they pay for skull thug gang members to go around rudely threatening people.

Patriot Henry
Patriot Henry

"You’re clearly a smart guy, Ian, so when you bought property in Keene you knew there were such codes in place. If you wanted to be free"

he should have moved to a state other than the one with the motto and tradition of "Live Free or Die"?

Patriot Henry
Patriot Henry

"When men enter into a state of society, they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others; and, without such an equivalent, the surrender is void."

I can see no reason why anyone, even children, need protection from a couch. Anyone else?

I can definately see a reason why we need protection from obnoxious neighbors who peek out from behind their curtains, shake with rage at what the Jones have done with their house/yard/garden, and covet the power to send men, often armed, to extract money and force the free willed individual adhere to their neighbors standards of taste.

Anyone who thinks this makes a bit of sense should spend some time investigating what has been happening in England. Today it may be the junk car or the couch in the yard - tomorrow it'll be the hedge over 6 feet or the sunflowers over 3 feet tall or the flag painted on your garage.

James
James

Found that logo on the web. (However only one from Detroit)

http://cgi.ebay.ie/DEA-MOBILE-ENFORCEMENT-TEAM-DE...

It *IS* a DEA police patch make no mistake about it. The fact that it is on a retarded sissy little polo shirt is unexplainable by all means.

Is it not a little concerning that "Code Enforcement" IE: someone that may be snooping around peoples houses, is wearing that? Is he also doing "Drug Enforcement"? What about the fact that he receives his pension but continues to do his job (just without the lights on the car now)?

JBob
JBob

I'm glad to see that my fellow anti-staters have been responding with so much civility, patience, and logic. keep it up!

Ziggy
Ziggy

'Democrats, Republicans, what’s the difference?'

One's back by the unions the other by big business & neither by Ian's couch

Puke
Puke

It's a great video. So...

Who really owns the property? You pay rent to the gov't and the gov't makes the rules for you. Seems that the gov't really owns the property, all property, in this country.

As for voting; I'll vote for more freedom every time. The problem is that I never get the chance to vote for such things. All the candidates are control freaks and all the legislation is against freedom.

Then people will say "Why don't you run for office?" For the same reason that I don't grow my own food. I don't want to waste my time and my money for the chance to be elected for the chance of repealing laws.

I have better things to do with my life than play political games or control others. I'm also not willing to wait every year for the slim chance to vote for someone who might just maybe almost be a freedom type candidate.

As for the "growing up" comments. If being a "grown up" means wanting to control others by force and to support violence and theft, then I'm proud to say that I'm a child.

The Central Scrutini
The Central Scrutini

Yes, in absence of government of all the petty annoyances you fear WOULD happen. that is life. somebody driving down my street blasting shitty rap music is an irritation to me, but nobody has the right to force them to comply with my want of quiet. ostracism is the key to all of this. the logical outcome of social ostracism is economic ostracism. you don't need to send goons after someone to change people's behavior. faced with the possibility of no admittance into the social structure, most people would willingly modify their behavior to a point that they weren't so damned irritating. and if not, then the consequences are their own fault.

Ian
Ian

Apparently being a "model citizen" entails obeying most govt laws except the ones Ahasp finds objectionable.

If statists really cared, they'd stop aggressing against their neighbors. It is they who are anti-social.

nick
nick

AHASP,

Ian is being a model citizen by defending his renter's right to keep their property on his yard that they pay to use.

Michael Hampton
Michael Hampton

I didn't even notice this couch the last time I was at Ian's house.

Ari
Ari

I really was trying to make an exaggerated caricature of the typical statist response with all the logical fallacies I included, but I guess those types are beyond rational and thus those statements are possible as evinced by "Ditto" and his alias.

I have read a library's worth of anarcho-capitalist/voluntaryist/free market literature from Gustave de Molinari to Auberon Herbert to Ludwig von Mises to Murray Rothbard and have studied under Guido Hulsmann, Walter Block, Hans Hoppe.

I have also done my fair share of educational outreach both political and market-based.

I suggest "Ditto" (as well as others) go over to Mises.org and Lewrockwell.com for a lucid moment in his statist madness.

All the best.

ahasp
ahasp

I'd like to suggest an alternate approach. The FSPers should be the model citizens to their neighbors and their communities. Join the PTA and the Rotary Club, keep your property pristine, buy the girl scout cookies, etc.

Why? Because people don't understand freedom and what they are seeing often times is the scary side. By suggesting things like getting 17 year and 364 day old teenage girls to go topless and open pot smoking (things that have been brought up by IAN on FTL) along with leaving nasty couches out in your yard, you are communicating to statists that, yes, in the absence of government, everything that that you are afraid of happening will occur. You are reinforcing that people can't behave in the absence of government.

So how to promote liberty? Spread the word. Put up yard signs. Point out that, in fact, you are the model citizens, but not because government says that you have to be. Break stupid laws that most people don't agree with, i.e. things like the public puppet shows and "illegal" poker games. But only after you've shown everyone that FSPers care just as much about their communities as statists do. Host public fundraisers for homeschool associations and private charities in your area.

RWW
RWW

Democrats, Republicans, what's the difference?

NH
NH

Damned DEMOCRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!

As much as I dislike Ian, I think he should NOT pay the fine, since there isn't one anyway.

And the supposed ticket was not written to anyone it seems. A technicality that must be considered.

NH is overrun with these eager to control Democrats... we natives would never ask you to remove the couch... never!

nick
nick

Yeah, Ari's last comment does sound like the sarcasm, however...

This blog entry neither mentioned the Free State Project nor Free Talk Live. Therefore he's either done enough research on a group of people he dislikes to have learned about those things, or really was being fake the first time.

Ziggy
Ziggy

Maybe you (Ian) should sun bath naked on the couch that would give them something to bitch about the horror of your nakedness

Ari
Ari

Sorry, I thought you would recognize sarcasm. You guys are brilliant.

I love the Free State Project and Free Talk Live!

The Central Scrutini
The Central Scrutini

First of all, something becomes "junk" only when it ceases to be of use to anybody, and this couch is clearly still useful. Regardless of what any of you detractors have to say, in no way shape or form is it my responsibility to keep my yard free of anything someone might consider an "eye sore".What if I happen to like the feeling of unmowed grass on my feet? Would you be so offended by a leisurely tire swing that you would actually call the police about it? At what point is a barbecue going to be liable to "code enforcement"? Is the bicycle I have chained to my front porch an "eye sore" and therefore a "code violation". Ian is not childish, he simply lives by his ideals and you all would be the better for doing the same. Maturity is not blindly mumbling "yes sir" "no Maam", nor is it "dealing with it". Maturity is using your mind independently and living in a way that benefits you (primarily) and does not degrade or devalue the lives of others. Hank, people want roads, they would gladly contribute the money forcibly extracted from them in the form of registration as a voluntary fund raising effort for the roads. Ian filmed and publicized this event simply because it happened. If they came along and said they didn't like the color of his house, his yard needed to be mowed or raked he would have reacted the same way. Those yelling about educating ourselves should take their own advice. Come out from your shell and think beyond your own beak for at least ten consecutive seconds. You might be surprised at the clarity of vision.

Vince
Vince

"As with many activist groups they create more harm than good because of the battles they choose."

Ian didn't choose the battle. He was minding his own business when one of these people calling themselves "government" threatened him.

I'm sure Ian would be pleased as punch if they decided not to continue threatening him. They would likely never hear from him again (unless they threatened him again). That doesn't sound like someone that wants to "fight battles".

Jack
Jack

"The problem you and your little group seem to have is rather than change the laws you prefer to just go the kook route."

Yes, because changing the law works out sooo well. Good luck getting anything done by voting, because every time you will be outnumbered by statists.

Luther
Luther

"Consent of the Governed" refers to the body of people who empower "government." Never was it meant that every individual had to agree with everything, if that were the case there would be no laws at all, no Constitution at any level, because you cannot get a bunch of people to agree on every point. For example, there are a few people out there who disagree with the laws prohibiting sexual intercourse with three-year-olds. Hyperbolic statement? Not really, there are some people out there like that. If that law were invalid because those few people disagreed with it, how could that be right?

Also, like the Bible, one can cherry pick the NH Constitution (which you tossed at the guy) to support ones arguments, but there is this piece, Article 3 of the Bill or Rights:

[Art.] 3. [Society, its Organization and Purposes.] When men enter into a state of society, they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others; and, without such an equivalent, the surrender is void.

You're clearly a smart guy, Ian, so when you bought property in Keene you knew there were such codes in place. If you wanted to be free to stack whatever you wish on your property (be it a couch or sixty old washing machines) you ought to have bought somewhere remote, so your neighbors property values aren't driven down by your clutter (ahhhh, now we have VICTIMS).

My skin cancer cells didn't consent to treatment, but my doctor and my body dealt with them, even though they were part of my body. Not to compare you with cancer, of course, but it's an apt analogy. The body of people in Keene support those codes and their enforcement, so whether you the individual disagree is irrelevant...there are established ways for you to handle it. Fight the ticket, or change the laws. It's done all the time, laws repealed or changed.

The problem you and your little group seem to have is rather than change the laws you prefer to just go the kook route. You'll get little support from society that way, and without support of the masses you're going to go nowhere, except to bankruptcy or jail.

Anonymous
Anonymous

"There are some things in government I too do not agree with, but It seems that your stance is anti-government regardless of what the issue may be."

As with every anti- there is a pro-. Ian is pro-justice, pro-voluntary interaction.

Why can't we communicate with our neighbor about our distaste of their junk couch on their porch rather than go to the force of government?

Most of these problams can be solved through simple communication. If that doesn't work, you can try to strike a deal or go to a private mediator that doesn't resort to force when you refuse their solution.

nick
nick

"You see knucklehead ... act your age, educate yourself, and before you match wits, have some."

Hank,

The people here will be more than happy to answer your questions and concerns about their stance on government. You have to be open to it first though. I think it's clear who isn't acting their age when you resort to anger, ranting, and name calling.

When somebody is agressed upon, action is justified. A couch in a private lawn is not hurting anybody.

Whoa mama!!!
Whoa mama!!!

Hank is correct. The FSP is filled with individuals who have nothing but contempt for any form or level of government. It seems very contrary to the FSP pledge which speaks to reduced government; not "no" government. Oh well, as Ditto noted above, they're young.

Kat
Kat

That DEA/skull thing was creepy.

Hank
Hank

I heard about your organizations ridiculous stance on the rights and wrongs of government and had to actually go and watch your video titled “couch enforcer” to fully understand your naivete. I wouldn’t have believed it otherwise. As with many activist groups they create more harm than good because of the battles they choose. There are some things in government I too do not agree with, but It seems that your stance is anti-government regardless of what the issue may be. Perhaps you think we should reside in complete anarchy. Everyone can do what ever he or she wants. No laws, no rules. We don’t need to register our cars, we don’t have to drive with care. There are no consequences for playing loud music under your window at 2 AM and everyone can leave their trash and junk just piled up in the yard. Old washers, dryers, stoves, and furniture can just accumulate because I own the land. People can defecate on the property line so when the wind blows it comes through your window with the music. You see knucklehead, rules are for everyone to live in harmony. Without cars registered there would be no money to pay for roads. Without care people get hurt. With disregard for others come consequences. Stop your whining and sniffling, act your age, educate yourself, and before you match wits, have some.

cynthia
cynthia

Let's address the reality of the situation, as I've found that this is more useful than just theory alone.

Ian has been served a violation ticket that has not been completely filled out. Assuming the city clerk has a carbon of this, I suppose he could mail it back to the city thanking them for their concern and treating it as a warning, as no fine is circled. You do want to mail it back, rather than ignore it, just as you would treat any commercial request/contract in the private industry.

Addressing their gripe: the couch. This sounds like a personal vendetta against Ian as 9 times out of ten(I just made that up, but I suspect I'm not far off) these complaints are generated by upset neighbors and not busy-body bureacrats. Generally towns frown upon aggressive hunting on the part of the bureacrats as it creates an Us against Them mentality. Go ahead and ask your tenants(or do this yourself if that was just an expedient crafting) to put a patio end-table with a potted plant, a laminated bird-watching tri-fold, and even a waterproof pair of pillows. This approach may be criticised for "playing their game", but, on the off-chance that it WAS a neighbor bitching about it as being an eye-sore, you have that justification card to play.

Their should be a reference somewhere in the Keene code about undesirable items left on your lawn for too long, so it should have been cited on the ticket, rather than just chickenscratching "junk couch" on it. Include a photo of the new set-up and mail it to them. Request definition of Junk and where specifically it is cited in the code. I am not sure they will be so enthusiastic about doing that much busy work.

This may seem like you are agreeing to be a pawn in their game, but, since you have found yourself to be playing in a game with them, you might as well attempt to move around the chessboard until you Knight yourself.

Patriot Henry
Patriot Henry

Do not submit, do not comply, do not obey, and refuse to pay.

I recently researched the history and legality of zoning and building "laws". It mostly started in NYC and gained popularity and the facade of legitimacy thanks to the blessing of the Supreme Court. As with all other abusive usurpations of power there appears to be no actual basis in the law for local, state, or federal governments to determine what type of furniture you may have on your lawn or what type of window treatments you may employ (one town in a state I can't recall recently "regulated" curtains with infractions punishable by 1000 or more fine plus 6 months in jail).

Do not submit, do not comply, do not obey, and refuse to pay. If they put you in jail they will lose many times what they would make on that fine - if 1% of people refused to comply and pay the government would be bankrupt.

Vince
Vince

"I got to say, this is my first time on this website and its pretty sad to see what defines economcal freedom to these retards is a crappy couch, either that or they need a life. Do you guys vote? Let’s see some more serious stuff on here. You know, stuff that matters:)"

Jen,

Is this how you would like others to react when the state decides that a freedom you hold dear should be taken?

Shouldn't we be indignant when anyone tries to deny us ANY of our rights? People rolling over because, "Whatever, it's not a big thing" is how we got to where we are today.

Vince
Vince

Ari,

You seem rightfully upset about state intrusions on your life.

Your anger, however, seems misplaced. Why focus it on people who are merely trying to assert their rights? Instead, point your indignation at the people committing the violent acts (the state).

Jen
Jen

I got to say, this is my first time on this website and its pretty sad to see what defines economcal freedom to these retards is a crappy couch, either that or they need a life. Do you guys vote? Let's see some more serious stuff on here. You know, stuff that matters:)

Roscoe
Roscoe

Well, typical of most americans, Ari seems to be obsessed with fear. He seems to imply that it was fine for him to have an old couch on his property, until Ian came to town. How ludicrous! How can he possibly blame Ian for an oppressive government? It's important for people to take a stand for their rights whether it be an old couch on your property or a .5 cent tax on tea. He's so proud of himself for saying he wanted to give tax money back to citizens. George Bush did the same thing and we all see what a wonderful ruler he turned out to be. Get off your high horse, stop complaining, and start standing up for yourself and your rights!

RWW
RWW

...when you bought the land you did consent to be governed by many laws.

The Mickey Mouse Club...

Groundless assertions and insults. You two really don't have an argument to make, I guess.

Jen
Jen

"You folk are already seen as aliens and usurpers and you do yourself no favors with your abhorrent behavior."

Abhorrent? Really?? I hope you're exaggerating.

A blank ticket? Way to go, Ian!

nick
nick

Ari,

Property rights are some of the most important. The ability to do what you want on your own property, as long as it doesn't affect anyone else. If you bend when the government tells you what to do on your property, you'll bend for anything.

Your reasons for wanting to follow the rules just looks like you're scared, and who can blame you? But to blame government violence on non-aggressive free-staters is misplaced.