High in these humid hills, Ed and Elaine Brown have been holed up in their home for six months, refusing to serve a five-year prison sentence for tax evasion. They all but dared law officials to come and get them. This, they say, is a fight they're ready to die for.
...The Browns stopped paying income taxes in 1996. They say the Constitution and Supreme Court decisions support their claims that ordinary labor cannot be taxed. But a judge ruled against them in January, convicting the Browns of conspiring to evade paying taxes on $1.9 million in income from Elaine's dentistry practice.
Government and law officials have cut off power, Internet, house phone, cellphone, television and mail service to the couple's 110-acre compound. But their house is equipped with solar panels, a watchtower, a satellite dish and a stockpile of food.
FBI agents are trying to avoid a deadly shootout reminiscent of Waco, Texas, or Ruby Ridge, Idaho. They have tried negotiating, waiting, begging.
"We are proceeding carefully to make sure no one gets hurt," says U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier, the lead officer handling the siege. "We are aware that there are guns in there."
But the Browns aren't budging.
"You remember that little gentleman in China, Tiananmen Square?" Ed says, peering through his sunglasses. "He was the same as we are. You can scare me, you can kill me, but you can't intimidate me."
The argument that the Constitution or Federal or State law does not permit income taxes to be levied against American citizens is ridiculous, and has lost in court every single time it's been put forth. That doesn't stop anti-taxers like these from trotting it out again, and again, and again, as if the right to not pay taxes were ingrained in the Bible somewhere (and being as people like this frequently are associated with anti-government militias, white supremacists and Christian fundamentalists of the variety that hole up in compounds, a dose of common sense might be a bit much to ask from them.) And for them to equate themselves with a man who stood up to a convoy of tanks to express his right to to the freedom to criticize his government is beyond hubris. I understand that authorities don't want anyone to get killed, and I support that. I'm perfectly okay with them laying siege to these people as long as it takes to get them to give themselves up voluntarily, billing them for the siege, and then locking them up and throwing away the key.