Dave Ridley Arrested for Leafletting at I.R.S. Office

An update on Dave Ridley’s case: As you may remember (or you can review The Picket Line entries for , , , and 2006), Ridley went to the IRS office in Nashua, New Hampshire, to hand leaflets to the employees there “which question the morality of working for an institution which funds waste and torture” and that encouraged those employees to quit their jobs.

Later, after an article about his protest appeared in the Keene Free Press, Ridley was cited for “Distribution of Handbills.” He went to court and challenged this on First Amendment grounds (“the right of the people… to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”) without success, and was fined by the judge. He has refused to pay the fine.

He was recently served with a summons to return to court (his court date is ). He’s shared some of the letters he’s been sending to the court on an on-line forum.

Didn’t I say I was going to lay off the Thoreau for a while? Well, I couldn’t resist adding Life Without Principle to the mix.

This essay is Thoreau’s guide to Right Livelihood. I’d sum it up as:

  1. Don’t cheat people by conspiring with them to protect their comfort zones.
  2. And don’t make religions and other such institutions the sort of intellectual comfort zone that prevents you from entertaining ideas that aren’t to be found there.
  3. Don’t cheat yourself by working primarily for a paycheck. If what you do with your life free-of-charge is so worthless to you that you’d be convinced to do something else in exchange for a little money or fame, you need better hobbies.
  4. Furthermore, don’t hire someone who’s only in it for the money.
  5. Sustain yourself by the life you live, not by exchanging your life for money and living off of that.
  6. It is a shame to be living off of an inheritance, charity, a government pension, or to gamble your way to prosperity — either through a lottery or by such means as prospecting for gold.
  7. Remember that what is valuable about a thing is not the same as how much money it will fetch on the market.
  8. Don’t waste conversation and attention on the superficial trivialities and gossip of the daily news, but attend to things of more import: “Read not the Times. Read the Eternities.”
  9. Similarly, politics is something that ought to be a minor and discreet part of life, not the grotesque public sport it has become.
  10. Don’t mistake the march of commerce for progress and civilization — especially when that commerce amounts to driving slaves to produce the articles of vice like alcohol and tobacco. There’s no shortage of gold, of tobacco, of alcohol, but there is a short supply of “a high and earnest purpose”.