Protect liberty

Gary Schmidt is a business owner and a government critic.

May I suggest that you include Robert Sonderfan in your thoughts during this holiday season.

Bob’s mother died of a stroke a couple of years ago, at least partly caused by stress from her son’s six-year plight. Bob spent his holidays in county jail as a result of a six months sentence for having “stuff” on the 150-acre parcel of farmland he has owned for two decades. It’s six miles up a private road at the north end of Palomino Valley. His American dream of self-reliance, independence and property ownership is definitely not alive nor well during this season.

You see, it is a crime punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine to have “stuff” on your property visible from a street anywhere in Washoe County unincorporated. “Stuff,” according to county officials, includes inoperable vehicles, operable vehicles with expired tags, building materials (including a sheet of plywood), an old ringer washing machine that you are using as a planter, or anything else that the county considers to be similar material.

But Bob’s property, much less anything on it, is not visible from any street, which is defined by the code as a public right of way or public easement. It is only partially visible from his own private access road. Furthermore, there is an exemption in the law for agricultural property, which Bob’s is. Nevertheless, Bob is in jail.

Freedom is not free. We must all continually fight to protect and preserve our God-given and constitutionally protected rights of independence, self-reliance, free will and spirit.

There are those who wish to control every act and even the very thoughts and expressions of others. There are those people who think that they know best for all people and who proclaim that they somehow are ordained to regulate and direct all aspects of others’ lives. These people often masquerade as government officials and bureaucrats, and we have several such elected officials and people in high management positions in the county. They have no respect for the rule of law, basic human and civil rights, common sense, rational respectful behavior, or the personal rights, lives and privacy of others.

There are many good county employees, and they, as well as all government employees, should remember that there is a big difference between public employment and public service. To truly serve the public by honoring and protecting the lives and rights of all individuals is a noble endeavor. Those inside government can make a big difference from within. The real threat to our free society is not hiding in a cave in Afghanistan. The real threat lies within.

Bob Sonderfan is in jail this holiday season because he dared to stand up for his rights.

May all Americans who cherish our liberties and freedoms make great progress this year in the restoration and preservation of our free society and its founding principles where even the rights of the minority are treated with reverence.

God bless all who believe in the will and spirit that founded this great nation and experiment in government of, by and for the people.