A year or two ago, I bowed out as a participant in the Vision 20/20 discussion group. I had come to the conclusion that pursuing a discussion with the people who were diligently trying (successfully) to turn it into Venom 20/20 was like arguing with the troubled guy trying to squeegee your windshield at a New York City intersection. There was no future in it.
I would have been happy to leave it there, but the events of the last year have moved some of my basic concerns. It is one thing to ignore irresponsible people, and it is quite another to ignore responsible people who are being pressured for some reason by the irresponsible people. In this case, the responsible folks are those who are being pressured to use tax exempt status as an instrument of harassment against select groups that are disliked by a handful of the irresponsible people.
The basic issue in this case is not the law itself, but rather how the law is being used. Suppose there were a black merchant downtown who had numerous complaints filed against him, and he was the only one who had these complaints filed against him. (Say he didn’t get his walk shoveled fast enough when it snowed or something.) Suppose further that those filing those complaints made no bones about the fact that they were doing it because of who he was, and bragged about it on Vision 20/20, and they never filed complaints against anyone else. Other merchants, who shoveled their walks at the same time or later were always left alone. The problem here is not the requirement to shovel your walk.
Now those filing the complaints are the ones with the vendetta, but at some point in the process, those investigating the complaints have a formal governmental responsibility to take note of what is actually going on. That point, in our situation, is long past. And refusal to take note of what is going on is culpable discrimination and complicity in the harassment. It is a utopian dream to hope that all irresponsible people will somehow begin acting responsible. But it is not unreasonable to expect those responible for the enforcement of our laws to behave responsibly, and to hold them to it.
The Latah County commissioners, acting in their capacity as tax adjusters, have been asked to act against Christ Church and New St. Andrews College (and they have done so), and are now being asked to act against Logos School and the ministry at the Nuart. They have not been asked to look at anything or anyone else. The one thing that all these ministries have in common is my involvement in them. Further, those who are filing the complaints have been very public about how they want their complaints to be selectively applied to entities that I am involved with. Their personal and ideological animosity as the driving force behind these complaints is a matter of public record.
Consistency would require virtually all tax exemptions in Latah County to be revoked–which would be an appalling injustice to those entities, and I am by no means advocating it. But an inconsistent and discriminatory application of this peculiar interpretation of the law to any tax exempt entities that have any board members with the initials DW is illegal, unconstitutional, immoral, and fattening. For me, to see them thinking about going along with it is like looking out my car window and seeing that the mayor and a couple of cops have come up to take the side of the squeegee man in the dispute.
I want to ignore the irresponsible guy, but those who are charged with the solemn responsibility to see to it that laws are enacted and enforced in an equitable way cannot be ignored. So they need to be urged not to act in a way that opens them up to what is called exposure.
And so these comments are simply to serve public notice. That this is an ideological vendetta is obvious to virtually everyone. The fact that it is an ideological vendetta can be confirmed (if someone has been on the moon recently and does not already know) through a judicious use of the Internet for approximately fifteen minutes. So if there is to be more selective application of the law headed toward me, in the midst of this public and well-known ideological animosity by those bringing the complaints, who is to be held accountable? The answer, it seems to me, is obvious.