Politics makes—-

A lawsuit has been filed in Missouri that brings to mind three fellows named Charles Dudley Warren, James Rood Doolittle, and Schuyler Colfax. And a book about gardening.
Colfax was the Vice-President under Ulysses Grant, a former Missourian, during Grant’s first term. He also was a member from Indiana of the House of Representatives for fifteen years including more than five years as Speaker. Colfax surprised many people in September, 1869 when he announced he would retire at the end of his term. Many did not believe him because he had announced earlier retirements before changing his mind. Indeed, he did change his mind and said he would stand with Grant for re-election. But Grant did not endorse him and Colfax was replaced on the ticket After leaving the Grant administration under a cloud because of his involvement in the Credit Mobilier Scandal, he and some others traveled the western territories and wrote a book advocating their development.
Doolittle was Senator from Wisconsin for a dozen years, about the same time Colfax was in the House. He wrote a survey of the conditions of Indian tribes in Kansas and Colorado after the Civil War and their treatment by civil and military authorities. He argued after the Civil War that the southern states had never ceased being part of the Union and backed federal policy on reconstruction. He was considered by presidential candidate Horace Greeley as his Secretary of the Interior. Greeley, a New York newspaper editor, got the nomination, arguing that government reform after four years of Grant was imperative. Greeley was badly beaten.
Colfax was a Republican. Doolittle was a Democrat.
Warren was briefly a Missourian when he came here to do some survey work. Otherwise, he was an easterner, born in Massachusetts, educated in New York and Pennsylvania, and the editor of one of the nation’s most historic newspapers, The Hartford Courant. He was an editor for Harper’s Magazine for several years. When he died in 1900, one of his pallbearers was friend and fellow Hartford resident Samuel Clemens, our own Mark Twain.
Warren was what would be called a liberal today.
He wrote a series of reflections about gardening that became a popular book, My Summer in a Garden, in 1870. “The principal value of a private garden is not understood,” he wrote. “It is not to give the possessor vegetables or fruit…but to teach him patience and philosophy and the higher virtues, hope deferred and expectations blighted, leading directly to resignation and sometimes to alienation. The garden thus becomes a moral agent, a test of character, as it was in the beginning…I meant to have a moral garden, if it is not a productive one –one that can teach…the great lessons of life.”
Sometimes his columns on gardens as metaphors for life included references to the political situations of the day.
In his column titled, Fifteenth Week, Warren wrote of what happened to his garden when he was away two weeks. “I left my garden a paradise, as paradises go in this protoplastic world; and when I returned, the trail of the serpent was over it all,” he wrote.
He found his new strawberry plants “had taken advantage of my absence” by sending out many “as many scarlet runners as an Indian tribe has.” He continued, “Even the Colfax variety was as ambitious as the others. After having seen the declining le4tter of Mr. Colfax, I did not suppose that this vine would run anymore, and intended to root it out. But one can never say what these politicians mean…I may mention here…that the Doolittle raspberries had sprawled all over the strawberry-bed’s; so true is it that politics makes strange bedfellows.” Garden beds. Political beds. Sometimes unlikely participants find themselves in the same bed.
So it is with this lawsuit in Missouri that finds someone who could be labeled (and we are not doing any labeling here; we are just pointing out that SOME could do so) as a “gun nut” in bed with the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU is a favorite whipping boy for those whose political sentiments tend to tilt to the right. But here it is under the covers with someone whose gun privileges are most likely defended most vigorously by those on the conservative side of politics.
How did these two climb under the comforter?
Well, it seems there’s this fellow named Jordan Klaffer who lives in Cape Girardeau. Court documents claim Klaffer, described in an ACLU press release as a “Second Amendment advocate,” was target shooting at his mom’s house in the small southeast Missouri town of Kelso when Kelso Police Chief Jerry Bledsoe showed up. Somebody apparently had called police to complain that Klaffer was making too much noise.
A video recording made by Klaffer shows Bledsoe telling Klaffer he had to give up his gun or be arrested for disturbing the peace. Klaffer, advocating his right to own the gun, refused to give it up and was forthwith charged with peace disturbance.
Klaffer considered Bledsoe’s actions as harassment and a violation of his Second Amendment rights. So he posted the video on the internet. He posted on another internet site a picture of Bledsoe next to a picture of Saddam Hussein. The caption underneath read, “Striking Resemblance.”
Bledsoe, who was not amused, filed a petition claiming to be a victim of stalking and adult abuse. He got a court order telling Klaffer to stop posting videos, pictures, and text messages critical of Bledsoe and ordering him to remove them. Klaffer obeyed the order and the judge dismissed the petition.
That court order, however, brought the ACLU to Klaffer’s side. This week the organization sued Bledsoe, complaining that Bledsoe’s legal action “acted as a prior restraint on Klaffer and forced him to censor his expression critical of Officer Bledsoe’s actions as police officer.” The suit asks a judge to rule that Bledsoe’s court order violates Klaffer’s rights of free speech under the First Amendment. The suit says Klaffer is the victim of “malicious prosecution and abuse of process” because Bledsoe’s petition forced him to “remove constitutionally protected expression from the internet and refrain for posting it in the future.” The suit wants a judge to order Bledsoe to pay costs that Klaffer has incurred during the proceedings.
The ACLU’s legal director says a government-obtained order that circumscribes a citizen’s First Amendment Freedom of Speech is “the worst kind of censorship.”
And that is why the gun rights raspberry and the civil liberties strawberry find themselves as seemingly strange bedfellows in a a moral garden called Scott County, Missouri.

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