Never mind...all the way to the ovens...

by Edgar J. Steele

September 6, 2001

In just three weeks, Lonny Rae goes on trial.  He faces 5 years in prison for slinging a racial slur at a black man.  He admits that wasn't nice, but he was angry at the time.  Very angry.

Lonny had just witnessed the huge black man mauling his diminutive wife and heard her cry out to him for help.  Lonny wasn't thinking racially when he tossed off the "N" word - he was thinking vengeance, so his mind seized upon the crudest, most vile thing he could think of to say.

But Lonny is now charged with a hate crime, for his alleged intent to "intimidate another because of  race."

Never mind that his intent was altogether something else. 

Never mind that he said it as a part of a response in defense of his wife ("defense of another," as the law calls it, a defense to a criminal charge every bit as valid as self defense). 

Never mind that he wasn't thinking clearly because he was in such a rage at seeing his wife pawed by the hulking black man ("diminished capacity," as the law calls it, a defense to a criminal charge with similarities to temporary insanity and being drunk, and all perfectly valid legal defenses).

Never mind that the black guy called Lonny's wife a "bitch" while he was groping her and trying to take her camera.

Never mind that the black guy injured her badly enough that she required treatment at the local hospital that night.

Never mind that the black guy has never been charged with a crime of any sort, despite repeated demands to the authorities by Lonny and his wife.

Never mind that local officials were already spitting mad at Lonny and his wife for other things.

Never mind. 

The road to fascism is paved with "never minds," you know.  Just ask any holocaust survivor.

We were in court on Lonny's case in tiny Council, Idaho, just two days ago.  I asked Dan Gabbert, the Adams County Prosecuting Attorney, to explain to me what I am missing, because I simply don't understand why he is pushing this ridiculous case.  His response was anger because he had been receiving threats from around the country concerning the case.  "Well, imagine that," I said to him.  "And you think taking this stupid case to trial will stop that?"  I'll spare you his muddled response.  I guess the logic is the same as that which makes him think putting Lonny Rae on trial is a good idea.

What in the hell is going on in this country of ours?  What happened to common sense?  What happened to fairness?  What happened to decency?

Lonny Rae is being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness by Idaho officials to atone for Idaho's image of being a haven for white supremacists.  "Looky here," they say.  "We're gonna burn Lonny Rae at the stake for bein' a witch.  Then God will surely see how devout and pure we really are."

Will we never learn?  Every generation has its witch hunt, it seems.  Remember Joe McCarthy?  This time, we've turned the inquisition toward ourselves, because there isn't a single person in America that couldn't be the one sitting next to me in trial in three weeks in Adams County, Idaho, for this bogus charge.  There but for the grace of God, you know...

The judge in Lonny Rae's case refused to hear our last-minute request for dismissal.  He also spurned our motion for a change of venue to a county in Idaho where Lonny could get a fair trial.  He also refused to consider having the public pay for retaining experts necessary to prove Lonny innocent of the charges.  Lonny can't afford to pay for them himself.  Lonny couldn't begin to afford me, but I have taken on this case pro bono,  because I think the issue is so important to all the rest of us.  Houston, we have a problem.

I have been shy and retiring about asking for donations, I am told.  Well, I guess so.  That generally isn't my nature.  I have always paid my own way.  So has Lonny Rae.  Guess that's why the Lonny Rae defense fund now totals all of $280.  That won't do.  The expenses of my trip to Council this week alone exceed that by a large margin.  Hiring a pyschologist for trial to testify that Lonny's state of mind at the time was not to racially intimidate will run several thousand dollars, and we need to hire that person now. We can't afford to.  We can't afford not to.

We have only three weeks.  Please get the word out.  I can't seem to raise the interest of the major media in this case.  Too politically incorrect, you know, because the white guy is so obviously being wronged by the system.  I'm willing to put the time into interviews.  I'm willing to provide Lonny himself for TV interview purposes. I don't have time to be a publicist for the case, but I recognize the value of the publicity, nonetheless.

We need exposure for two reasons.  First, to create a sense of outrage on the part of the public about what is going on in America today by their elected officials.  Second, to get a forum to ask for donations for the expenses of defending Lonny Rae. We aren't asking for a single penny for myself or for Lonny, just for the cost of defending him...and the rest of us, because if they nail Lonny to this particular cross, then they will be able to crucify any one of us afterward.  Call it an investment in your future, if you like. 

I consider this to be a landmark case.  It represents a turning point in our country's political evolution, and certainly in our legal development.  This is the point, history could well remark, that we began prosecuting pure thought crimes.  This could be the point where freedom truly died in America.  Think about it.  I'm not making this up and I'm not being overly dramatic.

Send donations to the Rae Defense Fund, PO Box 1255, Sagle, Idaho 83860.  Do it over the Internet by credit card, if you like - log on to and send the funds to, earmarked for the "Rae Defense Fund."

By working on this case for free, I am donating the equivalent of about $50,000 to the cause.  That's how strongly I feel about the issues involved in this case.  I didn't know Lonny personally when I took on the case, you know, so you can be assured that I am here solely because of the principle.

Some have asked us to transfer the funds from the McGuckin fund that so many were kind enough to send, but which she has refused to accept.  Just give us the word, and we will transfer your McGuckin contribution, too.

Just because Lonny's predicament seems so outrageous, don't get the idea that we will win just by showing up.  The people in Adams County know Lonny Rae and they don't like the image this case has brought.  They don't like Lonny.  That could translate into a guilty verdict.  That would be a disaster for all of us.

You can do three things to help:  1. Donate.  2. Forward this message to everybody in your address book.  3. Contact anybody you know in the media to jump on this case right now.  Thanks for the help.  I promise to make it up to you by doing the best I can to ensure that freedom of speech didn't die in America in the year 2001.


"I didn't say it would be easy.  I just said it would be the truth."
            - Morpheus

Copyright © Edgar J. Steele, 2002

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