There’s no profound insight in this article. There’s not even the pretense of a profound insight. It’s just a little article to illustrate a possibly practical application of some of the theories I explore on this blog.
I just read an article entitled “The Backyard Chicken Movement” which describes: 1) the growing American movement to raise our own chickens for eggs and fryers in own own backyards; and 2) the growing resistance to “residential chickens” from local governments.
When I saw the article’s title, I thought it was probably about restricting the average American’s ability to raise his own food. I expected to read how the government wants us dependent on government for our food, so they won’t let us grow (or store) our own. So I was hoping to find some evidence to support the “man or other animals” theme that is prominent in my thinking.
I was mistaken. The article explains that local governments’ attempts to restrict raising backyard chickens had virtually nothing to do with food, but was, instead, based on zoning regulations.
The article describes one confrontation between a would-be chicken-wrangler and his city:
“The city council was quick to state that it was a land use matter and, as such, falls within their purview. It’s all about zoning, you see, and it’s not about how you live, but where you live. It’s all about proper consideration and planning. It’s about rules and regulations, and lawful ordinance. It’s about monitoring and control, enforcement, and penalty. I don’t think the entire sordid show is about chickens at all.
“Typically, an ordinance relating to keeping poultry will determine how many hens you can have, and where and how you must keep them. The birds must be contained and quiet, the coops must be secure. The installation of electric fencing can be required. One must mitigate for noxious odor, and control predators. The birds cannot be allowed to roam free and spread disease, or attract a wandering skunk. Above all, the noisy and offensive rooster is not allowed. They might disturb the neighbors, and it is simply too much for the controlling mind of the clerk. On and on it goes.”
In fact, the zoning regulations make a lot of sense. It may be nostalgic to hear the rooster crow at daybreak when you’re down on the farm, but not so many people in suburban and urban communities want to be awakened each day at dawn. More, keeping chickens in your backyard will attract predators. The concerns about noxious odors are real. It’s not unreasonable that my right to raise chickens should be balanced against my neighbors’ rights to sleep past dawn.
But if I were adamant about enforcing my right to raise chickens in my backyard, and if the primary obstacle to doing so were the local community’s zoning regulations, I would make it my business to determine the venue in which those zoning regulations applied.
Those who read this blog from time to time probably know that I subscribe to the hypothesis that the governments of the States of the Union (“The State”) have been largely abandoned and supplanted by the administrative agencies of a U.S. territory (“this state”). If the hypothesis were true, and if you could establish that you, your activities and your home are within the venue of “The State,” you should have access to an almost infinitely greater collection of rights than you do if you (unwittingly) consent to the presumption that you are acting, living, residing “in this state” (a territory like TX, OK, NY, etc.).
This hypothesis is unproven, but it has “walked like a duck” (not a chicken) for over ten years.
So, if government sent me a notice that they were trying to shut down my chicken ranch based on zoning regulations, my first response would be a letter that exercised my “right of inquiry” to discover if their zoning regulations applied within the borders of “The State of Oregon” (“The State” of the Union) or “in this state” (a U.S. territory of OR, STATE OF OREGON, Oregon, etc.). If the government could be made to admit that their regulations applied “in this state” and if I could prove that my chickens were all situated within “The State,” I think the government might leave me alone.
Once the government is questioned about whether the “zone’s” venue is within The State or “in this state” (territory), I don’t give a damn if they answer or how they answer.
I.e., if they refuse to answer, my research indicates that they thereby deny me sufficient notice and thus deny me “procedural due process”. If they deny me procedural due process by failing to answer my questions, they lose standing to charge me and the court loses jurisdiction (I think).
On the other other hand, if the government answers my inquiry concerning venue, I can imagine only two possible answers: 1) they admit the “zone” is located within the borders of “The State” (“The State of Oregon,” for example); or 2) they admit that their “zone” is located “in this state”–a fictional territory to which I am subject only if I consent.
So, if the government admits that their “zone” is within the borders of “The State of Oregon,” I’m good to go because I have access to my unalienable Rights and all the other rights specified in the Bill of Rights of The Constitution of The State of Oregon”. More, if the people working for government within “The State” aren’t being paid with gold and silver coin (as per Article 1 Section 10 Clause 1 of The Constitution of the United States), either they are unconstitutional, or their employer is unconstitutional–and therefore, who the’ hell they are they? What is the lawful basis of their purported authority over me?
On the other hand, if the government admits that its “zone” is located “in this state” (an administrative territory), I’m delighted because I will inform them that all of my chickens come home to roost within The State of the Union and therefore are not subject to the zoning regulations of “this state”.
I could be wrong, but so far as I can see, the question about venue is a “heads I win, tails gov-co loses” proposition. In fact, it almost certainly can’t be as simple as I make it sound. Nevertheless, to me, it still sounds pretty simple. Once I raise the question about venue, the government is almost certain to be unable to answer.
Therefore, in essence, if I were facing a zoning question, my first response would be, “OK–where, exactly, is your ‘zone’? What is the venue of your “zone”?