Outspoken Florida Atheist EllenBeth Wachs faces multiple ‘revenge arrests’

It is much more difficult to stand up for a ‘hard right’ than to just accept an ‘easy wrong’.

Please spare 5 minutes for a brave atheist who has been arrested multiple times for standing up for what is right. All you need to do is sign this petition (and if you have the scratch, donate here).

And no, signing this petition is not just a symbolic exercise or a waste of time. The website where the petition is hosted automatically generates email messages to several high-profile government officials in your name.

But don’t stop there either. Please write to the local Lakeland, Fl newspaper, The Ledger, as well.

All letters should contain the writer’s full name, address, e-mail address and telephone number. Anonymity is granted only under unusual circumstances. Letters should be kept to 300 words or less, and brevity is encouraged. Please send all letters to voice@theledger.com

Not only is Wachs deserving of some printed support, but The Ledger needs to know that its previous endorsement of Sheriff Grady Judd during elections should not be repeated next year.

Sheriff Judd begins harassing the atheist activist

Though Polk County has been a significant battleground in the theological culture war, it really started getting ugly with the Sheriff’s Dept. in December.

via [New York Times]

An atheist in Central Florida filed suit in Federal District Court in Tampa on Friday, accusing the Polk County sheriff, an evangelical Christian, of harassing and unnecessarily arresting her as retaliation for not believing in God and for her efforts to keep prayer out of public meetings.

The imbroglio between Ms. Wachs, 48, who lives in Lakeland, and Sheriff Judd dates to last year when the sheriff removed the basketball hoops from the Polk County jail and donated them to several local churches.

This angered Ms. Wachs, who filed several public-records requests on the matter. A nonpracticing lawyer, she signed the requests with the designation Esquire after her name. Sheriff Judd sent a team of officers to arrest her and charged her in March with illegally posing as a lawyer, a felony.

“This does not violate any bar rules,” said her lawyer, Lawrence G. Walters. “She is allowed to use esquire.”

Oh, John! 3:16

The second arrest from the vindictive sheriff’s department constitutes yet another violation of free speech. The arrest came 48 days after a neighbor reported hearing a moaning “Oh, John!” coming from inside EllenBeth’s home.

[New York Times]

Ms. Wachs was arrested a second time, in May, for moaning repeatedly in a sexual manner from an open window in her house, saying, “Oh, John,” in a crescendo, as a ploy to stop neighbors, including a young boy, from playing basketball. The moans followed a dispute with the neighbor.

Watch this classic scene from 1989’s When Harry Met Sally and compare it to EllenBeth’s situation. Keep in mind, EllenBeth was *inside her house* and not at a deli.


You actually might not want what she’s having.

And if you do have what she’s having, don’t take any leftovers home.

[New York Times]

The sheriff’s office arrested her on a felony sex charge. The police searched her house and took away a safe, among other things.

Why would they search the house for a noise complaint? Fourth Amendment anyone?

The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. It was adopted as a response to the abuse of the writ of assistance, which is a type of general search warrant, in the American Revolution. Search and arrest should be limited in scope according to specific information supplied to the issuing court, usually by a law enforcement officer, who has sworn by it.

I’m pretty sure it went like this:

Officer 1: “Ma’am, we heard you making silly sex noises 2 months ago during your neighbor’s basketball game. We’re going to need to pat you down, and search the house.”

EllenBeth: “But officer, aren’t you searching for me?”

Sheriff is totally in ctrl here.

Officer 1: “Quiet you!”

Officer 2: “Hey, I found her legal paperwork about her atheist stuff, maybe it has transcripts of sexy noises… and… JACKPOT! I found a combination safe.”

Officer 1: “Put your ear on that safe. Do you hear sex noises?”

Officer 2: “No, we’re going to have to listen back at the lab, with our Sexy-Noises-detecting K9 unit.”

[New York Times]

Later that month, the police arrested her again and charged her with possession of marijuana, after saying they had found drugs in the safe.

Stay classy, Polk County Sheriff’s Department.

I rarely write about non-military related atheism here. But I think this country needs more brave citizens standing up for the U.S. Constitution like EllenBeth. That is the document I took an oath to protect and defend. It defines the modern concepts of freedom and democracy. Obviously, ‘pick your battles’ is important advice. But this isn’t a battle anymore, it’s a war against her, and its battles are now picking her.

I’m sitting here in the desert right now, halfway around the world away from my beautiful 5 month old daughter. It’s depressing to see the Constitution that I’m supposed to be out here to protect and defend now is being abused in such a manner. However, I’m comforted to know that people like EllenBeth are back home and ready to dig in and double down for her Constitutional rights.

*** Update:***
EllenBeth let me know a bit of a correction to the order of events.

“Actually they took the safe during the search for my first arrest March 1 but claim not to have bothered to opened it until May 10th AFTER I finally got released on bail for the 2nd arrest”

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