Oscar Stilley’s Hunger Strike Continues: Week 6

oscar stilley political prisoner taxcourthelp hunger strike

I’ve only ever spoken to Oscar Stilley on the phone. Over the course of a couple weeks in 2007 or so, I paid Oscar for some of his time and legal expertise on a case I was pleading on my own. I guess we spent something like ten hours on the phone together talking about my case, and as guys will, about other things. We occasionally drifted far from hearsay and discovery into tree farming and philosophy. I felt like I got good value for my money on every topic.

Oscar had a great interest in trees. I was living in a tropical climate at the time. He was excited by the variety, beauty, and utility of tropical trees. He was able to tell me the kinds of trees that grew in the country where I lived. He knew how the teak farm scam worked. He knew the best way to thin a stand of pine for maximum plank production.

Arborists are people who take the long view. They are out of place in our quick buck times, but we need them. Real prosperity and progress are impossible without a vision of the future.  The long view is often taken by men of conviction and principle, by men who respect and revere the land, and who pay more than lip service to concern for the prosperity of future generations.

After working and talking with Oscar Stilley for just a few hours I never doubted that he was such a man.

When I learned that he had been convicted of “tax crimes” and sentenced to an appalling fifteen years in prison I was stunned with the menacing injustice of it.  The severity of his sentence is in no way related to the magnitude of his alleged crimes. It is rather an indication that attorneys like Oscar, who insist on the rule of law and speak truth to power are all the more contemptible for neglecting their duties as “officers of the court;” they will be dealt with severely.

But locking up man like Oscar Stilley does not change him; it only refocuses his quest for justice. Oscar is obviously a man with a reverence for rule of law and deeply held commitment to making moral choices. Putting him behind bars won’t change any of that. But insisting on justice in an environment of total state control is a risky proposition. Oscar will be nearing his seventh week of a hunger strike in the first week of September. If he were to quietly die his tormentors would win.

I despair that I live in the kind of society that needs to lock up men like Oscar Stilley to silence them and scare others like him.  I’m appalled that so few of us recognize the monstrous injustice of America’s state sponsored prison industry. I’m terrified that those of us who do will become targets for badge bearing thugs.

But I’m not so paralyzed that I won’t urge everyone I know to tell everyone they know about Oscar’s hunger strike. I hope you feel the same.

You can find out about it here: OSCAR STILLEY HUNGER STRIKE



Lysander Venible is the author of "On Your Own in Tax Court," a book about how to save your shirt in U.S. tax court. He has been engaged with the Service for over 10 years both administratively and in tax court.

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Lysander is not an attorney and it is not his intent to offer legal advice.

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1 comment to Oscar Stilley’s Hunger Strike Continues: Week 6

  • William Quilhot

    I only know Mr Stilley by his blog. I sent in the visitation paperwork to the prison. I’ve not received any clearance but they have suspended all his visitation rights for 90 days so there is not rush. I am doing all I can think of to get this injustice before the public.

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