THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 69, April 15, 2000
One of the Good Ones
by L. Neil Smith
Special to TLE
Now and again I'm pleasantly surprised by people and events around me.
I'm inclined to be a bit more optimistic about my fellow human beings than most people I know. I like to think it's because I'm older than most people I know (how very sad to say) and have had a bit more experience.
A few days ago, having seen a bit of forwarded e-mail conversation that wasn't originally intended for me -- but which was critical of my particular emphases and style -- I countered by sending out into the world (not for the first time) the essay that opens my personal web site, "The Webley Page." Referring obliquely to Indiana Jones' problem with snakes, that essay is entitled "Why Did It Have To Be Guns?" and explains, to a certain extent, my general approach to politics and politicians.
To my absolute amazement and delight, the next day I received the following from one of the conversationalists, a man of exceptional honor -- and a new friend -- Mr. Bill Hajdu, perhaps better known throughout cyberspace by his unique and colorful internet nickname, "FirePig".
I want to publicly apologize to L. Neil Smith in front of God and this list.
Like others who have been subject to anti-Smith propaganda, I fell for the stuff about the loose cannon image promoted by taking some of his most extreme rhetorical comments out of context and making him look like an "extremist" who is insensitive in his communications.
I should have known better. After all, I am a daily reader of Vin Suprynowicz' nationally syndicated column that appears in a Las Vegas newspaper [the Review-Journal]. Vin is no "wacko," and he uses that style all the time. Also, I know Richard Boddie and his respect for Saul Alinsky and the in-your-face tactics so necessary to successful activism.
There is a time and place for in-your-face. There is a time and place for passion. Maybe L. Neil is a lot more sophisticated than I and others have given him credit for. We should hear him out. I, for one, hope to hear a lot more from L. Neil.
I was moved by his email message to California, and I think a lot of people are going to be surprised as they listen to what he has to say. There is more depth to this man than we have been led to believe. Between now and the convention I'm sure we'll see more of his "Mr. Nice Guy" side as well as the in-your-face-you-statist-fascist side.
I will say one thing about the below email. [Here Bill refers to the essay I mentioned which I'll refrain from inflicting on anyone a second time.]
When reaching out to non-libertarians, gun control is the area where I have the most difficulty. We actually need more, not less of what L. Neil has to say on the subject. Somehow we have to match the effective emotional appeal our opponents have constructed and implemented. We have to touch peoples' hearts on this issue. Forget logic. Unless and until we can emotionally hit people to consider that all other freedoms, rights, privileges, etc. are worthless if people are denied the basic right of self-defense, we cannot and will not reverse this country's slow slide into fascism. (Politically, however, I would not now make this the center point of any election campaign -- for me it's the drug war and its broad assault on so many of our natural-law/God-given freedoms).
Bill Hajdu <Firepig01@aol.com>
Thanks, Bill. I don't disagree with you about the drug war. I'm glad you're there to fight that fight while I fight mine. In the final analysis, of course, they're the same fight, for liberty, against tyranny. I'm proud to call you "comrade" and I will never forget your uncommon decency.
I don't mean this to be a commercial, but unquestionably the best look at the side of me you're interested in seeing is my 24 books. The Probability Broach is considered the definitive libertarian novel. In Forge of the Elders, I had room to talk about life, love, justice, and the place of mankind in the universe. In The Mitzvah, Aaron Zelman and I wrote about a man forced to reconsider everything he thought he knew about the same things. Those three books and many more are available at http://www.lneilsmith.org//lnsbooks.html.
L. Neil Smith
Order at: http://www.lneilsmith.org//lnsbooks.html