L. Neil Smith's
It's time, once again, to drive the issue of the intent of the Second Article of Amendment, to our nation's Constitution, into the ground. We do this periodically, not to bore others to tears, but to keep the issue in the front of everyone's mind, where it ought be anyway. I shall give this a new perspective.
In a recent issue of HandGuns magazine, Don B. Kates discussed at length the why's and wherefore's. Excellent writer he. What perhaps has not been discussed at length, in the way that I personally belive should have been by now, is that matter of "the people".
Everybody talks of rights, but there is that corollary issue of the people that is spoken of not just once in the amendment, but actually three separate times.
Consider: "A well regulated militia ..." According to the best of historical references, and Title 10 USC 311, the 'militia' is the people. As I stated in a past missive, you can't call forth something that doesn't already exist. The US Constitution, Art. I, Sect. 8, discusses 'calling forth the militia'. To compound matters further, there is no place where the militia is spoken of as being 'funded' into existence as are the armed forces. Therefor & therefore the militia is preexisting. As well, it is a subset of the people, that is, the ones whom come forth with arms when called.
If we were to equivocate, we would say as well, 'the right of the militia to keep and bear arms ..." But, that isn't what was said; and besides, those whom are exempt from militia duty are certain people such as those in elective and appointed office. As soon as they are out of office, they are once again militia. More succinctly, they being part of 'the people', have as much right as any.
"... being necessary to the security of a free state, ..." Well, what does a 'free state' consist of, if not a 'free people'? If I call a ostrich a bird, and a crow a bird, and a robin a bird, are not all of them birds? They are avian, one and all. If the family of all birds is called avian, then is not the collection of a free people living under a cogent set of laws which guarantee liberty, not also a free state? People form governments, and those governments are the essence of the state. In this case, a 'free state.' It would make no sense to say anything else. What other kinds of states are there? Fascist, totalitarian, dictatorial, you name it, but none of those can ever be spoken of as 'free'. In each of the latter, only the agents of the state are 'allowed' arms.
So, if the people are free, then it must follow that they are free to act in their own way to defend themselves. Which, if you consider that further, implies what previously preceded the 'free state' argument. Essentially, what it says is: The people (acting in concert as militia, with their arms), are necessary to ensure the security of their free state. It absolutely would not make an iota of sense, to have something -- which your fought for, and then not make any effort to defend it. Reducing that further, it says in essence: The people have a right to defend themselves. They are the state. Without a free people, there can be no 'free state'.
The remainder of that amendment speak of the people directly. In finality, it says that the people have a right to defend their existence, and shall not be debarred of their arms, in any way. Any other argument is specious, without merit, and is equivocal.
In closing, the English language has what is called parallel construction. If I write two separate sentences which are identically constructed, and change the terms, to speak of another thing, the intent remains precisely the same. Consider: Mary went to the store, and bought a pound of gold. David went to the store, and bought a pound of platinum. Somebody went somewhere and purchased something. Changing the terms does not in any way connote something different. To equivocate and say that it does, implies that the rules of grammar, and of the language no longer apply.
I'll leave you with this:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
A well educated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear books shall not be infringed.
By inference, the First Art. of Amendment which protects the speech and press, by extension, and the rule of parallel construction, also protects the people's right to arms.
E.J. Totty firstname.lastname@example.org
In [TLE #154]:
Just one problem -- the proscription against "corruption of blood" in the US Constitution. A person can't be sued or punished for the misdeeds of his or her ancestors.
Susan W. Wells Swftl@aol.com
In TLE #149, Wendy McElroy wrote:
Afghan women have the right to guns as it is. And, they have access to guns. With so many of the males already armed, any enterprising, rigteously indignant Afghan woman could snatch up a weapon if she desired to make a statement, if only by confiscating one from a bearded oppressor.
It is only true that the wisdom of the Afghan rulers "denies" guns to women...as we know, government cannot bestow rights upon anyone.
The Taliban (and Afghan law) did not invent the oppression of Afghan women. Religious fanatics did that, as they have been doing for centuries, worldwide.
A mere change in the law, even if it could be achieved, would accomplish nothing.
When you see Afghan women in the streets, burning their mummy uniforms, you'll know freedom is brewing.
The fact that Afghan women have succumbed to a lifetime of wearing head to heel shrouds in a musicless, artless, joyless society is testimony to the fact that it is likely to be some time before one or many of them steal some weapons and make a break with their oppressors.
Maybe they'll do it tomorrow ... spontaneous combustion is the way of revolutions. The point is that the women themselves will have to do it. No government can ever do it for them.
It is a grave error to suggest that "The Right to Keep and Bear Arms" is critical to achieving freedom. Rather, that right, already possessed by all humans, is part of what freedom is about. Achieving freedom is having the courage to do whatever it takes to assert one's rights.
John P. Slevin email@example.com
Way back in July 2001, TLE was kind enough to print my open letter to Dagny Sharon and others who had expressed misgivings about the Perry Willis issue.
Since that time, I haven't encountered a vehement response from Perry Willis, or an ardent defense of his actions, or a really clear-cut explanation of how the Libertarian Party has lived up to its principles. Maybe I've missed one or two such things, so if you've encountered them, please point me at 'em.
Where's the lawsuit for defamation of character? Where's the insistent requirement that TLE print a retraction?
In one of his more amusing Sherlock Holmes stories, Arthur Conan Doyle has the master detective make an interesting point about a dog. "The funny thing about the dog was that it didn't bark in the night." Which helps him solve the case.
So, instead of responding to some thing else I've read in TLE which has caught my imagination and opened the floodgates for my muse, I'm now considering something I haven't read in TLE: any sort of cogent rejoinder to my criticism of Willis, the LP HQ, or the Baje Wooley campaign. Actually, that's three dogs that haven't been barking.
Perhaps the conversation has already moved on to a widespread
abandonment of voting, or, failing that, to abandoning the LP for a
new party of principle like the Bill of Rights Party (BoRP! The future I want is beyond the State. Wasting time reforming the
state doesn't appeal to me as helpful.
Jim Davidson firstname.lastname@example.org
The future I want is beyond the State. Wasting time reforming the state doesn't appeal to me as helpful.
Jim Davidson email@example.com
It is puzzling that the USA and England are urging India to de-escalate tension - that is, pull back its troops from the border - and restart negotiations with Pakistan, in the wake of the events after 13th December. Mr. Tony Blair, Prime Minister of England, has, in fact, deemed it necessary to personally visit South Asia, to try calm matters.
The events of 11th September convinced the USA that there was no alternative to completely rooting out terrorism, come what may. The result was the massive campaign in Afghanistan, and the complete effacement of the Taliban and the Al-Qaeeda. The attack on the Indian Parliament on 13th December has shown that anti-India militants will stop at nothing. Is India now, similarly, not justified in seeking a total stop to their support by Pakistan, and a military campaign to extirpate the terrorists is Pakistan refuses to stop supporting them? The logic that applied to America should apply to India too.
While making a partial concession to India's argument, the USA has tried to tell India that Pakistan President, Gen. Pervez Mussharaf was trying hard to crack down on terrorism, and any move by India would only complicate matters for him, and, consequently, India itself, too. The USA has forgotten that, even as India's Prime Minister Vajpayee was on his bus-trip to Lahore - a completely unilateral peace initiative - Gen. Musharraf was engineering Kargill, something to which the then Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif and another former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, have attested. Clearly, asking India to place its faith in Gen. Musharraf is asking for too much. The onus is now on him, as President of Pakistan, to show his sincere commitment to the campaign to wipe out terrorism in all forms.
Anti-Americanism is the mindset of the perverted "Jehadi" philosophy alone; Anti-Indianism has always been the policy of the Pakistani State, Army and Intelligence.
In fact, the very creation of Pakistan in 1947 was based on a hate-India mindset. Such a one is hardly a good raison d'etre for a nation, and this is the reason why Pakistan failed to keep itself together, and split in 1971. The present problem requires a deep understanding of the peculiar socio-political problems of the Indian subcontinent, right from pre-1947 times when India had not yet achieved Independence from British rule, through the dismemberment of India in 1947, and including the Kashmir dispute, to the present day, which President Bush of the USA and Prime Minister Blair of England have failed to demonstrate.
Yet another reason why no armed conflict should take place, it is said, is the presence of nuclear weapons in the subcontinent. The explicit statements of India's Defence Minister George Fernandes after India's nuclear tests should have made it clear that India's nuclear weapons are meant for a neighbour other than Pakistan, which regards India as the only hindrance to its regional hegemony and which, in fact, with its generous assistance to Pakistan, put its nuclear programme on a fast-tract to act as a counter to India. Pakistan itself has made it clear that the question of using nuclear weapons - basically meant for deterrence - in case of a conflict, does not arise.
The calls for restraint - even personal inverventions and visits - makes one fees as if the USA and England believe they are faced with dealing with immature, petulant children. The irony of sympathising with a military dictator, while ignoring the genuine concerns of a democratically elected government can hardly be more painful.
The larger import is that there is yet no complete appreciation of what India has been saying all along: there are no two kinds of terrorism; terrorism, wherever it exists, must be completely wiped out.
Well, as usual, reading your novels does much to restore my faith in the future. Having received your The American Zone from my charming wife for Christmas, I was delighted by a very good friend who lent me his copy of Henry Martyn a few days later. Both of them proved to be excellent.
On a purely personal note, I had not found Bretta Martyn to be as enjoyable as Pallas, and now that I've read Henry Martyn, I suspect that I know why. It seems a shame that I hadn't read Henry before starting in on the sequel, a difficulty I'm now in a position to remedy. I suppose it has occurred to Tom Doherty and associates to issue these two books in a boxed set. If not, feel free to convey the idea forthwith, with as much forcefulness of expression as it may merit.
Henry Martyn tells tales of a Hanoverian Monopolity which is awash in familiar trade names. Once the reader gets used to the "cultured" or decadent lisp in which much of the conversation is given, a few of these read clearer: Forbes, Westinghouse, Daimler, Wilkinson, and many another brand is exposed. The economic policy of mercantilism and its attendant features of fascism, slavery, rape, gavage, and brutality are thoroughly critiqued. (Interesting that the Monopolity uses the clavis as a unit of currency, which derives from the Latin for "club" or mace.)
The allegorical features are telling, as always. The publication date of 1989 suggests that the thousand year war with the Jendyne empire might be representative of the then-decades old Cold War between the NATO powers and the Warsaw powers, two contemporary "imperia-conglomerate" whose habits toward individuals are not in the slightest exaggerated within your book.
So, too, are the philosophical features. Baker Krumm tells his new captain that life, liberty, and property are all features of the same worthy thing, inseparable characteristics of the "pearl of great price." Protagonist Henry Martyn, born Arran Islay, informs us that a belligerent attitude toward those who use initiatory force or its delegation for gain is appropriate. Had outlaws such as the James Gang or the Hole in the Wall Gang had such provocative literature, they would likely have found many more enthusiasts for their campaigns against the railroads and banks which form two of the most pernicious beneficiaries of the warfare/welfare state.
Throughout all your novels, I've noticed an appreciation on your part of the role that "honest money" plays in the future of freedom. It is a particularly pernicious feature of mercantilism and fascism that these economic policies thrive on debased coins and fiat paper money. Happily, a few hundred thousand of us are experimenting these days with online gold-backed currencies whose beneficial features may doom credit card money.
Word play is also a consistent feature in your work. I wrote The Libertarian Enterprise some weeks back about the enjoyable items in Forge of the Elders involving your use of encoding words in reverse lettering, or, as you pointed out, reverse phonemes. Here in Henry Martyn, to give but a taste, we find two species whose names are always shown in the order seporth and nacyl, which gives up "lycanthropes" or werewolves. Place names Etumalam, Nosaer, and Sisao-Somon reveal "malamute," "reason" and "Nomo's Oasis" wherever that might be. Nosaer (or a variant spelling Nosair which gives the French "raison") is particularly interesting in that it yields a vital volatile for the provisioning of the flagship of Henry's fleet. I'm sure readers will fetch forth many more such gems.
I don't include among these the many interesting choices you offer in the decay of language. Meters become measures, cms become siemmes, the abbreviation CEO becomes the title Ceo, and other drift of language remind the reader constantly that it is twentieth century terrestrial culture which is being shown in reductio ad absurdum from the perspective of eleven centuries hence.
Similar results are found for each of these features in The American Zone. It revisits the multi-verse of the Probability Broach, Venus Belt War, and Forge of the Elders with a delightful narrative thread.
Again, names come through with familiar figures. Some are not even hidden, such as general storekeeper Vin Suprynowicz who performs a cameo. Others, such as Buckley F. Williams are familiar from previous novels, and from his speech pattern can be presumed to represent that world's version of none other than William F. Buckley of "our" world line. His brother Bennett Williams is tellingly reminiscent of William Bennett the "conservative" author some of us have grown to despise.
Sometimes, I wish the allegory were more deeply hidden, to help emphasize the delights of the narrative. I found both Probability Broach and Henry Martyn to be much more pleasant in this regard, but, the temptation to expose the difficulties of the decaying "modern" civilization in which we find ourselves must be overwhelming.
At one point, however, I couldn't stop laughing. That was at the point where I realized that a small tribute was being paid, whether intentionally or inadvertently, to another favorite novel of my acquaintance, Flying Sorcerors by Larry Niven and David Gerrold (sp?). In that book, a character's name is rendered "Like a Purple" and the reader must interpret that, eventually, "as a mauve" or Asimov.
In a shabby throne room we meet the retinue of a tall and ungainly politico whose lack of redeeming qualities led those of his world line to take him and all his associates and thrust them through the nearest probability broach to the world line of the North American Confederacy. This personage is known as "Baje Wooley." Who might this exile be? Beige is a shade of brown, and wooley is a word for hairy, and I could think of no set of brigands fitting the description more closely than Harry Browne and associates. Frankly, though, I'm not sure the punishment fits what I've seen and read of the relevant crimes, but the irony isn't lost on me.
The fun of reading these books is second to none. But the element I always find most enjoyable is the consistency with which the philosophy of liberty is illustrated and the dementia of authoritarianism is exposed.
So, in a word, sknath.
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copyright 2001. Links to book titles should be added liberally by all
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