L. Neil Smith's
Number 210, February 10, 2003


General Cowardice
by William Stone, III

Exclusive to TLE

Pre-Bloody Tuesday (September 11), I used to really enjoy talk radio. I loved to listen to Republican hosts like Rush Limbaugh. In fact, I owe Limbaugh something of a debt: had I not listened to him at the time I did, I wouldn't be a libertarian today.

I started adult life as a communist actor (as if there were any other kind). I truly believed that government's role was as the "omnipotent parent," caring for every individual the way a mother hen does her chicks. As I got older, I began to have nagging doubts about this idea, and about that time I got a "day job" as an international courier. Three days a week, I would collect packages from the Chicago Loop and drive them to O'Hare International Airport. I'd then check them as baggage, board a flight bound for Toronto, Ontario, Canada, walk the packages through customs in Canada, and deliver them to their destination.

This job kept me in the car essentially during all of Rush Limbaugh's program and into the early evening. I always listened to WLS, 890AM in Chicago -- which I still turn to on the occasional family visits to my in-laws.

Initially, Limbaugh struck me as a pompous windbag -- I vividly recall doing an impression of him for my actor friends: "This is Mush Limbum on the ME-I-ME network!" However, as my doubts about communism grew, I found myself more often in agreement with Rush. Ultimately, I transited to his brand of conservatism and became a Republican to the shock of my actor friends.

Then one day I picked up a copy of L. Neil Smith's novel Pallas. I found that I couldn't put the book down. The next day I grabbed a copy of The Probability Broach.

After that, my life was never the same. I realized that Limbaugh is simply a Republican whore with no real interest in limited government. Indeed, it became rapidly apparent that "limited government" was itself oxymoronic: "limited government" is about as feasible as a "limited pregnancy."

After I became a computer nerd, it became impossible to listen to Rush every day as I had as an actor -- but that was all right since I didn't have the same interest. I'd tune in to him as time permitted, however. About half of what he said I still agreed with. He was the best game in town, at least on the national level.

Post-Bloody Tuesday, I really can't stand to listen to him any more. My reaction is the same as listening to Democrat hosts -- not surprising, since their positions are virtually identical. I was particularly displeased to discover that even Dr. Laura Schlessinger had become a Republican whore.

I used to love Dr. Laura. She is an extremely devout Jew whose advice is always guided by her spirituality. While this doesn't always match my positions as a philosopher of the Zero Aggression Principle, where our advice might conflict, I can typically overlook it. She routinely says the things I'd like to say to her female callers -- only she can get away with it.

Post-Bloody Tuesday, however, so much of her show is devoted to advancing the mad rush to war that I really can't stomach it.

Beyond the increasingly nauseating propagandizing of the airwaves by the Republican whores, I find that the callers to the programs are the ones who really enrage me.

I'm sympathetic to someone like my grandfather, for example. A World War II veteran, he views Bloody Tuesday as a declaration of war greater than the attack on Pearl Harbor. I certainly don't deny that as an initiation of force, Bloody Tuesday as an event exceeds Pearl Harbor.

In my grandfather's day, the American psyche was such that the day after such an incident, there would be lines several blocks long in front of every military recruitment center in America. The assumption would have been that such an incident is inherently an act of war, and it would only be a matter of hours before Congress officially declared it. As such, the military would need as many people as possible. The only thing a responsible male over the age of 16 could have done was sign up immediately.

Indeed, in December of 1941, the only reason not to enlist was severe physical infirmity.

While I certainly don't agree with government warfare (it's immoral -- see my essay "State of Disunion 2003,"), nor do I believe there's any reason to immediately enlist, I believe the reason we don't see this occurring is inherent in the callers to Republican talk radio.

I can't count the number of times since Bloody Tuesday that armchair generals have gibbered: "We need to go over there and -- !" "We need to send troops to -- !" "We need to make sure that -- !"

The operative word in all these statements is "we." Just with Bill Clinton's unusual definition of "is," one needs to parse the words of the caller who uses "we."

When a caller says "we," what he really means is "anyone other than ME."

I admit that this makes my blood boil faster than almost anything else. The topic of discussion will always be about whatever war may be looming, and what the caller thinks "we" should be doing about it.

I have news for the caller: "we" aren't doing anything. YOU are sitting at home in your Barcalounger with your overweight behind growing ever larger. Other peoples' sons and daughters will be dying at the behest of the Dictator-in-Chief, not you. Simply because they're troops working for the FedGov doesn't make you part of them.

If you -- personally -- feel something needs to be done about Saddam Hussein, more power to you. You are perfectly free to buy a rifle and a plane ticket to Baghdad. If you -- personally -- want to start sniping at Hussein or his generals, join the various revolutionary groups that no doubt exist, or otherwise actively work to see that he starts pushing up the daisies as soon as possible, you have my full support.

If your only participation is to call Republican talk shows, post in Web sites, write in newsgroups, or otherwise tell everyone how you think other people need to die, then I call you what you are:

You're a coward.

You're a wussy, a mango, a scaredy-cat, a flicker, a shirker, a yeller dog, a pencatazo, a dingo, a caitiff, a poltroon, a capo, a yitney, a funk, a sop, a weathercock, a wimp, and a chicken.

You're a whining, lazy, pencil-necked, pantie-waisted, gutless, quiche-eating, egg-sucking, craven, disgusting little yellow-belly.

If you think something needs to be done to Saddam Hussein, then have the strength of your convictions. Pick up a gun, buy a plane ticket, and feel free to put your life on the line. If you're not willing to do that, then you're just a load of hot air, and we have enough of that in the world.

Actions talk, and cow patties walk. If you're one of the cow patties, please refrain from messing up my living room carpet any further -- by shutting the hell up!

William Stone, III is a computer nerd (RHCE, CCNP, CISSP) and philosopher of the Zero Aggression Principle from McCook Lake, South Dakota. He seeks the Libertarian Party's nomination for the 2004 Senate race in South Dakota.

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