L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 335, September 4, 2005
U.S. Out of New Orleans!
Send Letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
Future Washington: Forthcoming in October!
Mighty strange bedfellows I seem to have here. But it was fun.
L. Neil Smith
I've decided to join the "blogosphere" and have created a blog site. Might as wellI probably spend 8-10 hours a week, at least, making comments about current events to friends on my various e-mail lists. Why not share the love with the World Wide Web?
The first posts are a little bit a-typical, but I think they will entertain you. They concern a recent extended debate I had with a LewRockwell.com columnist who thinks he has a libertarian case for restricting immigration. I have permission from my debate partner to put this up on the webdon't worry, I'm not going to put private e-mails up for public view, at least not without getting permission first. Most posts will be quite a bit shorter, and just be my own commentary.
Anyway, the URL for my blog, appropriately named "The Time Sink," is:
Dear Mr. Ed/Editor/Ken, Jim, & Dennis,
Re.: "Another Letter from Jim Davidson" http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2005/tle334-20050828-01.html#letter5
I would take exception with just one thing you wrote in the above referenced, and that is this:
"My friend John Perry would be outraged that his death has been used as an excuse to invade Iraq, make the USA into even more of a police state, or force women to drink their own breast milk before getting on aircraft. John was a police officer because joining the police in NY was the fastest way to get his right to keep and bear arms back. John's family has created a fund in his memory to fight against the so-called "war on drugs."
I seek to remind you that for a person to become a cop, one must swear an oath to prosecute all laws regardless of one's own beliefs regarding those laws.
Additionally, he didn't get his rights back by swearing the oath.
In point of fact, he quite literally lost any right to do anything that the government has previously prohibited, by dint of that oath. I say that because, had he simply remained a private citizen without taking the oath, then he may have engaged in whatever activity, without much worry of being detected.
As a sworn officer of the state, he fully vested himself in idea that to go against any state law would have placed him in extreme jeopardy by dint of the oath.
And that is the one reason I am not a cop.
Now, let me very clear here: I have no intention of assaulting the memory of your lost friend.
But, it is hypocrisy to say that you are against a thing, while actually engaging in it.
He swore an oath to prosecute a law which prevented anyone else from engaging freely in both Second and Ninth Articles of Amendment protections.
He got to pack a piece, while at the same time arresting anyone else who did so.
You say he was against the "drug war." Well, how does one reconcile the idea of a sworn oath to a law, while at the same time professing an objection to that law?
If we must be honest with ourselves, then let us be totally so.
Hi. Thanks for your letter. It is always a pleasure to read your letters to the editor of TLE. Certainly, I don't always agree with you, but you project a sort of crusty, no-holds-barred enthusiasm for freedom that is at once familiar and delightful.
My friendship with John Perry was not something I can explain in a paragraph nor in a few thousand word essays. I'm not generally in the habit of making friends with cops, but I have a surprising number of them even so. (And I have reason not to like cops, on specific principles, as some of the readers know.)
As I'm not familiar with all the things John did or said or signed, I cannot really speak to this issue of whether he swore an oath to prosecute all laws. I do think he acknowledged at one point having sworn an oath to uphold the constitution. You know as well as anyone that the police don't actually uphold all laws. Every cop everywhere has turned a blind eye, and quite a few have taken more active measures to see justice or injustice done as they regard it.
You make a number of criticisms of the police, and I don't seek to dispute you on these issues. I am against the entire idea of "the police," which is a bad idea brought over from England where it was at first a horrid idea, and got worse over the years. I am utterly against the notion of government police, and totally in favor of the individual defending his own life, liberty, and property.
It is also the case that I don't know you, EJ, but it may be that you don't live in New York City. Thus, you may not be aware of the Sullivan Act, which c. 1917 robbed all New Yorkers of their de facto freedom to keep and bear arms. I believe the Sullivan Act was and is unconstitutional, and so did John. John was a lawyer, as well as a cop, and John did tell me that the thing which motivated him to join the police force was so he could lawfully carry a gun. If I did you a disservice in summarizing what John said to me in the context of a cocktail party, then I regret not taking more time to be more explicit.
You say that the police by taking their oath of office lose any right to do anything the government has previously prohibited. I think that is a charming idea, and it would be delightful to live in a world where any police officer ever lived up to such an ideal, or even tried to do so. Since there are so many pieces of legislation on the books, and since some of them are directly contradictory, requiring on one hand certain conduct which is prohibited on another, I would enjoy seeing the resulting spectacle. However, the police don't obey legislation, they never have, and they may not be expected to do so by any realistic person.
Your point about engaging in activities anyway without much worry of being detected is a good one. I have many other friends in New York City who keep and bear arms, do so with care and concealment, and none of them have gotten in trouble for it. Which does not mean that I would ever challenge John's statement about why he chose to become a cop. People do all kinds of things, very often because of mistaken ideas they hold.
It is certainly hypocrisy to say that one is against a thing and then actually engage in it. I don't know all of the things John said, but he always seemed quite sincere to me, and I doubt if he had any sincere desire to arrest anyone for keeping and bearing arms, protecting private property, or defending life or liberty. Many people who are in official capacities with government do say they are going to uphold laws they have no intention of upholding. I would say that there are worse ways in which police officers have been hypocrites. Some are actively corrupt, murdering, vicious, brutal scum, using their badges to get away with all.
Yes, I believe John was against the drug war. His family created the John Perry fund in his memory and you can read more about that at this URL:
Lots of people are against the drug war. Many of the people I know in various parts of the overall law enforcement community are against it. They hate having to go up against very well armed drug cartel personnel in gun battles that would not be necessary if drugs were sold in pharmacies. They hate being asked to search people or vehicles for drugs. Many cops are unwilling to be assigned to the narcotics division. Many refuse assignment to vice squads as well, even though it means they lose their jobs or advancement. You would be surprised to know that people have principles even though they do very strange things for work.
Professing an objection to any legislation is part and parcel of having freedom of speech. Swearing an oath to uphold the law doesn't mean abandoning free speech. Laws against drugs, like other evil laws, should be objectionable to everyone. It is well that some in law enforcement realize that the so-called war on drugs is unwinnable and does more harm than good. I would urge you not to dismiss allies and fellow travelers where you find them.
Being honest with yourself, and totally so, is a freedom you have. Other people are not honest with themselves. Self-delusion is a national pasttime.
Let's say that my friend the cop and sometimes lawyer and sometimes soap opera star John Perry was not always totally honest with himself. So what? The world is full of people who delude themselves that they are pretty, clever, or important, and it may well be that the cemeteries have fewer suicides in them on account of people being able to believe their own delusions. Robert Heinlein once wrote that if parents had no illusions at all, they would very often drown their children at birth rather than have them to suffer through a desperate and brutal life.
Some cops are evil. I know, from very personal experience, that cops may be vicious, brutal, and deadly. I have no qualms about disliking their work, the policies they enforce, and the ways in which they behave. And some individuals who are not evil are cops. I don't live their lives, so I am not responsible for reconciling the work they do with the principles they hold dear. I don't believe that anyone has to do police work, but I do gather that some people believe that it is work that must be done. Being aware that other people have other beliefs means that I must assume that some of them act upon those beliefs.
The only way to get fewer people to act upon mistaken beliefs is to inform them better. So, I thank you again for taking the time to provoke me into an information emitting fit.
My remarks interposed with your own, below:
On Aug 29, 2005, at 12:28 AM, Jim Davidson wrote:
> Hi. Thanks for your letter. It is always a pleasure
No one, and I mean no one prior to this, has ever described mein whatever way, as "delightful." Not even my girlfriend. She does however, have a few choice descriptive adjectives, that are not fit for print. I'll keep those to myself, thank you!
In fact, when I phoned to inform her of the remark, I heard much laughter, followed by a muffled 'thud.'
Shea moment laterinformed me that she leaned backwards so hard with laughter, that the chair fell over backwards.
I get no respect around here!
> My friendship with John Perry was not something I can
Nor should you be expected to. I got the gist in your original missive. My only contentions were expressed relative to that.
> [snip for brevity]
Maybe if they did, there would be fewer laws?
Actually, now that I consider that, there might be fewer politicians, seeing as how so many of them would be 'hanging out to dry' that few daring souls would desire elective office.
My favorite saying: No man-made law has ever stopped anything from happening.
> Every cop everywhere has turned a blind eye,
There's no accounting for taste.
> [snip for brevity]
Oh! Thank Heaven!
I did, however, "exist" in it's close second, until I was 19 years-old: Massachusetts (nominally referred to as "Taxachusetts").
I now "live" in the state of Washington. There are still lots of communists, but the rest of us manage to mostly keep them in check.
> Thus, you may not be aware of the Sullivan Act,
Yes, I am quite familiar with that act, as I have many books covering the matter of firearms laws, and their historical impacts. That act was a racist connivance against all the new immigrantsmost especially the Irish and the Italians, neither of which had anything to do with the shooting which prompted the act.
> [snip for brevity]
Well, no matter. If the allusion was in whatever way the subject of rights, then it can't be correct. In any case, it would be akin to myself seeking to become a US Marshal in order to carry concealed aboard whatever U.S. commercial aircraft flight, while completely bypassing whatever gate inspections everyone else must suffer should they desire to fly.
While I might avail myself of the artifice, it just isn't right. I'm reminded of a discussion some time ago, on another list, where a very similar issue was raisedconcerning cops and firearms.
The thought expressed at the time, was that cops swear an oath. So, I replied to the effect: "That's it?! Well then, let us all swear an oath! Let us all carry in whatever way we deem appropriate, and crime will cease! (I said facetiously)"
In the case you wonder, it was a cop I was having that discussion with.
I consider it that I wasn't taken seriously, if only because certain people are deemed 'fit' to take the oath, and everyone else is a suspect just waiting to happen ...
And of course (of course!!) I was deemed to be unfit, if only that I questioned the whole thought.
Imagine that: Fewer than 1000th of one percent of all American citizens are considered by most cops as being fit to take an oath, and strap on a firearm.
Spiro T. Agnewcriminal politician that he was, used to refer to those people as the "effete elite."
> [snip for brevity]
I "visited" there recently. There's lots of information that needs to be digested. I wish I had more free time.
> [snip for brevity]
Yeah. Been there, done that, in the USN. I was expected to turn in fellow sailors for drug use, for being of the suspected sex, and for generally expressing disenchantment with His Assholeiness in the White Houseamong many other things.
My lips were sealed. Whenever queried, I'd generally dissemble and equivocate in the most oblique terms possible such that nothing I said was ever taken seriously.
Of course, as I cogitate on the matter, I consider that my verbiage was a caliber or two above the inquisitor. When knowledge can be made to sound as gibberish, then only the knowing may understand.
> Professing an objection to any legislation is part
That was at one time a true statement of fact.
However, that isn't that case any longer.
You might seek to correct me here, but I do believe that there is a part of the USAPATRIOT act, or another piece of legislation recently enacted into law which totally turns your statement upon it's head.
> Laws against drugs, like other evil
I quite agree!
However, when the average personwho partakes not of any so-called illegal substancesisn't affected by the laws impacting the lives of those who do?
The only time anyone takes action is when there is a perception of pain. If there is no perceived pain, then there is no reasonfor the average common man/womanto take any action at all.
That is, unless they happen to be morally motivated to raise hell every time a bad law is enacted. But, this aspect is much beyond the scope of my reply.
> It is
Are you familiar with the comic strip "Sherman's Lagoon?"
Need I ask more?!
> Being honest with yourself, and totally so, is a
I guess I must have been raised by some interesting parents. Honesty was "job number one" in my house when I was a child. Denial wasn't allowed, unless I wanted to stand with my nose to the wall in some cornerfor days on end...
Those in denial must live with a crock of dials which detail their every notion.
> Let's say that my friend the cop and sometimes
Maybe he was. Maybe he had an ace up his sleeve.
Maybe he was playing the system to get at the insiders.
And, then again? Maybe he was feeding you a line to throw you off course.
Anything is possible.
My Mother imbued in me this one great thought: "Never trust anyoneperiod." I consider that to be the "prime directive" if ever there was one.
> [snip for brevity]
I seek to remind you about horses and water...
Most Americans still sip the putrid waters at the edge of that cesspool called "mass media."
> So, I thank you
I'll try not to cause this to happen again!
SMOFs make lists
I was disappointed that Lady Liberty did not mention the old expression, "secret masters of fandom make lists" in her otherwise nice essay on the "Listing Ship of State." ncc-1776.org/tle2005/tle334-20050828-04.html
SMOFs make lists.
Her essay also reminded me of the secret Enemies list of Richard M. Nixon. Apparently, being on Nixon's enemies list was a quick way to get an IRS audit.
There is something wrong with a culture that tolerates a government that makes lists and especially secret lists. It may be that those of us who have better values in mind should withdraw from this culture and dwell apart.
It seems that Keith Wood ["Critic-at-Arms: Shudders And Shakes", ncc-1776.org/tle2005/tle334-20050828-03.html thinks that only godless atheists commit massacres. He writes, "The first thing that I stated was that those wonderful people who gave us the Tienannmen Square Massacre were atheists. Keep that in mind when you read the rest of this. I am of the opinion that it is a Good Thing (tm) for our leaders to believe that there is a Higher Power."
As it happens, I am a follower of the teachings of Jesus. I do not view it as my responsibility that tens of millions of Jews, Moors, "heretics," pagans, wiccans, and wealthy Christians were massacred by the Spanish Inquisition and other aspects of the Roman Catholic church. Nor is the case that any of the massacres by Stalin, Mao, or other atheists are the least responsibility of any atheist.
Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Shintoists, and others who have worshiped God have committed massacres in His name. A belief in the power, majesty, authority, and law of God almighty is a good thing, but a profession of such belief by men and women in government is no reason to expect them to behave well toward others.
A very Christian man from Missouri, Harry S Truman, chose to have bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Some very Christian men dropped bombs all over Dresden and Cologne. Other Christians tested nuclear weapons in the desert West and left civilian populations in the path of the fall out deliberately so as to study the effects.
Butchering ones fellow man is certainly not characteristic of the teachings of Jesus. But, a profession of faith in Jesus is no reason to suppose someone incapable of butchery.