Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 487, October 5, 2008

"What makes genocide and other kinds of
government-sanctioned violence possible?"

Previous Previous Table of Contents Contents Next Next

An Open Letter to Kathy Reichs
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

It is the custom, with correspondences like this—where you know you're probably going to end up making the recipient mad at you—to say something nice about them at the beginning. Often it's something perfunctory and meaningless, but, as we all know, the Forms Must Be Obeyed.

In this case, there's nothing perfunctory about it. Over the past three decades, I've read every one of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels aloud, at least twice, to my wife before we went to sleep at night. Until now—that is, until I discovered your Temperance Brennan novels—I hadn't found anything else I felt was worth reading that way.

Perhaps I should explain to the other individuals reading this open letter that you are a forensic anthropologist (one of only a handful in North America) who also writes bestselling novels about a fictional forensic anthropologist named Temperance "Tempe" Brennan—who, in one incarnation, at least, just happens to write bestselling novels about a "fictional" forensic anthropologist named Kathy Reichs. The highly popular television series Bones is based on your life and work.

I searched for your novels (I didn't really have to look very far) because of your TV show, and found them rather divergent experiences. There appear to be more differences between the TV Temperance and the "dead-tree" Temperance than similarities, but that's all right. Although TV Tempe sometimes seems to be a parody of Mr. Spock, and Dead-Tree Tempe has all of the emotional maturity of a softboiled egg, both Tempes are thoroughly dedicated to reason and science. In fact, given her personal idiosyncrasies, Dead-Tree Tempe's grim insistence on relying on reason and science is all that much more charming and commendable.

And appealing.

That's why I was completely taken aback when I started your novel Grave Secrets (I'm not reading them in any particular order, but simply as I come across them in the paperback racks) and found the following:

America is the leading producer of gunshot homicides. Our streets and workplaces are killing fields. Teens are shot for their Air Jordans, wives for serving the potroast late, students for eating lunch in the high school cafeteria.

Annually, over thirty thousand Americans are killed by bullets. Seventy percent of all murders are committed with firearms. Each year the NRA spoons up propaganda, and America swallows it. Guns proliferate and the slaughter goes on. Law enforcement no longer has an advantage in carrying arms. It only brings the officers up to even.

Now, aside from the fact that those two paragraphs had a jarring, non-sequiturish, jam-'em-in-anyplace-you-can feeling to them (but what do I know, I've only written twenty-seven novels, myself), very nearly everything you wrote in them is the exact opposite of the truth. Talk about your propaganda, most of what you wrote was obviously absorbed, uncritically, from agenda-driven polemicists proven again and again to be habitual, unapologetic liars. In contrast with anti-gun Professor Michael Bellesiles, I am unaware of any libertarian or conservative academic who ever lost his professional reputation, his cushy faculty position, or was forced to surrender a prestigious award like Columbia University's Bancroft Prize because he lied in support of gun ownership.

Trust me, I'll get back to all that momentarily.

What really disturbed and disillusioned me was your seeming inability to correctly integrate what was going on in the rest of your book (and to some extent, in your life, if I understand correctly) with what you brought the action to a screeching halt to pontificate about.

Again, for the benefit of those who haven't read Grave Secrets, Dr. Brennan has been spending a great deal of time, and enduring a great deal of discomfort (not to mention mental and emotional stress) exhuming the bodies of peasants—most of them women and children—who were brutally and genocidally murdered en masse by the uniformed thugs of a Central American dictatorship. The reader shares Tempe's outrage that this kind of thing could happen, although she doesn't seem to have a clue what made it possible, or how to prevent it in the future.

To make things worse, Tempe's mission of justice has been horribly marred by a deadly attack on two members of her investigative team. She finds their bullet-riddled bodies herself, in their car along the roadside, and listens to what she believes could be their last, dying breath. The local police inform her that it was almost certainly a robbery, but nobody reading the novel will believe such an obvious lie.

My family likes your TV show very much, and we were especially enjoying your novels when I ran across those two paragraphs in Grave Secrets about gun ownership in America. I had thought you were more sensible than that, which is why I'm taking you publicly to task this way. My object is not to make an enemy of you (although I may do that) but to win you over, novelist-to-novelist, to the side of reason and science.

So the question before us remains: what makes genocide and other kinds of government-sanctioned violence possible? You are first and foremost a scientist, Ms. Reichs. I admire that about you. You value reason.

The objective facts of reality are centrally important to you.

So do the bloody science.

A good place to start is with the genocide chart you'll find at Scroll down a little, and you'll see a neat and tidy layout showing the major acts of genocide of the 20th century—including the killings that Tempe investigated in Grave Secrets—the acts of what is properly termed "victim disarmament" that made them possible, and the "butcher's bill" of something like a hundred million deaths that resulted from such insanity.

At, you'll find a video Innocents Betrayed, a presentation that gives an historical account of people allowing themselves to be stripped of the means to defend themselves, and being led to slaughter—again and again—as a direct result. Please make no mistake, gun control is an overture to genocide.

If you take nothing else from this letter, remember that.

Gun control—victim disarmament—is an overture to genocide.

The website belongs to Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, an organization of unusual individuals who did not fail to learn the most important lesson the Holocaust had to teach us. Pay special attention to what the victim-disarmament lobby insists is "reasonable" regulation. Just as one example, I urge you to consider registration of weapons or their owners: if the government knows who owns weapons, what good are they when we must defend ourselves from government?

I take no credit for the genocide chart, nor for the discovery of the correlation between victim disarmament and government-sponsored mass-slaughters that are the shameful hallmark of the 20th century. But any time I can draw people's attention to it, I welcome the opportunity.

And please don't tell me "It can't happen here," not after every excess this government has been responsible for in the past century or so. If the Waco siege is a little too controversial for you, or you've swallowed the government's lies about it, then look up Operation Keelhaul. Or the number of innocent Iraqi children who died for lack of food or medicine as a result of this country's evil blockade of theirs.

To their families, how can we possibly look like anything but Nazis?

Now about those two paragraphs. First, I'm not all that sure that "America is the leading producer of gunshot homicides." England, for example, has always generated untrustworthy crime statistics, for example by counting IRA violence as crime when it did the bureaucracy the most good, and as acts of war when that produced more desirable results.

Since the Dunblane Massacre and the hysterical legislation that followed, England has distinguished itself with the highest violent crime rate in the western half of the northern hemisphere. The idiots in charge are now planning to cover their dismal failures by banning knives. Australia, which has gone through a similar binge of "V.D." is worse.

"Our streets and workplaces," you say, "are killing fields." Well, not exactly. If you take a map of the United States and excise the urban cores that are politically controlled by the socialists who call themselves "progressives" because they wrecked the word "liberal" beyond repair, those places where victim disarmament already exists in its most potent form, what's left is the most peaceful, productive, prosperous—and genuinely progressive—civilization in human history.

"Teens are shot for their Air Jordans..." That's true—in the bleak ruins where socialism has held sway since World War II. "...wives," you continue, "for serving the potroast late... " I'd love to see those statistics, or were you just being literary? "...students for eating lunch in the high school cafeteria." Yes, in places where they've been forced to come and stripped of the means of self-defense, producing a killing zone where murderers know they can act without risk.

"Annually," you tell us, "over thirty thousand Americans are killed by bullets." True again, as far as it goes, but are you aware that somewhere between half and three quarters of that number are suicides? Is it your intention to control the lives of other people to the extent that they cannot dispose of them as they see fit? By what right? Don't mention religion, that's against the First Amendment. Don't bring up society or the state, either. My life is not a national resource.

"Seventy percent of all murders are committed with firearms." That may be true. If there were no guns, they'd be committed with knives—except that the biggest, strongest thug would then have an advantage over smaller, weaker females. And if there were no knives, they'd be committed with cast iron skillets, the Number One weapon of choice in Germany.

"Each year the NRA spoons up propaganda, and America swallows it." Unlike the Brady Campaign, you mean? Or the major television networks? You should know that real self-defense advocates—JPFO is the foremost example—regard the National Rifle Association as a craven, floundering, intellectually and morally crippled group that has dealt in little but cowardly compromise since the 1930s. Most of the gun legislation in this country—some 25,000 laws, all of them illegal—was signed off on, and in some instances actually written by the NRA.

"Guns proliferate and the slaughter goes on." Absolutely untrue. Since Productive Class individuals gave up on government's promises of protection and began rearming themselves, violent crime in this country has plummeted, remaining out of control only in places like Chicago, Denver, and New York where the right to self-defense is brutally suppressed. This is why Professor John Lott wrote "More Guns, Less Crime", a book I strongly urge you to read. It, and Professor Lott's other works, are the source of many of the facts I cite above. I sometimes read, online, that his observations and theories have been discredited, but I've never seen a shred of evidence to support it, and nobody has ever asked him to resign from a faculty for falsifying data.

Believe me, if they could, they would have, a long time ago.

To get started, go to:

You may also find the works of criminologist Professor Gary Kleck and retired law professor Don B. Kates useful and informative. And please don't forget Paxton Quigley, the author of Armed and Female and other works on self-defense of special interest to women, at

Finally, you complain, "Law enforcement no longer has an advantage in carrying arms. It only brings the officers up to even." Ms. Reichs—Kathy—"law enforcement" is the standing army that the Founding Fathers worried so much about. The authorities were never intended to have an advantage of arms over the people, they were supposed to rely on the people, not so much to enforce the law, but to maintain the peace.

In this age, where peaceful demonstrators are brutalized in the streets, ancient civilizations are bombed into dust, and innocent children are murdered in their beds by jackbooted federal thugs, anything else—as we've seen clearly—is an open invitation to genocide.

Now let's talk about environmentalism...

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, or at


Help Support TLE by patronizing our advertisers and affiliates.
We cheerfully accept donations!

to advance to the next article
to return to the previous article
Table of Contents
to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 487, October 5, 2008

Big Head Press