Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 603, January 16, 2011

"Liberalism as it's currently practiced,
isn't so much another point of view as
it is a form of mental illness"

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A Penalty Clause for the Bill of Rights
by L. Neil Smith

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Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Sometimes it feels as if we've been fighting for our freedom all our lives, although I'm fairly certain that it wasn't supposed to be this way. I've often wondered how it was that the Founding Fathers managed to omit the single most important element that the Constitution could have had, namely, a stringent penalty clause, attached to the Bill of Rights.

That the so-called "architect of the Constitution" James Madison acted in good faith in this matter, I'm reasonably certain, But it would not surprise me in the least if someday correspondence showed up laying the blame at the feet of Alexander Hamilton. It would be just like him to willingly promise anything to anybody, in exchange for the "strong central government" he lusted after so greedily, with the idea that he could freely ignore these Constitutional limits once his coup was accomplished.

Although I suspect that even Hamilton would be astonished and outraged by what his federal brainchild has become over the past century and a half.

As I write this, the enemies of individual liberty, mostly those warm- hearted "liberals" and "progressives" we all know so well, are dancing in the blood of Gabrielle Giffords, Christina Taylor Green, and the other individuals injured or killed in the recent Tucson shootings. They are demanding more victim disarmament measures and the censorship of political speech, while ignoring the facts of the matter as well as the clear provisions of the highest law of the land, the Bill of Rights.

This time it has to cost them something.

For years, although I've served on several platform committees and can generate the jargon pretty well, I've looked for help from the libertarian "legal community" to draft an appropriate penalty clause for the Bill of Rights, mostly to no avail. So now, I have drafted one myself.

Please find it below, along with a URL on my blog at Big Head Press. I ask my friends and readers to use it as a .sig in their correspondence for a week, beginning Friday, January 14, 2011 through Saturday, January 22. If enough people see this idea and start talking about it—especially within sight and hearing of the politicians who would use Tucson as an excuse to limit our First and Second Amendment rights—it will have served its basic purpose whether it ever passes or not.


Remember how the Soviets used to lock dissenters up in insane asylums? I read the other day that something called "Oppositional Defiance Disorder" is now to be found in the state court psychiatrists' "bible". It's a label they plan to give to anyone who refuses to lick jackboots.

Fair enough. Let's do our best to get this penalty clause enacted right away and show them what "Oppositional Defiance" really looks like.

New Republicans in Congress caused a stir the other day when they read the Constitution aloud in the House chamber. They made omissions that they shouldn't have, but they left the socialist media and their pet politicians gibbering and sputtering hysterically. Maybe they should do it every week. Even better, they have enacted a rule that every bill from now on has to pass the test of constitutionality before it's introduced.

Let's back them up in their noble efforts—and hold their feet to the fire—by presentng them, and the nation, with another guarantee. If it does pass into law, especially as a Constitutional amendment, we will have delivered a greater gift to this once-great civilization than any previous generation, save perhaps that of the Founders themselves.

Here it is:

"Any official, appointed or elected, at any level of government, who attempts, through legislative act or other means, to nullify, evade, or avoid the provisions of the first ten amendments to this Constitution, or of the Thirteenth Amendment, shall be summarily removed from office, and, upon conviction, deprived of all pay and benefits including pension, and sentenced to imprisonment for life."

Questions? Comments?

First published at "L Neil Smith at Random" January 12, 2011 January 12, 2011

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 more than 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 is currently running as a free weekly serial at

Neil is presently at work on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Where We Stand: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis with his daughter, Rylla.

See stunning full-color graphic-novelizations of The Probability Broach and Roswell, Texas which feature the art of Scott Bieser at Dead-tree versions may be had through the publisher, or at where you will also find Phoenix Pick editions of some of Neil's earlier novels. Links to Neil's books at are on his website


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