Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 619, May 15, 2011

"They all went to the theater expecting
to see a film, and saw a movie, instead"

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Killing Osama
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

Well, here we are again, gentle reader, back where we shouldn't need to be, because any randomly selected five-year-old kid knows better.

It's often refreshing, listening to conservative commentary. You know who I'm referring to. At least when we disagree with three quarters of what they say, it's a different three quarters than we are used to disagreeing with. And often, in the midst of arguments over guns, taxes, or monetary policy, we almost forget that we are not conservatives ourselves—and that there's a damned good reason for that.

Conservative hypocrisy smells not a bit better than "progressive" hypocrisy. It's possibly even worse, because they're so self-righteous all the time, so obnoxiously religious—and yet we're supposed to overlook it when they heave whatever it is they profess to believe in overboard, in order to accomplish some political objective apparently more precious to them than their god in his heaven or their immortal souls.

What any five-year-old knows, of course, and what conservatives appear to have forgotten, is that it doesn't matter how good that objective may be, if you have to achieve it by doing evil. To put it into more familiar words, and succinctly, the end cannot justify the means.

It doesn't matter how repulsive a given individual may be, there is absolutely nothing that justifies violating someone else's border (especially if you spend half your time whimpering about your own border being violated), smashing your way into someone's home without the faintest trace of anything remotely resembling due process of law, terrorizing and murdering its occupants, and killing the head of the household while he's sitting, unarmed and in his underwear, in his bedroom.

Nor is there anything heroic about it. Note that the "hero" who did it—if, indeed, it was really done—remains an anonymous assassin; what he did, for the all-powerful state, was despicable and cowardly. That his victim's deeds may have been equally despicable and cowardly (we'll never know, since he's now conveniently dead) doesn't alter the case. Two wrongs, our five-year-old ethicist informs us brightly, don't make a right. But they apparently define the right wing, whose disgusting litany all week has been, "Now see, torture works!"

In any event, I thought we'd reserved that kind of mindless savagery for our own people, in places like Mount Carmel, near Waco, Texas, Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and the Donald Scott estate in Malibu, California. (The Indiana Supreme Court has just ruled, in its infinite stupidity, that nobody has a right to resist an illegal police home invasion.)

It's exactly the same with the Constitution. Conservatives go on and on about it—whenever their pet politicians aren't denouncing it as "just a damned piece of paper"—until suddenly (or not so suddenly) it stands in their way, precisely as it was intended to do whether the proposed transgressors were Federalists or Democratic Republicans, and whether they are conservatives or "progressives", today.

No war has ever been lawfully declared in the matter of September 11, 2001. The "mastermind" responsible for what happened in New York on that day—provided that we choose to believe the government's story about it—was therefore, in the absence of such a declaration, not an enemy combatant, no matter how evil he may have been, but a violent criminal, who should have been arrested, extradited, tried, and punished with all of the legal niceties, not for his sake—and this is supremely important—but for our own, for the preservation of our civilization, which we now see crumbling all around us, and to preserve the sacred principle of rule by law, rather than by imperial edict.

It was lawlessness in the first place—the lawlessness of sorry specimens like George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama—that got us into the mess we're in now as a nation. We have meddled—and murdered—in the Middle East for a century. The current President claims a right to kidnap anyone he likes for any reason that strikes him, and have that person confined in a secret prison, tortured, and executed, utterly without any Constitutional limit.

This anti-American counter-revolution, this internal fascist coup d'etat, began, as near as I can tell, with Lyndon Johnson claiming the government has a solemn right, a duty to lie to American voters and taxpayers, and with Richard Nixon, who passed legislation—RICO—designed specifically to deny accused individuals due process of law.

There have been plenty of precedents, beginning as early as Thomas Jefferson's extralegal purchase of the Louisiana Territory, or John Adams' passage and use of the Alien and Sedition Act, the USA Patriot Act of its day. It isn't just a slope, and it isn't merely slippery. It's a vertical Teflon cliff, and once you're over the rim, you're gone.

The next American President, provided he is a decent individual (and again, you know who I'm referring to because he's the only one like that in the Presidential race), has a long, hard row ahead of him to hoe. As important as the economy may be, there are far more important issues to be dealt with. Restoring prosperity and progress can be accomplished with a few strokes of a pen, mostly on bills of repeal.

Eradicating the twisted culture of police and military barbarity that has sprung up over the last few decades in this country, calling a decisive halt to the steady rodent-like gnawing at the values of individual freedom and independence that were all that ever made it admirable and good, restoring the rule of law, the supremacy of the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, is bound to prove more difficult.

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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