“A Culture of Lawlessness”

by L. Neil Smith
Patronize Me!

Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

First published in Issue Number 20, December 15, 1996.

Okay, I admit it, I’m an X-Files fan. Over the past couple of years, it’s become my family’s favorite TV program. Special Agent Dana Scully is the kid sister I never had, and her partner Fox Mulder is … pretty strange and more than a little driven, maybe. But on the other hand, aren’t we all these days?

Over the past several weeks of the latest season, however, the writers and producers of this wonderful show have begun to get a trifle tiresome. In each episode, they’ve gone out of their way to take one cheap shot after another at all those things the politically correct are currently expected to disapprove of: the so-called far right, anti-government groups and individuals, fanatic religious “cults”, and all the rest of the socialist mass media’s assassin’s list. They’ve even decided for us, months before the first jury member gets seated, who was responsible for the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.

The whole thing reminds me of the embarrassingly inept and superficial way network shows of the 60s dealt with hippies and anti-war activists. The worst specimen of a bad lot was the Civil War reincarnation episode, an unbelievably incompetent attempt—aired two days before a general election—at covering up like a cat in a litter-box the murderous atrocities of the ATF and FBI near Waco, Texas. The episode, which only succeeded at prostituting an otherwise splendid edifice for a morally unworthy purpose, was so badly weighed down by its payload of propaganda that it lowered the normally high integrity of The X-Files , demolished the theme and values it’s always been written around, and distorted, beyond recognition, a pair of principal characters we’ve come to love.

Well, I’ve got some news for the creator of The X-Files, Chris Carter. Chris, you’re one, too. What you’re complaining about, in the words you put in Scully’s mouth yourself, is “a culture of lawlessness”. You believe that there are conspiratorial elements within the US government, secretly focused on accomplishing a diverse array of illegal objectives, in pursuit of which they’re willing to lie, cheat, steal, kidnap, murder, and far worse than murder the very people whose rights they have solemnly sworn to uphold and defend.

In short, you believe exactly the same things believed by the Branch Davidians, the Montana Freemen, the Weaver family, and every militia company on the continent of North America. Also, half the Republican Party, all the Libertarian Party, and a percentage of Democrats that would make you drop your teeth. (How many actually accept the official story of JFK’s assassination? And by the way, you got the bit about Lee Harvey Oswald’s curtain rods wrong.) Get a clue, Chris: why the hell do you think The X-Fileshas become so popular?

What do the people that you’re beating up on—people in no position to fight back—actually believe that’s so far out of line, anyway? Let’s take the toughest first. They believe every gun law in America is unconstitutional—meaning it’s in direct violation of the Bill of Rights, the highest law of the land. The best current legal and historical scholarship supports them in this belief. You needn’t look any further than the way the Second Amendment has been trashed, by all three branches of the federal government and every level of authority below them, to discover an origin to your “culture of lawlessness”.

True, they may believe that evolution is a scientific hoax (a friend of mine calls people like that “butt-stupid fundamentalists”) but you believe in global warming, acid rain, and ozone depletion; I’d say that makes you about even.

Maybe we’d better stick to the Federal Reserve, a network of private banks working a scam in which congresscritters they put in office run up huge debts that the banks agreeably finance and collect interest on—at the involuntary expense of everybody forced to pay income taxes. Not very complicated, as conspiracies go, but it’s kept its perpetrators in caviar and limousines since 1913.

According to the hairsprayed heads who read news on TV across the country, the “craziest” right-wing belief is that the FBI, the ATF, and other outfits like them are illegal. But I challenge you: take a good, hard squint at the Ninth and Tenth Amendments—then tell me exactly where the authorization for any kind of federal “law enforcement” can be found within the body of the Constitution.

About now, it’s customary for folks like you to start spluttering things like, “Well, if you don’t like the system, you can always change it, in the voting booth.” The trouble, as Boss Tweed smugly boasted, is that it doesn’t matter who does the voting, as long as his kind do the nominating. Look at the last election: did any real liberal want Bill Clinton? Did any realconservative want Bob Dole? Hell, Chris, no real Libertarian wanted Harry Browne! As for the people’s only other legal recourse, courts that invariably back the play of federal agencies, wasn’t there a fellow—James Buchanan, I believe his name was—who won a Nobel Prize not long ago, by pointing out that bureaucrats tend to support the point of view of those who sign their paychecks?

There’s one significant difference between people like you, Chris, and the counter-cultural right you didn’t know you were a member of. What happens to you, if you get caught thinking politically incorrect thoughts? Maybe you get snubbed at cocktail parties, or “never work in this town again”—not much of a threat to somebody whose series films in Vancouver. What happens to those you help to bully? Recent history indicates that they get machine-gunned, poison-gassed, and incinerated to death, along with their helpless, innocent children.

Don’t stick up for the feds, Chris, they’re the badguys. Carrying their baggage is exactly like writing speeches for the Ku Klux Klan and justifying the lynchings of blacks, or for Adolf Hitler, offering slick excuses for his deathcamps.