by L. Neil Smith
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
The news last week, to quote Walter Cronkite, was “filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times”. And seldom have times more badly needed altering—although I’m not sure how much more illumination I can stand.
One item being discussed wherever those concerned with the Bill of Rights congregate, was a White House statement that the President supports renewal of unconstitutional gun laws passed by the Clinton Administration—although it couldn’t have happened without the enthusiastic assistance of Republicans like “Brady Bill Bob” Dole— that were otherwise supposed to “sunset” sometime in 2004.
Unfortunately, this statement failed to come as much of a surprise to those acquainted, over the past two or three decades, with the GOP’s increasingly despicable record regarding issues of self-defense in general, and in particular the unalienable, Constitutional, civil, individual, and human right of every man, woman, and responsible child to obtain, own, and carry, openly or concealed, any weapon—rifle, shotgun, handgun, machinegun, anything—any time, any place, without asking anyone’s permission.
In the dishonorable tradition of George Dukmejian and Pete Wilson, the GOP has now been thoroughly “Californicated”. With the notable exception of Congressman Ron Paul, if there’s one Republican left who, as T.D. Melrose observed, wouldn’t “rather see a woman raped in an alley and strangled with her own pantyhose than see her with a gun in her hand”, he’s keeping his mouth shut for fear of being “disappeared” by the neocon Nazis running his party.
Another disturbing news item last week concerned a federal judge who’s decided that your right to freedom of expression extends only as far as he approves of what you have to say. To be specific, he ordered tax resistor Irwin Schiff to stop lecturing, writing, publishing, and distributing his books which argue that nobody has a legal obligation to pay income taxes. Until now, I’d seen Irwin as an amiable propellor beanie type (he’s owed me a books for several years, although I never pressed it), but this judge has made me start wondering why—if the guy is a couple rounds short of a reload—it’s necessary to gag him.
There’s a precedent. In the 50s, Wilhelm Reich was teaching and writing about his theory that living things use the Force. He called it “Orgone” and said it could be conserved by sitting in a metal box, and even absorbed from plants you took in the box with you. Despite the limits supposedly imposed on government by the First Amendment, Reich’s lectures were forcibly broken up by the FDA, attendees shaken down, harrassed, and threatened, and Reich’s books piled in the street and burned—your tax dollars at work. Reich was sent to prison, where he died. That noise you hear in the background is Tom Jefferson doing about 4800 RPM in his grave.
But once again, I’ve digressed. Neither of these stories may seem like a big deal in these times of Homeland Security, the USA Petrocrat Act, and the War on Anyone Who Has Anything We Want. Opinions vary, which is the whole point to being free. But when they were discussed by folks I communicate with every day on the Smith2004 list, I said both of them could be dealt with, if people were willing to use their imaginations and do a little hard work.
Let’s start with the wholesale violation of Irwin Schiff’s First Amendment rights, because it’s the more difficult of the two problems. This arrogant, ignorant, evil judge is hardly an aberration. From bottom to top, the American judiciary system— municipal, county, state, and federal—is hopelessly corrupt. As I’ve said on occasion, what it needs is to be cleaned out with flamethrowers and firehoses.
For decades, American judges have been inventing “rights” for parasites, at our involuntary expense, while weasel-wording our real liberties away—starting with the 1000-year-old right and duty of a jury to evaluate the law, as well as the facts of a case. By referring to the Bill of Rights as a “living” document—meaning they’re free to bend it to their will whenever and however it advances the cause of socialism—they’ve murdered it by inches.
More and more it’s plain that judges see themselves as part of the prosecutorial team, rather than the neutral referees they’re supposed to be. They’ve conspired with prosecutors to take the courtroom away from juries, contrary to the designs of the Founding Fathers. Through the process of “voir dire”, they select only juries likely to convict, no matter the facts of the case or the principals at stake. They’ve even seized the power to forbid defendants and their attorneys from making arguments or bringing up facts that might prove embarrassing or inconvenient to the prosecution. Simply mention jury nullification or the Constitution and you’ll wind up in a cell for contempt.
Most Americans don’t know what a mess their courts have been made into. Products of government childhood indoctrination centers, they work hard all day. They have to: half of what they make is stolen from them, to be used in the brutal suppression of their rights. They come home to watch TV programs that make heroes of lawyers, cops, and judges. Or that are designed—Jerry Springer comes to mind, but there are dozens more like him—to make them and their neighbors look like mutants, deviants, and cretins who need to be watched and controlled—if not jailed or simply shot outright.
Acquainting people with the facts will take lots of time, skull-sweat. and elbow grease. But I know, at least, where to begin—with a cartoon.
I don’t know where the term “kangaroo court” came from, but I know the kangaroos aren’t seated in the jury box, but on the bench. So what we need is a logo—a kangaroo wearing judge’s robes and, I think, a white judge’s wig, just to make it plain what we oppose: the kind of blatant statism upheld by English judges before the Revolution.
The kangaroo judge should look funny—the only alternative to going insane is laughing—and dopey, like the kangaroo that gives Sylvester and his son so much grief in the Warner Brothers cartoons. People will think he’s cute. Occasionally, however, his eyes should grow shifty, and we’ll be able to glimpse the malice lurking within.
The first thing to do with the kangaroo is build him a website, to collect and disseminate stories of judicial atrocities like the Schiff case. It will publish relevant cartoons, caricatures, and commentary. It will seek sponsors—defense attorneys, perhaps, or bail bondsmen—and be as lavishly produced and well-publicized as possible. It will broadcast names, biographies, and pictures. Each year, amid a flurry of press releases similar in tone to the Darwin Award, it will offer a little statue of the kangaroo in his robes and wig to whatever judge has most greatly exceeded our cynical expectations.
For the sake of prudence, the site will be mirrored in Canada, Australia (home of the kangaroo), and anyplace else that will make shutting it down difficult. The place to start is with a contest, I think, for the design of the logo, the lucky and talented winner to be selected by a panel of distinguished libertarian cartoonists.
The enemies of liberty are cowards and skulkers, moral cockroaches who shun the harsh light of the truth. They’re also compromisers. Shine the light on them long enough, and changes will made.
* * *
Whenever the unutterable scum of either party blat loudest about defending America—from enemies they made for us—they begin, if they can, by stripping Americans of their weapons. Dixie Chick Natalie Mains may regret saying she’s ashamed that George Bush is a Texan (he isn’t really, of course, any more than his carpetbagger father—and here I was, about to buy another couple of albums until she caved in); frankly, I’m ashamed he belongs to the same species I do.
The man is supposed to be popular right now, according to polls I don’t have much confidence in. Among all my friends and acquaintances, I don’t know of more than three or four—only one was offended recently when I said that Silverfoot Junior has the brains of a baked potato—who respect the man or agree with anything he’s doing.
Still, it isn’t just true that “only Nixon could go to China”, but—in a nation that successfully resisted eight long, terrible years of Waco Willie and his deadly wife Polly Pot—only the Republicans could have shredded and incinerated what pitiful tatters were left of the Bill of Rights. It’s important that they be stopped and the process reversed. Here’s the way to begin:
The Republicans’ big nightmare, just now, is that their Glorious Leader will follow in his fatuous father’s footsteps and lose the edge he’s supposedly garnered before it can be used to reelect him. Given their historic stupidity and clumsiness, the greater their fear, the greater the likelihood that’s exactly what will happen.
Imagine a high quality, non-fading vinyl bumper sticker that, in large, colorful, easy-to-read lettering, simply says …
NEXT TIME, I’M VOTING LIBERTARIAN
Imagine a similar sticker, printed backwards, so you can place it on your front bumper, to be read by those in front of you in their rear-view mirrors.
Imagine stickers like that on only one percent—that portion of the vote libertarians can usually rely on—of the cars on the road. Imagine adding non-libertarians—liberals and genuine conservatives—angry about the war or the gun bills or the state of the economy.
Now imagine a higher percentage—three, five, ten—those we can persuade to “make the threat that keeps on threatening” regardless of their actual intentions or political affiliations. Imagine the panicky and hysterical reaction in the Republican inner sanctum as they anticipate a humiliating defeat by some clone of Michael Dukakis because libertarians took away their margin.
Above all, don’t be persuaded that it’s worse to be ruled by Democrats than Republicans. George Bush has proven that it isn’t.
When they try to outlaw bumper stickers—”It’s unsafe to read those things when you’re driving, and besides, they contribute to road rage!”—we’ll know we’ve won this round. Whatever blustering they do about it, things are about to change for the better.
As I said, it’ll be lots of hard work, and there are no shortcuts, no miracles. This will only be the beginning. Are we up to it? I suppose you’ll let me know. Remember, we’ve got kids and grandkids who have to grow up and live in the world we leave them. And even if you’re an atheist, resistance to tyranny is obedience to something.
I prefer to call it “natural law”.
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