L. Neil Smith's

Number 1, October 1995

There, but for the Grace of ...

By John Taylor

Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

         In the past week, I've had abundant opportunity to do one of the things I enjoy the most -- sit back and watch as life affects other people in ways I'd just as soon experience vicariously as I would first-hand.
         First, we have Calvin Ripken (clearly his parents knew something when they named him!) Last week, he broke the iron-man record in baseball with all-too-predictable results. The media "experts", over-inflated with the noxious gas of their own self-importance, swiftly divided into two camps. One faction wants to canonize Ripken as EveryMan, the Ultimate Striver, Sisyphus re-written with a happy ending. The other, of course, wants to drag him down, to belittle him, to treat him as if he had personally injected the deadly seed of ALS into the veins of the sleeping Gehrig, cackling maniacally in his enjoyment. And speaking of cackling, The Bill Who Would be King, in his never-ending quest to attach himself to anything that might wring votes from the rubes, showed up to watch Ripken break Gehrig's record. Clinton looked so out of place and uncomfortable; it seemed clear that he could not relate to the feat, to the dedication, or even to the crowd. Meanwhile, Ripken, more EveryBoy than EveryMan, just wants what he's always wanted -- to run in the sun, and to play baseball. Seems simple enough in principle. Maybe we ought to just let him.
         In the other corner, we find Robert Packwood (this just seems the week for suggestively-named public figures, doesn't it?) In spite of being a well-positioned, knowledgeable, influential member of the Senate, "B-Movie Bob" just couldn't keep it under control. (The tendency to lapse into a sniggering "Beavis and Butthead" routine at this point is almost too much to bear.) I'm not sure at the moment whether this says more about politics, the state of things between the sexes, or just plain human nature, but one thing's for certain. As a person greatly in need of learning to live within himself and keep his urges (including the urge to write about it!) under control, I suspect Mr. Packwood could profit mightily from lessons from Mr. Ripken. On the other hand, maybe his punishment ought to fit his crime -- let his accusers extract a suitable compensation. N-a-a-a-h, the Eighth Amendment probably gets in the way here. I'm not at all sure that Packwood is being hounded by his colleagues because he did what he did -- it may be more because he failed so often that they hold him in contempt.
         To round out our set of profiles in contrast, I submit Mr. Randall Weaver, our third "personality of the week". Mr. Weaver -- one is tempted to suspect that he is a David Koresh who lived -- was paraded and displayed last week before the Senate Committee on The Incident at Ruby Ridge, the Honorable Arlen Spector presiding. Portrayed by the government as a religious zealot, gun-nut, loner, ex-baby-killer Green Beret, white-supremacist, anti-government, shotgun-sawing xenophobe, Mr. Weaver gave the overwhelming impression of being a whole lot closer to Mr. Ripken than to Mr. Packwood on the scale of men with whom you'd enjoy sharing a beer, a venison steak, and a fine cigar. It seems clear enough that in the strange case of the Weaver assassinations, Mr. Spector might be a whole lot more successful at making a "magic bullet theory" stick than he was in his past incarnation. It also seems clear that we can tell without looking too hard or too long just who the bad guys are in this scenario. A jury and judge in Idaho; most everyone who has been following the story since the beginning; heck, apparently even some part of the government itself, if monetary compensation is any measure of conscience; everybody seems to pretty much get the picture. Everybody except Democratic congressional "leaders", "Jackboot Janet" Reno, and "Crime Bill" Clinton, that is.
         Now, let's be clear on a few things. Cal Ripken didn't save baseball by his acts. He came much closer to pointing out, by his example, everything that's wrong with the rest of the sport, and with much of society at large. Bob Packwood's imbroglio doesn't really mean much of anything at all, in the comic [sic] scheme of things. Everything his execrable conduct represented had already been correctly assumed of most politicians by most of the American people anyway. (What is it about holding national office that seems guaranteed to de-humanize the officeholder -- and the electorate, by proxy?) And Randy Weaver clearly is not now, and never was, a threat to the security of the nation -- his tormentors, however, clearly are, and will remain so.
         So there they are in a nutshell -- three men who broke through the scum protecting the surface of the consciousness of the network news moguls last week. So what are we to make of these three men? What lessons are we to learn? Well, in a perfect libertarian world, I guess, the bottom line is this: we'd leave two of them alone to live their lives, and the third of them would leave us and others alone. It's pretty much that simple, isn't it?

John C. Taylor
10554 Jason Lane
Columbia, Maryland 21044-2213
(410) 730-1265 [home]
(410 290-2535 [work]
76470.3001@compuserve.com. [e-mail]

Now Soliciting Your Opinions!

The Libertarian Enterprise is soliciting your opinions for an upcoming "Opinions Page". Send your news to the caring editors, with "Opinions Page" in the title of your email.

Next to advance to the next article, or Previous to return to the previous article, or Index to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 1, October, 1995.