L. Neil Smith's

Number 9, June 1996

The Hanging Judge

By L. Neil Smith

Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

         One of the wisest individuals I know insists that sociopolitical phenomena like racism, antisemitism, and neo-Nazism are creations of the Left. He isn't claiming they don't exist, but that they arise as an understandable and natural reaction to a climate of intolerance and repression generated by those who falsely call themselves "liberals". If, say for reasons of education, temperament, or carefully engineered lack of access to the media, you can't do anything more effective to stand up against "political correctness", you can become whatever it is the "politically correct" say they hate and fear most.
         My friend has been an astute and careful observer of amazingly similar thinkers like George Lincoln Rockwell, Meyer Kehana, and Malcolm X, but I was always inclined to take this notion with a grain of salt -- until I was inspired by a recent court ruling (and the continuing standoff in Jordan, Montana with the so-called "Freemen") to think about it in a new light.
         To explain: in a seizure of incomprehensible evil or insanity, some judge has just decided that firearms manufacturers may be held liable for the crimes of anyone who, one way or another, happens to acquire one of their products. Republican Sarah Brady, Democrat Charles Schumer, and the remainder of the victim disarmament movement have maneuvered for decades to get a ruling like this. Now in New York -- where else, except perhaps in California? -- they've finally discovered a judge stupid or corrupt enough to hand it to them.
         Which means, among other things, that America's automobile manufacturers had damned well better start looking to their lawyers -- cars kill at least three times the number of people every year that guns do -- and think seriously about supporting a different political party than they have in the past. (How did that old line go about, "When they came for the cigarette companies ... "?)
         Now, as anybody conversant with a real political map of this country can attest, there are light-years between Libertarians like me, and the "Freemen". On the other hand, somewhat like them, I certainly don't recognize the legitimacy of this ruling, nor the authority of this judge or his court, if they overstep Constitutional limits and countenance a transparent backdoor attempt to savage the Second Amendment in particular, and the Bill of Rights in general.
         For that matter, the "Freemen" claim that the FBI doesn't exist, by which I infer -- limited as I am to what the mainstream media have condescended to tell me about them -- that the "Freemen" believe that the FBI has no legal right to exist. Here we go again: check the Ninth and Tenth Amendments yourself, then tell me that the "Freemen" are wrong. Or did Thomas Jefferson really want us to have a national police force, an excellent example of the kind of "standing army" he and the other Founding Fathers were so worried about?
         Of course there are always those eager to line up for blocks to tell you there isn't any distance between me and the "Freemen". This kind of character assassination is common enough coming from the Left, but a recent gaggle of self-proclaimed Libertarians -- feckless retards trying to advance their own particularly destructive agenda -- have compared me on the internet to Patrick Buchanan (because of my Second Amendment activism) and accused me (on no better evidence than the fact that Fort Collins and Colorado Springs happen to be in the same state) of being associated with Focus on the Family.
         Me, a lifelong atheist and abortion advocate, guilty by reason of geographic proximity.
         I don't know what the "Freemen" stand for. I can't know. All I know is what I hear via media controlled by those my friend believes responsible for having generated the very climate of intolerance and repression that created socio-political phenomena like racism, antisemitism, neo-Nazism, and perhaps even the "Freemen". And now, thanks to a New York judge unfit to sit on any bench more elevated than that of an old-fashioned rustic two-holer, whatever distance there was between me and the "Freemen" -- at least on one or two issues -- has narrowed microscopically, and I'm just a little more inclined to take them seriously.
         Which doesn't mean that the feckless retards were right, but that my friend was.
         In the long run, I wouldn't worry too much about this ruling. Even those as mentally and morally disadvantaged as the Republican Party can see a need to change liability laws. This idiotic decision gores too many powerful oxen. In a recent -- and as it turns out, rather prophetic -- convention speech, I predicted that if the Second Amendment were to be overruled by the Supreme Court, it would spell the end of the Supreme Court, rather than of the Second Amendment.
         My wife Cathy has suggested that we Libertarians demand that a Republican-controlled Congress put our money where their mouths are and cut off federal funding to the state of New York, just as we would with any country boasting as blatant and miserable a record as it has for respecting and protecting human rights.
         On the other hand, in a story I wrote for Marvel Comics, killed for various complicated reasons, I had characters walking past a pub called "The Hanging Judge". There was a time when that phrase denoted someone like the infamous Roy Bean, inclined to stretch a miscreant's neck on the slightest pretext. In this story, however, the phrase was given an entirely new meaning: the sign over the pub showed a figure in black robes, swinging from the end of a rope.
         One of the things being said by the round-heeled press, over and over and over and over again, is that the Jordan, Montana crowd are "anti-government". Is this a crime, or simply an American tradition? Personally, I want nothing from the jackbooted thugs; all I wish, politically, is to give them nothing in return. Does this make me one of the "Freemen", or just a philosophical heir to Thomas Jefferson?
         Guess it depends on who you ask.

L. Neil Smith is the Prometheus Award-winning author of 20 books including The Probability Broach, The Crystal Empire, Henry Martyn, The Lando Calrissian Adventures, Pallas, and (forthcoming) Lever Action and Bretta Martyn. An NRA Life Member since 1973, founder of the Libertarian Second Amendment Caucus, and publisher of The Libertarian Enterprise, he has been active in the movement for 34 years and is its most prolific and widely-published living writer.

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