I'll Show You Mine if You'll Show Me Yours
(A Challenge to the Canadian Mass-Media)
By L. Neil Smith
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
For years I've been comparing the American mass-media to a trade that's only slightly older than professional gossip-mongering, a trade that requires of its practitioners that they sell themselves in the most intimate, base, and humiliating manner, to anyone who happens to have the wherewithal to make the purchase.
I am not without my reasons for making this comparison. The media will do anything -- anything -- to suck up to government authority. Oh, they may bring down an individual president here, an individual governor there. They may take aim at this or that individual mayor or city councilman. The lower on the totem-pole of authority the individual happens to be, the more savage they become. There's nothing they love more than galloping after their victim in a pack and ripping the guts out of some poor high school janitor or meter maid.
But I seem to be mixing my metaphors here, don't I?
On the other hand, these paragons of courage and integrity have never seen a legislative or judicial violation of the Bill of Rights they weren't willing to cheer hysterically -- unless it was their rights that they felt were being threatened. How could they tell the difference? The rule-of-thumb is pretty simply, really. To a member of the mass-media, there's only one Amendment to the Constitution -- the First -- and it only applies to members of the mass media.
If anybody feels that I exaggerate, consider: where is the self-righteous soulful hue-and-cry to put Lon Horiuchi, the cold-blooded sniper murderer of Vicky and Sammy Weaver behind bars, compared with the baying and howling that brought Nixon down for sending a few burglars to the Watergate? Why isn't Janet Reno in the same kind of glass box Adolf Eichmann sat in, for what she admits to having ordered done at Mount Carmel near Waco, Texas? Why didn't the so-called adversary press bring down the Philadelphia city government for the MOVE bombing? Where were they when RICO erased the Fourth and Fifth Amendments?
Lately, I've been reminded that there are significant differences between honest whoring and what we've learned to refer to delicately as "journalism". For one thing, after the workday is finally over, an honest whore can take a shower and douche, use a little mouthwash, and consider herself off duty. She may even get lucky, win the lottery or fall in love with Mr. Right, and leave "the life". A journalist remains what he is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the thought of leaving "the life" invariably fills him with unutterable horror, and an honest journalist is an even rarer commodity than an honest politician.
Lately it appears (to nobody's great surprise) that Canadian journalism is an even sloppier-crotched doxy than its putrescently corrupt American sister. It seems that its toadyish practitioners are sycophantically determined to portray attendees at a Libertarian convention in British Columbia as racists and neo-fascists, for no reason better than that Libertarians tend to preach self-sufficiency and customarily grant little or no legitimacy to round-heeled journalism's regular paying customer, established authority. Also, because "racist neo-fascist" is what you call folks you hate this year. Last year, I seem to recall it was "child molester". And two generations ago it was "communist".
Well, as one who has been similarly slimed by Canadian journalists -- and kicked their slats out on the internet on their own terms, until they laid off for a blessed while -- I have a little challenge for our ink-stained brothers and sisters to the north. What do you say we compare 100,000 words' worth of editorials taken at random from "mainstream" Canadian newspapers and magazines with a similar amount of material from Libertarian publications? Which do you suppose will contain the greater number of sexist, racist, elitist, or fascist ideas?
Be warned, however: we Libertarians are considerably more fastidious than you are in these matters (which, after all, was the point of this essay). If, just as an example, you can't prove that affirmative action is a non-racist concept -- on the grounds that it assumes that people of color can't compete in a free market and therefore must be "helped along" by the government at everybody else's involuntary expense -- its advocacy is going to count against you.
If that sort of challenge doesn't appeal to you, then try this: can any one of you go a single year -- 365 days -- without once advocating the use of initiated force against somebody, which is to say, beating him up and killing him for some pet political end? Hundreds of thousands of Libertarians have been doing exactly that for decades. For all these years they've been doing more than thinking, more than talking, more than writing, they've been acting ethically -- consistently, even when it wasn't easy -- when you don't even know the meaning of the word. So tell me, just who is the real fascist, here?
The Libertarians you mindlessly attack are better "liberals" than you are. They believe in free speech, in a free exchange of ideas, in freedom itself, when every day you demonstrate clearly that you don't. Look that word up in the dictionary -- liberal -- then hang your head in shame. But they're more than that, as well. They're something new, never seen before on this poor, sorry, bloodsoaked planet, although we had a brief glimpse 220 years ago in the men who signed the Declaration that your ancestors scorned and ran away from.
These uncommonly kindly, unprecedentedly decent, intelligently gentle people, these Libertarians, are the one hope the poor, bloodsoaked planet has left.
If you dispute any of that, then there's my challenge, still hanging in the air between us. Compare our writings to yours. Compare our deeds to yours.
And if you're afraid to do it, then shut up.
L. Neil Smith's award-winning first novel, The Probability Broach, long out of print, has just been republished in an unexpurgated edition by TOR Books. A complete list of his novels and collection of his essays and other data may be reached on the World Wide Web through http://www.lneilsmith.org//. Permission to redistribute this article is herewith granted by the author, provided that it is reproduced unedited, in its entirety, and appropriate credit given.
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