L. Neil Smith's
Number 164, March 11, 2002
March Madness

Parenting Free Individuals

by William Stone, III

Exclusive to TLE

My paternal grandmother --- a strong-willed pioneer of the American West --- sometimes observes that her great-granddaughters are really amazing kids. I try not to claim too much credit for it.

"The girls are naturally smart," I tell her. "It kind of runs in the family. I just try to stay out of their way and not to screw them up."

Nevertheless, as a free individual, it's my fondest desire that my daughters (presently aged six and eight) will grow up to be free individuals. In this day and age, one faces a lot of barriers to this. Chief among them are the government-operated indoctrination centers --- excuse me, schools --- that most children are forced to attend.

Mine don't attend government schools, but rather one nominally owned and operated by the Catholic Church. We make this choice largely because of my wife's religious faith, but also because I think the girls are recieving a better education than is available from a public school.

This does not mean that I don't occasionally find myself correcting some misconception placed in my childrens' mind by a socialist teacher. I've had a really tough battle over Abraham Lincoln (www.lneilsmith.org/abelenin.html,) for example.

In very short order, I'm going to have to explain to the girls that there is a difference between factual reality and what one must regurgitate in order to pass a class.I myself had to rather painfully learn this lesson by failing some college exams. The sooner the girls learn, the better.

I encourage my daughters to think like free individuals. Our bedtime reading selections often include L. Neil Smith's excellent juvenile novels, Brightsuit MacBear and Taflak Lysandra, Robert A. Heinlein's The Rolling Stones and Podkayne of Mars; and J.K Rowling's Harry Potter books.

I discourage the girls from thinking in terms of what is legal and illegal, but rather in terms of actions that cause harm to others and restitution for harm.

I try and pass on the single most useful advice of my father, a fact that when fully understood leads to a much more pleasant existence:

"Life is not fair."

Nevertheless, lacking a manual on how to raise children to be free individuals, one of the things a parent realizes is that much as you might like, real life is not like a family TV show. Unlike Seventh Heaven, Little House on the Prarie, The Brady Bunch, and Leave it To Beaver, life does not present parenting problems that can be neatly- tied-up in sixty minutes or less (with breaks every fifteen minutes for commercials).

This fact was driven home to me by a series of events that began almost three years ago and culminated last night, February 22, 2002

March, 1999

I made the choice to relocate my family from suburban Chicago to the southeastern corner of South Dakota. There were many reasons for this, but chief among them was the fact that the socialist bent of America's megalopoli had been driving me insane for the better part of a decade. As a South Dakotan by birth and having lived in a wide variety towns and cities in the midwestern US, I was aware that something better was available.

I exercised my pedal franchise and have never looked back.

Apon arriving in South Dakota, the first thing I did after buying a house on a 2.3-acre lot was obtain my CCW license. This was impossible in Illinois (and I'm not happy it's necessary in South Dakota), but it allows me to legally keep my carry gun on my person. I'd been doing this illegally for years in Chicago, naturally.

June, 1999

My uncle and I attended a gun show in Yankton, South Dakota. I am consistently amazed that the Yankton gun shows are among the best I have ever attended. They blow the socks off the Chicagoland ones, despite the fact that Yankton is a town of 15,000 or so.

This particular show was sponsored by the Dakota Territory Gun Collectors' Association. Being a South Dakotan gun nut at heart, I naturally joined the organization immediately. It doesn't provide much by way of membership premiums, but you do get a newsletter and free admission to any of their shows in North and South Dakota.

February 9, 2002

My wife works for Boise Cascade Office Products (www.bcop.com) of suburban Chicago. When we moved to McCook Lake, South Dakota, they converted her position to a part-time telecommuting one. From time to time, she travels to the office in Chicago for meetings. This involves an unavoidable commercial airline trip, as the drive time from McCook Lake to Chicago is roughly ten hours.

My wife and I have decided that since Bloody Tuesday, we'll make no personal air trips. Sometimes you can't avoid it for business --- though the first airline that allows me to carry my sidearm will recieve all of my future air travel business.

In any event, on February 9, I dropped my wife off at SUX for a trip to ORD.

You read that right: SUX. The official FAA abbreviation for the Sioux City, Iowa regional airport is "SUX."

The only thing more amazing than that is a local radio station with the call letters "KSUX."

The only thing more amazing than that is the KSUX mascot: a pig. Really. I'm not kidding. I couldn't believe it the first time I saw it, either. Not only that, the station actually advertises itself as "The Super Pig." The only thing even vaguely redeeming about the situation is that "SUX" is pronounced "sue" rather than "sucks."

Unlike previous SUX to ORD flights, my wife wasn't looking forward to this one. One of her hobbies is cross-stitch, an activity she routinely engaged in while enduring the interminable layovers and delays that accompanies commercial air flights under the best of circumstances.

Not any more, of course. Cross-stitch involves a tiny pair of scissors and a needle, so her material was stowed in luggage.

My daughters accompanied me to drop my wife off at the airport. Both are well aware that I proudly carry a sidearm virtually everywhere, and that this is one of the advantages of living in South Dakota. In fact, I made a point of showing them that I was removing my carry gun and where I was stowing it when we parked at the airport.

One of the other advantages of small-town life is having a small regional airport as opposed to a gigantic international one. When your wife makes a business trip, you can take your daughters all the way to the jetway to say goodbye. Then you can go outside, wave to Mommy as she looks out through the window of the jetliner, watch the plane back out, taxi, and take off.

Not any more. Yet another aspect of small-town life that has been obliterated by the Federal police state: this time, we had to say goodbye at the security gate and were prohibited from watching the aircraft take off.

This naturally caused a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth by my daughters. On the way home, both tearily wanted to know why this had changed.

I explained that Bloody Tuesday had given the government an excuse to try and control people, on the pretext that it would make them safer.

The older daughter naturally wondered how taking Mommy's cross-stitch scissors was going to make anyone safer.

I agreed that she was absolutely right --- and moreover if the government didn't make people like me take off our guns when we got to the airport, Bloody Tuesday wouldn't have happened in the first place.

This confused her for a moment, so I explained that the reason it wouldn't have happened is simple: bad guys like easy targets. And the easiest targets, of course, are people without the means to defend themselves. This made perfect sense to her. As a second-grader, she's acquainted with the concept of the playground bully and their natural victims.

February 17, 2002

I attended a large Dakota Territory Gun Collectors' Association show in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Ordinarily the Sioux Falls show is populated by antique guns, the kind I've neither the money nor inclination to purchase. My hunting rifle is a Winchester Model 70 (www.winchester-guns.com/prodinfo/catalog/md70/md70.htm) in 7mm Remington Magnum. It has the composite stock and stainless steel barrel, and it vaguely bothers me that I can't find a semi-auto hunting rifle with an action as accurate as the Model 70's bolt.

This should tell you everything you need to know about my gun preferences. I like high-tech toys that make loud noises, don't require extra work to get the next round in the chamber, and eject spent cases as quickly as possible. The Sioux Falls DTGCA show is something I attend just to enjoy the art of the gun.

To my delight, this gun show was attended by Shawn Gengerke of Groton, South Dakota, who runs Gengerke Tactical Supply (www.gengerketactical.com). He had three tables filled with the sorts of toys I enjoy: semi-auto race guns, semi-auto rifles, lots of black plastic and stainless steel, and an entire table devoted to their custom .50 calibre rifles.

I spent a good deal of time at the Gengerke table, and got to hear one of the dumbest things I've ever heard spoke aloud. Some moron picked up one of the .50 calibre rifle shells and said to Shawn:

"You know, I heard you can put one of these in a 12-gauge shotgun and fire it once --- but it ruins your gun."

Shawn emphatically tried to talk the idiot out of this notion. The only thought in my head was, "If that guy actually buys one of the shells, the gene pool is going to be weeded of some really stupid material."

(It was rather like the time I watched the gaggle of tourists edging closer and closer to a bull buffalo (www.dakotabuffalo.com) in Yellowstone National Park (www.yellowstone.com). When the buffalo charged -- fortunately a warning charge, he didn't really intend to hurt anyone -- I turned to my daughters and said, "You see, girls, those people over there were awfully stupid, weren't they?")

In any event, in addition to the Gengerke Tactical Supply, there was Mark Sutton (leachcmpr@aol.com) of Leach Camper Sales (www.rvamerica.com/leach from Council Bluffs, Iowa. Mark has a side business selling bumper stickers and other interesting paraphenalia. I purchased four copies of a pocket edition of the Declaration of Independance and Constitution.

Also, four copies of a bumper sticker that read, "Tom Daschle for Dog Catcher."

February 22, 2002 I took the girls to the video store to rent a copy of the newest Mary- Kate and Ashley (www.marykateandahkley.com) DVD. The now- teenaged Olson Twins are the modern equivalent of Nancy Drew and have a new DVD that details a recent Bahaman adventure. The girls had to see it.

On the way into town, they noticed the four copies of the Constitution pocket editions that I'd left on the seat. I told them that they could each have one copy.

Never let it be said that I don't miss a moment to inject some useful lessons into the day. I asked the girls if they understood what about the Declaration of Independance and the Constitution made America unique. The older daughter started to list off some things.

I said, "That's all true, but you're missing the most important thing, the thing that still distinguishes America from every other country in the world:

"Before America declared its independance, there was no government on Earth that put the rights of each person before itself."

I went on to explain what this meant, and why that's responsible for the fact that we're not still living on small farms using horses. I explained that when government isn't busy trying to control everyone for the benefit of kings and emperors, people are capable of producing some amazing things.

To illustrate, I asked my older daughter to locate and read the First Amendment. The wording is a bit archaic for an eight-year-old, so I had to explain some of the specifics. She was familiar with the idea behind it, since she'd studied the concept of religious freedom in school.

I then asked her to read the Second Amendment. As any libertarian knows, the its wording is difficult enough for adults to understand, so I boiled the the concept for her:

"It means Congress can't pass laws that keep people from carrying guns if they want to."

And then --- with a tone of indigance that only occurs when one has truly internalized one of life's lessons --- she burst out:

"But Daddy, they already do that!"

I just about went off the road, I was so amazed. I shouldn't have been --- both my girls are much too smart for my own good.

She didn't stop there. While I was busy picking my jaw up off the dashboard, she went on:

"I remember you said bad guys like easy targets. The people on September 11 were easy targets because Congress made laws that made them take off their guns! They broke the rules!"

All I could say was, "Honey, you're absolutely right. They broke the rules and passed those laws, and that's what caused the all those people to die on September 11. People get hurt every time Congress breaks the rules and passes laws that they're not supposed to. They're doing it more and more, and it's causing more and more proplems."

Then, just to top things off, the six-year-old piped up with, "Daddy, I don't want to be an easy target."

To which I replied, "Well, honey, that's why we go to the gun range from time to time and why I'm teaching you to handle guns properly. When you're old enough, I'll buy you a small gun like mine that you can carry in your purse. Then you won't be an easy target."

This seemed to reassure her.

But damn, my kids are smart! I just have to keep reminding myself to get out of their way.

The State vs. The People, by Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelman

Is America becoming a police state? Friends of liberty need to know.

Some say the U.S. is already a police state. Others watch the news for signs that their country is about to cross an indefinable line. Since September 11, 2001, the question has become more urgent. When do roving wiretaps, random checkpoints, mysterious "detentions," and military tribunals cross over from being emergency measures to being the tools of a government permanently and irrevocably out of control?

The State vs. the People examines these crucial issues. But first, it answers this fundamental question: "What is a police state?"

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