[Get Opera!]

L. Neil Smith's
Number 170, April 22, 2002

[Letters to the editor are welcome on any and all subjects. To ensure their acceptance, please try to keep them under 500 words. Sign your letter in the text body with your name and e-mail address as you wish them to appear.]

Letter from Julian Morrison

Letter from Sam Grove

Letter from Robert Hutchinson

Letter from Bill Bunn

Letter from Mimbreno Chiracahua

Letter from Carl E. Mullin

Letter from MacGregor K. Phillips

Letter from Dr. Sean Gabb & The Libertarian Alliance

Letter from David Maraj

Letter from Elizabeth McKinstry

I don't intend to comment on the abortion thing per se; convincing you is irrelevant to me, and I am already convinced. Still, I find it deeply ironic that the group pressing for "pro life" government force, are also most often the same folks fighting to stop any and all biotech. Surely if you are pro life, you should assist medicine, not fight it. Especially since this is the very same technology which may eventually provide haven for those you so vocally wish to protect.

Julian Morrison (julian@extropy.demon.co.uk)

The only consistent anti-abortion position is total; rape may not excuse aborton, nor may risk to the life of the mother. If abortion can be justified on these grounds, then it is not murder. If abortion is murder, then these ground do not justify it. We can't logically accept such excptions in the 'abortion is murder' position.

When does life begin?
Is a sperm cell dead? The pertinent question is: when does a being come into existence? The mystics maintain a position for which they can offer no proof. I take the position that the human BEING develops gradually and requires (in the case of humans) a central nervous system.

Ancillary point:
I support prohibition of murder because, aside from philosophical reasons, I derive some greater personal safety from widespread support for the prohibition. The practice of abortion poses no threat to me and my loved ones.

Parting comment:
I tend to dislike philosophy in exposition because it seems to require pariticipants to engage in long-winded, exceedingly detailed, sometimes arcane, and too often boring articulation. I like to dig out essential points and then see what happens (se my first point above).

Sam Grove (sam@kogagrove.org)

Reply to Curt Howland's letter:

Here is a perfect illustration of that which gives everyone such a headache in abortion debates: the morass of side arguments which fail to address the actual issues. In TLE 169, Curt Howland writes:

"To those who wish to argue anti-choice, be aware of the world you are arguing for: Prohibition of common vetrinary compounds [...]"

To those who wish to argue anti-robbery, be aware of the world you are arguing for: Prohibition of common weaponry, pantyhose, and fast cars.

To paraphrase one slogan of a formerly great institution, common veterinary compounds don't abort fetuses. People do. Let's try to avoid Sarah Brady's arguments, okay?

Robert Hutchinson (hobbs@surfsouth.com)

May I suggest that Mr Westmiller, in his argument in favor of legal abortion has chosen convention over clarity and defensibility; and has thereby failed to reach the key questions:

  • What is the proper purpose of the criminal law? And how far ought it to reach?

  • Ought the criminal law seek to deter and punish every imaginable wrongdoing?

  • Ought the criminal law be my tool by which I impose my ideas of right and wrong upon you all? Whose ethical values ought it reflect?

Perhaps we wander into an impossible thicket if we try to so use the criminal law. Perhaps we rather ought to ask what essential purpose must the criminal law serve.

We need the criminal law (at least to the extent of defining offenses against us, if not in its customary means of deterrence and punishment) in order to maintain a public peace, and an honest market. If we ask much more than this of the criminal law, do we not implicitly invite everyone else to try to harness it to serve their notions of undesirable behavior?

The implications of this view of the criminal law are discussed further at www.reninet.com/maile/billbunn/political/soapbox/Bounds%20of%20Criminal%20Law.html.

You may also wish to read:

  1. a brief essay by Francis W. Porretto titled "Revulsions" at www.geocities.com/fporretto/Essays/Politics/revulsions.html

  2. a speech, "The Price of Liberty", by Libertarian speechwriter and fundraiser Michael Cloud (delivered at the LPC's 1999 Convention) at www.reninet.com/maile/billbunn/political/libertarian/Price_of_Liberty.html

  3. chapter 33, "Socialism, Limited Government, Anarchy, and Bikinis", of "The Machinery of Freedom" by David Friedman, on the web at www.daviddfriedman.com/Libertarian/Machinery_of_Freedom/MofF_Chapter33.html

Bill Bunn (billbunn@free-market.net)

Mr. Carville makes some good points about morality being partly a product of economic necessity. This may not always be a good thing -- Americans' need for oil has certainly led to some bad moral decisions lately -- but it is encouraging to see a libertarian that can acknowledge the impact of technology on fundamental questions. His comment about a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fetuses was especially relevant. I apologize for lumping him with people like Mr. Antle. That was not my intention.

Mr. Antle. I did not elaborate on where rights come from because I was writing a letter to the editor not an essay. The submission guidelines request less than 500 words. In that spirit, let me just say I prefer a sapience test to a particular alignment of molecules in the DNA. If I accepted your racialist definition, I would have to allow that a single cell has 'rights' but an uplifted chimpanzee or orca does not. Even a reasonably precocious five year old could see something wrong in that assessment even if some libertarians cannot.

Interestingly it was a story by Robert Heinlein -- an author libertarians often claim as one of their own -- that started me thinking about sapience as the source of rights. The question of where rights come from and who has them is not peripheral to a political philosophy: It is even more fundamental than what those rights are. All moral philosophies break down at the extremes but one that is so poorly thought out it cannot answer unequivocally whether a fetus has rights does not deserve serious consideration.

Mimbreno Chiracahua (mchiracahua@yahoo.com)

Dear Sirs,

Having read some of the letters regarding abortion, it seems to me that the whole debate begs a question: When does Life change into a human?

This is not merely a useless begging because this address the heart of the whole debate. What most people don't understand is that human life do not actually begins with the union of sperm and egg because there is a very long process of transformations that go way back eons to the very beginning of evolution (some might not agrees with my assetment of origins but that's whole another story). Life begins then and life went under series of change thru mutations and reproduction from one stage to another. From single cell to fish to mammal to man to woman to child, there is a great chain of changes and a formation of a human is only the latest. The potential of a human child is implied within the DNA of a fish millions of year before us. Even in a man or woman, the human life is potential within their cells and eggs and sperms. But even with the joining of egg and sperm, human life is not set! Before it can transform into a baby it must first attact itself to a wall of womb for failure to attact mean failure to gain a channal thru which a potential child may receive its food. This is one of the reasons why women have periods, to clean out failed eggs so that another seeded egg that can attact to the womb may survive. In every step of reproduction, death is a handmaiden and a nurse savagely thrusting its knife to clear the forest of life of undergrowth. Then it beg a question of when does an egg become human with human nature.

This science lead me to consider that abortion is proper in the early stages and become questionable only in the later stages when such action can be difficult with much tearing in a manner that seems murderous. A far better thing to do is for us to help create a way to transfer the late stage baby to another a la Koman's book. But I don't think this debate will resolve itself anymore than the debate over how life begin because they both address the same problem of finding a line the divide the long gradual process into two neat parts.

Carl E. Mullin (Ravenart@aol.com)
visionary artist and entrepreneur
homo asteralis

Dominion: The power or right of governing and controlling; sovereign authority; lordship, sovereignty; rule, sway; control, influence. Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, CD-ROM v3.0.

W. James Antle III writes in "Freedom to Abort? NO! (Closing)" that "The abortion issue highlights a controversy between those who believe this self-ownership gives a woman dominion over the body of the pre- born child and those who don't". Since he is against abortion, he must then think that once a sperm and an egg unite that it has dominion over the body of the woman.

Now let me get this straight, a living, breathing, thinking, adult woman has no dominion over a fetus in her womb, but a few cells called a fetus has complete dominion over this living, breathing, thinking, adult woman. Something about this line of reasoning smells rotten, and not just in Denmark.

Since this small ball of cells called a fetus cannot, by its nature, be an advocate for its so called "rights", I just bet that W. James Antle III would love to be appointed head of the Bureau of Womb Slavery and use the absolute power of the state to enforce his views on abortion. No other way exists if he truly belives that abortion is murder. What is all boils down to in the end, is that this is not really about abortion, but about absolute state control over your life.

I grant him the right to try to persuade any woman he can not to have an abortion, but once he tries to enforce his views through the power of the state, he is just your simple, garden variety wanna-be-dictator who wants to be your absolute master in this, and everything else.

MacGregor K. Phillips (mkp@topsecretcrypto.com)

Dear The Libertarian Enterprise,

I send herewith a news release from the Libertarian Alliance that you may find useful or interesting.


Dr. Sean Gabb (old.whig@btinternet.com)

In Association with the Libertarian International

London, Saturday, 13th April 2002
For Immediate Use

Contact Details: Dr Chris R. Tame, 07957 644519,
For other contact and link details, see the foot of this message


The Labour's government's plans to integrate the personal data held on British citizens by various government departments and agencies is a dagger to the heart of liberty, says the Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties think tank and pressure group.

Libertarian Alliance Director, Dr Chris R. Tame, says:

"In the light of the ever-more blatant attack on civil liberties in this country - including the proliferation of camera surveillance systems, the increasing involvement of intelligence agencies in political surveillance and dirty tricks operations, the push for a national ID card and DNA database, the gradual abolition of common law liberties by the removal of jury trials, of the presumption of innocence, of the right of silence and of double jeopardy, and by the adoption of the EU's despotic corpus juris - this proposal is even more ominous. The government's claim that data would be processed only 'where necessary' is laughable - especially when one sees that their list of 'necessary' reasons covers every conceivable excuse for nanny statism, paternalism, censorship, socialism, prudery, puritanism and prohibitionism.

It is ironic that when the state has demonstrated that it is incapable of providing any 'public service' adequately, when it cannot defend its citizens from predators of every stripe, that is should be attempting to turn us into supplicants and serfs. The common argument that 'if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear' is absurd. In an age when health fascists have declared smoking to be a form of child abuse it is clear that everyone can be subjected to the prejudices of demented paternalists - whether of the fundamentalist religious nutters, the peddlers of PC pieties, the environmentalists, or the feminist anti-sex cranks. Your life style, your tastes, your sexuality, your political and social views, can be subjected to tomorrow's moral panic, propaganda scare campaign and witch-hunt and legislated as 'crimes' or as 'politically incorrect'.

The citizens of Britain need to send a message to our would-be masters that we are not numbers, that we will not be pushed, filed, indexed, stamped, briefed, debriefed, or numbered - that our lives are our own.

It is now clear that the 'social contract' has been broken by the state. Resistance to the usurpations of the state is both a right and a moral duty. It is the right, the duty, of all to resist and disrupt the state's data gathering and record-keeping ability, by whatever means are necessary".

(1) Dr Chris R. Tame is the founder and Director of the Libertarian Alliance. A prolific writer and lecturer on many topics in sociology, economics, philosophy and the history of ideas. He is also the author of "Freedom, Responsibility and Justice: The Criminology of the New Right" in the book "The Politics of Crime Control" (Kevin Stenson & David Cowell, eds., Sage Publications, London, 1991), which can also be found reprinted at www.libertarian.co.uk

(2) Dr Tame can be contacted for further comment at 07957 644519 or by email at chris@libertarian.co.uk

Dear Mr. Taylor

The Canadian publication, The Interim, reports that despite fervent opposition from the Australian government, top-secret files recently declassified from the National Archives of Australia has revealed that one of the fathers of modern biotechnology and genetic engineering-- world-famous microbiologist Sir Macfarlane Burnet--recommended in a secret report for the Australian Defence Department in 1947 that biological and chemical weapons should be used against Indonesia and other "over-populated" countries of South-East Asia.

Macfarlane, who won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1960 and died in 1985, believed biological and chemical weapons should have been directed towards the destruction of tropical food crops, and the dissemination of infectious diseases capable of spreading in tropical climates.

The Interim report also touched on the official policy of the U.S. regarding population control. In National Security Study Memorandum 200, written by Henry Kissinger, there were warnings that increasing populations in developing countries threatened U.S. strategic, economic, and military interests. It was proposed that strict population control was needed;specifically targeting 13 countries whose growing population suggested coming power.

It is quite clear that Third World de-population became a U.S. government strategic policy in '74, and has possibly remained so in various forms to this day.

David Maraj (cougar@echo-on.net)
Ontario, Canada

Dear Editor:

In regards to the article The Fastest Way to Freedom by Corey Langeslay, I would offer this comment:

There is nothing new here. This is what the corrupt and inept Libertarian Party has been saying for years. The reality is that the major problem with communicating the ideas of freedom is that there is no way to show people how freedom works -- beautifully and simply and to everyone's advantage. And the reason we have nothing to show people is that those of us with a drive for libery above security, a commitment to a bold ideology, are scattered like needles in haystacks.

The solution to this conundrum has already been proposed right here in TLE. To quote our mission statement: The Free State Project is a plan in which 20,000 or more liberty-oriented people will move to a single state of the U.S. to secure there a free society. We will accomplish this by first reforming state law, opting out of federal mandates, and finally negotiating directly with the federal government for appropriate political autonomy. We will be a community of freedom- loving individuals and families, and create a shining example of liberty for the rest of the nation and the world.

We are growing in leaps and bounds, primarily through word of mouth. We can and will create something to show the sleeping masses, but it takes the cooperation of an essentially uncooperative bunch -- us ornery individualists. Check us out, join us, or just support us -- we have a solution.

Elizabeth McKinstry (emckinst@hotmail.com
Organizing member of the Free State Project
"Liberty in Our Lifetime"

Do you have a business? Do you offer a service? Do you have goods to sell?

Advertise in the web edition of The Libertarian Enterprise!

Next to advance to the next article, or
Table of Contents to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 179, April 22, 2002.