L. Neil Smith's
Number 176, June 3, 2002

Prove Me Wrong!

[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 W. James Antle III

Letter from Curt Howland

Letter from Brett Middleton

Letter from Ian MacEwan

Letter from Alobar

Another Letter from Curt Howland

Re: Abortion And Libertarianism: A Conclusion -- TLE #173

The relevant question raised by Mr. Bunn's letter is what constitutes a violation of rights. There are some who argue that it is a form of child abuse for parents to smoke in the homes they share with their children because of the risks posed by second-hand smoke. Leaving aside for a moment the evidentiary flimsiness of the second-hand smoke "studies," even if such risks exist would smoking around one's children really violate their individual rights? Would it be morally equivalent to beating or molesting one's children?

I would submit that "risk" does not necessarily involve a violation of rights. So if society were to accept the concept of fetal rights, it would no more follow that pregnant women would be legally enjoined from such "risky" behavior as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or working out on the treadmill too vigorously than the acknowledgement of children's individual rights necessitates the involvement of criminal law in every adult activity that could pose comparable risks to children. Even among those who do not defend fetal rights per se, arguments are advanced in favor of women being liable for the birth defects they cause in their children by engaging in risky behavior during the pregnancy and many state laws impose additional penalties on criminals who induce miscarriages in the process of inflicting bodily harm on pregnant crime victims.

Criminal law properly protects the right to life by prohibiting specific acts of aggression, not by criminalizing every conceivable risk otherwise non-aggressive behavior could pose to other people.

W. James Antle III [Jimantle@aol.com]

Dear TLE,

I read with much disgust and horror a story last week, about the Chinese technique for finding law breakers. If a crime is committed, I must assume something non-trivial, a couple hundred suspects are rounded up. Half are released, and something like 100 executed.

I asked a friend of mine, who is Chinese, about this. He was not surprised at all, and said there was an "Old Chinese Saying": It is prefered that one hundred men are killed than one criminal get away.

Imagine my shock, because I had not prompted this. I then told him that the principle as stated in an "Old English Saying": Better a hundred guilty men go free, than one innocent man suffer.

It has been a learning experience for me, living on the other side of the world, culturally speaking, from "America". Most of the time, we joke about how remarkably similar the "Ancient Chinese/English Sayings" are. Until this one.

Something to think about.

Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]

Regarding "Ze Camera, Pleaze...", in what country has Mr. Schwartz been living? He asks:

"Five years from now, will we be told that a model railroader can no longer take pictures of the trestle he wishes to recreate as part of his hobby?"

I don't know about five years from now, but how about a couple of decades in the past? Back in the mid- to late-70s I frequently traveled through Reading Terminal in Philadelphia, and was also something of a model railroader. I clearly recall that each gate leading to the tracks was posted with stern warnings forbidding the use of cameras beyond the gate.

"On September 10, Americans looked down their noses at the people who lived in such unenlightened lands."

Yes, indeed. Too bad we can't focus on ourselves while looking down our noses.

Speaking of the quaint habits of people in unenlightened lands, didn't we used to look down our noses at countries with internal passports? The paper this morning quoted Florida Governor Jeb Bush calling the driver's license a kind of "passport". I find this far more chilling than the camera issue, since I'm about to face criminal charges in Florida because I allowed my Georgia driver's license to expire rather than submit to fingerprinting. Note that I have never committed a crime, and have never even had a speeding ticket. The officer stopped me simply to "check my papers," using the excuse that one of my tail lights is slightly cracked. Which is not an offense of any kind, to the best of my knowledge. Anybody know a good libertarian lawyer in Florida?

Brett Middleton [brettm@arches.uga.edu]

Open letter to Bob Wallace:

You began your piece in TLE #174: "I'm Okay, You're Not So Hot," and continued: "'We're human, but you're not quite -- or not even close,' has been one of the pre-eminent causes of war and genocide throughout history." I quite agree.

However, you went on to "diagnose" the "Personality Disorders" of other people. Freud was "wacky." Hitler and Clinton are examples of "psychopaths." Ayn Rand suffered from "Narcissistic, Paranoid, and Schizoid Personality Disorders."

Do you realize what you're doing? Is this deliberate? I'm hard put to think of a better example of "We're human, but you're not quite," than to "diagnose" the minds of those you wish to discount.

Ideas have consequences, as "Narcissistic, Paranoid, Schizoid" Ayn Rand used to say. I have seen people who couldn't care for themselves because their brains were cut. I have talked to people who could no longer recognize me because your sort blasted their minds with electrical current.

Let's have a little more respect for people, shall we?

Ian MacEwan [imacewan@earthlink.net]

If I could point to one single document which influenced my youth & helped set my feet upon the path which I now tread in joy, I would have to say it is "And Then There Were None" by Eric Frank Russell which I read when I was in 9th grade back in the 1950's. I had long forgotten the name of the story or it's author, but the link below was sent to me on another list the other day. Literature, it ain't. But the ideas presented still move me after all these years. http://www.abelard.org/e-f-russell.htm

Alobar [Alobar@bellsouth.net]

In response to: link to article

Dear Cape Cod Times,

Has civil forfeiture reached even the local mall? Your May 25th story about Jabberwocky novelties contains this statement:

"The owners were not charged with a crime."

So the police have confiscated private property without charges of a crime even being filed, much less after a conviction.

"The items are locked in a police evidence room."

Evidence of what? No charges have been brought, neither warrant nor probable cause cited, in fact no due process of law what so ever.

These were not "unknown criminals" either, they are established local business owners.

Private property taken without due process of law is patently unconstitutional, a crime under Federal Title 18 and I expect Mass. statutes too. Yet while these merchants are deprived of their property the police have no fear what so ever of negative repercussions of their actions. The worst thing that could possibly happen to them is they have to give the property back.

Imagine if I confiscated a policeman's property without a warrant or probable cause. Just for trying such a thing the policeman is "justified" in shooting me. Imagine if someone tries to defend their property from the police. Yeah, just imagine.

Equal justice under the law is a myth in Massachusetts.

Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]
(One time Pittsfield Mass resident)

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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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