L. Neil Smith's
Number 177, June 10, 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 Jeff Schwartz

Letter from Ed Williams with Reply by The Editor

Letters from MacGregor K. Phillips, Robert Hutchinson, Doug Newman, John Bottoms, and Ralph_B_Fuller

Letter from Bill Bunn

<<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.>>

One of the nice things about the way I've managed to structure my life over the last few decades is that I've been able to avoid big cities such as Phili. ...

Not so much a case of "living in another country" but more of "living out in the country".

Thanks ever so much for bursting my happy bubble of ignorance. (grin)

Jeff Schwartz [jeffreyschwartz@comcast.net]

<<So what are we going to do about it? Do libertarians (or whatever we really are) have any spine at all? Or are we just going to shake our heads, nod in agreement with the few who bestir themselves to rant and rave about it, grouse and grumble among ourselves, and then go back to our comfortable routines?>>

Paradigm changes occur when perturbation (read information) overloads the old model with exceptions, causing collapse, then reorganization at a new level that accomodates the former stress factors as "normal"... at least 'til next time...

The internet is loading so much info into the mix that the next several years are going to make "Interesting Times", you betcha'... If you have a "comfortable routine" I hope that you appreciate it while it lasts...

When societies perturbate, it usually gets messy, and fascinating, all at once. With a large part of the US population never having seen much if any disruption of "business as usual", things are likely to get kinda nuts around here. The score for this round will be determined by the countless, personal thoughts and deeds of us all. I'll take my chances with enlightened self interest anytime... If my neighbor needs something, I do what I can to help, and they do the same. This applies to fire, hay, defense, picnics, you name it. So, who needs politicians, anyway? Those folks are over and they don't even know it yet ...

Ed Williams [chimneys@quik.com]
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John Taylor replies:

<<The internet is loading so much info into the mix that the next several years are going to make "Interesting Times", you betcha'...>>

I said exactly the same thing to anyone who would listen ... in 1994.

<<If you have a "comfortable routine" I hope that you appreciate it while it lasts...>>

I definitely do not, nor did I mean to imply that I did. Anyone who is "comfortable" in these times is exhibiting "ostrich" behavior. On the contrary, these days my discomfort knows no bounds.

<<So, who needs politicians, anyway? Those folks are over and they don't even know it yet ...>>

Would only that it were so. Perhaps the 2002 election will vote NOTA into office by an overwhelming majority, nationwide. Personally, I'm not holding my breath.

Love your new web site design. Keep up the good work.

MacGregor K. Phillips [mkp@ns1.piol.net]
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I'm not going to try to pad this out; the website looks nicer and loads faster now. Very nice.

Robert Hutchinson [hobbs@surfsouth.com]
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Thanks for running my Drug War piece. I like the new format of TLE.

Doug Newman [dougnewman@juno.com]
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My congratulations on your nice new layout. The stories, which is what we come to read, have now become the heart of the page.

John Bottoms [jbottoms000@netscape.net]
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What the #$#$%$&^%*&^ happened to TLE we love so much. A total change of format! What prompted this?

Ralph_B_Fuller [ralph_fuller@amrcorp.com]
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[El Neil, it's all his fault. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it! Besides, it's now easier to use, and looks good, and maybe better. Give yourself time to get used to it. -- Ken Holder, Webmaster]

1. Why do humans have rights?

I have no desire to advocate an animal rights position, but we need to ask ourselves: Why should we regard humans as having rights not applicable to chimpanzees or porpoises? Why should mere human-ness endow us with rights at all?

We need to ask, and answer, these questions because our answer to them will, I think, be key to a rational position on abortion.

I suspect that, if pressed, the fundamentalist Christian will come down to "because G-d has endowed each human (and humans alone) with a precious (perhaps immortal) soul". (And most of them, I suspect, will assert that the soul is endowed a conception, despite Genesis 2:7: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (King James Version), which seems to suggest that the soul is endowed only when the baby takes his/her first breath.)

Atheists and secular humanists will necessarily give a different answer.

Is it possible then that we can find a common libertarian answer to why children have rights superior to animals?

2. Risk and Rights and the Criminal Law:

In TLE 176, Mr. Antle wrote:

<<The relevant question raised by Mr. Bunn's letter is what constitutes a violation of rights. ...

<<I would submit that "risk" does not necessarily involve a violation of rights. ...

<<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.>>

He raises a good point here.

What kind of risks of harm -- if any -- ought to be criminalized? Does it depend on probabilities? Or should risk of harm be criminalized only when factors other than mere risk of harm are involved? Is intent essential, or should we recognize criminal negligence?

And should children be allowed to sue their mothers for reasonably predictable and substantial pre-natal harm?

If substantial harm to a fetus is reasonably predictable, should we treat it as fundamentally different than abortion? If so why?

(My answer to some of these questions -- well partial answers, going to a philosophy of law, but largely leaving aside non-governmental ethics -- is at this URL)

Bill Bunn [billbunn@free-market.net]


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?"

Order from JPFO NOW!

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