L. Neil Smith's
Number 178, June 17, 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 Jay Hailey

Letter from Curt Howland

Letter from MacGregor K. Phillips

Letter from Brian Gross

Letter from Jay Hailey

Letter from L. Neil Smith

Commenting on Patrick Martin's THE DEATH PENALTY, REVISITED:

Mr Martin, semantics and appeals to dictionary authority do not deflect the point. Society does not spring into existence merely because it has a definition and a word. There is no such thing as a collective right - there is no mechanism whereby a personal, individual right devolves upon a "community" when the individual is unable or unwilling to apply it.

A crime against a person is a crime against property, self ownership, and the right to restitution or revenge is a property right, attached to the victim or passed down with the rest of their estate to their surviving relatives or friends. Because like any other property right it is transferrable and shareable, the holder may choose to delegate a posse to back their own unsteady hand, that is an example of people exercising their rights in a cooperative manner.

By contrast your inital error, the failiure to understand that revenge is an individual, property right, is what leads you straight back via hog-wild lynch mobs to cops and judges. Individual rights do not suffer a state to exist - "collective rights" cannot but create one.

So what about stepping in to defend a stranger? It's a gamble - one hopes that the rescued will be grateful (effectively, deputize you after-the-fact), but it's possible they may turn on you and say "but I wanted to be hit" or whatever, and then you're in the wrong. There is certainly no group right to rescue or enact revenge.

You also mistakenly think that self-owned restitution/revenge must equal self-executed revenge, and that anarchic justice must equal "six-guns at high noon". Not so. Owned revenge can be deputized; owned restitution rights can be sold to others in part or in whole, to pay the fees of a private detective, and then hire a private court to try the case. Why would the opponent submit to judgement if they didn't have to? Because the alternative is blood feud, and that's costly and dangerous. Even for a poor victim, bounty-hunters would be willing to take down a recalcitrant outlaw in return for looting rights. Thus it worked amongst the Icelandic vikings, thus it would work just as well nowadays.

Julian Morrison [julian@extropy.demon.co.uk]

re: TLE 177:

After making a good case for the role of society, and specialized roles in society, including killer - Patrick Martin writes -

<<"As for the issue of Capital Punishment itself, I did not make my position perfectly clear in my previous article so I will state it now in no uncertain terms. The Death Penalty is the ONLY penalty which society should be able to impose on it's members, and only for the most egregious crimes. The community has no right to imprison, enslave, torture, or otherwise injure it's members for any reason.">>

Okay, so ... what's my recourse if a large man walks up to me and says "Give me all your money or I'll break your face."?

I like the idea of society and law. I just think that this idea ought to be applied more fairly and equitably than it currently is, under much more limited conditions.

Protecting me and my property from large men (and women) with exaggerated senses of entitlement is one really excellent role for law and society, IMHO.

Jay Hailey [jayphailey@juno.com]

Dear John,

While I agree with Mr. Martins assertion that citizens have not asserted control over the government thugs who abuse them, I consider this to have been a deliberate result of the high cost of resistance to the state. An individual who defends themselves from the government quickly finds themselves dead, or imprisoned and impoverished. This is the result of acting separately.

The Free State Project is one peaceful method for concerted action. It should be interesting to watch what unfolds with it.

I enjoyed reading "Unintended Consequences". I personally believe that nothing other than lots of dead judges, and legislators, and lawyers, and cops, will have any effect, but I will not advocate such actions. Most of all I do not blame people for not standing up to the thugs because I have made the same choice, to continue to ignore the state as much as possible, and tolerate it when I cannot ignore it.

I stated in my response to his earlier message that the victim of an assault should have at their disposal means to resist that assault. That was taken by Mr. Martin to mean that I believe everyone must fend for themselves alone. In addition, because of the aversion to killing ones own species, he asserts that such self defense does not and will never work.

The discussion of the aversion to killing is nice, but irrelevant. A rapee still has little doubt who the raper is, and if the rapee prefers to get raped rather than kill the raper that is up to them. That is, if they have that choice, which when disarmed they do not. People prove Mr. Martin wrong every day, when they fire their weapons in self defense.

In communities where such self defense is recognized, crime rates drop far faster than the rate of firearms ownership rises. So Mr. Martin's community as a whole is safer, because there are a few wolves with white hats, whether he chooses to join them or not.

A shooting at/of another individual, I believe, should always be investigated. I consider "self defense" to be a positive legal defense.

While my personal preference leans heavily toward restitution for criminal acts, Mr. Martin can certainly take his preference into his own hands if he so wishes. Go ahead and kill the criminal, just be ready to show it was self defense. As I recall at the moment, at least one woman who shot and killed the molester of her child, in the court room, was found not guilty.

Hmm. Justice does sometimes happen.

Curt Howland [Howland@Priss.com]

I Hate It When I Am Right!

When I was writing early DOS versions of my encryption program back in the early 90's, I put the following in the documentation:

<< "Now that the cold war is over governments everywhere will shut down their super secret spy agencies and the world will at last know peace of mind. If you believe that I have some real estate on the moon I would like to sell you - real cheap. What will the NSA and the CIA do in the future now that a major reason for their being no longer exists? Everyone knows that a government agency that has been in existence for any length of time over a few days can never be shut down. It just grows and grows and grows. So, who will the NSA and CIA [FBI added now] target next? There is only one place to go and that is the American people. It may not happen over night or even in the next few years, but it will happen." >>

As I say, I hate it when I am right.

The government literally collects 100's of tons, if printed out, of information every single day of the year. There is no way they can possibly tabulate, correlate, and analyze this information to provide meaningful intelligence. This is the reason they did not have advance warning of the terrorist attacks. It is also the reason you are now learning just how incompetent they really were, and still are. All the new expanded powers of government does is allow it to freely target individuals. The targeted individuals will not only be terrorists, but anyone else the government feels may harbor anti-government thoughts or feelings. Welcome to the new world where the State Is The Root Of All Evil.

MacGregor K. Phillips [mkp@topsecretcrypto.com]

re: Why I Hate Gunnies TLE #177

I think Scott Graves will be writing another piece entitled "Why I Hate Druggies" in a few years. Scott has come to the realization that Conservatives will never become or vote for Libertarians. The two groups share some common goals but for entirely different reasons.

Both groups claim inalienable rights. Rights granted by their Creator. Conservatives have a list of those rights given to them by their Creator in a book named "The Bible". Libertarians donít seem to have any such list and claim any and all rights, real or imagined. So when Libertarians claim the right to take drugs, Conservatives say that is not one of the rights on our list. Scott Graves doesnít see Conservatives as Freedom Seekers because they donít read from the same page as Scott.

Scottís answer is to turn to the "druggies" (illicit drug takers). They donít care about the conservative issues, or little else. What Scott is missing is they do care about Liberal issues. Wait until you hear them scream when you say you want to eliminate Welfare. How are the druggies going to eat if you eliminate their meal ticket? How can they afford drugs if they have to support themselves? Soon he will be sick of hearing druggies complain about the parts of Libertarianism they donít like. Then he can say druggies are not Freedom Seekers too. But we already knew that, didnít we?

Brian Gross [Jubilee131@juno.com]

re: TLE 177:

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

Because they have armed parents with strong opinions on the matter.

Jay Hailey [jayphailey@juno.com]

Friends and neighbors --

Several people have asked me to post the remarks I made in Leadville, Colorado at the state Libertarian Party convention there. I've hesitated a little because I'm not sure how well my "speech" was received. It turned out I had about half the time to deliver it that I thought I would, so I had to hurry, and there was no time afterward for questions and answers.

I also hesitated because I didn't want to appear simply to be advertising my wares (although I'm certainly not above that most of the time). The story I have to tell, however, is so important that I think it was worth taking the risk. Also, as I explain in the introduction, there was a precedent.

The book I discuss in this presentation is still without a publisher, which I find extremely frustrating. If you feel like writing to me about it, please do, and I will pass your comments on, where suitable, to my likeliest prospect.

Otherwise, please use the link below, and enjoy!


L. Neil Smith [lneil@lneilsmith.org]


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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