L. Neil Smith's
Number 192, September 30, 2002


Will the Real Poltroon Please Stand Down?
by John 'Birdman' Bryant

Special to TLE

To: John Taylor, Editor, Libertarian Enterprise
CC: L Neil Smith, Publisher; Vin Suprynowicz, Honorary Editor; Ken L. Holder, Webmaster; Patricia Holder, Associate Webmaster, John Lopez
From: John 'Birdman' Bryant

Below you will find two items: First, a nasty little essay about me which was penned by John Taylor and appeared in Issue 186 (August 12, 2002) of TLE, -- [Not reproduced here, though Mr. Bryant did include it in his message. If you'd like to read it, follow the URL Mr. Bryant thoughtfully provides below. -ed.] -- and following it, my response to the essay.

I request that you include my essay in your 'magazine', and that you offer me an opportunity to answer if you respond to it. In view of Taylor's behavior, I do not of course expect that you will; but it would be the right thing to do. In fact, it is curious and ironic that Taylor's screed is published under a rubric which reads "Are you doing the right thing?" which he certainly was not, and which he is most unlikely to do. I do, however, want all of you to have a copy of my response to his filthy little piece, and to be aware of how he has degraded your 'magazine' by publishing it. Not that I expect you to be terribly concerned.

* * *

John Taylor is editor of an online rag called the Libertarian Enterprise (TLE). He is also foul-mouthed, unmannerly, dishonest, cowardly, and completely wrong about what some believe is the fundamental principle of libertarianism, the so-called non-aggression principle, or NAP for short. My interest in Taylor is an article which he wrote for TLE in response to an essay of mine. Taylor's article, which appeared in issue 186 of TLE (August 12, 2002), is entitled "Poltroon", and found at


while the essay to which it is a response is found on my website, www.thebirdman.org, in the Libertarian section at


It is entitled "The Non-Aggression Principle Is Stupid: A Letter to L Neil Smith", and I describe the article on my webpage as follows: "El Neil is a well-known libertarian and author. The NAP is holy to a lot of libertarians, including El Neil. Here is a letter on this subject from the Birdman which El Neil did not answer, and which the Birdman rather suspects he can't." El Neil and Taylor are evidently good buddies, as El Neil is the publisher of TLE, and El Neil may have intended Taylor to do a hit on me so that El Neil would not have to stoop to do any of his own dirty work. And dirty is the only way to describe the work that Taylor did, as his essay is laced with profanity, and his references to me are not by name, but rather by the insulting moniker 'Birdshit'. Taylor is also a coward and dishonest, because he did not contact me when he wrote the article that I might have a chance to respond to it -- a response which he could have fairly anticipated would be unpleasant in view of the nastiness of his screed.

Now let me begin my response to Taylor with the observation that insult is the last refuge of the out-argued, and Taylor and his asshole buddy El Neil are certainly out-argued, as I shall show shortly. In case it is not obvious, what I mean by this observation is that if someone is wrong, it is quite sufficient to show he is wrong, and thus quite unnecessary to resort to epithets and other insults. >From this it follows that someone who DOES resort to insult is clearly someone who recognizes -- however dimly -- that his facts and logic are inadequate for the task, and that he must needs pull something else out of his hat in order to win his argument -- or rather to make the reader THINK he has won.

Now the first argument which I give against the NAP is that it is silly in the case where you know someone is about to attack you, for no one in his right mind would have the least hesitation in attacking first in order to prevent such an attack. Taylor begins his response to this with the disingenuous act of attempting to equate my position to the effort of George Bush to start a war with Iraq. (There is some additional tortured logic which I shall not attempt to explicate since it is completely impenetrable.) It is true, of course, that my logic and that of Bush are the same; but Taylor omits the inconvenient fact that, in Bush's case, there is no credible case to be made for the proposition that Iraq is about to attack the US.

Having thus jumped into the privy with his logic, Taylor then jumps in a second time with the insistence that the NAP is justified because there is never a case in which one can be CERTAIN that an attack is imminent. Now as far as he goes, Taylor is right; but the problem with his argument is that every decision we make in this world is based -- at least in part -- not on certainty, but on PROBABILITY. Thus a reasonable person would say that when there is NO REASONABLE DOUBT that someone will attack us, then we are justified in attacking that someone as a preemptive act. But even that may be too strong; for it would seem that we are justified in attacking someone even in the case where there is merely a REASONABLE RISK of death or grave bodily harm from the person attacking us; and in fact, this is the standard for the use of deadly force in Florida. (For those wishing a better take on the matter of probability, see my "Letter to Jeff Klinkenberg" in the Liberalism section of my webpage.)

Or to put it another way, Taylor's belief is a very significant departure from what most people think or would do. Naturally, my pointing this out makes Taylor furious, because he is wedded to the NAP and its Big Libertrian supporter El Neil, and for that reason this major shortcoming of the NAP is a significant embarrassment. But of course this is not the only problem with the NAP, since, as I also pointed out in my original article, the NAP is ambiguous, and this is yet more fuel for Taylor's embarrassment and consequent anger. So it is little wonder that he ends up spewing epithets and other nastiness like a ten-year-old juvenile delinquent. I should add, however, that I was unable to discern the nature of Taylor's argument against the NAP's ambiguity, which is to say that it was either so poorly stated as to be indiscernible, or else it was not there at all, with its absence being disguised by a cloud of words.

Now as I said earlier, Taylor is dishonest and a coward, but this is not simply because he did not tell me about his article, but also because he did not even give my name or the URL of my article. And what was he afraid of? It was not, I think, just that he realized that I would write a response which would put him in his place, but also because I would get traffic from his website, and might just make a few recruits from those with the sophistication to see thru his slipshod logic. In fact, maybe he was afraid, not just that a FEW of his readers would do it, but that a LOT would, and he would end up underneath a pile of shit of his own making. And this is especially funny because, according to the rankings of Alexa.com, my site is considerably more popular than his, and this in spite of the fact that his has been on line almost 5 years (since January of 1998), and has 357 sites linking to his, while I have been on line less than two years, and have many fewer links. It is worth pointing out, however, that Taylor does manage to come up with an excuse for not giving my name or URL, namely, my political incorrectness in the matter of race, also known as 'bigotry'. Lucky for Taylor that he managed to pull that particular cockroach out of the privy, since in my Libertarian section I give much attention to the matter of race as it impacts on the libertarian philosophy; and Taylor, as a staunch Political Correctee, would certainly not want his minions polluted with any talk that might make them think that the multicult was something other than a cult, a travesty, a fraud, and the gravest threat to freedom ever. Or to put it another way, Taylor -- good libertarian that he is -- simply doesn't want any COMPETITION.

Which in the present case is not really very hard to understand.


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