L. Neil Smith's
Number 195, October 21, 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 Jackson Lawless, with an Editorial Reply

Letter from Carl Bussjaeger

Letter from Mark Etanerkist


I discovered and became a regular subscriber to TLE in February 2002. At that time it was a great site that seemed dedicated to the preservation of individual freedom and promotion of valid Libertarian principles. And it still is for the most part. Along with some (hopefully) great football games it is one of the things I look forward to on Sundays.

But lately I am finding myself quite disgusted with the Letters to the Editor. Prior to composing this letter I went back to the first issue I received (#162) and perused the letters. Back then they were well thought out, intelligently written, informative, and provocative. Even when a letter involved dissension, they were at least presented in a courteous and respectable manner.

So what has happened?

Lately the letters are divisive, rude, teach me absolutely nothing, and in no way further the cause of freedom. Perhaps "Letters to the Editor" should be renamed the "Jerry Springer Forum" because that's what it has become: not much more than rantings, insults, and general abusiveness toward those who happen to disagree. As a Libertarian for more than two decades I've always thought the right to disagree is an inherent precept of Libertarianism. Rights of the minority and such.

The letters section of TLE should not be a forum for the on-line equivalent of a fist fight. Anyone and everyone has a right to disagree, but at least disagree with dignity. I can honestly say that if I were a newcomer to Libertarian thought and principles and the last issue of TLE was my first exposure to it, I would not bother reading past the letters. I would think Libertarians are neither bright nor social. But as a veteran Libertarian, I can't help but wonder if some of these letter writers are not really asses or elephants masquerading as divisive Libertarians to weaken our efforts toward regaining our freedom. It probably isn't so, but what's the difference?

If there are others who agree with me I hope you'll write a letter of your own. Maybe the editor and publisher can arrive at a solution that all TLEers can be happy with. I got to admit, it's an unenviable position to be in. If they deny or inhibit one's right to free speech and self-expression, they can be accused of ignoring Libertarian principles. If they don't, they risk alienating potential subscribers.

Sorry guys.

Jackson Lawless [jacksonlawless@fastmail.com]

- - -

Editorial Reply:

That's OK, Mr. Lawless; there's no need to be sorry. Basically, the solution is that it is my call as long as I'm the editor (and El Neil has been endlessly patient and gracious about that).

Here's my personal position: I cannot anticipate what "potential subscribers" will like or dislike about TLE. For the most part, submissions are "self-selecting"; to date, I have received nothing from Al Gore or Bill Buckley); so, I run pretty much everything I get. I may reject a submission (1) that is way too long; (2) that bores me; (3) that strikes me as totally incomprehensible; or (4) that I find unredeemedly irrelevant.

The result of this strategy is that sometimes a submission is not libertarian enough for some people; sometimes a submission is too libertarian for some people; sometimes a submission is too crude for some people; and sometimes people are predisposed to dislike the author and refuse to read what s/he has to say. In each case, I "risk alienating potential subscribers".

TLE was originally advertised as 'unremittingly libertarian' in viewpoint. I think it still is. Some individual submissions may not be, but those are included to provoke thought, rejoinder, and yes, controversy. Many people don't like this, either.

In short, Mr. Lawless, I have no idea how to determine which letters (or articles) will be found "disgusting", not to mention by whom. It is, indeed, as you say, "an unenviable position to be in." I welcome constructive suggestions as to how one determines what is truly libertarian; how one factors out subjectivity; and how one ensures that the resulting product is thought-provoking without being propaganda.

John Taylor [EditorTLE@triad.rr.com]


Hell hath no fury like that of a petulant president trying to look as tough as daddy.

Der Führer has thoroughly trashed the US Constitution, so now he's moving on to bigger and more horrible things. Under the guise of striking back for 9-11, Dubya attacked a country that didn't conduct the terrorist acts, overthrew its government, killed noncombative civilians, and established a permanent US military presence there.

But that wasn't enough for the biggest bully on the New World Order block.

Now, for some reason, he wants to attack Iraq. He's offered several successive rationales for the international aggression:

  • Saddam Hussein backed Al'Qaida
    (The feds finally admitted there was no evidence for that.)

  • Saddam is developing bioweapons
    (Anyone recall where last year's anthrax came from?).

  • Saddam is developing nukes.
    (Hamilton forbid that Iraq should get the same weapons as the US and even Israel, Iraq's enemy)

  • Saddam won't let weapons inspectors back in
    (Well, actually he will.)

  • Saddam won't let the UN unilaterally change the inspection agreement
    (So what's the point of a treaty then?)

  • Saddam wanted to kill Daddy
    (Who could blame him?)

  • Saddam already has nukes or bioweapons, or something
    (The weapons inspectors say otherwise.)

  • Saddam is going to attack the U.S. first
    (With those plywood Scuds, I suppose.)

  • The USGov is the baddest kid on the block, so he CAN
    (Have you read Führer Dubya's new National Security Strategy?)

  • The Al'Qaida and Taliban leaders are in Iraq
    (This from the folks who admitted that they can't even figure out if bin Laden is alive or not, much less where he is.)

  • Saddam is a meanie
    (Duh; he's a politician, just like Dubya. I can't think of a single national leader with whom I'd care to socialize.)

The American economy is in a shambles, the old Constitutional limitations on government and protections for individuals have been trashed, and Dubya is acting out his paranoid dreams of beating up anyone who scares him, just like the classic stormtrooper bully.

Yo, Dubya! If you're our "national leader", you lead the charge when the troops hit the ground in Iraq. Or are you afraid of getting that messy blood - worse, maybe, your own blood - on those shiny jackboots?

Send Führer Dubya your congratulations:

View his certificate at:

Carl Bussjaeger [bussjaeger@free-market.net]

[See also Carl's article "WHADDAYA MEAN "WE," DUBYA?", this issue. - ed.]


In case you missed it, in the recent Serbian election for President only 45% of eligible voters actually bothered to vote, making the election invalid by Serbian law.

This means that no one is President and they have to hold a whole new election and hope 50% of eligible voters turn out.

From the article:

<<Western diplomats say they are concerned that Serbia's politicians could spend months occupied with a fresh election, which will not take place for three or four months, instead of focusing on economic and political reforms.>>

Just what a country destroyed by war and socialism needs, economic reform!

The Non-Voters of Serbia have done something infinitely more helpful then any voter has ever done with his vote. All the voter does is continue the status quo and hope his guy gets in power, and usually nothing changes (except for the worst) no matter who gets elected. Now in Serbia, the government has to concentrate its recourses on making sure enough people vote, instead of making new laws that will make it harder and harder for entrepreneurs to lift Serbia out of the gutter. And what if even less people vote next time? And even less the next time? Eventually the Serbian government will be a laughing stock as a democracy and the people in power will have to keep putting more resources into convincing people to vote, rather than focusing on the usually looting and pillaging most other governments do.

So what would happen if less and less people vote in the U.S., the king of democracy's? After all, if less then 50% is enough to make a Serbian election invalid, what does it say about America if only 40% of the people turn out? I say it's time to find out.

Mark Etanerkist [mark_etanerkist@yahoo.com]


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