L. Neil Smith's
Number 300, December 12, 2004

Bill of Rights Day December 15

300th Issue of TLE
by Ron Beatty

Exclusive to TLE

This week's edition of TLE is kind of special, for a couple of reasons. First, it it the 300th issue, which is a milestone any way you look at it. The other reason is more of a personal one. Just a year ago, I wrote my first article, not just for TLE, but my first article ever.

I first heard about TLE through seeing it mentioned on the JPFO website. At the time, Ken was asking for submissions, and since I had already been thinking about trying to write, I came up with a short article and sent it in. I didn't really expect it to be published, since it was just a short retrospective about Robert A. Heinlein, 15 years after his death. No one could have been more surprised than I was when I pulled up the TLE page that Sunday and my article was there.

That short little article started an interesting year. Today, more than forty articles later, I have corresponded and met with many of the movers and shakers of the libertarian movement. Some, in person, such as Michael Badnarik. Others, just online and through correspondence, such as Neil, Tom Knapp, Ken, Kate Graham, Sunni Maravillosa, Don Lobo Tigre, Jeff "Hunter" Jordan, Ward, Alan Weiss, Chris, Rocky, and many, many others. Some of you have become friends, others are still just acquaintances, which I hope will change in the future. I have been fortunate enough to be asked to be a regular participant on the weekly on line freedom conference. The editors of other on line publications have asked me to submit articles for their publications, which I will do, however, Ken and Neil gave me my start, and they have first call on my articles for the foreseeable future.

Even though I am relatively new to the libertarian ranks, compared to people like Neil, Ken Holder, Tom Knapp, and Kate Graham, many of you have made me feel welcome, soliciting my opinions, inviting me to write articles for you, and most especially, giving me feedback on the articles I have written. Nothing makes a struggling writer feel better than having someone contact him and say,"Hey! Ya got it right!" So for those of you who have taken your time to both read my articles, and to give me that all important feedback, thank you!

Each of us who writes for TLE generally has our own particular pet topics. Mine are education, history, religion, and ethical issues. Wendy writes about gender equality. Neil writes about whatever he wants to, whenever he wants to! It is important for us to not only present our views, but to encourage each of you to to do your own research, find out the facts for yourselves. Nothing is more compelling than digging deep into an issue, finding out for yourself that what the author has told you is true.

Any writer, but especially one in this field, talking about individual liberty, individual rights, and more importantly, individual responsibility, assumes a terrible responsibility. We can represent our views, our beliefs, our personal moral and ethical issues, but we cannot force anyone to accept them. All we can do is present our facts, our beliefs, and then hope we have been eloquent enough, persuasive enough, to bring just one more person to see the world as it really is.

In this field, in this day and age, to speak the truth as you see it has become a dangerous occupation. We all know that there are those who would gladly do anything to shut up any criticism of those in power. This is not only on an official level, but many of those who are most partisan toward one political party or another will harangue, persecute, harass, and even terrorize those of us who refuse to follow a party line. Just yesterday, I was asked why I don't leave the country, since I hate it so much. Nothing could be further from the truth, for any of us who write on topics like this. If we didn't care, if we really hated the US, we wouldn't bother trying to fix the problems, or even trying to make people see that there IS a problem. No, the reason we write, the reason so many of us try so hard to communicate, is that we want to restore this country that we love to what it always was intended to be, a wide free land, of unlimited freedom, unlimited opportunity, and very limited government.

Over the last year, I have recieved congratulations and death threats, pans and praises, contempt and congratulations. I welcome all of it, since it means that someone is reading what I have to say. People that I work with are now reading TLE, trying to find things to argue with me about. The ideas are spreading, slowly, but it is working. For those who write, Keep it up! For those who have always wanted to write, the link to the submission guidelines are at the bottom of the TLE main page. I'm quite sure Ken would love to have more points of view, more freedom related articles to choose from each week. If I can do it, anyone can. Give it a try.

Finally, a big thank you to some special people who have made this last year so memorable: Ken Holder, Neil, thanks for giving me the forum to present my views. Kate, for encouraging me, for being a mentor, and most of all, for being a friend. Tom, Rocky, Doc, T-man, Hunter, Don Lobo, Sunni, for having the courage to stand up and be counted. And to all who are reading this, thank you for your time, your feedback, and for remembering what it is to be a free man or woman. And most especially, thank you to that special lady who has done so much to keep me going when things seemed darkest, who stood by me when physical and financial problems were looming, who gently chained me to the comp and beat me to remind when articles were due. I love you..

Even though this is not my usual type of article, I am going to do as I always do. Anytime anyone tells you something, do the research, get the facts. Never, ever accept my unsupported word for anything, and still less that of any member of government or the media. All any of us can do is tell you things we think are important. It is up to you to decide if it really is. In the final analysis, you, and only you, are responsible for your own safety and freedom. No one else can do it for you.


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