L. Neil Smith's
Number 302, January 16, 2005

"We now return you to your regularly scheduled agitation."

The Security Syndrome
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

When I went to my first science fiction convention—I was grown up, and about to become a published novelist—I noticed a couple of things.

The first was that nobody at these gatherings, at least as far as I could tell, actually read science fiction, or much of anything else.

There were plenty of board gamers. (This was long before computer gaming or even Dungeons and Dragons; the hottest item on CRT was Pong, or early versions of Star Trek eating up mainframe time across the country.) There were plenty of self-proclaimed artists of one kind or another, and hordes of kids—of all ages—who loved to dress up in costumes.

Another thing I noticed was that these conventions, or "cons" as they were called, seemed to be the only social life most of their attendees had, a sort of portable soap opera migrating from city to city throughout the year. The atmosphere was heavy with prehistoric rivalries and hatreds, grudges and vendettas, sometimes going back decades.

Actually, the first thing I noticed—although I was too polite to put it first here—was that the vast bulk (and I use the term advisedly) of female attendees could have used a carload of deodorant and long-term memberships in Weight Watchers. Which, of course, was why events like these were the only social life they had. Nobody else wanted them hanging around. Not for no reason is there an ancient Irish blessing, "May you never get stuck in a small town with a fat girl".

Or maybe it's an ancient Azerbaijanian blessing.

However, before you take keyboard in hand in defense of the fundamental human right to fatitude, or to attack my "insensitivity" about it, be aware (if you weren't already) that I was once a fat guy myself, and I have a great many overweight friends, whom I make a point of honor never to nag about their weight. It's their lives, their business; they already know everything I could tell them about it.

Over the past couple of years, I've gone from 228 pounds to 169 by the brutally simple expedient of trying to stick to a 2000 calorie a day diet. I know that thinning down is nothing more than an exercise of character, and that staying fat is nothing more than generating excuses. Nothing that anyone says is ever going to change my opinion about that, which is based on experience, so you might as well save keystrokes.

However, as often before, I have digressed.

Another thing I noticed, when I first started attending science fiction conventions, was that it wasn't just the females. Almost invariably, there would be some overweight, pimply kid hanging around, wearing a threadbare, faded black T-shirt with the word "SECURITY" stenciled onto it. At one convention I went to, the security geek had gone so far as to fabricate himself—or have his mother fabricate—an elaborate fascist-looking uniform that closely resembled the silly outfits Tricky Dick and Pat had some idiot design for the White House praetorians.

I don't know what impression he hoped it would make (actually, I do), but it immediately brought to my mind the Marx brother's movie, Duck Soup.

"Hail, hail, Fredonia!"

So why do I bring this up now, at the risk of offending every fat friend I have, especially any who went through a security geek phase, themselves? I guess because everyone I know who went through that phase got over it and grew up. Whereas those who never grew up and got over it have become (they fondly believe) our masters in the New World Order.

Let me say that again, so there can be no mistake about the point I'm making. From the lowliest scum with his finger up your rectum at the airport, to the same kind of lowly scum who presently occupy the White House, the creatures attempting to run our lives right now are spiritual twins of the pimply goons who think they're the cops of the con.

These are tiny, shriveled souls, deep inside, desperately afraid of anything and everything that moves or makes noise, alarmed at any manifestation of individuality, let alone individualism. They have no character themselves, no ability to predict—let alone to control—whatever impulse passes through their heads. For them, every hour is a grim struggle not to break out and do something truly stupid, crazy or evil.

Something violent.

They believe everyone else is just like them in that respect and needs to be watched constantly—or perhaps illegally arrested and tortured.

They know who and what what they are, and try to make up for it by groping helpless women on the concourse or in the Oval Office. Only by bullying the peaceful and productive, crushing your freedom and mine, and murdering tens of thousands overseas, can they begin to feel half human.

To regain our freedom, it is vital to understand that we are not up against a set of political opinions that are different from ours. We are up against "victims" tragically afflicted by a profound mental illness.

"Victims" who believe the End is coming next Thursday, so what the hell?

"Victims" who have nuclear weapons.

No, I don't know how to deal with that—I'm used to a time when it was "merely" a difference of opinion—but I'm thinking about it, hard.

And so should you, before the inmates blow up the asylum.

Three-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith is the author of 23 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collection of articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at http://www.lneilsmith.org. Autographed copies may be had from the author at lneil@lneilsmith.org.

Neil is presently at work on Ceres and Ares, two sequels to his 1993 novel, Pallas, a decensored and electronically published version of his 1984 novel, Tom Paine Maru, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May. A 185-page full-color graphic novel version of The Probability Broach has just been released by BigHead Press. Order from Laissez-Faire Books or from Amazon.com.

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