Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 405, February 11, 2007

"When you end up having to force people to behave
as if they agreed with you, it's almost certainly
because what you're peddling is horseshit."

Letters to the Editor

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Letter from Bill St. Clair

Letter from Kent McManigal

Letter from Dennis Kabaczy

Letter from Bill Koehler

Letter from Jay P. Hailey

Letter from Christian Butterbach

Letter from Jim Davidson

Letter from Rich Loether

Another Letter from Jim Davidson

Letter from Sean Gabb

Re: "Letter from A Reader"

Responding to Robert Bork's critique of libertarianism is easy.

His comparisons are bogus. When the smog from a smelter is blown by the wind onto your property, the owner of the smelter has trespassed. He has done you real harm. When a television show or movie depicts violence or sexuality, no trespass has occurred. Yes, those of your neighbors who view that material will be changed by it, maybe. And maybe they will be more prone to violence, or rape, but I doubt it. Until one of them actually initiates force against you, however, until one of them harms your person or your property, it's none of your business. Your feelings and opinions are not, and must never be, a subject of criminal law.

Allowing laws against speech that does not directly harm a person or their property is a slippery slope. Video depictions of fake violence or consensual sex are exactly that: speech. In an age when a city can be shut down, and people arrested, over a Lite Brite display, we should realize that the area where government is allowed to operate needs to be delineated with twenty foot high and twelve foot thick concrete walls, with instant death for any government agent who steps even an inch outside. Let one of them stray at all from their constitutional cage, and they think their oaths no longer apply.

Bill St. Clair

It the last issue of The Libertarian Enterprise this letter appeared: "Letter from A Reader"

OK. I am not scholarly, but: why only single out violence and pornography? Where do you stop? Are there other things in the world that you don't like and would target once the world had no more "depictions of violence and pornography" for you to whine about? Would you begin to include innocent depictions of nudity in your definition of "pornography" or do you only rail against violent pornography, but accept as OK depictions of consentual sex, no matter how steamy? Do you begin to define any picture of a gun as "violence" like the government schools do? Do the other things your neighbors do concern you so much?

You are speaking here of "depictions" and not the real deal, right? A "depiction" is pretend. There is no initiation of force in it. Real initiation of force is wrong; imaginary is "art". I do not like violent art. It disturbs me deeply, so I don't expose myself to it. It would be wrong of me to impose my views on you, though. What do you do that I don't like?

So how do you propose to rid us of "depictions of violence and pornography? Are you only concerned with film? Do you advocate burning all the old paintings depicting scenes of war? What about books about war. Nothing is more violent on a more extreme scale than war. Rape is usually used as a weapon of mass degradation in war, so this should go along with your censorship initiative quite nicely. Do you wish to smash all the ancient pottery with "dirty pictures" on them, too?

How about, instead of worrying about "depictions of violence" and "pornography", you work to make it too dangerous for predators to attempt to prey on the weaker among us. Teach a kid to shoot. Stop allowing our "justice system" to punish people who choose to defend themselves. Remove the legal requirements to be victims. Mind your own business and get your own life straightened out. Lend a hand to your neighbors; not a nose. And by all means, go out and tell an Amish kid about Madaonna.

Kent McManigal
2008 Presidential Candidate
My Blog

Re: "Letter from A Reader"

Joseph Knight's article (found here) gives a good explanation on the initiation of force. See especially the last section, which begins "Ownership and the use of honestly acquired property. . ."

What someone looks at in the privacy of their home is their business. What that person does that affects others, may include the initiation of force and be responded to appropriately, either by force or lawsuit depending on the circumstances.

Dennis Kabaczy

Re: "Letter from A Reader"

Dear Ed,

This letter writer cannot be serious. Amish kids know about Madonna. Don't look now but they also probably know about computers!!! I'm guessing that their parents would be more upset about their knowledge of technology than of sex.

Bill Koehler

Re: "Letter from A Reader"

There is an unstated assumption here. The hidden assumption is that Bad Ideas cause Bad Actions. That someone who watches a Madonna Video will then act out the Madonna-ness they see.

This argument avoids and ignores the concept of free will. If I watch a Madonna Video, and then prance around in a pointy bra—at some point the idea must have occured to me "What if I act like Madonna?"—Then I had to evaluate the possible results, consequences and outcomes of that action.

Then I had to take the action of acquiring a pointy bra (and in my chest size)—putting it on and proceeding to prance about.

At each stage, supposedly my judgement and free will are engaged. At each stage I am responsible for deciding to proceed or avoid striking a pose.

When Michael Medved says "There are Amish kids who know about Madonna" the next quesion in my mind is "So what do the Amish kids DO with this information?"

Medved and others assume that an Amish kid is incapable of percieving just how silly he'd look in a pointy bra. They also assume that no one would inform him of how silly he'd look. IMHO this information is already contained in the Madonna videos of that era. However it is not explicitly stated. "Warning: Madonna is a professional Silly Person. Do not try this at home."

Does that mean an Amish kid has no way to make a judgement, or double check his judgement?

And where does responsibility for that Amish kid's decision lie?

When Madonna and Adult Stars sell sex—it's up to adults nearby to point out that sex is really more fun when you don't feel creepy afterwards.

And then it's up to Johnny what he does and how he puts this information to use.

Although both left wing and right wing Nannies and hand-wringers decry popular culture, millions of kids and adults today reached the proper decision and left the pointy bras at home.

Free will still works.

Now—what does it tell us when someone constructs an argument that avoids Free Will like a gaping blind spot?

Jay P. Hailey

Dear Editor,

Re: "Letter from A Reader"

I will not offer any scholarly libertarian arguments here, but in response to the sentence

    you, your family, and your neighbors will be affected by the people who do not change the channel, who do rent the pornographic videos, who do read

I want to state that my whole life (I am nearing 70) I have been more (negatively) affected and often dramatically so by people who do change the channel, who do not rent the pornographic videos, who do not read

How many are there? How many are not simply hypocritical? Looking at their facade does not necessarily reveal the reality behind it.

Without them we might even not have war. Make Love Not War. Even better: Make Love Not Law. The latter is a sentence from a well known German libertarian lawyer and writer (Carlos A. Gebauer).

This does not mean that I particularly like the rock-pop-Madonna kind of culture, an Anglo-Saxon invention that has infested the whole world, half for the better maybe, half for the worst.

For liberty, against the influence of retarded tribalist religions in the 21st century. . .

Christian Butterbach

Dear Editor,

Re: "Letter from A Reader"

A reader, who chooses to remain nameless, writes about pornography and the latest statist attempt to demand oversight into what others may say, think, read, and do.

The argument that pornography and violence on television create smog, like a smelter, with a known harm, is ridiculous. The harm does not exist, and endless studies give at best ambiguous evidence that there is even a detectable effect, let alone a harm. Moreover, the libertarian answer of changing the channel, or, as some televisions permit, locking out the channel, is a perfectly reasonable answer, since some people gain a benefit. See also Wendy McElroy and a Woman's Right to Pornography which you can google up as easily as me.

Simply put, the value of a free press is greater than the value of Micahel Medved, Robert Bork, and Mike Huben combined. If these idiots are too stupid to see the value of a free press unrestricted by government controls, then they should stop publishing, voluntarily. If they want the freedom that the First Amendment guarantees for themselves, then they should acquiesce to the fact that many people are going to publish things they don't like, don't understand, or cannot comprehend. Many people write in foreign languages—does that present a danger of smog to them?

Statists always come up with fanciful arguments for initiating force. They always gloss over the massacres and mayhem that results. Oh, sure, seven million Americans are, today, incarcerated, on parole, or on probation. Since Nixon declared war on drugs in 1972, clearly violating the constitution, some thirty million Americans have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor non-violent crime. The Meese commission on pornography was wrong and evil for adding to the long list of mala prohibitum or attempting to.

Statists are terrible neighbors and despicable human beings. When they vote for aggression and pay taxes, they are aggressors. Defensive and retaliatory force is appropriate. It is well that so many libertarians are so forebearing and merciful, or there would be blood running in the streets today.


Jim Davidson

Re: "Letter from Tom Berna"


In his letter in issue 404 of TLE Tom Berna wondered about the jailing of Ruby Washington who had contagious TB and refused to take her meds, in fact insisted on mixing with the general public and spreading her disease.

I don't like the idea of jailing people any more than the average libertarian but it seems to me that tossing out TB germs into the public is as clear an initiation of force as one would ever want to see. I suppose we could make a case for putting a .40 caliber hole in her and calling it self defense but I'd really prefer to find a less drastic solution to the problem. After all you can be just as dead from TB as you can from a randomly tossed hand grenade.

Now in the article is says she acknowledged her responsibility to get treatment and stay off the street, but "forgot". Forgetting to make sure of your target and what's behind it is no excuse for reckless endangerment. It's clear that there's a mental capacity issue here. Perhaps some combination of house arrest and a secure facility would be enough, but maybe not. Until that is determined Washington should be detained and not let out until she's no longer dangerous.

In Liberty,

Rich Loether

Dear Editor,

Tom Berna asks an interesting question in his letter though, lamentably, he makes me go to some Milwaukee newspaper's web site to figure out what he's concerned about.

The judge in this case has put a woman in jail because she wouldn't take her medicine to fully cure herself of tuberculosis, even though she is not contagious. The health authoritarians cite a potential risk that this woman might incubate a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis, therefore there might be some health risk, and there might be some justification for jailing her. The woman has a history of crack cocaine addiction and is the mother of over a dozen children, most of which have been seized by the state and put in foster care, and may have some history of mental illness.

Based on the limited reporting available, I say the judge is wrong. The woman is not presently contagious, therefore she is not endangering others. Therefore there is no proper justification for using force against her—there is nothing to defend against. The possibility that her presence in Milwaukee could cause a giant asteroid to hit the Earth may be significantly less than her chances of incubating a resistant strain of TB, and also does not justify putting her in jail.

Statists will always whine that someone in the state knows better, someone in the state has a better plan for the individual, someone in the state should overrule and, indeed, rule over, others. I say that's nonsense. The individual, however feeble-minded, knows more about her own situation than anyone else. If she's truly unable to care for herself, then providing care is up to her nearest family members, who express dismay that she was jailed rather than hospitalized by the judge, if they so choose.

The worst that would probably happen if this woman were left alone to do as she pleases without state interference is she would die of an overdose of cocaine. The infinitesimal risk to others while she is not contagious does not justify force against her—there is nothing to defend against. And super bacterias are yet another hobgoblin that the statists make up and shake in people's faces to demand obedience.


Jim Davidson

News Release from The Libertarian Alliance
In Association with the Libertarian International

More in the Global Warming Hoax:
Political Brainwashing of UK Children

Release url:

The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties policy institute, today denounces the new policy of the British Government to indoctrinate all schoolchildren with the lies of the global warming lobby.

According to The Independent newspaper on Friday 2nd February 2006, "The plans, to be published on Monday, will ensure that, for the first time, issues such as climate change and global warming are at the heart of the school timetable. Pupils will also be taught to understand their responsibilities as consumers—and weigh up whether they should avoid travel by air to reduce CO2 emissions and shun food produce imported from the other side of the world because of its impact on pollution."

Libertarian Alliance Director, Dr Sean Gabb, says:

"This is political indoctrination lifted in all but its content from Soviet Russia. Children are to be taught the at best highly questionable claims of the global warming lobby as if they were facts. They are then to be marked up or down in their examinations according to how well they can parrot these alleged facts.

"To environmentalism is to be added propaganda about racism and sexism, and every other politically correct obsession. Ten years into the creeping totalitarianism of New Labour, the final link is to be severed between state schooling and education of children in the values of their parents. From now on, the function of schooling will be to produce a new nation, created in the image of George Monbiot and Yasmin Alibhai Brown.

"Our ruling class has taken to heart the old Jesuit maxim: 'Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man'. The only difference is that raising the school leaving age will give them the child till he is eighteen.

"The Libertarian Alliance calls on all parents to resist the brainwashing of their children."


The Libertarian Alliance believes in general:

  • That the claims of the green movement are either lies or wild exaggerations;

  • That the agenda of the green movement—those parts of it, that is, not filled with idiots and lunatics—involves the following:

    • The legitimising of high taxes and intrusive regulations;
    • The legitimising of oppressive and arbitrary government;
    • The creation for the ruling class of a client base made up of green activists and corrupted scientists;
    • The shutting down by big business interests of small scale competition;
    • And, perhaps above all, reducing the living standards of ordinary people, so that the wealthy can face less crowding on the roads, in airports, and at the nicer holiday resorts;
    • Oh—and keeping the Chinese and the Indians in their place by slowing down their economic growth

The Libertarian Alliance believes in particular:

  • That all state funding and control of education should be abolished;

  • That all compulsory attendance laws should be repealed;

  • That every official employed to oversee or regulate education should be immediately dismissed;

  • That the assets of all the various education authorities should be sold at once, and all their archives destroyed.


Note(s) to Editors

The Libertarian Alliance receives no funding from any business interests threatened by the green movement, but would be delighted to accept whatever might be offered.

Dr Sean Gabb is the Director of the Libertarian Alliance. He is also Deputy Director of the Truancy Unit at Buckingham University and author of Home Schooling: A British Perspective, published in Homeschooling in Full View: A Reader (2005) by Bruce S. Cooper (Editor)

He ascribes much of his success in life to systematic truancy at school. His essay, "Truancy: A Personal Perspective" can be read at:

His Introduction to the British Government's 1994 Report on Truancy can be read here:

He is also the author of The Column of Phocas, a novel. Available via Amazon.

Dr Gabb can be contacted for further comment on 07956 472 199 or by e-mail at

Extended Contact Details:

The Libertarian Alliance is Britain's most radical free market and civil liberties policy institute. It has published over 700 articles, pamphlets and books in support of freedom and against statism in all its forms. These are freely available at

Our postal address is

The Libertarian Alliance
Suite 35
2 Landsdowne Row
Tel: 0870 242 1712

Associated Organisations

The Libertarian International——is a sister organisation to the Libertarian Alliance. Its mission is to coordinate various initiatives in the defence of individual liberty throughout the world.

Sean Gabb's personal website——contains about a million words of writings on themes interesting to libertarians and conservatives.

Hampden Press— the publishing house of the Libertarian Alliance.

Liberalia——maintained by by LA Executive member Christian Michel, Liberalia publishes in-depth papers in French and English on libertarianism and free enterprise. It is a prime source of documentation on these issues for students and scholars.

Sean Gabb
Director, The Libertarian Alliance

Buy my new book—"The Column of Phocas: A Novel of Murder and Intrigue Set in Mediaeval Rome"—[here] or [here].

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