Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 407, February 25, 2007

"...Nihilistic self-righteous devotees of the Great Penguin."


CSI, Retired?
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

A long, long time ago, in a Hollywood far, far away, beleaguered Knights of the Los Angeles Police Department had finally taken one too many bribes, beaten one too many suspects to death, raped one too many female prisoners, burglarized one too many homes in neighborhoods they supposedly patrolled and protected (oops—that was Denver cops!), and generally defeated nations like Mexico, Bulgaria, and Turkey for the coveted title of most corrupt "law enforcement" organization on Earth.

There arose in that time, a single disciple eager to stand up for the LAPD Jedi, to help bury their many and brutal crimes, to polish their big brass buttons, and generally to perform all of the personal services that Leni Riefenstahl had performed in her day for Adolf Hitler.

That disciple was actor/producer Jack Webb (readers may enjoy Kevin Spacey's portrayal of Webb in LA Confidential), and the organs of his mighty deeds were to be known to history as Dragnet, the first of the bigtime cop shows on TV, and its worthy successor, Adam 12—pure whitewash, and they were far, far from the last of their kind.

For some time, now, due mostly to a dire lack of anything better to watch—have you noticed how, with the passing of Star Trek: Enterprise, science fiction has been almost totally eradicated from TV?—I have followed most of the "forensic" programs on network television.

I'm an ex-cop, of sorts, a former ballistician, and my interest is natural. I have the same investment everybody does in seeing the truth come to light and justice prevail; there are reasons Sherlock Holmes remains the most recognized and popular fictional character in the world. More than anyone he persuades us that the universe is lawful and knowable and that the human mind is efficacious.

The shows I find myself watching each week are the original CSI, (Las Vegas), CSI:NY, CSI: Miami, Cold Case, Without A Trace, Criminal Minds, Close to Home, Numb3rs, and NCIS—a long list (I'm almost ashamed how long) but each has its individual attractions.

All the shows have an array of characters bound to appeal to someone in the audience. I enjoy the unusual style of CSI's William Peterson. I also find Marg Helgenberger enjoyable (partly because I know that she's a libertarian), and my wife likes tall, dark, and handsome George Eads. The cool competence of Gary Sinise is fun to watch on CSI:NY, as is lovely Melina Kanakarede; the show features Carmine Giovinazzo, the first actor ever bitten on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Cold Case has a nifty trick of double casting, so you see people the way they were when the crime, whatever it was, was committed, and the way they look today. They also use an awful lot for good period music. I wouldn't know Mad World or Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah otherwise.

Without A Trace is probably the second least entrancing of these shows (not even Poppy Montgomery or Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio helps much), especially as it concerns the personal trials and tribulations of the net tax consumers in the New York offices of the Federal Baby Incinerators—my heart bleeds for all of them, and if you turn the volume all the way up, you may even be able to hear it drip, drip, dripping.

Or not.

I could go on. Criminal Minds has Mandy Patinkin, an asset to any theatrical endeavor. Numb3rs has David Krumholtz, the guy who played the head elf in The Santa Clause, his father is played wonderfully by Judd Hirsch, the great Peter MacNicol is a splendid bonus. NCIS stars Mark Harmon, and the delightful Pauley Perrette as the inevitable laboratory geek (all of these shows have at least one). I almost forgot Bones, which has Emily Deschanel (sister of charming Zooey), David Boreanaz, formerly known as Angel, and the unusually beautiful Michaela Conlin, who lends an almost magical grace to the proceedings.

I also forgot Shark, starring the formidable James Woods and Jeri ("Seven of Nine") Ryan, which concerns an infamous Los Angeles attorney who experiences an epiphany and leaves the evil, sleazy world of criminal defense to become one of the "goodguys"—a deputy LA prosecutor. One good—possibly intentional—feature of this show is that you get to see how evil and sleazy the world of prosecution is.

Plenty evil and sleazy.

All of these shows feature personalities far more interesting and attractive than the actual government bullies they portray, except, perhaps, CSI:Miami. Its star is David Caruso—known around here as "little dried apple doll man"—whom I find more repulsive than I can adequately express. Partly, I guess, it's because he's the thuggiest of the statist "heroes" on television, but it's more because he plays a great big manly, hairy dude who minces around making tiny effeminate gestures while mugging at the camera like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. Anybody whose willing suspension of disbelief encompasses Eric Delko's gorgeous but ill-fated sister Marisol actually falling for Caruso doesn't know latinas—especially Cubans—as well as I do.

But maybe it's just me—and anyway, I have digressed.

These are all tricks, of course, to get you to watch—and absorb—lessons that the police state wants you to watch and absorb. If you're well-versed in the mental martial arts, you can enjoy the play and let the propaganda roll off your back like raindrops off a duck. (We have a houseguest these days whom I've frightened several times because—like most good libertarians—I yell at the TV.) The real trouble is, now that the left finds itself back in power, the marxoids who write and produce these shows are getting just a little heavy handed.

It was bad enough when the writers, sucking up to the Busheviks, had their federally-empowered characters threatening recalcitrant individuals—if you "lawyer up" these days on TV, it's accepted as proof that you're guilty, and if you mention the Constitution, you're some kind of neofascistic cultist—with the Patriot Act, DHS, and "Gitmo".

Note to Hollywood: I, for one, find it extremely difficult to believe in or admire "white hats" who act indistinguishably from the sinister black trenchcoated Gestapo operatives who populated movies back in the 1940s and 1950s. These days "our heroes" are even backed up by squads of machinegun-toting goons wearing exactly the same helmets!

Following the recent election, and the well-deserved humiliating repudiation suffered by the right, television writers—no doubt anticipating even more Democratic victories—have begun interpreting the Constitution for those (their entire audience, they assume) too illiterate or stupid to read it for themselves. A recent episode of Criminal Minds, for example, had one of its FBI agents lecturing a character to the effect that a group he belonged to had more guns (three per person, as I recall) than the law gave them a right to possess.

Let's see. . . if you happen to own a rifle, a pistol, and, say, a shotgun—as different in their individual functions as a Beetle, a Vespa, and a Hummer, but who would expect a TV writer to know that?—and you decide to add a .22 of some kind to your "battery", then, according to the undercover Supreme Court justices who hack out this program anonymously in their spare time, you've exceeded a secret quota the Founding Fathers somehow wrote into the Second Amendment in microscopic, invisible Sanskrit along the raw edges of the original parchment.

Naughty, naughty.

We have to do something, and do it now, before it gets as bad again as it was in the bad old 60s, when every network "entertainment" show (we're talking Barnaby Jones, here, and Hawaii 5-0) had its obligatory "Guns Are Nasty" moment every week, and you could always tell who the badguy was gonna be, in advance, because he had weapons—and, gasp!, big game trophies—hanging on the wall behind his desk.

I have an idea: let's declare that the networks have exceeded their quota of statist bludgeonry and put some of these programs to bed for good. It's all very well to see the way that mold spores from leaking pipes in the walls of a bodybuilder taking steroids might get into his system and rot his face from the inside out, or be shown how a person's brain, when he hits the pavement after a 12-story fall, sometimes gets ejected and bounces all the way back up to the fourth floor.

The stage is a world of entertainment.

But let's declare, once and for all, that the stage—and the world of entertainment—do not belong, exclusively, to the Leni Riefenstahls or to sycophantic copsuckers like Jack Webb. I don't believe for a minute that the current plethora—make that plague—of TV shows like this is supported by any great public demand for them. More likely, it's a result, instead, of a perceived need on the part of the paranoid lurkers who think they own America to make the mass media outstrip its usual performance in communicating government lies and threats to a populace they suspect and fear may be getting restive.

I suppose it's up to libertarians to get the ball rolling. We alone seem to understand that, while those who create television programs have a First Amendment right to say anything they like in them, others have an equal right to send disgruntled mail to the companies whose advertising appears in and around the programming in question.

Don't bother writing the networks, the producers, or the actors; they're either the enemy, they don't care, or they can't do anything about it. Write to the gullible idiots who have been led to believe that their fortunes rise or fall with the public's reaction to their commercials.

Tell them you're fed up with seeing the police state glorified, along with all of its blatant violations of everybody's unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human rights. Don't argue, just tell them. Tell them that you're going to avoid buying their products and services as long as they continue to be associated with such programming.

If there's enough interest, The Libertarian Enterprise may even offer prizes of some kind for the best communication that receives a response.

I don't think it would require much of a campaign to reduce this kind of content to about a tenth of what it is right now. I'll miss Bill and Marg, and especially Pauley and Michaela—and my daughter tells me she'll miss Cold Case—but what the hell. Whether they would be replaced by anything better—that's a different matter altogether.

Isn't it?

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

A decensored, e-published version of Neil's 1984 novel, TOM PAINE MARU is available at: Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at, or at

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