Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 412, April 8, 2007

"We are a part of the natural world"


There Oughta be a Law?
by Ron Beatty

Credit The Libertarian Enterprise

My Mom and I are about as far apart as it is possible for two people to be on moral and political issues. She is a die-hard Catholic fundamentalist/conservative. I am a very libertarian pagan. I believe that government has very little use. She believes "there oughta be a law." My Mom and my aunts and uncles get together twice a week in a kaffeeklatch to bitch about the world and how it's going to hell in a hand basket. I go every now and then, but not often. In addition to my Mom, one of my aunts and one of my uncles are super fundamentalist Pentecostal. As you can guess, this is not a good atmosphere for me to be in, especially since as one of the "young" ones, my opinion isn't really that sought after anyway. It doesn't really help matters that my mother, her family and I haven't had much contact with each other for the last 33 years, either.

She has no idea what I've done with my life, the things I've experienced, or what I believe, and would probably be shocked right down to the core if she DID know. She has no idea that I'm an ordained minister. She has no idea that I've spent time freezing my ass off sitting behind the scope of a rifle, hoping I wouldn't have to pull the trigger on my fellow man. She has no idea that I would happily indulge in a group or corporate marriage if the right woman came along. She has no idea that I find her religion and many of the attitudes it fosters repugnant. She has no idea that I have no hatred or fear of gay marriage, nor any distaste for those who follow that lifestyle.

I quite often get lectures for the desktop images on my computer. The one that is up right now is a fantasy painting of two tattooed women, nude. There is nothing provocative or risque about the picture at all, except the nudity of the two women. She can't seem to understand that being able to admire both the skill of the artist and the beauty of the painting and the women portrayed doesn't automatically mean that I am a 'pervert,' in her view.

The reason that I'm telling all this is simple: This is the kind of attitude we have to fight against. The 'there oughta be a law,' the Bible 'tells us everything we need to know' attitude is something that is killing us as a country and a people. Now, it's no secret that I am no fan of organized religion. To my mind, there is a huge difference between being religious and being spiritual. This is a very personal thing for me, and one I get quite irate about, one of the few. Without going into detail, any person's relationship with whatever they consider divine is their own damned business, and none of mine, as long as they don't try to force me to follow their beliefs.

Just as bad, or even worse, in its own way, is 'forced tolerance.' Any time any type of behavior is forced upon a populous, this is a 'Bad Thing.' You can not legislate morality. You can not legislate tolerance. You can not legislate attitudes. The worst thing about the so-called "Hate speech" laws is not that they try to reduce friction between diametrically opposed groups. NO, the worst thing is that they force the intolerance and hate underground where it can fester, eventually erupting like a boil, painfully and messily.

As an example of legislating morality being a monstrous failure, let's take a look at where I live now, in the heart of the 'Bible-belt.' The state I am in absolutely forbids gambling. Guess what? There is a state-run lottery and numerous bingo games. The state right next to us has numerous casinos. The state where I live has recently added a $1 per pack tax on cigarettes. The state right next to us has not. Guess how the traffic is going to the state adjacent to us on Friday afternoons? The state I live in is losing millions of dollars in business due to these archaic laws. I should mention that I am within fifteen minutes of the border between these two states, so I can see the effect these laws have had, first hand, every weekend. If someone wants to gamble, they will do it. If the state next door outlawed gambling, there would be (and are) privately run poker games in houses. If someone wants to smoke, they will find a way to do it.

No, legislation is not the answer. The only answer to the numerous problems facing this country, over 90% of them either caused by or exacerbated by government, is to raise a generation of kids who are familiar with the ZAP, and follow it. I could wish that every kid today would be exposed to the work of Robert A. Heinlein and L. Neil Smith, along with many other libertarian authors. This would not only reduce the hold religion has on this country, it would also reduce the predations of government.

What we, as libertarians, need to do is to make sure the ZAP is just as commonly quoted as the Golden Rule is. Fortunately, the ZAP is not as easily corrupted as the rule is. We need to get our thoughts out there, in a way that can be easily understood. Long, fact filled lectures don't get it, people! Do like Steve Trinward and L. Neil and many others do. Use music, use fiction, use art. Use things that people enjoy to get our points across. If we entertain them, the point will gradually be made. Hammering facts and figures doesn't do it, especially since the government has methodically taught most of us not to think.

Please, think about what I've said. If you find it worthwhile, try to apply it in your everyday life. Live the example, don't preach it!


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