Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 473, June 22, 2008

"The nifty thing about democracy is that it's
never over, no matter how many fat ladies sing."

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Of Men and Meerkats
by A.X. Perez

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

If you watch the Animal Planet cable station you have probably watched Meerkat Manor and know that Flower, alpha female of the Whiskers clan, died successfully defending her burrow and pups from invasion by a cobra. Kids get all sentimental about it.

Beowulf, if you read the original legend, died killing a dragon that was terrorizing his people. Ancient Anglo Saxon warriors undoubtedly got sentimental hearing their bards recite this story (Especially after the fifth horn of mead or so.).

In the animal world and human legend a principal is clearly established: leaders are expected to put the well being of their followers above their own lives. Alexander of Macedon fought along side, and often even in front of, his men. Richard Couer de Leon led men in combat. Teddy Roosevelt, history's most lovable tyrant, had the decency to actually fight in the war he helped provoke.

Osama bin Lauden and his ilk send suicide bombers and Baby Bush and Company respond by sending in the Marines. Perhaps the World would be a better place if terrorists and tyrants sorted things out by tying their left wrists together and tearing in to each other with gypsy navajas. After giving the punters time to make book on the outcomes of the matches, of course.

A while back Robert Heinlein opened his address to the graduating midshipmen of Anapolis by quoting a story from one of Robert Adrey books describing how two baboons gave up their lives defending their troop from a leopard. Ursula K. LeGuin is reputed to have made a comment to the effect that we should try for a higher moral standard than that of alpha baboons. Fair enough, I can't argue with that. But there seems to be evidence that it's a fair criticism of most of the World's current political leaders, both tyrants and terrorists, that it would be nice if they could achieve a baboon's level of morality.

Or at least the morals of a meerkat.


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