Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 531, August 9, 2009

"Hadn't I made it clear that Ambrose is a cat?"

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Letters From Laura
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

From time to time, I experience a desire to share with my loyal readers a few of the many bounties that writing for a living affords me. A few years back, I was accused by a self-made hillbilly of owning a "thousand dollar kill-suit", and I still haven't fathomed that one completely.

Most recently, for reasons it took me a long while to figure out—so learned and articulate was my would-be correspondent that we might as well have been speaking two different languages—I received the e-mail that follows. I have altered it (as they tell you at the beginning of DVDs these days) only in restoring it to the proper upper and lower case I'm sure she would have meant it to be couched in, had anybody ever taught her the difference. I have also adjusted for a habit she evinces of starting her message on the subject line and continuing below only when she has run out of room. Perhaps she thinks she's starting a daring new style, sort of the cyber-equivalent of e e cummings.

"And who knows" she begins spiritedly, if without preliminary. (I guess I'll front her a little punctuation, here, as well.) "Perhaps you'll be under a regime one day where you are put in a cage and forced to fight other _Homo sapiens_ to the death. But of course you, fully maimed, tortured, limbless, will be happy, too (unless you're dead, of course). And then, as you say, 'Who cares, to hell with you'!"

My first thought, I am chagrined to confess, was "What in the name of all the garlic, onions, leeks, and chives that have ever given up their lives for crass human pleasure (I was having lunch at the time), is this gold-plated glow-in-the-dark lunatic referring to?" In my defense, I had been a trifle preoccupied with little things like another lunatic's attempts to nationalize everything in the Known Universe.

While using the Bill of Rights as his toilet paper.

Signing herself "Laura", the lady concluded by exercising what I'm absolutely certain she believed had to be The Nuclear Option. "People who have respect for life don't come out with the garbage you pronounce in your stupid writing. Of course, if times were hard you could eat your own progeny according to your own belief system (and believe me anyone who has a brain like yours) I would not put it past them!"

Sensing I should be serious and as respectful as she deserved, I forebore to inform Laura that I've never cared much for progeny, preferring the greater character and fuller flavor of free-range orphans.

Instead, I wrote:

"My dear Laura,

"Would you please be so kind as to tell me where you saw my writing, and who read it to you (since you're obviously not too skilled a reader, yourself), so that I can publish your lovely epistle there and expose you for the perfect moron that you are?

"Thank you very much. Now go take your lithium.


Replying in amazingly short order (all in upper case and beginning in the subject line again), she wrote, "Sorry, I don't take any meds (no need to) nor am I a hateful person as yourself! Go hide under your bush."

Now you and I realize that there are several jokes I could have made at Laura's expense after that. The least would have about who is the best judge of whether she needs meds. But one of my greatest flaws (or so I've been told) is that I am overly polite. (The last time, as I recall, was to Doris Gordon at the 1977 National Libertartian Party Convention's platform committee hearings.) This is almost always a mistake.

Nevertheless, I simply replied, "And yet you were neither courageous nor intelligent enough to answer the one question I asked you. [Which, as you may recall, was which of my various writings had inspired her to her unaccustomed and transcendent heights of eloquence.]

"Duh ... "

Okay, I admit it was a cheap finish. At the time, I felt I was being uncommonly chivalrous and restrained. After all, wasn't it Heinlein himself who admonished us to be merciful with the weak and patient with the stupid? Why not doubly so, for the weak-mindedly stupid?

However—as I'm sure you've anticipated by now—my attempts at chivalry were wasted. To the full extent of her intellectual prowess, Laura fired back (by now, some kindly passerby had taught her to use the shift key), "And after you have eaten your dog, you may still be hungry."

Now wait a minute—I did recall having written an essay the previous week (actually, I wrote four of them, and when they come that fast they get hard to sort out sometimes) that included one that mentioned the dire but hypothetical necessity of eating my true and faithful companion, Ambrose. (He's right here beside me now, so I'll have to write quietly.) But hadn't I made it clear that Ambrose is a cat?

Not a dog, as he would be the first to insist.

Then, having staggered me with her masterful non-sequitur, Laura delivered what she must have thought was the killing blow (and no, I don't mean anything by that): "I guess with your level of integrity and intelligence, you could then go on to your siblings and your children."

Suddenly, as I was composing a sentence advising her to look up the actual meaning of the word "integrity", I realized what it had all been about. We were talking about Michael Vick, and my contention that the gentleman had been railroaded and unduly convicted of a non-crime. (Which gives me a chance to throw myself upon the mercy of all of you basketball and football fans out there. Mr. Vick was and will again be a football player. Don't be too hard on me; my sports are baseball and hockey. In fact I'm listening—with Ambrose—to the Rockies right now.)

The fact, dear Laura, is that we do live under a regime where people are forced to fight other Homo sapiens to the death. And they, fully maimed, tortured, and limbless—and their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, and children—are supposed to be happy about it. It's called the military and "extending power".

And soon, the murderous battle will be called "single-payer" medicine.

And then, as Tom DiLorenzo points out, "single-payer" groceries.

So now the subject—mine, anyway—becomes those whose crazed sentiments for animals consume them while the state criminals they adore continue murdering innocents the way they did millions of Iraqi children, and destroying everything that America ever stood for or accomplished.

I've been invited to speak to groups whose principle concern they purported to be peace. I've told them what are undeniable truths. That we can never have peace as long as we have taxation, because taxation is the fuel of war. That we can never have peace as long as we have conscription, because those who think they own us are too cowardly to go and fight their wars themselves and they assign less value to other people's children than they do to other people's money. That we can never have peace as long as the people are disarmed and the state is allowed to have guns. They have uses in mind for all of those assaults on human dignity and freedom, and they will never willingly give them up.

My question is, why did we ever allow these cretins to vote?

And yes, Laura, with your phony animal passion, I'm talking about you.

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 more than 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 is currently running as a free weekly serial at

Neil is presently at work on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Where We Stand: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis with his daughter, Rylla.

See stunning full-color graphic-novelizations of The Probability Broach and Roswell, Texas which feature the art of Scott Bieser at Dead-tree versions may be had through the publisher, or at where you will also find Phoenix Pick editions of some of Neil's earlier novels. Links to Neil's books at are on his website


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