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L. Neil Smith's
Number 575, June 20, 2010

"The Internet is the collective
consciousness of the human race"

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Keep Your Filthy Hands Off The Internet
by L. Neil Smith

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Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

The subject: "New Bill Gives Obama 'Kill Switch' To Shut Down The Internet".

The story, on, written by Paul Joseph Watson and published on Wednesday, June 16, 2010, warned that under a new law being pushed by that perennial douchebag Joseph Lieberman, government would have the "absolute power" to seize control of the World Wide Web.

Lieberman has long hated, loathed, and despised—and almost certainly feared—the freedom of unsupervised, uncensored communication among individuals afforded by the Internet. He is far from alone in this. Over the years, he has trudged from one lame excuse to another—"cybersecurity", for example—to justify putting an end to the greatest exercise of freedom human history has ever witnessed.

Naturally, Lieberman's unconstitutional bill has found an avid cheerleader in the fearmongering demagogue Jay Rockefeller, who has opined that it would be better if we'd never invented the Internet. One can only speculate who he means by "we", since he and his ilk, permanently Crazy-Glued onto the public nipple, almost certainly haven't a clue how the Internet (or a Zippo lighter, for that matter) works.

Not surprisingly, Watson and report that "the largest Internet-based corporations are seemingly happy with the bill, primarily because it contains language that will give them immunity from civil lawsuits and also reimburse them for any costs incurred if the Internet is shut down for a period of time." Tom Gann, McAfee's vice president for government relations, is quoted as describing the bill as a "very important piece of legislation". I've done my last business with McAfee, or anybody who supports this rape of the First Amendment.

If we did it to Smith & Wesson, we can do it to McAfee.

The National Rifle Association reportedly reached similar accord with those who would become our masters by outlawing criticism of Congress—happily, that particular bill died aborning, although it served very nicely to expose the NRA, once again, as nothing more than the world's oldest, largest victim disarmament (gun control) advocacy—and this sort of crooked wheeler-dealering is beginning to look like a pattern, just one more reason American corporations desperately need to be cut down to size by abolishing the corrupt—and corrupting—institution of limited liability.

Read the article by Watson. He describes what the government wants in chilling detail. Long decades of bitter experience compel us to expect treachery from the Republican Party as well as from the Democrats.

My daughter Rylla, now in her early 20s, was home schooled. One very important part of her education (she now maintains a 4.0 grade point average in college) was completely unfettered access to the Internet.

When I informed her that I had started writing an article about the importance of resisting threats to Internet freedom, she said, "I have a 'Friends Only' setting on my LiveJournal account, because there are things I only want my friends to see. I no more want government to be able to see what I write than some Internet-prowling sexual predator."

I agree.

Just as there is no place in a nation with a First Amendment in its Constitution for what Lieberman and company are planning for us, nor even for anything remotely like a Federal Communications Commission, there can be no place in such a nation for an "Internet Czar".

Despite the Internet's origin in the late 1960s as a government sponsored means of communication between the Department of Defense, private industry, and academia, it has been at its best—and generated the greatest economic, social, and technological benefits—since it was "liberated" by the hordes of "geeks" who were originally hired to run it by employers who were not themselves conversant with computers, and couldn't tell when their employees were exchanging official traffic or trading dirty jokes and recipes for marijuana brownies.

Since then, the Internet has often been the only healthy, growing part of the economy, the only thing holding us together as a nation. I believe strongly it is the only reason we have any freedom left. The quintessential exercise of free speech in a culture supposedly built on that concept and dedicated to it, the Internet's development is as historically important to humanity—perhaps even more so—as Gutenberg's invention of the printing press. To paraphrase Carl Jung, the Internet is the collective consciousness of the human race. For those and many other reasons, it must be left unmolested by the government.

The Internet is an interesting thing. You can be communicating with somebody across town today, somebody in another state tonight, and somebody on the other side of the world tomorrow, all with equal ease. If their e-mail address doesn't show it, and you don't know how to read that routing gobbledygook at the top of the message, you can be doing one of those three things and not know which one it is. In terms of "bringing people together" there has never been anything like it.

The Internet serves yet another noble purpose. It invites idiots, crazies, and evil-doers to expose themselves in ways that were never possible before. We learned about the evil machinations of Lieberman and Rockefeller courtesy of the open medium they hate and want to destroy.

And consider the sorry advocates of victim disarmament, for example, commonly—and inaccurately—known as "gun control". They can't even cry out, as they used to, "Outlaw them all!" England and Australia have tried that; they now have the highest violent crime rates on the planet. And—thanks to the Internet—everybody knows it.

Vermont, by contrast (joined now by Alaska and Arizona) is a bloody thorn in the side of victim disarmers everywhere because simply respecting the individual's rights produces results that all the cops and all the laws in the world can't approach. Given the Internet to spread the word, the idea is contagious, and will inevitably spread to even the most backward regions like Illinois, Massachusetts and New York.

It is entirely understandable that backwater satrapies like North Korea or Iran, where the light of individual liberty never shines, routinely scrutinize and censor the Internet, and consign those whose use of it they disapprove of to jail. In true Stalinist style, China has a prison reserved exclusively for the incarceration of "Internet addicts".

Almost alone among the community of nations that share the legacy of Magna Carta, Australia ought to be ashamed of the vile company—that of totalitarian Cuba and Egypt among others—it's keeping online.

And the same to you, New Zealand. Be ashamed.

Teddy Roosevelt is said to have hated the Constitution because it got in the way of his "progressive" ambitions. Woodrow Wilson, another "progressive", exploited the First World War as an excuse to rape the Bill of Rights. Franklin Roosevelt did much the same and more during the Depression and the Second World War, banning the possession of gold and provoking the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor. Harry Truman killed a quarter million people with a single signature, and used the army to break strikes. Richard Nixon believed firearms in private hands are "an abomination". Lyndon Johnson used the IRS to persecute critics until they killed themselves, and had people's mail opened by the post Office. Jimmy Carter, either of the Bushes, Bill Clinton, and many of the other "great men" in our bloodsoaked history, all based their "legacies" on using the Bill of Rights for toilet paper.

Each of them would have hated, loathed, and despised the Internet.

The Clintons certainly do.

Bill and Hillary Clinton were among the first to complain about the degree of unsupervised communication the Internet makes possible and have often suggested that Internet communication be "validated" by government officials and that bloggers be forced to obtain government licenses.

They are far from alone in this view.

Possibly worst of all, from the standpoint of the dedicated enemies of freedom, the Internet is a world that libertarians—having been marginalized for three decades by the establishment media—have made their own, almost without effort. It's an alternative reality (unlike "meat-space" we live in) in which—exactly like intelligence, bravery, or virtue—the human capacity for violence is not additive, and in which it's impossible to initiate force against anybody.

To those, like the Clintons, who believe that there can be too much freedom—or too much information—the Internet represents the direst of threats. The only conceivable reason any politician might have for "regulating" the Internet in any way is to shut criticism off, exactly the same reason that Abraham Lincoln sent his troops to smash the printing presses of newspapers that opposed him and his policies.

New York's Commissioner of Police opines that the InterNet is "the new Afghanistan" where Muslims are free to radicalize American youth and turn them into terrorists. The problem, he says, is that you can't do anything about such communication because, until a certain point, nobody has committed a crime. Apparently he wants to arrest people before that point, as they did in Minority Report. I'll point out that we know what kind of fascist bugger this moron is, thanks to the Internet.

Wouldn't it be infinitely better to teach a set of values, rooted in individual liberty, that our kids couldn't be talked out of by anybody?

Of course the real threat to America is this Commissioner, himself—and all other parasites like him who depend on human cowardice and stupidity to write their paychecks—not imaginary youth-radicalizing digital Muslims. Listening to this man—giving him any credence at all—is how the light of civilization starts to go out, all over the world.

Another thing to be wary of is the predatory hunger of politicians and bureaucrats everywhere, from City Hall to the United Nations, to tax the Internet, or the activities it makes possible. Whatever else it is, whatever the reasons given for it, taxation in this context is a step toward control. Daniel Webster pointed out that "The power to tax is the power to destroy", and Chief Justice John Marshall agreed with him in the historic case of McCulloch vs. Madison. Elsewhere, I have set John Maynard Keynes straight by referring to taxation as a "barbarous relic of an ancient past". By contrast, the Internet is the leading element of a future society in which that relic will no longer exist.

Libertarians and conservatives don't generally have much use for the Fourteenth Amendment, one of a handful that were steam-rollered through by the victorious Republicans in the absence of effective Democratic opposition, shortly after the War Between the States. There are reasons for this disdain which I'm not planning to go into here and now. I dislike them personally because they are very poorly written.

But consider for a moment, the third paragraph of the Fourteenth, because it offers some tantalizing possibilities to those who defend freedom:

"No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability."

What this means, once you hack your way through all the surplusage Mark Twain advised us to eschew, is that anyone guilty of "rebellion" against the Constitution is forbidden ever to hold public office again.

So what constitutes a rebellion? In the words of that great moral philosopher William Jefferson Blythe Clinton, it all depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is. If the First Amendment was written by the Founding Fathers specifically to prevent the government from interfering with the all-important right of free speech, and then some sleazy politician promotes legislation designed to do exactly that, is he or is he not truly involved in an act of rebellion against the Constitution?

And since the Fourteenth Amendment, by the nature of amendments, supercedes, takes precedence over the body of the Constitution, does that not mean that protections traditionally afforded to politicians—under Article I, Section 6 ("... they shall in all Cases ... be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance ... and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.")—no longer applies?

Imagine a Joseph Lieberman or a Jay Rockefeller stripped for life of the privilege they have long abused of holding public office, employed at meaningless, powerless jobs given to them by corporate America as a charity, writing memoirs nobody will ever read, drifting from talk show to talk show, gradually fading from society like a ghost.

I agree strongly with's Paul Joseph Watson when he tells us that "The Lieberman bill needs to be met with fierce opposition at every level and from across the political spectrum." He further exhorts us, "Regulation of the Internet would not only represent a massive assault on free speech, it would also create new roadblocks for e-commerce and as a consequence further devastate the economy."

The only hope we have is the Internet.

We must strive to keep it free.

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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.

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