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L. Neil Smith's

Number 842, October 11, 2015

Twenty Years Online!

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Stupid Is As Stupid Does
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

I'm not too good with Facebook. Yesterday I got a note, short and to the point, that said something like, "This is the most stupid thing I've ever read." I could be wrong, but I think he was referring to my essay, "Suppose You Were Fond Of Books ... " which has been circulating on the Web again lately. It's an old friend and I'm happy to see it. When I went back again this morning, I couldn't find the message. Like I said, I'm not too good with Facebook.

Perhaps a word of explanation is in order. Back in the 1960s, the Second Amendment appeared to be on its last legs. Thanks to lies, propaganda, a Library of Congress translation of Nazi Gun Laws, and treacherous betrayal by the National Rifle Association, the1968 Gun Control Act had been passed, and the enemies of freedom were howling for more.

Radio, TV, news magazines, and the newspapers were monolithically against us, and there was no Internet in those days. There was no way to talk back. So I did what I could. I wrote brief essays, Xeroxed them onto brightly-colored paper so they wouldn't be forgotten, and handed them out to everyone I could at local gun shows. People said that I was preaching to the choir, but the choir hadn't been singing. So I gave them something to sing. "Suppose You Were Fond Of Books ... " was one of those Xeroxed essays. Later, I went on to write The Probability Broach, and found The Libertarian Enterprise.

The peculiar thing about all this is that, in all that time, in 45 years or so, my Facebook correspondent is the first person I know of who ever complained about that essay. This leads me to wonder a number of things. Is he a hater of guns and self-defense? Would he really rather see a woman dead in an alley, raped, and strangled with her own pantyhose, than see her with a gun I her hand? I know that people like that do exist.

Is he one o if them?

Or does he simply hate being forced to think about the debate—on an item that should never have been up for debate—in different terms than he's grown accustomed to? Or is he becoming dimly aware that the world is a different shape than he thought it was (we know what gun- free zones—Obama Zones—are really like; imagine a gun-free society, a gun-free nation, a gun-free world) and he needs to take his anger out on somebody?

On anybody?

George Washington reminded us that "Government is force." Lysander Spooner added that, when you pass a law you're giving employment to those who wouldn't otherwise have it. You're issuing them a license to beat up and kill individuals who were ordinary peaceful, productive citizens an instant before you signed a piece of paper that established them as criminals. Elsewhere, he asked what have you accomplished by passing this law? Those who agree with it obeyed it long before it became a law. Those who disagree will break it surreptitiously. You've given jobs—at public expense—to thugs.

As anyone familiar with my work can tell you, I am not fond of laws in general or gun laws in particular. The former are an embarrassing exercise in futility, the latter a threat to my liberty (yours, too). I have been a professional gunsmith and am now a novelist and essayist by trade, So if I write comparing guns to books, what I am saying is that they have something in common. They actually have many things in common, but what's important is that human beings like them and want them. Humans have many things we like and want, and the only one right: to remain unmolested in our pursuit of them.

So if in your view, I wrote stupidly in my defense of human rights, at least I was trying. I rather doubt that I was writing stupidly; so many different people have enjoyed that essay, and it's been reprinted many times. What I suspect is that I wrote it too well, too annoyingly effectively for some armchair fuehrer who wants to hire thugs (somehow, they never seem to exhibit the testicular fortitude to do these messy things themselves) to beat people up and kill them to keep them from exercising their natural rights.

Never forget that the second thing these regimes do, after rounding up everybody's guns is rounding up everybody's books—and burning them. If you would outlaw guns, you must first outlaw knowledge of guns; and if you would outlaw knowledge of guns, you must outlaw knowledge itself. Exactly why do you think kids are punished for drawing guns in school or making gun-shapes with their peanut butter sandwiches? The Orwellian lesson isn't actually for them, it's for everyone sitting around them.

And never forget that actions have consequences, If it wasn't for the gun-grabbers of the 1950s and 1960s, the Lyndon Johnsons. Tom Dodds and the Howard Metzenbaums who "inspired" me, I wouldn't be a writer today, influencing thousands or maybe even millions who read my works which are filled with the message you hate. I am your fault, and the fault of people just like you and I sincerely hope that makes you mad.

[ Editor's note: "Suppose You Were Fond Of Books ..." is reprinted in this issue for your reading pleasure. ]

Celebrated and award-winning author of over 30 books and countless shorter pieces, L. Neil Smith is available, at professional rates, to write articles and speeches for you or your organization, providing that our principles are compatible. Contact him at

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