Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
First published in Issue Number 14, September 15, 1996.
Lemme tell you a stupid story.
The names have been changed to protect the stupid.
A friend of mine has a wife who, in the course of her work, comes into contact with many foreign nationals. One of themhas a wife he must leave alone while he attends out-of-town functions in the course of his work. All of them reside in a small, low crime-rate western city. recently the scene of a couple of series of shockingly brutal attacks.
Expressing concern for his wife’s safety, the foreigner (who comes from a violent part of the world himself) asks his co-worker where he can get a gun to leave with his wife when he’s away, and what kind of gun is best. He knows his co-worker and her husband are competitive shooters and outspoken on Second Amendment issues. She suggests a .357 magnum which can be loaded with .38 Specials to begin with, and tells him she’ll talk with her husband about sources.
The foreigner also fears that his boss—himself an immigrant and new-fledged citizen but a rabid Clinton fan and hysterical anti-gunner—might find out; he makes his co-worker promise to keep his request discreet. Being a responsible person, she also extracts a promise, that her friend will send his wife to her for living room and firing range instruction.
In a few days someone is found who wants to sell a suitable gun at a suitable price. Everyone is happy—until the cash the foreigner gives his co-worker turns out to be a stack of consecutively numbered tens, a big red stain along the lower right-hand corner of each bill. The American husband can hear the prosecutor asking the ATF agent if these are the bills he supplied to facilitate an illegal firearms transfer between a known “Constitutionalist” and potential Middle Eastern terrorist.
In a nanosecond, the deal is off. Everybody goes from happy to embarrassed. The American husband has to explain to the foreigner that, despite the pictures painted by media and officially sanctioned parties, this country isn’t the haven it used to be. Waco comes up in their conversation—held outdoors in a crowd—along with agencies for which there is no Constitutional justification, and seizure laws.
Everyone is sad.
All because a decent individual worried about his wife, and other decent individuals understood and shared his worry and were willing to help him.
All because (it says here) the Bill of Rights applies to everybody in America, even foreigners—except, by gosh, by golly gee, for the Second Amendment.
All because America (let’s make it Amerika) has become just the sort of police state Yippies, Zippies, Lippies, or whoever it was claimed it was back in the 60s, the irony being that they’re the very ones—Waco Willie and his Khmer Pinque wife come to mind—who’ve made it that way.
All because the America I pledged allegiance to is dead.
Every day I get internet messages about how my communication is being monitored by some outfit Thomas Jefferson and friends started this country to do away with. Every day I hear about how my phone may be tapped for no better reason than that I talk a lot about Thomas Jefferson. I know the government’s been opening mail since the Vietnam War. Every day I see more evidence that America is now like the Russia of Gorky Park where anyone can be the enemy and the byword of the times, so urgent and cogent that it’s the slogan of a popular TV show, is “Trust No One.”
As usual in these cases, questions remain that likely never will be answered. Was the foreigner a snitch? That would be too bad; he’s a nice guy everybody likes. He’s also here (as opposed to there) and would probably like to stay here. He comes from a particularly unpleasant corner of the planet being ruled by particularly unpleasant state terrorists masquerading as benevolent protectors. He has a wife and baby. In short, he’s unusually vulnerable to the Amerikan Gestapo.
We’ll never know.
Has this stupid chain of events taught us anything? Only what events like it have taught people in other police states over the decades—that even paranoids have enemies, and that in a police state, no good deed goes unpunished.
It’s been said that “War is the health of the state.” In a police state, good deeds—unsupervised acts of unlicensed generosity leading to the establishment of self-sufficiency—are the enemy of the state. In an increasingly cold world, another tiny spark of decency and kindliness has winked out. Another individual is left helpless, thanks to the way freelance rapists and muggers are assisted by official rapists and muggers who collect their salaries at our involuntary expense.
Keep that in mind next time you’re inclined to berate “purists” like me who complain—correctly—of a presidential candidate who isn’t even close to perfect. Keep it in mind when you hear the whining of a former friend who left the movement out of the basest possible motive to join the enemy, who reviled his former comrades to curry favor with new masters, and who now tries to worm his way back into the movement by lying about why I’ll have nothing to do with him.
In our own small portion of this sorry world, BATF and other outlaw agencies have begun stamping out every trace of warmth and chivalry among human beings, making decent impulses so risky and potentially expensive nobody can afford to excercise them. If what I hear about internet snooping is correct, they’re reading this and sniggering obscenely to themselves just like the Beavis and Buttheads they are, because it’s exactly what they’d hoped to accomplish.
Yet next year, five years, ten years from now, when civilization has been rendered even more attenuated by their efforts, and something terrible happens to someone they love down in the ugly violent streets that they have created, they’ll wail their outrage at the stars and blame everybody but themselves.
Meanwhile, I repeat what I said on a previous occasion. Back when it was a free country, America worked. Now that it’s a police state, it doesn’t any more.