Take a Byte out of Crime

by L. Neil Smith

         The US Senate, showing their true colors once again, are going through the motions of "considering" whether to censor what we read and write on the internet. What they're "considering" is the Exon/Gorton "Communications Decency Act". As usual, the excuse they're using is our own children; as usual, the target's supposed to be obscenity.
         But the object is political and everybody knows it. American politicians on both sides of the aisle feel a desperate need these days to bring all this unsupervised talk between Americans -- which altered the character of Congress last November and will soon do the same for the Senate -- to an immediate, screeching halt.
         In a way, you can't blame them. Like the kindly old lady in the song who got bitten by a snake she took in from the cold, we shouldn't act surprised; we knew what they were when we elected them. The Democratic Party -- like socialist institutions the world over -- is at death's door. The Republicans are in worse shape: they're going to be the first politicos in history who are forced to keep their promises because half a billion eyes are on them and the owners of those eyes are in communication with each other.
         I believe this unconstitutional travesty must be laid at the feet of those who -- more than anyone else -- are truly to blame for it, that mealy-mouthed, hypocritical, self-serving, cowardly, essentially fraudulent organization, the American Civil Liberties Union.
         They're the ones with the hallucination -- which they try to inflict on as many others as they can -- that the Bill of Rights is some kind of menu from which you can select Item Number 1 and maybe 4 and 5, but you should never, never, never touch nasty old Item Number 2, because you don't know where it's been, it's got all kinds of fat, sugar, sodium, caffeine, cholesterol, and even nicotine, and besides, only illiterate rednecks with obese wives and pimply children would have anything to do with that icky old thing, yuck.
         As a consequence -- because of a longstanding collectivist political agenda that differs significantly from the goals it publicly proclaims -- the ACLU promotes the pernicious idea that individual rights are divisible, which allows anybody who opposes our rights for one reason or another to attack them singly, sniping from the bushes and picking off stragglers, while these "civil" libertarians stand around whining, weeping into their beards, and wondering loudly how it all happened. In short, like government itself, the ACLU is a disease masquerading as its own cure.
         As you've probably figured out by now, I'm an uncivil libertarian. I agree with Edgar Friendly, from the movie Demolition Man:

" ... I'm the enemy. Because I like to think. I like to read. I'm into freedom of speech. Into freedom of choice. I'm the kind of guy who wants to sit in a greasy spoon and wonder, 'Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecued ribs with a side order of gravy fries?' I want high cholesterol. I want to eat bacon and butter and buckets of cheese okay? I want to smoke a Cuban cigar the size of Cincinnati in the non-smoking section. I want to run through the streets naked with green jello all over my body and reading Playboy magazine, why? Because suddenly might feel the need to ... "

         And if that isn't enough for you, I want to be just like P.J. O'Rourke when I grow up. (I wonder what he wants to be when he grows up.) Unlike the ACLU, I believe rights are indivisible because there's really only one: the right to remain unmolested by the government or anybody else. When some geek, official or otherwise, informs me that he's scrutinizing my communications with others and I could find myself beaten up or killed if I say the wrong thing, that's molestation -- and my answer is to fight back.
         How? Well, I can assure you that my formula for self-defense doesn't include donating my time, money, or energy to the ACLU or any other group that helped to get us in this mess by claiming to defend certain of our rights it generously condescends to approve of while fastidiously refusing even to recognize certain others that make it go goose-bumpy and queasy all over. The world doesn't need white knights who get the vapors and need to go lie down.
         It does mean doing all I can to help the only political part in America which has dedicated itself to energetically enforcing the Bill of Rights -- which just happens to be the highest law of the land -- by putting those public officials who try to break it, whether they style themselves "senator" or "constable" or anything in between, in a concrete box with steel bars on the windows. And that most especially includes those senators who believe there ought to be thought police on the information superhighway
         Slam City, gentlemen.
         When that happens, you can count on the ACLU to be there, ready to defend them. You sure can't count on it for much of anything else.

L. Neil Smith is the award-winning author of 19 books including The Probability Broach, The Crystal Empire, Henry Martyn, The Lando Calrissian Adventures, Pallas, and (forthcoming) Bretta Martyn. An NRA Life Member and founder of the Libertarian Second Amendment Caucus, he has been active in the Libertarian movement for 34 years and is its most prolific and widely-published living novelist.

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