Archive for March, 2010

Classic J. Neil: The Pitchman and the Oracle


Originally published in 1996 on The World According to J. Neil Schulman


Are you a bigot?

It won’t surprise me if you don’t think so. Bigotry, to most people, means intolerance of, or discrimination against, a person on the basis of race, color, creed, ethnic origin, gender, or what used to be called a handicap and now, using a euphemism for a euphemism, we call “challenged.”

The assumption that drives the social disapproval against bigotry is that the object of the bigotry not only has no choice about her or his condition, but that this condition is an ephemera to the person’s true worth. We obviously have no choice about our particular mix of chromosomes, so discrimination against one of us on the basis of race, color, creed, ethnic origin, gender, and physical or mental incapacities seems unfair.

Nowadays it’s not only socially acceptable, but socially encouraged, to be intolerant of people who engage in activities which are generally regarded as anti-social. Right-thinking people, often thinking themselves tolerant, would pour a glass of water on someone’s cigarette if he lit up in a restaurant, and would likely be applauded by other people who think themselves tolerant.

There is equally little tolerance for the man or woman who wears an animal’s fur as a coat but, practically speaking, there seems to be more tolerance for people who wear animal skins tanned into leather. Maybe the reason is that if you splash red paint on some “rich bitch’s” fur coat you might get sued, but if you splash red paint on a biker chick’s leather jacket, you’ll be talking to your lawyer from a hospital burn ward.

But if there is one class of people whom almost everyone seems to agree it’s okay to be nasty to, it’s the person who gets in your face and wants to give you a message. If the message is commercial, it’s coming from some sort of pitchman; if religious, from some sort of evangelist; if political, from some sort of rabble-rouser. What they all have in common is that they have no access to the monied means of communication — getting their words into books or magazines, or their message on TV, or their song on the radio. They can’t do what the big guys do which is bait a trap to get you to come to them — so they do all that’s left to them, which is to knock on doors, make phone calls, hand out leaflets on street corners, or write on bathroom walls.

In religion, do we have more tolerance for old, established religions with magnificent, centuries-old cathedrals and a millennia of pillaged statuary or the Jehovah’s Witness knocking on our doors?

In charity, are we more likely to give to some public-TV station which spends half its budget on fund-raising , or the plain-looking woman blocking your way into Wal-Mart who’s trying to raise money for a battered-woman’s shelter?

Of the three message-pushers, the commercial pitchman is likely the most despised throughout history. The late semanticist, college president, and U.S. senator, S.I. Hayakawa, in the first edition of his book Language in Thought And Action, had a chapter on “The Marginal Businessman.” Hayakawa argued that much of the popular resentment against Jews was directed not at supposed deficiencies in the Jewish religion but on the ways Jews made a living. Since Jewish dietary laws forbid the eating of game, Jews were not hunters; since Jews were often forbidden to own land, they could not be landlords or farmers. Laws commonly forbade Jews from attending universities or practicing professions. So Jews became merchants and money-lenders, rag-pickers and trinket salesmen. Hayakawa documented history showing that every struggling businessman, of any ethnicity, is despised because of his in-your-face sales practices.

Half a century ago, the small businessman was still pictured in newspaper cartoons with a hooked nose. Since that’s no longer acceptable, we are instead given the ethnically sanitized image of the small businessman as Schemer on the PBS children’s show Shining Time Station, or the greasy fast-food inventor Falafel on Hercules and Xena. But the point is the same. Small businessmen are usually shown as despicable.

Who, among car salesmen, are the ones we despise the most? Is it the Mercedes-Benz dealer wearing an Italian tailored suit in a plush showroom or the guy in the loud sports jacket selling used-up wrecks off a recently vacant lot?

Are we more annoyed by chain stores situated in an upscale shopping mall or the mail-order outfits operating out of a warehouse somewhere in North Dakota that fill your mailbox with “junk mail”?

The fact is, we live in a noisy marketplace and we are all suffering from agoraphobia to one extent or another.

Agoraphobia is usually thought of as fear or dislike of open spaces, but historically and etymologically, the agora wasn’t an empty space but a bustling, jostling market with people shouting at you to sample their wares. Agoraphobia has now evolved into the fear and loathing of the unsolicited sales call.

What most people don’t seem to realize is that this fear and loathing serves the interests of those who want to control all means of mass communication. The old method of censorship used by ruling classes was to try to keep you from getting your message out by using violence against you if you said or wrote something that wasn’t approved. Since human ingenuity seems boundless, the messages got out anyway — and usually were even made sexier by being forbidden.

The ruling classes have learned their lesson from history. They don’t bother trying to suppress discontented messengers anymore. They just buy up all the means of slick communication — movie studios, TV networks, recording companies — and manufacture the messages they want you to hear. They don’t have to censor the opposition — they simply drown it out in a sea of glossy, sexy, manipulative entertainment products. And if everyone hates the pitchman, it’s because we are surrounded by them all day long.

The pitchman is on TV and radio — even on so-called “public” TV — hawking his wares. If we pay extra for commercial-free channels, she’s telling us about the next week of movies we can’t miss. He’s selling us oranges, bananas, and peanuts when our car stops at a light in Los Angeles, or trying to clean our windshield with a greasy rag if the stoplight is in lower Manhattan. He’s selling us the Los Angeles Times before the movie previews start in a Southland movie theater. He’s asking us for a handout when we get out of our car, and waiting to ask us for a donation before we enter the mall shop. She’s leaving messages on our phone answering machines. There’s no avenue of communication they won’t use.

Even the Internet.

The Internet is the most efficient means of distributing information the human race has ever invented. I describe it to people who don’t understand computers as the world’s greatest library with the world’s best card catalog. But information is precisely what those in power most wish to control. You can’t package lies to everyone consistently if there remains a single open channel for getting the truth out to lots of people fast.

A few conglomerates today own the TV and radio stations, cable networks, movie studios and movie theaters, recording companies and music stores, movie rental stores, newspapers and magazines, book publishers, telephone companies, cable companies. Now they’re moving into the Internet with World Wide Web sites.

In each of these media that these major corporations control, they can sit back and wait for you to come to them to receive their pitches. You want entertainment. They control entertainment. They don’t have to get in your face to pitch to you because they control the movies, TV shows, and music you want and will willingly approach them, listening to their sales pitches along the way.

And it’s the outsider — the real social critic, the radical, the small enterpriser, the religious dissenter — who has to get in your face and shout to get your attention away from the officially sanctioned sources of information. Let’s call the information monopolists the “Oracles.”

Here’s where I come into the story, personally.

I’m a writer. I’ve been a writer for a quarter century now. I’ve written novels, screenplays, poems, articles, short stories, essays, and speeches. I’ve won awards, had my picture in the newspaper, plugged my books on TV, had a script I’ve written produced for network TV.

I’m also in the publishing business. I can’t think of a job in the publishing business I haven’t had hands-on experience doing. I’ve read manuscripts for literary agencies and publishers, done rewriting, line-editing, and copy-editing, supervised cover jacket artwork and book design, picked out binding materials, proofread at all stages, called distributors to get orders and both shipped books out and received them back. I’ve managed to get a small press book into chain bookstores and gotten stiffed when a distributor went bankrupt, owing me for 400 hardcover books they’d already been paid for by the chain to which they’d sold it. I’ve picked up pallets of books at the printer in Vermont and driven them cross country, then loaded them into a storage locker in Los Angeles.

The essence of writing and publishing is the creation and distribution of information — which puts me in direct competition with the information Oracles. On those occasions when I have written something that didn’t offend the Oracles too badly, they’ve bought my work and disseminated it. But any time I want to get down and dirty and offer a viewpoint that doesn’t fit their vision, I’m on my own, and good luck to me trying to get your attention with the racket you’re already getting from the Oracles.

I ran into this problem when I tried to send an email letter to a few hundred people on the Internet, telling them about my world wide website which is offering downloads of books which the Oracles have decided not to publish. I chose to mail to a list of people who had openly published their names and email addresses on a website opposing Internet censorship. I sent each one a single message telling them how the book industry nowadays is channeled through one guy in New York who buys for the biggest bookstore chain — and no major publisher will publish a book of any consequence without checking with him first to see what his order might be. I suggested that when one guy sitting in an office can control what books a quarter billion people got a chance to buy, we might as well call it censorship.

And I ran headlong into the prejudice against the pitchman.

Because my message was “unsolicited” and “commercial,” I got back dozens of email replies accusing me of mailing “spam” — which is a term of art on the Internet for sending out multiple messages to unrelated public news groups or private email accounts. Most “spammers” use the Internet to pitch scams, phone sex, and CD-ROM’s offering dirty pictures. They’ll send messages to unrelated news groups, hundreds at a time. They’ll send from anonymous email accounts so Internet service providers can’t cut them off. They’ll buy lists of email addresses drawn from people who have posted messages in public news groups.

I didn’t do any of that. I mailed to a list of people who had freely self-published their email addresses in support of a cause — and I was sending them a message on a related cause. I sent them one message — and I told them that I wasn’t going to send them any more.

They didn’t believe me. It appears this was what every “spammer” said as part of the pitch. I was cursed out, insulted, threatened with legal action, and sent a huge message designed to cripple my email for about an hour. Even the most mannered and eloquent of those people who had received my email were offended by its being an unsolicited invasion of their privacy, and they acted with the zeal of white blood cells attacking a foreign DNA strand attempting to fend off my unwanted intrusion. They were guardians of the public good, defending their polity.

In other words, they were people after my own heart.

Just a few years ago, the Internet was the preserve of a few academics and government employees, free from any commercial enterprises — and those people want it kept that way. They probably feel about me how Pocahontas’s dad, Chief Powhatan, felt when he saw the Susan Constant sailing into harbor filled with English boat-people.

But the objection to “spam” on the Internet is, at its essence, the same prejudice that ruling classes throughout history have used to maintain their power. If they can get the people to despise the pitchman, the evangelist, and the rabble-rouser, they can continue to enjoy a monopoly of their subjects’ attention spans so that our money and energy will be spent how they want it spent.

The World Wide Web is, largely, a level playing field, where the small enterpriser, the evangelist, and the rabble-rouser can enjoy messaging opportunities equal to that of the corporate Oracles. It is, perhaps, the first time in history that communication has been so free and democratic.

But the Oracles still can command attention on the World Wide Web using vast gobs of money, using Internet directories such as Infoseek and Yahoo! to display advertising banners. “Directory” is the correct name for these services — for they direct millions of people to a few select websites every day — and the Oracles maintain their grip on your attention thereby.

The small fry like me — with an alternative website — is, like the door-to-door salesman, the telephone pitchman, and the panhandler — forced into the undignified and despised job of attempting to grab your attention by any means left to us that does not require thousands or millions of dollars in advertising. And I tried sending out email about my website to some people I thought would be interested because I can’t afford to sit back and let people find me the way the Oracles can.

I will not soon try that again because the Oracles have conditioned their subjects to reject the pitchman, the evangelist, and the rabble-rouser, and I don’t appreciate getting insulted, threatened, and outright damaged by the guardians of public morals.

Which, it would appear, leaves the Oracles with their monopoly on mass communication intact and unthreatened.

Ladies and Gentlemen: the people who eat caviar have a good reason to make you hate spam. Spam threatens their monopoly on communications. If you buy from the lady who’s selling cheap oranges on the street, what do you need the overpriced produce in the high-rent supermarket for? If I can use a $12.95 a month email account to send a message to thousands of potential customers, how can they make you buy their overpriced junk with million-dollar Superbowl commercials?

It’s only by fostering your hatred of the pitchman who’s in your face with an alternative product that the Oracles can maintain their lock on your pocketbook, your vote … and your soul.

If you despise spam — the pitchman, the evangelist, the rabble-rouser — you are allowing the people who are already rich and powerful to make sure that they brook no competition from new ideas and alternative enterprises.

If a pitchman, evangelist, or rabble-rouser has to shout for your attention, it’s a clear signal to you that what they have to say is not something the Oracles want you to hear.

If the Oracles wanted you to hear it, they wouldn’t have to get in your face. They own the media. They don’t have to shout. They already have you where they want you and they don’t want to lose you.

At some point, people who are seriously concerned about freedom of speech are just going to have to figure out whether they’re willing to put up with the inconvenience of having some nasty, ugly, cheap low-life’s like me get in your face on occasion in order to preserve your freedom of choice.

Getting in your face to tell you this is, admittedly, a nasty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Otherwise, the Oracles will own us forever and a day.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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A Bad Case of Liberty


Reading a transcript of the lawyers’ oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court in the case of McDonald v. City of Chicago actually gives us a more accurate diagnosis on the condition of liberty in the United States today than you could get from watching a thousand hours of cable news and listening to a thousand hours of talk radio.

The specific reason that this case is being heard before the Supreme Court is a legal contrivance — an attempt by those who believe in the individual right to keep and bear arms to establish that right in the federal courts, where it can be enforced.

Specifically, in this case, a ban on handgun ownership in a private home is being challenged on grounds previously established in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court recognized the Second Amendment as enshrining in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights an individual right to keep and bear arms.

But the Bill of Rights was originally intended to restrict and limit only powers granted by the Constitution to the Federal Government. It wasn’t until after the Civil War and the passage of the 14th amendment that rights enshrined in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights were thought to be able to be enforced by federal courts on state and local governments.

And therein lies the primary question: do you want the Government of the United States — federal marshals, FBI agents, the EPA, IRS, even the ATF — coming to your defense when your rights are violated by state and local officials?

It’s not a question that remotely crossed the minds of the Founding Fathers when they carefully crafted the balance of powers between the United States and the states themselves, because they did not contemplate what we have today: a federal government that has taken upon itself vast powers never granted to it by the Constitution that survived a rebellion from the States and the people.

The Founding Fathers — Jefferson and Madison in particular — would have been shocked by nothing so much in subsequent American history as the federal government winning the war against states seceding from the Union.

So when Alan Gura — the attorney for the plaintiff seeking relief in a federal court from the oppression of the City of Chicago — argues to the Supreme Court that the “privileges and immunities” clause of the 14th amendment should be used by federal courts to forbid the City of Chicago from violating Otis McDonald’s Second Amendment-protected right to keep a handgun at home, Mr. Gura is using the arguments of liberal civil-rights lawyers and liberal activist judges to further weaken state and local governments and further empower the federal government.

The conservatives on the court — who want to give no more power to the federal government — are caught on the horns of a dilemma. They believe in the Second Amendment. They believe the right protected by the Second Amendment is no less deserving of protection than other rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights which previous courts have already held can be enforced by federal courts against state and local officials.

But they do not want to unleash a swarm of federal bureaucrats on state and local governments as an unintended consequence of attempting to protect individual rights.

Likewise, the liberals on the court would like nothing better than to expand the power of federal courts to intervene in state and local matters — and what better excuse than protecting rights enshrined in the Constiitution? — but they get sick to their stomach when they contemplate that the right to own and carry guns will be among those protected rights.

It puts every Justice outside of their usual comfort zones.

It gets even more complicated because the authors of the Bill of Rights got even more radical than the idea of the people being well-armed to protect the possibility of future revolutions. In the Ninth and Tenth Amendments they said that just because they missed writing down a specific right didn’t mean the right disappeared. They created a category of “unenumerated rights” — rights held by the people at the time the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution in 1792 — and if you take the Constitution at all seriously, what this means is that every bit of personal freedom that was legal for an individual in 1792 is still legal today — and any legislation to the contrary is null and void.

Taking the idea of unenumerated rights seriously was so threatening to Justice Scalia that when Alan Gura brought it up — in passing — Scalia asked Gura if he was trying to get himself a job as a law professor. After all — let’s get serious. It’s only in an ivory tower that one could possibly take seriously the thought that the Supreme Court is supposed to launch a Second American Revolution by actually enforcing the people’s individual rights against a Leviathan Engine that regards them as fuel!

The problem with Justice Scalia’s panic is that Alan Gura isn’t the problem.

The American people are Justice Scalia’s problem.

Even after over a century of public-schooling and major media working to legitimize a powerful, paternalistic welfare/warfare State, there are still millions of Americans who read the Constitution — which is a fairly short document written in plain English — and regard it as a contract in which certain rights and powers are their own, not any employee receiving a paycheck paid for with their taxes.

It doesn’t matter what the Supreme Court says. They know what the contract says is theirs, and they’re going to get ornery, uncooperative, and possibly even go ballistic when that contract is violated and their lives are disempowered and impoverished thereby.

That, Justice Scalia, is revolution. Madison writing in the Federalist Papers knew that no matter how many weapons systems are in service to protecting the establishment powers, nothing can prevent the people from eventually reaching a point where merely by refusing to cooperate the system collapses in on itself.

It’s not just guns that would come out in the streets when that happens. It would be SUV’s, iPhones, IED’s, and — in general — the indignation and ingenuity of millions of people who have their garages, attics, and basements filled with so much lethal junk that even I — a science-fiction writer — can’t imagine the havoc they could create if the Middle Class American ever really got pissed off.

The Supreme Court of the United States is the mediator between a nation of potential revolutionary maniacs and an establishment that exists — no shit, really — only by their sufferance.

I am not the one making this threat, Justice Scalia. I’m just a reporter. Don’t shoot the messenger.

But pay attention. However you decide the balance of power between the federal government and states and localities, it had better have as its object the maximum preservation and protection of what the American people see as their natural and obvious Constitutional rights.

An earlier Supreme Court made a mistake about this once in a case called Dred Scott v. Sandford. Somewhere between 600,000 and 700,000 Americans died because of that mistake.

I suggest you err, next time — just for the sake of public safety — on the side of liberty.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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J. Neil Schulman on War


A compilation of my commentary on war, over the years. Am I anti-War or Pro-War? I think the clear and honest answer is, “yes.” But I am, and have always been, unequivocally opposed to conscription at any time, for any purpose. I wrote my novel, The Rainbow Cadenza, to make the strongest pro-natural-rights and anti-utilitarian argument I could muster.

Iraqnaphobia, J. Neil Schulman, February 22, 1998

Regardless of how evil a dictator Saddam Hussein is, and what weapons he is accumulating, the arguments why the United States needs to make a preemptive strike against Iraq strike me as both hollow and wearily familiar. Time and again through history — whether it’s the Israelite nation or the Roman Empire in ancient times, or the colonial British, Nazis, or Soviets in our own century — some heads of state claim the moral stature to impose their will on a morally inferior enemy — and the military advantage to do it. Now President Clinton — who as a college student decried the American military presence in Vietnam as imperialistic — asserts that because of its unique status as a superpower, the United States has a moral obligation to “send a message” to a foreign power that does not pose any immediate threat to our national security, by preemptively bombing its cities until it complies with our disarmament demands.

There is no other word for that sort of policy than imperialism. Naked imperialism. Evil imperialism. It is imperialism of precisely the sort that has buckled the knees of every superpower throughout history that has attempted it, destroying its people’s domestic liberties along the way and replacing personal freedom with an intrusive state that spies on its people, raids their homes, businesses and churches based on nothing more than suspicion and rumor, and attempts to leave them disarmed and helpless against its official predations.

Chivalry, Courtesy, Provocation, Women’s Suffrage, and the Vile United Nations, J. Neil Schulman, November 8, 1999

These requests to support United Nations projects is symptomatic of this. The noble purpose is paraded; the principles that need to be violated, and the villains who must be supported to accomplish these noble goals, are hidden.

The United Nations is not yet a world state, but there’s no doubt that the establishment forces today would be happy to make it one, so long as it remains under their control. The appeal of the United Nations to the Third World is envy; the appeal of the United Nations to the First and Second Worlds is power. It appeals to those forces of imperialism and international robbery in the developed nations; it appeals to tinpot dictators in the undeveloped nations. Both unite in agreement that a Blue Beret is an emblem of virtue; and those who oppose it are at best atavists and at worst partisans of what Gore Vidal called the Hitler of the Month.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself …”, J. Neil Schulman, September 19, 2001

Only a week after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, all the commercial American airline companies are within weeks of declaring bankruptcy themselves. They have cut back on scheduled flights by 20 percent already, and have begun layoffs of airline employees that may top 100,000 jobs eliminated within days.

House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D, Missouri) has called for Americans to save the airlines by boarding planes again. He is, in essence, suggesting that Americans suck it up and forget their fears of terrorist attacks in order to save the American airline industry.

But it is not the fear of the American people that is destroying the American airline companies. We have learned about the heroic passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, disarmed by longstanding Federal Aviation Administration policy but having heard what other hijacked airliners were being used for, making an unarmed attack on the only person who knew how to fly the plane — the pilot-hijacker who had already murdered the United flight crew — in order to prevent the passenger jetliner they were on from being crashed into buildings and murdering thousands of their countrymen.

Nowadays there is an agreement between the terrorists who capture jetliners to use them as weapons of mass destruction, and those who are calling for sealing airline pilots into their cockpits no matter what happens in the passenger compartment. That agreement between the terrorists and the counter-terrorists is that the passengers, the reason for the existence of the jetliner itself, are as expendable as dumping jet fuel. The metal is now more important than the flesh.

It is not only at airports where “fear itself” is going to paralyze us. We already fear, and will fear more, taking our loved ones to concerts, sporting events, high-rise buildings, theme parks, government buildings, and many other places that are tempting targets for terrorist reprisals, once the armed forces of the United States engage the enemy overseas. We fear that public gatherings could turn deadly from terrorists with bombs or strategically placed machine guns. We fear that the enemy is already among us with horrific weapons of mass destruction including biological agents, chemical weapons, or even nuclear bombs.

President Bush was correct when he told us we must get back to work.

Congressman Gephardt is right when he tells us to suck it up.

But it is not the fear of the American people that is the threat to our economic and community life. It is the fear of our policy makers, including Congressman Gephardt, that is the main problem.

We all remember the grade-school teacher who, hit by a spitball while writing on the blackboard, punished the whole class because she didn’t know whom the perpetrator was. Our leaders are acting like that teacher.

Because there are a few — very few — terrorists among us, and our government’s investigators doesn’t know who they all are, our policy makers are punishing all of us. They are treating all of us like terrorists. Our leaders are terrified of the American people and in their fear it is they who are paralyzing our national life and our economy.

It’s time we told them they have to trust us again.

If anyone needs to suck it up, it’s them.

UnHoly Lands, J. Neil Schulman, October 16, 2002

The Middle East is not the only place on earth where, if one went to the trouble, one couldn’t make a good case for the restoration of ancestral homelands and fomenting a long-term civil war over real-estate. Considering how poorly the Cherokee people have fared in the last 16 decades, they might be able to convince a sympathetic world that they have as good a case for a restored homeland as the Jews of Europe had following Hitler’s holocaust.

As much as I think Andrew Jackson’s nearest contemporary of ours might well be Slobodan Milosevic, I think anyone who initiated a “White Rose” movement to restore a Cherokee homeland in Georgia would be a maniac. If the Cherokee actually wanted a new homeland, I’d suggest they start with someplace nobody is currently living, and start developing. I’ve flown over the United States. There’s still plenty of unoccupied land.

But here’s my point.

Anyone who fought a war over Holy Land in the state of Georgia would be a maniac.

Anyone who decided that it was worth blowing up school buses, cafes, and supermarkets over conflicting deeds of title to real estate in Georgia would be maniacs.

When I look at Israel, I see a civil war between maniacs.

Collateral Damage and the Libertarian Non-Aggression Principle, J. Neil Schulman, October 29, 2002

Perhaps it is better to define libertarianism not by the non-aggression principle but by the principle that any chosen action contains the possibility of third-party damages, and the moral actor accepts personal responsibility for them. This is not so much letting the end justify the means as recognizing that no human action, even choosing inaction, is without risk of a catastrophic outcome.

This is, I admit, not a pristine libertarian position. That’s because, in the world I see, this libertarian can’t find one.

Reply on Wally Conger’s Out of Step blog, J. Neil Schulman, May 2007

I support fighting Jihadi cadre who wish to impose Sharia law on the rest of the world by any means necessary, including violence and acts of terror.

I support armed and informed civilized people defending themselves and private property from invaders, criminals, and terrorists of any race, creed, color, faith, gender-preference, ideology, or national origin.

I oppose suspension of habeas corpus, imprisonment without trial, disarming people who travel on common carriers of their personal self-defense weapons, searches without probable cause or warrants, confiscation of private property except after conviction in a jury trial, or the issuing of warrants except on presentation of specific facts leading to probable cause to a magistrate.

Of course, in the event we ever have an agorist alternative, my standards will go up considerably. These statements are made in the context of our current Hobson’s Choice — anomie or organized crime.

As far as the War on Terror (so-called) — its been botched.

The point to the invasion of Afghanistan was to capture Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda cells and punish the Taliban for hiding him. The Taliban was punished and any campaign against al Qaeda involves clandestine services, not “boots on ground.” I have no idea what policy or national defense interest is served by a continuing presence of American troops in Afghanistan.

As for Iraq. There was yellowcake in Baghdad — under IAEA seal. Saddam Hussein did use poison gas against both Iran and the Kurds — some of it provided to him by the U.S. He did want nukes because his enemy Iran wanted nukes.

And, the disinformation that Hussein had an active program (as Iran really did) to centrifuge yellowcake into fissionable materials he could use to make A-bombs originated with — tah-dah! — Saddam Hussein, who was passing this disinformation on to any intelligence source who’d listen because that’s what he wanted Iran to think. This bluff cost him his dictatorship and his neck.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was, in retrospect, unnecessary to prevent Saddam Hussein from obtaining nukes he could pass on to third parties for deployment against his enemies — including us. But it hasn’t been established to my satisfaction that George W. Bush knew that when he ordered the invasion.

What has been established to my satisfaction is that once Saddam Hussein’s statue fell and he was in hiding, and his rape-room sons had been killed, and the inspection for WMD’s — which was the casus belli of the invasion — had been completed, then the mission was indeed accomplished, and the U.S. troops should have been pulled out. Purple fingers, while preferable to either Saddam’s more secular dictatorship or Sharia law, was not part of the sales pitch.

Bring the troops home from both Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s Way Past Miller Time for the War in Iraq, J. Neil Schulman, May 20, 2007

Mr. Bush, you’re the President who Won the War on Terror. Please brings our troops home from Iraq and declare a domestic State of Emergency that suspends the numerous federal, state, and local impediments to domestic oil and coal production and refinement.

We don’t have to stop the Iraqi Insurgency for our own security, or for Israel’s. We can accomplish that merely by doing what Americans do best: minding our own business.

Mr. Bush: Make Oil, Not War.

Dragon*Con Report: The Panels,the Pageantry, the Parties, StarTrek.com, September 30, 2007

In the Q&A afterwards Schulman commented on his thematic intentions.

“I’m a libertarian, so I’m suspicious of government and the way they do things, even at times when one has to be on the side of the government,” Schulman said. He remarked that while he understood the reasons for the war in Iraq, “I don’t think it has accomplished what Mr. Bush thought it was going to accomplish. We still have a big problem with terrorism and I don’t see that the government knows how to solve it. What I was trying to do with this film as much as anything was to say, look at Flight 93. On 9/11 the only people who managed to stop an al-Qaida attack were the passengers on Flight 93; the government just totally fell flat on all levels in preventing this. And so I’m going back to the original idea of the framers of our system of government of relying on the people themselves … If I have any overall message, it’s that the American people have to look to themselves for their own security — they can’t count on the government to do it.”

J. Neil Schulman to John Amendall, Facebook, April 10, 2009 (no longer linked by Facebook)

John Amendall:
You wrote in Jan 2006: “Since 9/11, I have been a supporter of the War on Terror — including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.”

What made you change your mind?

J. Neil Schulman:
John, it would be dishonest of me to claim that my disillusionment with the conduct of these two wars was either moral or ideological, since in terms of my pure libertarian principles I’d already made my lesser-of-evils “deal with the devil.” My October 2002 article “Collateral Damage and the Libertarian Non-Aggression Principle” on Rational Review is probably as close as I will ever be able to explain how someone who lived in the Jesuit-like monastery that the AnarchoVillage was for ten years of my life could support two wars.

As I posted today to the MLL Yahoo Group, and my Facebook wall — but in less detail — I had lost faith that I was ever going to live to see Agorism enter the mainstream and compete with Marxism, Social Democracy, and various levels of constitutional conservatism. It just didn’t seem to be an option on the menu so I was left with the hard choices that always face those who find that their principles have no traction in the world — just how to try for crumbs when even slices of cake, never mind the whole cake, are beyond one’s reach.

I considered the point of the invasion of Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda brains responsible for the 9/11 attacks who was still coordinating their independent cells, and as a secondary goal to put the Taliban out of power, since they were evil tyrants and it didn’t take much of a casus belli beyond retaliation for 9/11 for me to want to seem them disestablished. But then Afghanistan — as it had been for the Soviets — became another Vietnam-like quagmire — and any point of continuing to maintain a military operation there eluded me.

With Iraq I believed the WMD threat was real, and as I’ve stated elsewhere I believe the disinformation that led to this threat appearing credible came from Saddam Hussein’s attempt to bluff Iran, which as we know is well along the way to having its own A-bombs. Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator and, again, it did not take much of a casus belli to want to see Iraqis — especially the Kurds, whom he had massacred — liberated from him. I’d previously opposed the first President Bush’s Gulf War and President Clinton’s bombing of Iraq so this was a radical change for me. But my enthusiasm for continued American military presence in Iraq faded quickly after Saddam’s statue fell, and when I saw the “Mission Accomplished” sign on the USS Abraham Lincoln I was ready for the troops — and yes, the bombers also — to come home and leave the future of Mesopotamia for its own people to sort out.

John Amendall:
In the same essay you write about “sneak-attacked the chief financial and military defense headquarters of my country” as if you are entirely satisfied by the finance industry. Have you kinda noticed that they suck? And the military kinda sucks too.

J. Neil Schulman:
I am as thorough-going an individualist as you will ever find. I don’t just see a “financial industry” or a “military-industrial complex.” Three thousand individuals died on 9/11, and I would consider most of them non-combatants — and even those working at the Pentagon would exist on a spectrum of moral responsibility depending on their specific jobs. I don’t think the receptionist in Hitler’s office bore the same moral responsibility as the generals sitting at the table who ordered people being put on cattle cars to concentration camps, and even among concentration camp Capos and guards there would be a moral spectrum of bad to worse to worst.

You’ll note that in Alongside Night I have characters who are ex-military and even ex-CIA. I consider that people are not only redeemable but we have to judge them according to how well they act within the Tao when being members of organizations and processes that do overall evil. I abhor the collectivism that infects even anarchist individualists when it comes to blanket condemnations of those who work at jobs we wish did not exist. The clerk who is in charge of veterans benefits is not even on the same moral plane of calculus as a Lt. William Calley.

John Amendall:
You are quoted saying “Schulman said that a ‘war on terror’ is both necessary and moral, partially because, whatever the past wrongs in US interventionist foreign policy, he sees no present alternative that would protect innocent civilians.”

Has your view on the war on terror changed? If so, why have you changed your view?

J. Neil Schulman:
I still hate the collectivist evil represented by Muslim jihadis, particularly when they make no distinctions between Jews and Likud, or Americans and the Ku Klux Klan. I never had much faith that the Bush administration would do well in conducting the “War on Terror” and they were far worse than I had hoped for — making airline travel a nightmare when most of the security procedures are actually counter-productive; ignoring Constitutional protections that did not advance the actual process of fighting the enemy; and engaging in Wilsonian nation-building that was in direct contradiction to historical conservative principles. But I must note that George W. Bush could have sent American Muslims to relocation camps and engaged in virulent racism against Arabs, and he did not. Let’s give the devil the credit that’s due.

John Amendall:
You write here: “From a libertarian standpoint, any murderous dictator or party of dictators is ripe for overthrow at any moment. By committing acts of mass murder, torture, and tyranny, they have long forfeited any rights they might have.”

Is that universal? Would it apply to any tyrant, or just an Arab one?

J. Neil Schulman:
Universal. But I do make distinctions between term-limited office holders whose power can be limited or recalled short of assassination or revolution, and totalitarian dictators who can be separated from power only by massive force.

John Amendall:
In this thread you write, “I support fighting Jihadi cadre who wish to impose Sharia law on the rest of the world by any means necessary, including violence and acts of terror.”

Do you deny having an ongoing desire to fight Jihadis “by any means necessary” including government action?

J. Neil Schulman:
I don’t deny having had that desire. I am far less sanguine about the benefits of doing so than I was closer to 9/11.

John Amendall:
In saying “bring the troops home” you don’t say anything about air forces. Since an air force plane can be based in the US and fly to Afghanistan and back, they are brought home and yet still bomb.

J. Neil Schulman:
I am opposed to the U.S. engaging in continued military occupations or operations anywhere in the Middle East, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and what’s generically called “the Holy land.” Is that clear enough?

Now Obama’s Got His Own Phony War, J. Neil Schulman, December 2, 2009

The Taliban didn’t launch the 9/11 attacks — and President Bush punished them eight years ago for hiding Osama bin Laden. The Taliban are not still hiding Osama bin Laden, so what the fuck?

President Obama also admitted that what remaining al Qaeda there still are in Afghanistan camp out close to the border of Pakistan, and cross over into Pakistani territory our troops aren’t allowed to follow them into whenever they’re pursued.

So adding 100, or 1000, or 100,000 more American troops to this bug hunt won’t bring us any closer to capturing or killing Obama bin Laden and his merry men because they still have a safe haven: Pakistan.

Barack Obama is not willing to enforce the Bush Doctrine — he who shields a terrorist will be treated like a terrorist — on Pakistan, any more than President Bush was willing to enforce the Bush Doctrine on Pakistan. The reason is that — unlike Iran, which is just a nuclear wannabe — Pakistan actually has nukes.

Private emails to Brad Linaweaver, J. Neil Schulman, December 26, 2009

I support the American Revolution.

I think some Native American tribes got ripped off of land they should still own.

I oppose Lincoln’s refusal to accept secession of Southern States.

I’ve never studied the Spanish-American War but from what little I know I think it unnecessary.

I don’t support the U.S. occupying the Philippines prior to the Japanese invasion. Frankly, I don’t understand how the U.S. legitimately gets any territory in Pacific Islands.

I oppose U.S. entry into World War I.

I oppose U.S. provocations against Japan, but after Pearl Harbor — and Germany’s Declaration of War against the U.S. — I can’t fault entering WW2.

I favored the Cold War but I’ve never really been convinced that Korea and Vietnam were the right theaters to fight it.

I might have thought a full invasion of Cuba the moment Castro declared his alliance with the USSR was a good idea.

I have no problem with financing and arming anti-Communists in Central and South America.

I demonstrated against the first Gulf War.

I favored the invasion of Afghanistan to punish the Taliban and al Qaeda and capture or kill Osama bin Laden. I oppose installing a puppet regime and continuing presence there. All U.S. troops out of Afghanistan now.

I favored the invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein and his sons from power, but I would have withdrawn as soon as they were captured or killed and the WMD inspections were completed. I oppose any nation-building in the region. All U.S. troops out of Iraq now.

I oppose a preemptive U.S. strike against Iran. I have no problem if Israel feels like doing it without U.S. help.

I favor returning the United States to its pre-1911 Constitutional form of government. I support the 14th amendment extending the Bill of Rights to state and local governments.


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Classic J. Neil: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself …”


Published September 19, 2001 — a week after the 9/11 attacks — in The Sierra Times

A lot of people whose only exposure to history is from sound bytes are familiar with the phrase “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and they know that these words were spoken by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They probably think FDR originated this statement in one of his speeches during World War Two. But he said it during his first inaugural address on Saturday, March 4, 1933, six years before the beginning of World War II and over eight years before the attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into that war. The cause of the fear FDR was referring to was the economic depression America was in when he took office. Roosevelt was warning America not to let the economy be paralyzed by their fears. As a libertarian I may disagree with his solution, but FDR’s warning was valid.

It struck me that President George W. Bush has told us that America is now in a war against Terrorism. What is terrorism if not the goal of producing a paralyzing fear?

And nowhere has fear been more effective in creating paralysis than in the American airline industry.

On the day of the attack, when terrorists seized and caused the destruction of four American passenger jetliners and successfully used three of them as weapons of mass destruction, the FAA grounded all American aviation. Airports were shut down. Flights into the United States were sent back or diverted to Canada. Foreign airlines were told not to attempt to land in the United States.

It was several days before there was another commercial flight. By that time, one financially troubled American airline company, Midway, had already declared bankruptcy. Americans who couldn’t travel in their own cars were using any other means of transportation possible to avoid flying: trains, buses, rental cars, limousines, taxicabs.

And no wonder! New airport security regulations have made even a flight without a terrorist a nightmare. At Los Angeles International Airport it is now forbidden for private automobiles to pick up or drop off passengers at a terminal. The Skycaps are now jobless since all baggage must go through additional inspections. The electronic ticketing that had become so popular and had simplified boarding procedures is now as cumbersome as the old paper ticketing.

The average wait at a ticket counter before one may even proceed to one’s flight is averaging between two and three hours for domestic flights and up to six hours for international flights. Then one must proceed through security checkpoints where the possibility of a full body cavity search is possible if one is found to be carrying a forgotten nail file or a plastic letter opener. Carry-on baggage is being eliminated from many flights, requiring that upon arrival one must go through the incredible hassles of retrieving one’s bags from the carousels, with even more time delays and all the well-known problems of lost, stolen, and damaged bags worse than ever.

Virtually no one contemplating these facts is choosing to travel for pleasure, and many businesses are instituting new policies reducing or eliminating the necessity of their employees flying on company business. Some corporations have even instituted a policy that exempts any employee who chooses from flying on company business, period.

Only a week after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, all the commercial American airline companies are within weeks of declaring bankruptcy themselves. They have cut back on scheduled flights by 20 percent already, and have begun layoffs of airline employees that may top 100,000 jobs eliminated within days.

House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D, Missouri) has called for Americans to save the airlines by boarding planes again. He is, in essence, suggesting that Americans suck it up and forget their fears of terrorist attacks in order to save the American airline industry.

But it is not the fear of the American people that is destroying the American airline companies. We have learned about the heroic passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, disarmed by longstanding Federal Aviation Administration policy but having heard what other hijacked airliners were being used for, making an unarmed attack on the only person who knew how to fly the plane — the pilot-hijacker who had already murdered the United flight crew — in order to prevent the passenger jetliner they were on from being crashed into buildings and murdering thousands of their countrymen.

Nowadays there is an agreement between the terrorists who capture jetliners to use them as weapons of mass destruction, and those who are calling for sealing airline pilots into their cockpits no matter what happens in the passenger compartment. That agreement between the terrorists and the counter-terrorists is that the passengers, the reason for the existence of the jetliner itself, are as expendable as dumping jet fuel. The metal is now more important than the flesh.

It is not only at airports where “fear itself” is going to paralyze us. We already fear, and will fear more, taking our loved ones to concerts, sporting events, high-rise buildings, theme parks, government buildings, and many other places that are tempting targets for terrorist reprisals, once the armed forces of the United States engage the enemy overseas. We fear that public gatherings could turn deadly from terrorists with bombs or strategically placed machine guns. We fear that the enemy is already among us with horrific weapons of mass destruction including biological agents, chemical weapons, or even nuclear bombs.

President Bush was correct when he told us we must get back to work.

Congressman Gephardt is right when he tells us to suck it up.

But it is not the fear of the American people that is the threat to our economic and community life. It is the fear of our policy makers, including Congressman Gephardt, that is the main problem.

We all remember the grade-school teacher who, hit by a spitball while writing on the blackboard, punished the whole class because she didn’t know whom the perpetrator was. Our leaders are acting like that teacher.

Because there are a few — very few — terrorists among us, and our government’s investigators doesn’t know who they all are, our policy makers are punishing all of us. They are treating all of us like terrorists. Our leaders are terrified of the American people and in their fear it is they who are paralyzing our national life and our economy.

It’s time we told them they have to trust us again.

If anyone needs to suck it up, it’s them.

For years I have spoken about the necessity of restoring the Second Amendment to its intended purpose of regarding the armed citizen as an asset, rather than a liability, in the struggle against crime and terrorism. During peacetime my words have largely succeeded in rousing only the choir. I am hoping that now we are at war against an enemy within us, my words will have impact among those of my countrymen who have thought them unwise.

Americans with guns can prevent many, but of course not all, of the scenarios by which terrorists can damage us further. It can prevent the terrorist taking over of subway cars, trains, and buses. It can provide an effective means of stopping the machine gunning of crowds before mass casualties occur. It can prevent a truck stop, or a tanker truck carrying flammable liquids or hazardous materials, from being turned into an enemy asset. It might prevent the takeover of tollbooths at a bridge or a tunnel.

And yes, as I have said repeatedly this past week, letting airline passengers with badges, and licenses to carry concealed firearms, on board with their guns, checked only for the proper ammunition that will not cause critical damage to airliner control surfaces, can make sure that the next time passengers need to take on hijackers, they might be able to avoid having to crash the plane in order to save those still on the ground. They might be able to land safely themselves and get medical help for the casualties.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

President Bush, his cabinet, our governors and mayors, our legislators and city councils, and the ladies and gentlemen who serve in our civil services: we are your countrymen. If you can’t stop being afraid of us, if you can’t trust us with a gun when our enemies can take over a critical asset with a box cutter, then how can you ever expect us to stop being afraid and return our country to normality?

Note, March 8, 2010:

I wrote this a week after 9/11, before there was even a Department of Homeland Security.

Obviously airline security is even more invasive and no more effective.

Obviously the airlines are still in trouble.

Obviously nobody listened to me.


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Twenty Questions for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon “a complicated intelligence scenario and act” used by the U.S. as an excuse for the war on terror, Iran’s state TV has reported. “September 11 was a big lie and a pretext for the war on terror and a prelude to invading Afghanistan.” So here are twenty questions I wish President Ahmadinejad to answer.

1. Who is the mastermind for the 9/11 attacks?

2. What clandestine intelligence agency or agencies of the United States sanctioned the 9/11 attacks?

3. Name all known persons who were aware of the planned 9/11 attacks prior to 9/11.

4. Given that the plan involved the destruction and long-term contamination of the chief financial district not only of the United States but of most financial elites, why were the financial power elites willing to kill thousands of their own functionaries and poison their own turf?

5. Since no oil or other commodity of value was secured as a consequence of the wars launched in response to the 9/11 attacks, what goal was so important and pressing that the financial power elites behind the 9/11 attacks were willing to risk the political and economic destabilization of the United States?

6. Since the 1993 attempt to bring down the World Trade Center did not involve hijacking commercial jetliners but explosive demolition, would not another explosive demolition have been even more plausible as a casus belli for whatever war the “insider” 9/11 perpetrators had in mind?

7. The overall costs and damages of the 9/11 attacks add up to trillions of dollars. In simple terms of investment and profit, what financial payoff could justify this multi-trillion-dollar investment?

8. Since the 9/11 attacks were contrary to the national interests of the United States, what specific foreign or multinational cabal was behind the 9/11 attacks, and why are Muslims (specifically Arabs and Sunni, often enough Iran’s own enemies) automatically clear of being suspects?

9. Former FBI agent William O’Neill — who had left the FBI when his warnings of Osama bin Laden’s plans to attack the United States were ignored — was security chief of the World Trade Center at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and died on 9/11 at the World Trade Center. How could any 9/11 conspirators get by O’Neill’s suspicious and watchful eye in planting explosives in the World Trade Center?

10. Vice President Dick Cheney is often linked to the 9/11 attacks. How did the Vice President of the United States get into a chain of command for such an operation when the only Constitutional power given to the Vice President of the United States is to break a tie vote as President of the Senate?

11. What was in the cargo holds of Flights 11 and 175?

12. How many personnel were involved in the 9/11 attacks and how were they recruited and positioned for the attacks?

13. When was the plan for the 9/11 attacks first formulated, and where?

14. Who, specifically, on the 9/11 Commission is a conspirator-before-the-fact of the 9/11 attacks?

15. Who, specifically, on the 9/11 Commission is a conspirator-after-the-fact of the 9/11 attacks?

16. Who in the Bush administration was a conspirator before or after the fact of the 9/11 attacks?

17. Who in the Obama administration is a conspirator after-the-fact of the 9/11 attacks?

18. What technical experts being consulted regarding the 9/11 attacks are conspirators before or after the fact of the 9/11 attacks?

19. Who in the major media are conspirators before or after the fact of the 9/11 attacks?

20. How specifically has the State of Israel directly or indirectly benefited from the 9/11 attacks?

If you can’t answer any of these questions, maybe you’re just making shit up as you go along?


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Have Your Next Tea Party at Starbucks!


Big business, merely by being successful, is a target of those who hate private enterprise. And even though Dunkin’ Donuts, 7-Eleven, and McDonalds may sell more cups of coffee every day, Starbucks — with over 16,000 locations worldwide, including over 11,000 in the United States — may well be the signature brand of retail coffee today.

Like WalMart, Starbucks is immediately controversial because its employees are not unionized. That’s okay with me. Starbucks is already known for its premium prices. I can’t imagine what a tall Mocha Frappuccino would cost if blended by union members.

There’s a Facebook Group with over a thousand members named “Fuck Starbucks!” based on an old and refuted urban legend that Starbucks once refused to send its coffee to U.S. Marines deployed in Iraq, telling them, “We don’t support the War or anyone in it.” This group urges those who support the military to boycott Starbucks. It would be ironic if right-wing activists were boycotting Starbucks because of an urban legend started by left-wing union organizers as a way to strong-arm Starbucks.

Contrary to common opinion regarding the Starbucks barista, it’s definitely a job for skilled labor. My daughter worked at Starbucks while in high school, and showed me the procedural manual every employee had to master, detailed to the point of what vocabulary to use while describing coffee flavors to inquiring customers. The word smoky is a charmer. But mastering the full manual of these procedures might daunt a NASA astronaut.

In an age when Tea Party is supposed to describe a political movement, I’ve often wondered at how few actual beverages are involved. I mean, the actual Boston Tea Party was a minor bit of terrorism to protest a tax on tea. It was a one-time deal. Nobody was going out every weekend dumping tea in Boston Harbor. It’s no wonder the focus of a movement that started out with Ron Paul supporters looking for something else to do when the 2008 candidacy of Ron Paul ended quickly lost its focus, then becoming targets for hostile takeovers by establishment Republicans and neocons.

But Starbucks — which does actually sell real cups of tea — now finds itself, willy nilly, at the center of a controversy that would be of interest to many real grassroots Tea Party activists.

It started out when advocates of “open carry” — the wearing of handguns either in a visible holster or belt, as opposed to carrying concealed — took a page from the gay activist procedural manual, and started outing themselves in public. Several at a time, as a way of norming the practice, they’d visit high-visibility places of business — like Starbucks — wearing visible sidearms.

Eventually, of course, this news made its way to the Brady Campaign, who decided to try putting pressure on various businesses — like Starbucks — to declare themselves “Gun Free Zones.”

Now, pressure campaigns like this are usually successful. Corporations loathe controversy. Retail chains with sporting goods departments — such as K-mart and WalMart — quickly caved in to demands, years ago, that they stop selling firearms and ammunition in their stores.

So it must have been a shock to the Brady Campaign when Starbucks — not known for being in the slightest right-wing-oriented — declared that private citizens were welcome to openly carry their firearms into any Starbucks location where local law did not restrict it.

This is more supportive of the Second Amendment than an independent hair-styling kiosk renting space in my local WalMart in Pahrump, Nevada, which has a prominent sign declaring that no weapons are allowed.

I have spent more than a few words writing on the topic of firearms, crime, and self-defense. I’m the author of a book titled Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns, about which Charlton Heston wrote, “Mr. Schulman’s book is the most cogent explanation of the gun issue I have yet read. He presents the assault on the Second Amendment in frighteningly clear terms. Even the extremists who would ban firearms will learn from his lucid prose.”

I’m also webmaster of the World Wide Web Gun Defense Clock, which calculates that “Every 13 seconds an American firearm owner uses a firearm in defense against a criminal.”

Since my birthday in 2007 — the date of the Virginia Tech massacre — I have been giving away free downloads of the PDF edition of Stopping Power, and only the free 30th anniversary edition of my novel Alongside Night has racked up more downloads from my fans. Coming up on three years and Stopping Power is still getting around 500 downloads a month.

G. Gordon Liddy, in his 2002 book When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country, quoted extensively from my September 13, 1991 Gun Week article, “The Unabridged Second Amendment,” in which I interviewed English usage expert, Roy Copperud, on the meaning of the Second Amendment. Liddy didn’t bother attributing the material he quoted from my article, but what would you expect from one of the world’s most famous convicted burglars?

Writing about a private citizen carrying a firearm for self defense — and using it successfully — also got me blacklisted.

As recounted by former CNN correspondent Dan Gifford in an email he sent out on March 23, 2006:

Neil Schulman is a talented man who has been screwed by Hollywood liberals. The “LA Law” gang was in love with him until he wrote an “LA Times” piece about the way the media ignores incidents where armed citizens stop crimes in progress. There was a local example he used to make his point. That contradicted the liberal politics of the writers. They dropped him and, according to what I heard, put his name on the whisper blackball grapevine. I first heard about the incident from my fellow ACLU board members during a meeting. He wrote one of the more poignant “Twilight Zone” episodes (JFK is alive and teaching at Harvard) and is an example of the very liberal McCarthyesque bias we are all trying to expose and end.

So I actually do know something about the utility of private citizens carrying guns openly for self-defense.

Which is why I started a Facebook group of my own — RKBA Supporters for Starbucks — and yesterday launched an event encouraging all supporters of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms to make a visit to their local Starbucks this coming week.

I wrote,

Buy a cup of Tea (or Coffee) at Starbucks to thank them for supporting the Right to Keep and Bear Arms!

Starbucks has taken the rare step for a major corporation of refusing to buckle under to pressure from the pro-gun-control Brady Campaign in its decision not to ban open-carry of handguns in those of its locations where it is legal to do so. In refusing to make Starbucks a “Gun Free Zone” Starbucks is recognizing the protective value of private citizens carrying firearms for defense in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal takeover of the store.

Simply by refusing to be more restrictive in its locations than local law permits, Starbucks is recognizing that “Gun control increases violent crime by shifting the balance of power to favor criminals while it disarms helpless victims.”

If Starbucks policy had been in effect in locations ranging from Luby’s Cafeteria in Waco, Texas, to Virginia Tech, to Fort Hood, mass-victim massacres by unopposed illegally-armed criminals, crazies, and terrorists might have been stopped on the spot.

Supporters of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms need to show their support of Starbucks for their sensible and caring approach to the safety of their customers by frequenting Starbucks, displaying Starbucks logos and merchandise in their cars, homes, and workplaces, and thanking Starbucks employees and managers for their continuing support of the Bill of Rights which protects us all.

As soon as I created this group and posted my event, I got a message from my Facebook friend, Bruce Sommer, who wrote me, “While I applaud Starbuck’s respect for open carry on its premises, I can’t respect their opposition of the entire concept if self-ownership as reflected in their view of the war on the American people that is the war on some drugs.”

I replied to Bruce, “If we don’t reward corporations with extra business when they do something right, they won’t give a damn about us when we decline doing business with them when they do something wrong. A carrot and stick approach requires occasional carrots.”

Apparently I wasn’t the only guy who thought Starbucks needed carrots.

Dr. Ignatius Piazza, Founder and Director of Front Sight Firearms Training Institute headquartered in Aptos, California, wrote on their website today,

To thank the Starbuck’s organization for setting a stellar example of proper corporate policy, I will provide a $2,000 bonus to every Starbucks’ employee in the form of a Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Course. All a Starbuck’s employee has to do is select a Four Day Defensive Handgun Course date in 2010 from our website course schedule at www.frontsight.com and complete the Course Application. (We run the courses almost every weekend except during July and August.) After completing the Course Application, attach a copy of a current Starbucks paystub to the application instead of the $2,000 course fee and mail the completed application so we receive it at least two weeks before the course date. We will then place you in the course and e-mail your course confirmation materials. I look forward to training the entire Starbucks organization to a level of skill with a handgun that exceeds law enforcement and military standards. (Then Starbucks really could change their logo to an armed Mermaid!)”

So, please, do something this coming week to drive up Starbucks’ sales, and politely let them know that these extra sales are coming from gun owners and supporters of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

This could turn out to be the most powerful cup of coffee in the world, and would blow your cappuccino head clean off.

#


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Escape from Heaven — Chapter XXX


Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Chapter XXIX

Escape from Heaven cover


Escape from Heaven
A Novel by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 30


Because the electoral contest for the governorship of earth was called off before the balloting began, I never found out how it would have turned out. We only know it would have been a tight race. The Nielsen polls we conducted during the debate showed Jesus ahead, but the polling was within the margin of error so that doesn’t tell us anything definitive.

If you get a chance, could you please add a comment below telling us how you would have voted?

+?~

You know, people think that Heaven is a place. It isn’t really. The beautiful buildings, the nice parks, the good restaurants that I found when I first got to Heaven, all that is just stuff. It’s good stuff, stuff that makes life more comfortable, more convenient, and more fun, but when all is said and done, as George Carlin puts it, it’s all just stuff.

That’s why it was no big deal for God to abandon Heaven to Lucifer. As soon as she’d agreed to God’s one condition for surrender, that any resurrected humans and angels who wished to stay with him were free to leave, he had back all of Heaven that mattered.

God never surrendered anything of lasting value to Satan. All that she’d got was leftovers. And when her heart finally melted and she saw the truth, Lucifer realized that not only had she been fighting for nothing, she had finally achieved it in full measure.

Our race is used to suffering the losses of wars. Some of us cry about the stuff we lose. I’m as guilty of that as the next guy. But there is no real disaster except the loss of someone you love, and in the universes that God had made, the only way you can lose someone for good is if one of you goes into hiding, yourself.

I got a postcard from Jesus and Lucifer just as the two of them left New Heaven for their honeymoon. They never got a chance to have one the first time they were married. Believe it or not, they’re spending their honeymoon in Hell.

Jesus suggested a plan to Lucy that they both incarnate themselves into her universe, propagate a new genetic line, and introduce some revolutionary individualistic ideas into that dismally uniform world, saving the billions of identical people that Lucy had unintentionally condemned to misery.

I can’t wait to find out how it went. I’m sure it would be a story worth telling.


This has been

A Jesulu Production

Written in Culver City, California.

Completed October 1, 2001
with minor editing in 2010 for
serialization here.

#

Escape from Heaven is
Copyright © 2002 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust.
All rights reserved.


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Escape from Heaven — Chapter XXIX


Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Chapter XXVIII

Escape from Heaven cover


Escape from Heaven
A Novel by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 29


It’s hard to explain the full impact of the changes on planet earth over the following days and weeks.

As a mortal I lived through the American tragedies that were the assassination of the Kennedy brothers and Dr. King, the murder of John Lennon, the Challenger disaster, the Holocaust at Waco and the retaliatory Oklahoma City bombing, race riots in my home town, earthquakes and torrential storms, and the sneak terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As Reverend Chill had correctly explained, these were catastrophes that cause immense grief but there were also happy eucatastrophes of equal magnitude.

Put the emotional power resulting from all these catastrophes together within a period of a few days and you begin to calculate the eucatastrophic joy that was the opening day of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis as earth’s first public transit station to New Heaven.

Gone forever is the mortal Halloween’s ghoulish disinformation about decay and annihilation as millions of the resurrected stream back through the tunnels for reunions with their mortal loved ones and friends back on earth.

Gone is the pain, suffering, and fear of dying, as still-mortal friends and relatives are given round-trip tickets for their astral bodies to accompany departing souls through the tunnels, while ministering angels gently guide voyagers out of their discarded flesh at a freely selected moment of expiration.

Resurrection parties are now bigger deals than weddings and bar mitzvah’s put together. In case you’re looking for a good investment, the catering business in New Heaven is a boom industry. And while still-mortal guests really can’t leaving their old bodies behind for more than a few hours at a time, most do take the tour of the Celestial Palace before catching the tunnel home.

Gone are earthquakes, tropical storms, and the necessity for airport security as people who refuse to be peeped by other passengers are now politely informed they just aren’t welcome, and guardian angels monitor tectonic plates, moderate weather, and fly escort to airliners in flight.

Gone is the planetary feeling of being orphaned, as we learn of our full genealogies with the click of a mouse, and gone are silly arguments about history as kindergartener and doctoral candidate alike can go on the Internet and find links to the Tree of Knowledge’s store of downloadable books, movies, and musical compositions lost for ages—and we can even send email to the original artists and participants.

Yes, there are parental controls in place on the Tree of Knowledge. Some things you have to get in your own sweet time when you’re ready for them. But the amount of new information available to the human race is enough to take several lifetimes to absorb, anyway, enough to quench the thirst of the driest scholar.

Gone is tyranny and grinding poverty as even the poorest soul in the darkest dungeon can pray for liberation and find a powerful ally in his cause.

Most important, gone is the Berlin Wall separating God and his children on earth, as the inventor of all is once again welcome to take a stroll with his wife through their own back yard.

Of course you already knew all this, didn’t you?

+?~

Okay.

I’ve been telling you this story for enough hours that I hope you’ve developed some affection for me, personally, and I hope you won’t be bored when I bring you up to date on my personal story.

There was a big royal ceremony at the Celestial Palace where all of us who worked on the campaign lined up like at the end of Star Wars, and the Trinity handed out medals, with our favorite piece of music playing while we walked up to the throne and lined up.

I’m leaving the radio business. I just got hired as a talk-show host for a new telepresence network that Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates are founding.

You should see the “A” list for future interviews in my Rolodex now.

I’m now engaged to both Estella and Sophia. There’s no law against it and to answer anything else you have to say about it: it’s none of your business.

A lot of the members of the Party of God have decided to buy houses on earth. I’ve stayed in close touch with everyone I worked with on the campaign, and even Manchu Ellins has turned out to be a good buddy. George Bernard Shaw bought a town home just a few doors away from mine, and the dinner parties we’ve been invited to at his house have been legendary.

Elvis is back in the building.

Old Blue Eyes is back in town.

O.J. and Nicole are back together.

Children now live in a nation where they are not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

The Rams are back in the City of the Angels, where they belong.

And my daughter, Felony, has signed J. Neil Schulman to write and direct the movie version of this book.

Not for nothing have we returned this planet to its original name.

Eden.

#

Next in Escape from Heaven is Chapter XXX.

Escape from Heaven is
Copyright © 2002 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust.
All rights reserved.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

Bookmark and Share

Escape from Heaven — Chapter XXVIII


Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Chapter XXVII

Escape from Heaven cover


Escape from Heaven
A Novel by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 28


Friday, October 28th, 12:00 PM in Television City, Los Angeles.

In addition to the normal TV cameras in the studio, there were, for the first time in earth broadcasting history, the pick-ups that would turn the present events into a dream that could be broadcast to sleepers around the world, to be translated into symbols they could grasp whether or not they were familiar with the language or cultural matrix of the actual event.

The director was counting down, “eight … seven … six … five … four … three …” then counted the last two numbers with his fingers, silently, and cued Uncle Nimlash who was standing center stage– no brassy theme song introducing him this time.

“Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentleman,” Uncle Nimlash began, “and welcome to what I believe will be an historic event about which I can’t possibly exaggerate its importance. Today on your Uncle Nimlash Show we will be hosting a debate between the two candidates who are running for the position of celestial governor of the planet earth.

“Neither of the candidates has seen any of the questions my staff has prepared with suggestions that have been pouring into our website, not only from you the viewing audience but also from journalists throughout the world. In the second half of today’s debate, my studio audience will be free to ask questions of the candidates, and none of these questions are being pre-screened. We have done our best to keep partisans of the two candidates out of our audience.

“The format of the debate is going to be simple. The candidate receiving the question will have one minute to answer, and the opposition candidate will have one minute to reply. The candidates have declined an opening statement to allow more time for questions, but they may make a closing statement if there’s time left over and they have accumulated a balance of time.

“The debate is going to be fairly informal but I will do my best, with the help of my producer, who will be watching the lengths of the candidates’ responses, to divide the time between the two candidates equitably. We had a coin toss before the program to determine which candidate would get the first question. The candidate of the Party of God won the toss but has elected to allow his opponent from the Anorexic Party to take the first question.

“We have asked our studio audience to refrain from applause or any other demonstrations until the conclusion of the debate.

“And now, the candidate for governor of the Anorexic Party, the First Lady of Earth—Eve.”

Lucifer walked out wearing a smart, emerald-green Christian Dior original, reminiscent of an Oleg Cassini suit Jackie Kennedy had once worn. She shook hands with Uncle Nimlash firmly and seated herself in an armchair stage left of him, folding her lands on her lap and crossing her ankles demurely.

Uncle Nimlash continued:

“The candidate for governor from the Party of God, originally known to us as Adam, the first man, and later as the savior of the human race, Jesus Christ.”

Jesus came out in smartly creased white slacks and a long-sleeve white silk shirt, a white silk tie, and a white silk jacket over it. He looked like a doctor, or at least a doctor on General Hospital. He also shook hands with Uncle Nimlash firmly, shook hands with Lucifer, and seated himself in the armchair stage right of him, leaning forward slightly with his legs about a foot apart and his hands resting on his knees. It gave the impression that he was alert but not overly nervous.

“The first question for Eve,” said Uncle Nimlash. “Many observers of this election have noted that it appears to be not about substantive political issues but merely a custody dispute between a divorced couple. Would you care to respond?”

“Of course,” said Eve. “I simply don’t think it’s true. Jesus and I have deeply felt differences on a number of important issues. He is opposed to a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion; I favor that freedom. He is for a laissez-faire economy, while I believe the excesses of big business must be curbed. He would wish to do away with the current treaty that limits the size of celestial interventions into the affairs of earth, while I believe that the treaty preserves the independence of earth from outside interference. I could give you many more examples but I’m hoping to reserve some time for a closing statement.”

“Very good,” said Uncle Nimlash. “Jesus, you have one minute to respond if you’d care to.”

“I have no response at this time,” Jesus said.

“Then we will go directly to the next question, which is to you, Jesus. It has been debated elsewhere many times during these last three weeks whether the accounts in Genesis have properly apportioned the accountability between you and Eve regarding the sequence of events that led to the fall of nature and the fall of man. Would you care to give us your perspective on this question?”

“Yes, I’m very happy to take that question,” said Jesus. “Eve would not have even been capable of causing such a catastrophe. It is not in her nature. I take complete and solo responsibility for causing the fall of nature and the fall of man, with all the consequent pain and suffering that followed through human history and that exists to this day.”

“Eve,” said Uncle Nimlash, “you have one minute to respond.”

I could see that Eve looked perplexed. She had evidently come here prepared to challenge Jesus on his failings but he was preempting that possibility by taking responsibility for them. If she concurred with him she would come across as a bitch; but she could only dispute Jesus by admitting her own part in the fall, something she had never done, even to herself.

Which left Jesus getting the points for that question, no matter what she did.

“I have no response at this time,” she said.

Uncle Nimlash looked surprised and smiled. “I can see we will be getting through more questions than I anticipated,” he said.

“To you, Eve,” he continued. “While it is traditional in American politics not to ask candidates questions of religious faith, this is a worldwide election covering many different peoples of widely differing beliefs. While we would anticipate a prefabricated politically correct response embracing the beliefs of all peoples, could you please tell us of your own religious background and faith, if any?”

Zing! Uncle Nimlash’s staff had just put a shot right across Eve’s bow, foreclosing the option of her prevaricating on the question.

I wondered whether she was going to do the debate equivalent of taking the fifth.

“I regard myself as a Christian,” Lucifer said. “I have witnessed for myself the historical truths that Jews, Christians, and Muslims base their faiths on. These are not questions of faith for me but inescapable reality. I would not be here if I had not been created by God and resurrected by Jesus. Any other differences aside, it would be childish of me not to be grateful.”

Classy answer, I thought, and wondered for a moment, having heard quite a different speech from Lucifer in a celestial Hyde Park, whether my talk to her had some impact, or whether this was simply a political ploy.

“Jesus, would you care to respond?”

“Eve’s gratitude to my father is right and proper,” he said, “but there is no balance of gratitude she owes me. She has given me far more than I was ever able to give her.”

Uncle Nimlash took off his glasses for a moment and looked at Jesus. “May I break format and make a comment that is not on my prepared questions?”

“If Eve has no objection,” said Jesus.

Eve nodded her consent.

“Perhaps we can set aside some of these questions, Jesus, if I can anticipate some of your answers from the ones you’ve already given. May I conclude at this point that you have no intention of disputing Eve on any substantive issue in this debate?”

“Uncle Nimlash, that is precisely my intention.”

We knew what the next question had to be. In fact, we were counting on it.

“Jesus, are you then telling us that you believe Eve is better qualified than you to govern earth?”

“May I go beyond the one-minute limit to respond to that question?” Jesus asked.

“Eve?” Uncle Nimlash asked.

“Yes,” said Eve.

Jesus turned his chair away from facing the audience and faced Lucifer directly.

Here was the moment we had planned for. Jesus’ answer was going to take all of God’s creation and put it squarely in the lap of Lucifer.

“Eve,” Jesus said, “I love you. I have always loved you. I have never loved another living spirit as much as I love you.”

Jesus paused a moment and I could hear a stir in the audience.

Uncle Nimlash waved his audience into silence.

Lucifer looked stunned.

Jesus continued:

“I died on the cross for you,” Jesus said. “I had no other god before you. It was the thought of you that gave me the courage and the strength to face the crucifixion.”

I could see tears starting to well up in Jesus’ eyes, as he poured out his heart to her.

Lucifer did not look away from Jesus’ gaze but I could not read her reaction. Her armor was up.

“I wanted to make up for the damage I had done which had ruined your faith in my father, in me, and in your joy of creation. When you would not stay on earth with me, earth lost its flavor for me. Do you wonder why I haven’t been back here more than a few times? It’s that everything on earth reminds me of your beauty and your joyful innocence and of the wonderful times we had together in the beginning. The memories were just too painful for me to be here without you. Having to stay on earth without you, even now, would be a living death for me.”

Jesus took a cloth handkerchief from his jacket and dabbed the tears from his eyes.

“How can I ask the people of earth to support me in this election, when I don’t want to be here without you, when I can’t be here for them? You obviously care for the people of this world or you would not be here. I am withdrawing my candidacy and throw my support to you, Eve. You win.”

Lucifer sat there and I could see her start to tremble.

Suddenly, her armor dropped and I could see directly into her divine heart.

I could see her youthful innocence and joy in existence shine out, as her disappointment, her rage, her bitterness, all dropped away in an instant. For the first time in thousands of years, her aura could be seen.

Lucifer’s aura was not visible to the television cameras but I could see it and it would be visible in the dreamcast.

Her corona was growing in size and intensity, and she was beginning to radiate an almost blinding white light.

It must have been sensed even without seeing it by some people in the studio audience, because they became restless. Uncle Nimlash waved them into silence but suddenly a woman’s voice shouted out from the audience, “Give him another chance, honey! This is one man in a trillion!

The audience, waiting for any sort of trigger to release their own bottled up feelings, erupted into wild cheering and applause.

I kept my gaze on Lucifer and I adjusted my eyes so I could see past her corona to her face. She was crying.

She got up from her chair, walked over to Jesus, got on her knees and put her head on his lap.

“Oh, Adam,” Eve said, crying, as Jesus wrapped his hands around her and stroked her head. “Oh, my dear one,” she said. “I am so celestially sorry.”

#

Next in Escape from Heaven is Chapter XXIX.

Escape from Heaven is
Copyright © 2002 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust.
All rights reserved.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

Bookmark and Share

Escape from Heaven — Chapter XXVII


Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Chapter XXVI

Escape from Heaven cover


Escape from Heaven
A Novel by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 27


Two of the nicest features of the corpus novus are that you don’t have to sleep unless you feel like it and that you never suffer from jet lag.

Thomas Jefferson née King Solomon spent the next 45 or so hours giving me the grand tour of earth. We flew when we felt like seeing the view and translocated directly when we didn’t. It was wonderful not having to worry about immunizations, passports, visa stamps, customs declarations, border crossings, driver’s licenses, tolls, gasoline taxes, or the bone-wearing ordeal that has strangled commercial aviation. You don’t fully appreciate how much crap paranoid bureaucrats have loaded onto the simple act of traveling until you don’t have to put up with it anymore.

King Solomon and I stopped off in Jerusalem and prayed at the Western Wall clothed as Orthodox Jews, then King Suliman and I kept our long beards and donned traditional Islamic dress, to pray in the Al Aqsa Mosque.

From there we popped into the Chicken Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada, and spent a pleasant hour at the bar drinking with the ladies.

We spent a day sightseeing around his old stomping grounds in Virginia and Washington D.C. Jefferson gave me a personal tour of Monticello, and pointed out to me punctuation errors in the Bill of Rights when we visited the Library of Congress.

When we took the White House tour, Jefferson complained about how the White House had been turned from what had been intended as “a pleasant office building for the chief executive with a bedroom above the shop” into a fortress more suitable for a Caesar.

“It’s my own fault, too,” said Jefferson, as we were talking near his own memorial in Washington D.C. “I was so intent on expanding out west when I served as president that I forgot my natural mistrust of governmental power.”

I hesitated because I knew what I was going to ask next was a sensitive topic. “How could you, who wrote the phrase “all men are created equal,” have held slaves?”

“I could fall back on the legal argument I used at the time, that Virginia law forbade me to free my slaves.” He paused a moment. “This was never recorded in scripture, Duj, but when God first told the Ten Commandments to the Israelites, the Sixth Commandment he told them was, “You shall not murder nor shall you keep man or woman in bondage.”

“What happened?”

“You have to understand the times. The Israelites were only a few generations separated out from people who still ate the people they conquered. Slavery existed among every people on earth at the time, including the Israelites. They were convinced that freeing their slaves would be disastrous to their way of life, and make them the laughing stock of the world. They begged Moses to go back to God and ask him to take out the slavery prohibition entirely. Moses did, and they came up with a compromise. The anti-slavery clause was moved from the commandments—their constitution, so to speak—into their regular legislations, and modified so that it merely required slaves to be freed after seven years service, if they wished to leave. I’ve long thought that God made a mistake by backing down, but ruling the Israelites was like herding cats—as I well know from personal experience—so likely God had no real choice about it after all.”

He paused a moment. “An interesting historical note, but I evaded your question, didn’t I?”

I smiled.

“The truth is, Duj, that in the mid-to-late eighteenth century I was struggling with what I saw as “the African question,” myself. I didn’t see how people dragged to the New World so terribly could ever forgive white men so I thought the only solution was to put them back on boats to Africa. In my racialist views about Africans I was not all that different from the Nazis, though I thank the Lord I was spared from contemplating a ‘final solution.’ But we came damnably close to a final solution for the Indians, didn’t we? At least they had guns and could shoot back at us as we harried and cheated them into primitive ghettos. It’s the only salve to my guilt that I have.”

With his mention of guns, I decided to bring up one of my pet peeves to him: the way the Second Amendment had been interpreted by the NRA to grant an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Jefferson looked at me surprised. “You are a gun owner yourself?”

“Sure, I have a gun in my bedroom, for protection. That doesn’t mean I think every yahoo should be walking around strapped like it was the Wild West. I have no objection to unenlightened mortals being subjected to some reasonable gun controls.”

He paused a moment and I sensed there was so much he wanted to say that he didn’t know where to begin.

“How long would it take you,” he asked, “if you decided that the planet Jupiter was unsightly and you wanted to blast it from the solar system?”

“About five minutes,” I said. “I’ve never done anything that big before so I’d have to go through the procedure menu by menu.”

“So after a five-minute waiting period,” Jefferson asked, “you can arm yourself well enough to destroy our largest planetary neighbor?”

I could see where he was going. “I think you’re making my point for me,” I said. “Jesus doesn’t resurrect people whom his ‘background check’ doesn’t show can be trusted with that sort of power. And as I understand it, some people have to go through a waiting period of centuries before they’re ready for that sort of responsibility.”

“If earthly government were as unbiased and fairly applied as the divine judgment, I would agree with you entirely,” Jefferson said. “I was in France when the Bill of Rights was being written or I might have suggested an even less ambiguous wording for the Second Amendment, to make its protection of the individual right to keep and bear arms even stronger. As it stands, I agree completely with the NRA’s interpretation.”

I was startled.

“You see, Duj,” Jefferson went on, “in the absence of a divine and just king, there is no mortal who can be counted on to execute the judgments of power justly and even-handedly. When I was president even I, who thought I believed in the innate equality of men, fell into the old habit of the aristocrat, thinking that because of my gentle breeding and fine education I could better decide for others what was good for them. And in my racial views I was barely short of thinking like a Nazi, for God’s sake!

“But at least I understood that the foundations of a free country had to rest on a man’s right to defend himself both from highwayman and tyrant, and to do that he had to be able to have enough power for this right to mean something in the real world. The more the politicians of your era distrust the common people with arms, the more they are telling the common people that they who are there only to serve them have become worthy of being feared as tyrants, themselves.

“The right to defend life from those who would abuse or destroy it is the most basic of all rights that came about as the consequence of God’s creation of individual souls. As sensible-seeming laws as requiring a background check, or training prior to purchase, or even penalizing what some new aristocrat deems unsafe storage of arms has within it the assumption that rights originate not with the people but with the flip of an aristocrat’s wrist, and are therefore merely a privilege to be withdrawn as the aristocrat deems prudent. Nor, I must say, is there much honest debate in this city anymore about what are the actual costs of disarming the people, when by doing so criminals are protected from instant reprisal and terrorists are given a government-guaranteed promise that they will not be opposed by anyone as well-armed as they are.

“The only solution we were able to come up with of how to have a government of imperfect men was to leave the most important powers in the hands of the people themselves, as armed neighbors and jurors, then to disperse the remaining powers the people were entrusting to government as widely as possible.

“Nowhere has our failure been more evident than in this city we designed, where soldiers under direct orders of the undivinely elected have the most powerful weapons at their disposal, yet the citizen whom they are sworn to serve is deprived of his ability to walk the streets with a sidearm appropriate to defending the lives of his loved ones and countrymen. My successors in office will, like me, live to experience the grief of their mistrusting the people with their own lives and property. I only can pray that they will not torture themselves for centuries over their fearful miscalculation as I have.”

#

Next in Escape from Heaven is Chapter XXVIII.

Escape from Heaven is
Copyright © 2002 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust.
All rights reserved.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

Bookmark and Share