Archive for October, 2015

Guest Editorial by Brad Linaweaver: Without Kryptonite

Brad Linaweaver

By Brad Linaweaver

J. Neil Schulman and I have had similar careers as libertarian science fiction writers. We won some of the same awards. We wrote for the first Agorist publication, New Libertarian. We spent a lot of time in Hollywood.

We’re comrades.

So it was no surprise back in the nineties that both of us would attend a media event in Santa Monica, The Coalition Against PBS Censorship.

Neil and I have been remembering that event because of a firestorm started by Dr. Ben Carson in the wake of murders committed by a madman named Mercer in Oregon. Before Carson inadvertently lit today’s media fire, I witnessed Neil do much the same thing at the PBS event.

So, let’s set the controls in the nearest TARDIS and take a trip down the timeline. The most memorable aspect of the PBS event was the host.

Christopher Reeve was yet to have his terrible accident. He was every bit the actor we all believed was Superman. But not even super powers helped with the unenviable task of keeping everyone polite and good natured in a gathering certain to provoke controversy.

My contribution to civil discourse was avoiding contact with David Horowitz, someone I’ve always disliked for bringing SDS tactics to the American right. He was the only celebrity I went out of my way to avoid.

The stars were in alignment for me that day. I had the honor of meeting Reeve, instead. I was introduced to him as a libertarian. I’ll never forget what he said:

“You want to combine the NRA with the ACLU.”

It was a brilliant insight from an intelligent liberal. It was an insight beyond many of today’s liberals and conservatives. I was impressed.

My good luck continued. Naturally, I wanted to discuss movies with Chris Reeve, however briefly. Naturally, the last thing he wanted was another chat about Superman.

But I had recently seen a comedy with Reeve, Noises Off. That was the film I mentioned. Turned out it was one of his favorite films in which he had participated. We talked about it for several minutes. What actor can resist a good movie about the perils of live theater? Things went so well that I joked about not taking out the kryptonite I was keeping in a lead lined pocket.

A wonderful encounter.

Neither of us could know that by the anniversary of the PBS event, the following year, Chris Reeve would have been completely disabled for the rest of his life after being thrown by a horse. If I had known, I wouldn’t have made the joke about kryptonite. But in the context of the meeting, where there would soon be a controversy about speeding bullets, Superman might be objective about a weapon that could not harm him.

Neil made a difference at the event.

As libertarians, Neil and I are for the Bill of Rights, not just the First Amendment which was the cause for the meeting. Neil and I have always noticed that the Founding Fathers put a lot of thought into which rights they stressed right at the start.

So, it was not surprising that the Second Amendment would come up. I was the least surprised person at the event after Reeve made his insightful remark to me.

As Carson found out recently, Neil discovered that it was weirdly unpopular to make a common sense observation about how an unpopular minority with guns can stand off a dangerous majority. As a writer of alternate history stories, I did not find anything controversial about Neil’s suggestion then, or Carson’s suggestion now, that if the Jews inside the Third Reich had been well armed and fought the Nazis inside Germany then history might have taken a different direction.

At the very least, internal resistance at that level would have thrown off Hitler’s timetable for the war. Imagine if instead of using howitzers against a civilian population in Poland, Hitler had done that inside his own country. The world would have noticed.

After all, the world noticed the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in the history that actually happened.

Alas, most people don’t want to think about such things. Many people booed Neil at the PBS event. Chris Reeve defended Neil. After all, the event was about free speech!!!

After the dust settled, Ron Silver shook Neil’s hand and thanked him for his courage. Neil thanked Reeve for what he did. Not everyone booed, just far too many.

Why is it controversial to recognize that it’s better to die on your feet with a gun in your hand than being rounded up like sheep?

J. Neil Schulman and Ben Carson are vilified for what should not be controversial.

Except it is controversial.

That’s the problem.

Inside my fevered brain, libertarian thoughts were clawing at my feeble hold on sanity during Neil’s travails at the Coalition Against PBS Censorship.

I thought about the usefulness of guns in private hands during the Hungarian uprising in the fifties. The Soviets had to bring in tanks. The world noticed.

Then I thought about guns in private hands during the Prague Spring in the sixties. The Soviets brought the tanks Into Czechoslovakia. Again, the world noticed.

But then a particularly libertarian thought clawed and clawed until it got my attention. It was a “what if,” as Neil had asked a “what if”!

What if Japanese Americans had been better armed than they were, and put up resistance in Roosevelt’s America as the Jews might have put up resistance in Hitler’s Germany? After all, the Nisei had as little to do with Pearl Harbor as the German Jews had to do with calumnies Hitler was trying to put on them.

It could be argued that the Nisei were not being sent to death camps, but they had no way of knowing that. As was the case with Jews in the Reich, the Japanese Americans were having property and money stolen at the point of a gun, and were being marched off to relocation camps.

Years after the PBS event, but before 9-11, a magazine published by Jessie Lilley ran the first installment of a series I was doing about movie censorship. The magazine was Worldly Remains. (Amusingly enough, Jessie later became the editor of Mondo Cult, on which I’m the publisher.)

The series was “Unconditional Surrender,” and the first installment was about how American movies were censored in World War Two. A lot of it had to do with how Japs (and I’m using the word deliberately) were portrayed in American films as the enemy race, the way Jews were portrayed as the enemy race in German films.

When writing the article for WR, perhaps I was flashing back to that PBS event where Neil argued for human rights.

Would most of the Nisei have been killed if they tried to defend themselves against FDR? Or would they have caught the conscience of a country still reeling from Pearl Harbor? Now that we live in an America after 9-11, these questions are probably Thought Crimes.

I don’t pretend to know.

But individuals have a Natural Law right to self defense, regardless of victory or defeat.

There is one thing I know for certain.

Sometimes America needs Superman.

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Me Versus Me

I’m the author of twelve books, articles, essays, poetry, and screenwriting.

I’ve written, produced, and directed two feature-length movies.

I’ve blogged, commented, Facebooked, texted and tweeted, starting in small print publications, later in computer network chats and bulletin boards, and still later when the World Wide Web took over channeling messages.

These days, contrary to the predictions of science fiction, full voice and live video two-way communications are widely available yet paradoxically more people than ever communicate in short-burst texts like the old telegrams.

My point is I’ve been communicating to audiences small and wide for my entire professional life, going back to the early 1970’s, and there’s a well-preserved record of my opinions.

I’ve been on both sides of several major issues, depending on the time.

I’ve been pro-war and anti-war, depending on whether I was writing as an advocate of individual natural rights or writing as a pragmatic utilitarian analyst.

I’ve written on both sides of whether voters rather than courts should determine the legal status of same-sex marriage and whether voters or courts should even get to define the word “marriage” by putting the word in a legal speech code — in a society that invades private contracts by licensing marriage in the first place.

I’ve written that animals don’t have human rights then argued that animals which reach certain behavioral and cognitive thresholds should be considered for legal rights currently afforded only the human species.

I’ve written on the rights of “law abiding” gun owners then turned around and argued for the right to keep and bear arms of law-breakers.

And, most profoundly, I am an atheist who because of personal experiences has been convinced of the existence of God.

I wrote my first novel, Alongside Night (Crown, 1979), when I was a young atheist. I adapted that novel into a motion picture later in life when I was a believer in God. Both tell virtually the same story.

My second novel, The Rainbow Cadenza (Simon & Schuster, 1983), features dialogue debating the existence of gods and goddesses versus the atheistic view held by the novel’s author. Yet certain of those pro-theistic arguments I wrote for my characters were still in my head when personal experiences challenged my atheism.

Escape from Heaven

My third novel, Escape from Heaven (Pulpless.Com, 2002), was written after I’d had what I already considered personal proof that God existed. Yet the novel is written with a viewpoint narrator who like the writer begins telling his story as an atheist. Unlike my first two novels published by major New York publishing houses my third novel was published by an independent press I, myself, own, that had already published books by two dozen other authors. As opposed to the tens or hundreds of thousands who read my first two novels, and the millions who watched on CBS prime time the Twilight Zone episode I scripted, only hundreds have read my third novel, which is my favorite of the three.

The Heartmost Desire

I’ve written several non-fiction books on topics ranging from the criminology of guns to the criminology of the O.J. Simpson trials, some of them read widely.

My latest book is The Heartmost Desire comprising two books published chapter by chapter on my blogs. Part 1 of this book is “Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto” and consists of chapters arguing specific cases where individual liberty is a precondition of human happiness. Part 2 is “I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith” and gives the details of my personal journey from atheist to believer — like the title says, without religion, scripture, or faith.

I’m the same rationalist skeptic that I was when I was an atheist. Yet The Heartmost Desire is usually read as its original two books, not one, with readers commonly reading only one of them and ignoring the other.

I’m writing this essay, now, to say it’s one book, and it’s not one of those cases where I’m arguing with an older version of myself. Both books in this volume were written by the guy who believes in God, even though both parts are written from the viewpoint of the same rationalist skeptic I was when I was an atheist.

The Heartmost Desire has been called a religious, mystical, or New Age book. For marketing reasons I’ve consented to those labels.

But if you ask me which shelf in the remaining bookstores and libraries I’d want The Heartmost Desire on I’d want it shelved next to Richard Dawkins’ books. The Heartmost Desire is a work of philosophical examinations intended for hardbitten open minds yet who are willing to pay attention, also, to the longings of their heart.

As Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling said, Submitted for your approval:

Escape from Heaven and The Heartmost Desire — my two least-read books — to those of you who have shown interest in my better known work.

Note later in the day and added to the next day: Before Brad Linaweaver interviewed me for what became I Met God in The Heartmost Desire I did a number of appearances discussing my experiences and analysis of them with the late Jack Landman on his radio program, CyberCity. The audio of interviews are online for free listening linked from here but if you’re interested in the technical specifics of how as an atheist I overcame my skepticism about the existence of God — getting past Occam’s Razor and natural cosmolology — it’s here. Also my talk at the Karl Hess Club on September 15, 2003 “Why Ayn Rand and George H. Smith Never Disproved the Existence of God” and as I said both at the beginning of my talk and repeated to Jack Landman, please take note that I never said that they even tried. — JNS

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Civil Obedience

John Parker

Interviewed October 1st by Sean Hannity about the shootings at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College, Air Force Veteran John Parker revealed that at the time of the shootings Parker was in a campus veterans’ center armed with a licensed, concealed handgun and was only 200 yards from active shooter, Chris Harper Mercer. When Parker attempted to leave the veterans’ center with the intent to stop the shooting rampage, college authorities stopped Parker.

The college authorities may not have known that Parker was carrying concealed when they stopped him. But the college authorities were unarmed and if John Parker had stuck to his guns they could not have restrained him. Parker would have arrived to confront Mercer long before the police arrived far too late to stop 10 dead and seven wounded before police killed Mercer.

So why did Parker not go ahead and stop the shooting?

As Brad Linaweaver and I discussed today, John Parker as an Air Force veteran was trained to follow orders from superior officers assumed to have a better strategic and tactical picture. It was natural for him to assume that college officials stopping him had superior knowledge, perhaps that armed authorities were already on the scene.

This was not the case and anyone with knowledge of prior incidents would know that police almost never are present on the scene early enough to prevent mass casualties.

The assumption that “authorities” have if not omniscience then superior knowledge is the basis for the current trend of “sheltering in place” imposed on civilians in emergencies ranging from brushfires to the Boston Marathon bombings. The very word “authority” means just that.

It’s a lie. In the beginning of any disaster it’s unlikely that anyone in the government knows more than the initial reports and a civilian on site might well have superior tactical knowledge.

This needs to be made part of training in arms for both ordinary citizens and authorities who pat themselves on the back in news conferences tagging themselves as “first responders” when the truth is their arrogance in disarming and stopping potential real first responders such as John Parker gives them the victims they need to con the public into thinking heroism is drawing chalk lines around the dead they fail to protect.


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Libertarian Movement Phoenix

Over the weekend of September 25 to 27th I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona for the Second Amendment Foundation’s 2015 Gun Rights Policy Conference. I delivered a short address from the podium on Sunday the 27th that was video-recorded both by the Polite Society Podcast and C-SPAN. In addition I was interviewed before my speech by the Polite Society Podcast and both before and after by Ernest Hancock’s Declare Your Independence radio program.

J. Neil Schulman at GRPC 2015

Copies of the Alongside Night 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and a bulk order form were placed on the conference attendee’s seats.

The thrust of my presentation was also the theme of Alongside Night:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
–from the Declaration of Independence

The libertarian movement as I first knew it has lost its way. Disrupted by narrow ideology and petty squabbling over single issues it has been marginalized and the power of its message dissipated.

There needs to be a New Libertarian movement refocused on the original Revolution built from the ground up, and I decided a conference of activists devoted to at least one, if not more, of the Bill of Rights was a proper place to start.

Here’s my address to the conference plus my interviews.

This, and Alongside Night, are presented in the hope it will remind freedom-lovers what the libertarian movement was, and will again be, about and inspire the work needed to free us all.

Like the Phoenix of legend out of the ashes comes a rebirth.

–J. Neil Schulman

I’m J. Neil Schulman, author and filmmaker and I made this movie, Alongside Night, about the American Revolution returning in our time, and we gave copies to just about everybody who came to this conference. And for those of you watching on C-SPAN you can go to and buy it.

So let’s talk about the first American Revolution.

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote those words about felons illegally in possession of firearms who on April 19th, 1775 used those illegal guns to shoot at police legally appointed by the governor to confiscate their illegal guns. In the exchange of gunfire three cops were killed and nine cops were wounded.

Sheriff David Clarke, I have bad news for you.

This country was founded by cop-killers.

Roughly 226 years later, on September 11th, 2001, four commercial jetliners filled with passengers, flight attendants, and flight crew – all of them disarmed of firearms by United States federal law – were overpowered by Jihadi militiamen armed only with box cutters, four per aircraft. Two of those captured aircraft were used as weapons to crash into New York’s twin towers financial headquarters, one crashed into the U.S. military headquarters in Washington DC, and one flight – where the disarmed passengers, none of them with military or police uniforms or badges – fought the jihadi militiamen who rather than surrender crashed the plane into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The casualties that day were just under 3,000, but in subsequent years wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere costs the United States thousands of more lives, trillions of dollars, and a wounded warrior class.

Gun control gave us 9/11.

I’m a writer and filmmaker who has sold stories and screenplays to Hollywood production companies, including an original script for the Twilight Zone, broadcast by CBS in prime time, March 7, 1986. My new narrative feature film, Alongside Night, based on my first novel published in October 1979, was given out to participants at this conference, as a counterpoint to the usual Hollywood movies that treat privately held firearms as dangers to public safety.

Hollywood writers and producers led by Harvey Weinstein hate private gun ownership yet the entertainment industry makes movies and TV shows full of guns. Hollywood gets past its own objections by having these guns be either futuristic ray guns or ordinary guns used to shoot the heads off zombies, or by having the guns be used by cops. Prime time U.S. television is dominated by shows featuring law-enforcement officers and military service personnel as the armed heroes.

On the other side is a political right-wing dominated by politicians who assign absolute human rights only to the unborn. Anyone breathing air has only government granted privileges – driving licenses, gun licenses, work permits, and so forth. They talk about a “right to work” but want to build a wall to keep out workers.

They want gun rights only for the law-abiding – in other words, anyone who meekly complies with thousands of tyrannical regulations.

I’m here to agree with the signers of the Declaration of Independence – a legal document more binding than the Constitution — that when any government’s police and regulations become oppressive of the people’s rights the people have the moral right to resist abuse of their rights under color of law – and existing federal law agrees with me. Look up Title 18 US Code Section 242 which says that any official – local, state, or federal – who violates constitutionally protected rights is acting as a criminal and has zero legal authority to do so.

Title 18 US Code Section 242
Title 18 US Code Section 242
Title 18 US Code Section 242

By the way, the Second Amendment in a recent Seventh Circuit decision, applies to illegal immigrants.

And I need to tell you something that is not going to be pleasant for a lot of you to hear. It also applies to drug gangs because nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is the word “drug” mentioned and according to te 9th and 10th amendments if it ain’t listed in the Constitution as powers of the federal government anything they do on this subject is void ab initio.

That’s how Black Lives Matter and defenders of the Bill of Rights – you in this room — can get together.

Thank you.

2015-09-25 Hour 3 J neil SCHULMAN from Ernest Hancock on Vimeo.

2015-09-29 Hour 1 J Neil Schulman from Ernest Hancock on Vimeo.

Alongside Night Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

Due to the college campus shooting today at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College I decided to add two additional videos.

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