Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 412, April 8, 2007

"We are a part of the natural world"

Letters to the Editor

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Letter from Ann Morgan

Letter from Joel Gehman

Letter from Steven Pilchman

Letter from Jim Davidson

Letter from Dennis Wilson, With Reply from Rex May, and Reply from Jim Davidson

Letter from Bill Williams and The Team

Dear Editor:

Having had a number of unpleasant experiences with the same sort of 'animal rights' fools that L. Neil Smith wrote about in his article 'Eat More Polar Bear', I would like to make some comments on the matter.

Several years ago I got into trouble with the Wisconsin DNR supposedly for violating state law by raising an orphaned duckling I had found. In actuality, I had not violated state law, I was lied to about numerous matters including the laws in this state and the species of duck I had found. The goal, so far as I could tell, was to get even with me for having offended a petty bureaucrat, by killing my duck.

Anyway, in the course of my conversation with a rather unpleasant game warden, I happened to mention that I had on occasion in the past, released domestic White Pekin ducks onto a local lake after having gotten them as an Easter present. This immediately infuriated him, and he had a fit, saying that such an act was illegal, and also that the duck could not survive in the wild, and was going to 'ruin the genetics' of the wild duck population.

Since the latter two statements are contradictory, at most only one of them can be correct. But to go on. This gentleman's suggestion as to what should be done with Easter ducks, was that they should be killed and eaten. After having been made a pet by a child. A course of action that seems more than slightly sick to me.

I should also point out that his statements do not conform to reality. I have seen domestic ducks survive for ten years in the wild, which is actually twice as long as the expected life span of a duck. I have also watched their descendants, from interbreeding with wild ducks, and although the first generation of Pekin X Mallard crosses are not able to fly, the second generation is.

In addition, I discussed the matter with my ecology professor at college, who says that the statements given by the game warden are utter nonsense for three reasons. First of all, the number of domestic ducks which are released into the wild are so miniscule compared to the number of wild ducks in existence, that their genetic contribution is like the proverbial drop in the ocean. Secondly, the genetics of wild species do not get 'ruined'. Natural selection sees to it that if an unfit organism does not die itself, it's descendants eventually will. Lastly, if such a thing as the genetics of wild ducks being 'ruined' were actually possible to occur, it would already be far too late to stop it.

I also discussed this matter with an 'animal rights' activist of the same sort L. Neil Smith disparaged in his article, who took the side of the game warden and thought my act of raising an orphaned duck was absolutely horrible. I asked her to explain to me simply whose rights I was violating by caring for an orphaned duck, and after some thought (since she had evidently not bothered to even think about the matter at all prior to making her judgement) she said that I was violating the DUCK'S rights, because "The duck had a right to try and survive on it's own'.

Oh really? She was really setting herself up for a fall. I asked her if this principal would also apply to human beings, and she said, yes, it would. So, I said, if I saw a baby drowning in a swimming pool, the correct thing for me to do would be to simply ignore the situation, even though I am an excellent swimmer, since the baby has a 'right to try and survive on it's own'.

Well, now she backpedalled and contradicted herself. She said, No, that was different, because baby ducks have instincts and baby humans don't. I told her that that was remarkably curious, since an infant without instincts such as how to suckle or breath would not live for very long. At this point she gave up all pretense at logical argument and merely began insulting me.

But the goal of animal rights activists does not seem to actually be to help animals. So far as I can tell, their goal seems to be to prevent human beings from interacting with animals in ANY fashion, good, bad, or neutral. It does not matter if the act results in the animals death, the animal's life being saved, anything in between, or even has no effect on the animal at all. If you doubt this, consider the fact that animal rights activists now object to the creation of documentary films of animals taken with telephoto lenses, films which have no effect on the animals being filmed at all, on the grounds that the fact that since the film makers are able to sell these films for money, they are therefore 'exploiting' the animals being filmed. How an animal can be 'exploited' by something it is not even aware of, and would not care about if it WERE aware of it, remains unclear.

The true goal is that they would entirely seperate human beings from the rest of nature, ignoring the reality that we, just like every other species, are a part of the natural world, and have us all live sterile existences. Except, of course, for a self-appointed elite, namely themselves, who somehow are excused from doing the exact same things that they forbid to everyone else.

Ann Morgan

Re: Lady Liberty's "History's Table of Context"

Not sure what history books the Lady's been reading, but the one I read six months ago on Sparta, Athens and Persia indicated rather strongly that Sparta was a society I want no part of. It was the archetypal example of the total state. Make that Total State, or even TOTAL STATE! Spartans didn't own their own lives in any fashion. Even their children were taken from them at a young age, and raised—if such brutality can be called "raising"—in army camps. Beyond that, they were an expansive empire that was really only stopped from expanding over the entirety of Greece by geography. Cruelty and murder were not just accepted but institutionalized (look up "crypteia"). As for the movie Leonidas' quip about the Athenian boy-lovers, that was a practice also institutionalized in Sparta.

Looked at objectively, the subject peoples of the Persian empire may have been more free than either the helots of Sparta OR the majority of Spartans themselves. The 300 were certainly brave, and Thermopylae one of the great events of Western history, but they were fighting not for freedom, but for political independance. That might be worth having, in itself, but I don't see them as any kind of role model.

Others might read it differently, but I thought the emotional slant of the movie was more in favor of Bush's American Empire than of any true libertarian meaning. Certainly, the "Freedom isn't Free" phrase was a bit of heavy-handed propaganda. I forget the rest, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't the only bit of such propaganda. If you're looking for a role model for freedom, that would be Athens, not Sparta.

All that said, I don't understand why it's necessary to take such liberties with history in order to tell a good story. The real story of the Persian invasion is exiting enough without all the hype.

The above refers to Athens and Sparta at the time of the Persian invasion. Yes, I know... Athens became an empire later on.

Joel Gehman

Steven Pilchman

Re: the article "How Many Guns Do You Need?" by Ron Beatty

Ron, Since when does need have any bearing on my decision to keep and bear arms. I am not nitpicking here because I know you are an ardent RKBA advocate but your choice of phrasing makes it seem as if need is a deciding factor in whether one chooses to keep and bear arms.

I probably only need one handgun and one long gun to satisfy the requirements of self-defense and hunting but I desire, and to a great extent have fulfilled that desire, to fill my home with a great many firearms with probably more to come in the future.

So the question should be How Many Guns Do You Desire?

Steven Pilchman

Dear Editor,

Rex May writes to say, "Lady Liberty is quite correct about the border, and Jim Davidson is wrong."

So, it is correct for border patrol police to shoot unarmed men in the back? No explanation for why that might be, though.

I guess it is just a question of authority. If one is an authoritarian, as Lady "Liberty" clearly is, and as Rex May apparently finds agreeable, then one does not question what the border patrollers do, nor to whom. If one is a libertarian, then one does ask hard questions, like, "What does it serve to stop drug merchants at the border? Whose drug cartel is getting the most benefit out of the war on drugs? Why should we have a border that Americans are afraid of? What is it about the war on drugs that justifies the arrests of some sixteen million Americans since Nixon declared war on drugs in 1969?"

It is foolish to say that someone is wrong without saying why. Clearly, Mr. May doesn't wish to discuss the matter of why the border patrol needs to be killing unarmed men and women. "Hier ist kine warum." Here there is no discussion of "why."

The ambition of the authoritarians knows no bounds. It seems that rather than running death camps as isolated instances of totalitarianism, the contemporary approach is to put up tall border fences and run entire countries as forced labor camps. Morocco has done so with a huge wall in Western Sahara. Israel has done so with a huge wall in the West Bank. The USA has done so with a huge fence along the border with Mexico. East Germany did so with the Berlin Wall, and the Warsaw Pact countries did so with the Iron Curtain.

The despicable policies of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall failed to repress individual liberty, and those disgusting artifacts were torn down in the late 1980s. The Soviet Union fell apart soon after.

The destruction of the walls in Africa, the Mideast, and the Southwest is inevitable. The fall of the imperialist countries of Morocco, Israel, and the USA are also inevitable. But, there yet remains some question of whether a vast effusion of blood is going to be involved in these changes in the political situation.

As long as East Germany had its Berlin Wall, its border patrol killed Germans trying to escape to the West. It seems that as long as the USA has its wall with Mexico, it is going to kill drug merchants and civilian immigrants. It is odd, though, that Mr. May and Ms. Liberty take station with the authoritarians in this matter.

But, as you are so wont to point out, Ken, it takes all kinds to make a world.


Jim Davidson

Reply to "Letter from Rex May", TLE #411

The entire message content of Rex May's letter reads:

"Lady Liberty is quite correct about the border, and Jim Davidson is wrong."

How does one reply to an unsupported assertion that rests on the Fallacy of Argument from Authority? Should the reply be in the same form? If so, it might look like this:

Jim Davidson is quite correct about the border, and Rex May is wrong. And so is Lady "Liberty".

Not very satisfying, is it? Neither assertion means anything when removed from a kindergarten playground. The implicit, unstated justification for such statements is: "because I say so!"

At least when Jim and I say that Lady "Liberty" is wrong about something, we provide REASONS [1][2] why we think that way, rather than just relying on an unsupported assertion.

Dennis Wilson

[1] Jim Davidson's letter "What limits to security?"
The Libertarian Enterprise Number 410, March 25, 2007

[2] My article "Will the REAL Lady of Liberty please raise a Lighted Torch?"
The Libertarian Enterprise Number 383, September 3, 2006

With Reply from Rex May

I direct you to Stephen Cox, who has made the libertarian case against open borders quite ably:

And he doesn't once spell "America" with a "K."

Rex May
All about me here:

Reply from Jim Davidson

Dear Dennis,

> How does one reply to an unsupported assertion that
> rests on the Fallacy of Argument from Authority?

Yes, but reason isn't consistent with some views.

Many people are for border security because they have an emotional reason for fearing foreigners, or for hating free market trade and commerce, or because they feel insecure. Such people are not going to provide reasons for their views.

Instead, they have seen the hobgoblin, as HL Mencken described most of the arguments for more government power, and have been frightened. Scared people don't reason well. They don't offer evidence to support their demands for more security. They simply flee into the waiting arms of butchers and concentration camp guards who promise them safety—the certainty of death, the safety of the ever watchful eye of Big Brother, the assurance that they cannot flee their captors except into death—that "undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns."

I believe that Lady "Liberty" wants Americans to be caged by an insurmountable border. I believe her position is that it is a good thing for border guards to gun down unarmed civilians, whether they are entering the country or attempting to leave it. I believe she is an authoritarian. And, of course, I challenge her to prove otherwise.


Jim Davidson


My name is Bill Williams and I run, a forum advocating the fight against smoking bans for Smoker's Rights.

Many of our members are Libertarians, so they are interested in your site. I have placed a link to your website on mine,

and was hoping you would link back to me.

Bill Williams
The Team

visit to help support and advocate the rights of cigarette smokers. Don't Smoke? Start.

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