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Retired Editorials

Editorial #1 - October 1 2002 - What have we come to?

"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervour, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar". Julius Caesar

Dear Readers,
Though the above quote is interesting it says nothing that today's student of human behaviour should not know: (Refs. *). What bothers is: Why is this only known to those few who study behaviour as a specialised interest?

  • Would it not be reasonable to think that in a modern civilisation all citizens should be enlightened to the potential and dangers of public manipulation? Is enslavement to despotism less important than rock music, sporting events or junk food? Have we made no human advance since Caesar? Why are we so blind to deceit?

Recent news tells of a thief awarded $50,000 because the Judge said the force used to subdue him (bruises and a cracked skull) was excessive. If, had he been asked nicely to leave, he had then seized his advantage and killed the businessman, he would not have earned $50,000. Is this a brilliant crime prevention program?

Early 1980s, I moved into a high rise home unit. Thinking to install a deadlock I asked a policeman about security. "You can't do that" he said. "Suppose a burglar climbs in over the balcony, collects his loot, sets a fire to cover his tracks, finds he can't leave by the front door and dies in the fire. You would be held responsible". Anti-discrimination and human rights are now taught as basics but - who is being fooled?

Now a USA 1980s item.
Below extracts (worst incidents) are from a long letter by book author Chip Elliott, written in response to an Esquire Magazine article entitled "Fifty Million Handguns". His letter so impressed the editors they published it in the September 1981 issue as the cover story. Elliott's comments have wider relevance today. Quotes (shortened for space saving):

The streets of America...are as dangerous as the roads and alleys of an earlier century. … I went to carrying a 9mm Smith & Wesson automatic in ten weeks. My wife is a psychiatrist. Very attractive, very easy to intimidate, very abstracted, a likely target for muggers both outside, because she's lost in her thoughts, and at home, because punks think doctors keep drugs in their houses (they don't). She has a gun, too, a .38, and she knows how to use it. We are not hillbillies: we are people who went to Radcliffe and Stanford, respectively. Appalling, huh? It used to appall us too, until we were forced to realize that our lives, both as a married couple with a deep commitment and as individuals doing important and meaningful work, were worth protecting. …
we moved to Los Angeles. … all was not as it seemed in Venice. For starters, we had moved to the intersection of turfs of two rival Mexican gangs. We got along with them. When they shot at each other-as they did less than a week after we had moved in-they shouted to us in Spanish to get out of the way. We did. There were other clues. Walking, I would occasionally see brown spots on the sidewalk that, from my experience as a police reporter, I could recognize as bloodstains. I would notice this the way you might notice a scruff of feathers where something has gotten a small bird: a tiny memorial to violence.

One morning … I watched a gang … pour gasoline all over a parked car and set it on fire. … Broad daylight. A few days later, I heard of a robbery two blocks from where we lived: A woman came to the door of a house and asked to use the telephone, said it was an emergency. When the man opened the door, her henchmen came in right behind her. The three of them stabbed the man to death and left his wife barely alive. In the next block a woman was raped twice after her nose and jaw were broken.

Just to be on the safe side ... bought a .38 snub-nosed revolver. After all, this was Los Angeles. But a gun! Who had ever owned a gun? It cost $160. … I would rather have bought a painting. … we went to the Fox Venice to see Forbidden Planet … When we returned, the door had been broken in. The stereo was gone, the television was gone, the paintings and cameras and typewriters were gone. The dressers had been turned over and ransacked, the bed had been torn up and the revolver taken; the birdcage had been torn off the wall and the parakeet set free for a while until the cat got it and ate it, leaving the remains on the floor where a rug had been. …

Our friends were robbed, burglarized. Carolyn, of her sewing machine, her typewriter, her clothes. Another couple, of all their photographic equipment, used not for a hobby but for their livelihood. Easygoing Boris bought a twelve-gauge riot gun and hid it in a trunk with his sixteen-millimetre movie equipment so no one would steal it. And a huge black shepherd dog to protect the trunk. Someone broke in anyway and slit the dog's throat.

We bought a new revolver … had the handgrips filed down so my wife could hold it easily. … my wife's work for Los Angeles County was more like a Clint Eastwood movie than a medical practice. One of her street patients quickly fastened on her and began writing her death threats with sexual overtones. There was no place to put him away because there was no money for any serious treatment, and there were no available psychiatric beds in any of the local hospitals. She began carrying the .38 in her briefcase along with her patient caseload progress notes. … when she came home at night she would park her car and blow the horn; I would go outside and escort her into the house. It dawned on me for the first time that we might be killed. That it was possible we would die here.

I bought a second handgun, … discovered where to go to practice with it. And I practiced.
… We cut a safe into the floor of our dining room and hid our remaining valuables in it. It was never discovered, even though they took the Oriental rug that covered it.

We went to a wedding in San Francisco on a Friday night. The week before, I had prepped the house as you might prepare for medieval warfare: two-by-six boards bolted into doorframes with lag bolts six inches long … . That sort of thing. Anything we had left that was slightly portable … I put into storage.

When we returned from the wedding there was no back door and no doorframe, only an enormous hole with smashed edges leading into a set of empty rooms. We were left with a bed, some pots and pans, and a bookcase. … On the seventeenth of December in 1978, I saw a woman mugged for her purse-and I watched her run screaming after her assailant until she collapsed, crying in the street.

On the eighteenth or nineteenth of December, my wife was at a meeting, … I walked alone to the Venice Sidewalk Cafe for some dinner. It occurred to me that it was silly to put on a shoulder holster just to go out for a beer and a sandwich, but I did it anyway, …

Walking home about six-thirty at night, just off the corner of West Washington Boulevard and Westminster Avenue, I was confronted by five young, well-dressed uptown brothers. Black. Okay. … They could just as easily have been white. We were directly under a streetlight and less than fifty feet from an intersection thick with traffic.

I was not dressed as a high roller. ... I look like exactly what I am, a middle-aged guy who's seen a little more than he needs to see. I thought, what are these guys doing? Their leader pulled a kitchen knife out of his two-hundred-dollar leather jacket. His mistake was that he wasn't close enough to me to use it, only to threaten me. He smiled at me and said, "Just the wallet, man. Won't be no trouble."

That was a very long moment for me. I remember it just as it happened. I remember thinking at the time that it was one of those moments that are supposed to be charged with electricity. It wasn't. It was hollow, silent, and chilly.

I looked at this guy and at his companions and at his knife, and I thought: Don't you see how you're misreading me? I am not a victim. I used to be a victim, but now I'm not. Can't you see the difference?

I pulled the automatic, leveled it at them and said very clearly, "You must be dreaming." The guy smiled at me and said, "Sheeeit," and his buddies laughed, and he began to move toward me with the knife. I thought, this guy is willing to kill me for thirty-five dollars. I aimed the automatic at the outer edge of his left thigh and shot him.

He dropped like a high jumper hitting the bar and yelled "Goddamn!" three times, the first one from amazement, I guess, and the second two higher pitched and from pain. He yelled at his buddies, "Ain't you gonna do nothing?" They did do nothing.

I backed off and walked away, right across busy West Washington Boulevard, with the gun still in my hand. I remember thinking, shouldn't I call a doctor? And then I thought, would he have called a doctor for me? And I kept right on walking.

I was not coming on like James Bond, … I was simply protecting my right to walk around town with a lousy thirty-five dollars in my pocket and not be afraid for my life. … I felt terribly strange, … I realized that what I was doing-in our current state of affairs-was a cultural procedure no different from going to the grocery or getting a haircut or buying a shirt. And that I had balked over it and felt strange because it was a new procedure, something I was doing for the first time, …and that if I wanted to stay alive, it was possible I would have to get used to it.

I am not proud of this. I did not swallow it easily. More than a year passed before I talked about it with anybody, not even my wife. But I did it. And I could do it again if I had to.

What happened to us, … My world changed sometime between 1975 and 1980, … We were lucky. We lost more than eleven thousand dollars of what we owned, but we weren't killed. We adapted. Now the guns are a normal part of our lives. …

Sometimes I think, this is a stupid, abhorrent, exasperating situation. And it is. But we've adapted to other stupid, abhorrent, exasperating situations: 20 percent interest rates: Iran. And now we've adapted to this one. … We dress low key, we don't flaunt anything, we keep loaded guns in the house, and we don't keep them stashed in some drawer where we can't find them if we need them. … We don't even think it's too bad anymore; we're beyond that. We accept it as a fact of life and go right on. And it will stay a fact of life until our fellow countrymen get it out of their heads that they can do as they please, that there is no such thing as social responsibility, that they have a right not to behave. Because the way we see it, if they have the right to mug us, we have the right to shoot them.

I used to believe that these people had some justifications on their side. I used to feel that I ought to have some compassion for them, and I did. I used to believe that a job and some credit would put them on the right path. It isn't true. I also used to believe that much of the human wreckage-the millions upon millions of people with emotional damage-could be repaired. That isn't true either. They can't be, for the most part, because the effort necessary to straighten out a single one of them is enormous: four or five years perhaps of therapy, in an age when there is no time for anything but emergency medicine.

Let's face it. … not all of them are poor, not by a long shot. A lot of them make as much money, or a great deal more, than you or I do. They do it because it's easy. They do it because they believe no one will stop them. And they're right. End quote.

Now what was that you were saying about terrorism?
What are leaders doing? Can they be ignorant of the mind virus they help promote - the cause of our social disintegration: the fight-back of the desperate?

"Mind manipulation". If we are going to call diseases and misused everyday equipment weapons of mass destruction then "mind manipulation" is a weapon of mass destruction more deadly and infinitely more terrifying than anything now called terrorist. Fake 'human rights' and 'anti-discrimination' disguise the consequences of this manipulation! It is government backed though it is, from a human viewpoint, both idiotic and horrific. Law helps blind us to manipulation! In the time since our massive indoctrination to humanist philosophy we have become pretenders to compassion and realists to accepting ever-growing crime, cruelty and contempt for human values - and, yes, we still claim to be civilised.
To be continued: mid-October Editorial.

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