When I was growing up, people around me -- public school teachers,
national and local political leaders, the broadcast and print
media, other useless busybodies -- were very enthusiastic about
the idea of compromise.
Compromise, they always proclaimed in glowing terms, is the one
indispensible, absolutely magical key to living and working within
that best of all possible political worlds, a democracy. If everybody
takes a stance and won't budge, if nobody is willing to give at
least an inch (if not a mile), why, then nothing will ever get
done! (This overlooks the obvious fact that there are circumstances
-- almost all of which involve government -- in which nothing
ever should get done.)
I think I was in the fourth grade when I began to notice a number
of things about this compromise bonnet-bee that made it clear
that it was something less than the great notion its proponents
always said it was.
The first was that, since neither side can reasonably expect
to get what it really wants, the best that anyone can ever hope
for from a properly constructed compromise is that both sides
will wind up equally dissatisfied. This is not, I submit, an acceptable
way to run civilization. It is a recipe to guarantee the perpetuation
of bitter conflict.
The second thing that I noticed, thanks to the left-wing politicos
in Congress who were usually the principal advocates of compromise,
is that it always seemed to be the other guy who was
supposed to be so willing to compromise. (Sort of same the way
you and I never get to be "others" when "others"
are the entities we're all supposed to live to serve.) It was
the lefties' opponents who were always accused -- at press conferences
and in newspaper columns -- of being stiff-necked and unwilling
to accept even a reasonable, "common-sense" amount of
Somehow, it was always reasonable, "common-sense" legislation
that would tear yet another enormous chunk out of the Bill of
Rights. (You may have observed that the only time that the left
wing ever gives a rodent's rear about the Bill of Rights is when
the right wing is in power.)
The third thing that I noticed, even as a nine-year-old kid,
was that, having finally been badgered and brow-beaten into accepting
a compromise of some kind, whoever had been sucker enough to do
it would be expected to do it all over again, the next time the
subject came up.
"What's mine is mine," goes the saying, "and what's
yours is negotiable."
Which is exactly how we ended up in the mess we're in now.
For example, I remember clearly as a child, watching and listening
to the American Medical Association cravenly give way, one step
at a time, to slimy leftist politicians -- of course they would
have said "compromise" -- until today, Americans are
afflicted with a medical situation (it doesn't deserve to be called
a "system") that is neither free market nor socialist,
but combines all of the worst aspects of both.
Now I ask you: if I could see all of that when I was in the fourth
grade, what's wrong with all the people -- the glorious leadership
of the National Rifle Association comes to mind -- who can't see
it as adults?
Time and time again, the NRA has allowed itself to get beaten
up and bloodied -- we and our rights along with it -- because
its leaders dullwittedly believe that they can negotiate (read,
"compromise") with the enemies of freedom. The badguys
know what they want -- absolute elimination of private weapons
ownership in America -- while the NRA doesn't have a clue what
it's supposed to be fighting for, and never did.
Somebody needs to knock them down, sit on their chests, and scream
down their nostrils that any compromise with evil is -- guess
what -- evil!
Don't believe me? Let's try a simple thought experiment. Suppose
a crazed serial killer invades your home, gets the drop on you
(you did have your carry-piece on you, didn't you?) and ties you
to a kitchen chair. You see that he's done the same with each
member of your family -- for present purposes, let's say that
you have a spouse and three kids. The killer tells you that he's
looking forward to eviscerating your spouse and three kids while
you watch, and then doing the same to you.
Clearly, this is an evil idea.
You reply that you would rather see your family and yourself
This is a good idea.
The killer admits that he can see your point. He'll offer you
a compromise. He'll only kill two of your family, and you get
to choose which.
Okay, is this compromise a good idea or a bad one? While it allows
two members of your family to stay alive (provided the killer
keeps his word -- and we haven't gotten around to discussing your
life, yet), it implicitly demands that you go along with the deaths
of the other two, and even requires that you to seal the deal
by doing the choosing.
So much for "the lesser of two evils" -- there ain't
no such animal.
But if you still think it's a good idea, then you belong in the
NRA, which let our enemies pass the National Firearms Acts in
the 30s, the '68 Gun Control Act, the "cop-killer bullet"
ban that permits the government to tell us what kind of ammunition
we can purchase in order to defend ourselves from it, the Brady
Bill and Ugly Gun and Adequate Magazine Ban in the 90s, and recently,
HR 2640, the "NICS Improvement Act" which tightens the
noose around our necks just a little bit more -- all because,
reportedly, they were afraid something worse might pass.
So they compromised.
Ain't compromise swell?
But the NRA is far from alone in its eagerness to compromise
with evil. In 1977, I was a member of the National Platform Committee
of no less freedom-oriented an organization than the US Libertarian
Party. I warned my colleagues and compatriots then that the violations
most of us had just suffered in the process of flying to the convention
city of San Francisco -- they were just starting at the nation's
airports and seem mild, today, by comparison -- of everybody's
unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human rights
represented the beginning of a fascist regimen that would eventually
spread out to engulf the entire country. I was laughed at, and
exactly the same excuses were mouthed -- by leading thinkers of
the movement -- that you now hear from "useful idiots"
in "man in the street" interviews on television.
Not one of them has ever thought to acknowledge since that I
Some thinkers suggest that, in a more general sense, perhaps
all of us, to one degree or another, who are guilty of helping
advance simply by being willing to make deals with it. We're always
too polite with individuals who are evil, crazy, or just plain
meekly going along with the kind of outrageous nonsense -- how
Jefferson have responded to the demand that he provide urine samples
and other intimate bodily substances before he was allowed to
job? -- that would have had our ancestors priming the pans of
Without pausing to read it, the Congress passed the USA Patriot
Act -- which, for all intents and purposes, cancelled out the
Rights -- and hardly anybody so much as whimpered. Before that,
warrantless wiretapping, no-knock raids, RICO (designed specifically
to deny legal representation to the accused), and legalized black
jobs of the kind the Watergate burglars went to jail for. Of course
now they can enter and search your house and never even tell you
All because most of us are just too bloody polite.
In a matter of less than twenty years, our campuses, the media,
and then our places of business were taken over by a kind of social
disease we now call "political correctness" in which
unacceptable to call a thing by its true name, to want to know
started the fight, to judge individuals by their actual abilities
virtues, or to enjoy anything that might make the most hypchondriacal
lunatic among us whimper or sniffle that he's allergic to anyone
thinking about eating peanut butter, wearing perfume, or smoking
What we should have done is laugh in our correctors' fascistic
faces, gone right ahead telling jokes about each other, and sent
hypochondriacal loonies off to their loonie bins. Instead -- because
we were too blasted polite again -- we allowed them to walk all
We're also too ready to compromise on an international level.
matter what position you may take on immigration issues (I'm an
borders guy, myself), one thing is beyond doubt: there is a conspiracy
to flood our southwestern states -- Arizona, New Mexico, southern
California, southwest Texas -- with enough foreign nationals to
them politically and deliver them to Mexico. This conspiracy is
place in broad daylight, with the full knowledge and support of
Mexican government, and we're too damned polite to do anything
It's called "la Reconquista" -- the reconquest --
and it festered
first in the academia-decayed minds of far-left Hispanic professors
border-state universities. And it's a lie: for the most part the
in question never belonged to Mexico to begin with; the plan is
they never will. Instead, the advocates of _la Reconquista_ yearn
their very own socialist paradise called "Aztlan", where
system that killed tens of millions through arctic exile, political
execution, and good old fashioned starvation, the system that
in Russia, virtually destroyed eastern Europe, and is being rapidly
abandoned by China will be given a good old college try all over
You know, I don't mind people reinventing the wheel from time
to time, but when they keep insisting on reinventing it square,
it gets annoying.
The solution is an easy one. The President should simply declare
that any Mexican state that ratifies the American Bill of Rights
two-thirds supermajority may join the United States. (Just to
we should make the same offer to Canadian provinces, as well.)
me, that will start brushfires it will take the Mexican government
century to put out, and we'll hear nothing about "la Reconquista"
And therefore we won't have to compromise with it.
There are, in fact, two kinds of compromise, trivial and moral.
trivial compromise concerns issues unrelated to questions of good
evil. "What shall we have on our pizza?" is an excellent
are "What movie shall see tonight?" and "Where
shall we take our next
There's nothing bad with this trivial kind of compromise. It's
marriages and friendships manage to last. Knowing that, the enemies
freedom try to make the other kind of compromise they want you
-- a compromise between good and evil -- seem just as ordinary
So let me offer you this simple pair of moral and political
If a political proposal is made that weakens or destroys the
Bill of Rights, or if it generally threatens to damage or limit
individual liberty, then it's evil, and it cannot be
compromised with. It can only be opposed and ultimately obliterated
by all of the means at our disposal.
Likewise, as libertarians know, if a proposal calls for government
(or any other) use of force against anyone who hasn't initiated
first, or plainly offered to, it's evil, and it cannot be compromised
If you try, all you end up with is more evil.
A final thought. There are some subjects that are so fundamental
and important that they can never be subject to voting, to the
of legislation, or to the latest whims or fads of judges. That's
the Founding Fathers (some of them, anyway) insisted upon a Bill
Rights, so that some individual rights could be sacrosanct, set
politics: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom from
and seizure, freedom from drumhead and kangaroo courts, freedom
religion, freedom to assemble, and notably, freedom to own and
Obviously, it didn't work out that way. And the reason it didn't
was compromise. If we want any of it back, what we have to give
compromise. We need a Constitutional amendment that will put teeth
the Bill of Rights, severly punishing anybody who attempts to
eliminate, or get around it. And there can be no compromise about
Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been writing
about guns and gun ownership for more than 30 years. He is the
author of 27 books, the most widely-published and prolific libertarian
novelist in the world, and is considered an expert on the ethics
of self-defense. His writings may be seen on the following sites:
The Webley Page: http://www.lneilsmith.org
The Libertarian Enterprise: http://www.ncc-1776.org
_The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel_, _Roswell,
and _TimePeeper_ (August 2007): http://www.bigheadpress.com
LNS at Random (blog): http://www.bigheadpress.com/lneilsmith/
LNS at JPFO: http://www.jpfo.org/filegen-a-m/lneilsmith.htm
other articles by L. Neil Smith