Never Yet Been Plumbed
This is an excerpt from Concerning Stories Never Written: Postscript, by Robert A. Heinlein. He placed the postscript at the end of his book Revolt in 2100, copyright 1939, 1940, and 1953, and published by The New American Library, Inc.
As for the second notion, the idea that we could lose our freedom by succumbing to a wave of religious hysteria, I am sorry to say that I consider it possible. I hope that it is not probable. But there is a latent deep strain of religious fanaticism in this, our culture; it is rooted in our history and it has broken out many times in the past. It is with us now; there has been a sharp rise in strongly evangelical sects in this country in recent years, some of which hold beliefs theocratic in the extreme, anti-intellectual, anti-scientific, and anti-libertarian.
It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics. This is equally true whether the faith is Communism or Holy-Rollerism; indeed it is the bounden duty of the faithful to do so. The custodians of the True Faith cannot logically admit tolerance of heresy to be a virtue.
Nevertheless this business of legislating religious beliefs into law has never been more than sporadically successful in this country Sunday closing laws here and there, birth control legislation in spots, the Prohibition experiment, temporary enclaves of theocracy such as Voliva's Zion, Smith's Nauvoo, a few others. The country is split up into such a variety of faiths and sects that a degree of uneasy tolerance now exists from expedient compromise; the minorities constitute a majority of opposition against each other.
Could it be otherwise here? Could any one sect obtain a working majority at the polls and take over the country? Perhaps not but a combination of a dynamic evangelist, television, enough money, and modern techniques of advertising and propaganda might make Billy Sunday's efforts look like a corner store compared to Sears Roebuck. Throw in a depression for good measure, promise a material heaven here on earth, add a dash of anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Negroism, and a good large dose of anti-"furriners" in general and anti-intellectuals here at home and the result might be something quite frightening particularly when one recalls that our voting system is such that a minority distributed as pluralities in enough states can constitute a working majority in Washington.
I imagined Nehemiah Scudder as a backwoods evangelist who combined some of the features of John Calvin, Savonarola, Judge Rutherford and Huey Long. His influence was not national until after the death of Mrs. Rachel Biggs, an early convert who had the single virtue of being the widow of an extremely wealthy man who shared none of her religious myopia she left Brother Scudder several millions of dollars with which to establish a television station. Shortly thereafter he teamed up with an ex-Senator from his home state; they placed their affairs in the hands of a major advertising agency and were on their way to fame and fortune. Presently they needed stormtroopers; they revived the Ku Klux Klan in everything but the name sheets, passwords, grips and all. It was a "good gimmick" once and still served. Blood at the polls and blood in the streets, but Scudder won the election. The next election was never held.
Impossible? Remember the Klan of the Twenties and how far it got without even a dynamic leader. Remember Karl Marx and note how close that unscientific piece of nonsense called Das Kapital has come to smothering out all freedom of thought on half a planet, without mind you the emotional advantage of calling it a religion. The capacity of the human mind for swallowing nonsense and spewing it forth in violent and repressive action has never yet been plumbed.
|Savior Breath, Savior Selves|
Sam Aurelius Milam III
I sometimes see Christians wearing T-shirts with messages such as "Jesus Saves". I walked up to the cash register at a local Ace Hardware store and saw, taped to the counter, the message "Jesus Loves You". I saw a tractor-trailer rig on which the entire side of the trailer declared, in huge letters, that Jesus Christ is the Lord, not a swear word.
In addition to such in-your-face propaganda, Christians have long followed the practice of enacting their doctrine into legislation, complete with punishments. A single example will suffice. People should neither be compelled into nor prohibited from polygamous marriages, yet Christians ruthlessly punish polygamists. They don't have any rational reason why polygamy should be illegal. There isn't any such reason. They do it because they consider polygamy to be a sin. Without any further justification, they convert sin into crime by enacting their beliefs into legislation. Then, the government does their dirty work for them.
We're on a path like the one that Heinlein described in his postscript to Revolt in 2100, shown on page 1. I don't know how far along that path we'll go. I can only suggest that we'd all benefit from a lot less evangelism and a lot more humility among the Christians.
Some Thoughts About Prohibition
When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, "This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know," the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives.
from If this Goes On-
by Robert A. Heinlein
Just because a thing's bad doesn't necessarily mean that it should also be illegal.
Sam Aurelius Milam Jr.
Letters to the Editor
Hey it goes both ways [See the message from Joseph, in the February issue] I was arrest on domestic violence' based only on his lie he bailed me out the next morning.
PtosisIf the feminist authorities occasionally abuse a woman, instead of always abusing only men, then does that somehow make it right?
I have not written to you in quite a while. Just thought I'd send you a quick note wishing you well, with a few of the x-tra stamps. I know anything helps....
Hope all is well.
I wanted to give you some cash at Xmas, but I didn't have it till now....
Sir Donald the Elusive
Amusing Thoughts and Advice
Original Source Unknown. Forwarded by SantaClara Bob
If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
Experience is something that you don't get until just after you need it.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.
Never do card tricks for the people with whom you play poker.
No one is paying attention until you make a mistake.
Success always occurs in private. Failure occurs in full view.
The colder the X-ray table, the more of your body is required to be in contact with it.
To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal ideas from many people is research.
The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.
He who hesitates is probably right.
The severity of the itch is proportional to the difficulty of reaching it.
Two wrongs are only the beginning.
Sam Aurelius Milam III
I wonder what might have been different if the United States had lost World War II. I suppose that Americans might have ended up driving cars, and using home appliances, that were made in Germany or in Japan. A lot of important jobs, like manufacturing, might eventually have been moved overseas. I expect that foreign corporations might have acquired at least some control of the U.S. economy. Of course, worse things than those might have happened. With a fascist government in charge of the country, it might have become impossible for anybody to own or operate a business without government permission. All aspects of a business might have become subject to constant government surveillance and regulation. Government might have dictated the design of consumer products, pharmaceuticals, packaging, and other such things. It might have controlled employment practices, conditions in the workplace, the kinds of personal relationships that would be permitted there, and maybe even who could get jobs. It might have dictated medical benefits and other employment policies and even regulated access to medical services. Land use and land development plans might all have come under the control of government. Even our personal lives might have been transformed. We might have been required to get government ID before we could get a job, buy insurance, get medical treatment, travel, own anything, get married, or open a bank account. We might have been required to get government permission to build, repair, or improve a house. We might have been prohibited from keeping certain kinds of animals at home, or growing certain kinds of plants. We might have been required to get licenses for the animals that we were permitted to keep, like dogs for example. Government might have acquired the power to take animals away from us if we didn't treat them according to government requirements. Family matters, including the raising of children, might have become subject to government regulations. Eventually, all forms of communication might have become subject to surveillance and control by government. People might have been punished for merely advocating illegal behavior. Cops might have been assigned to patrol the hallways of schools, and the school curricula might have been subjected to regulation by government. The government might even have imposed testing requirements in the schools.
I suppose that we should be grateful that the United States won the war. Because of that victory, such draconian measures as I've suggested here were never imposed on Americans by a foreign enemy. If it's difficult to tell the difference now, if the same kinds of requirements were imposed on Americans by the U.S. government, then I can only refer to my mother's observation, many years ago. She commented that we won the war and lost the peace.
If the United States had lost the war against liberty's foreign enemies, then it would have been necessary for Americans to begin, on this continent, a new fight for liberty. By now, that fight might already have been won. Instead, the United States won the war against liberty's foreign enemies and Americans became indifferent to liberty's most dangerous domestic enemy, the U.S. government. Now, the liberty has faded away to nothing. Americans will have to start over again, at the beginning.
Show Him Your Badge
Author Unknown. Forwarded by Millie, of Baltimore, Maryland.
A DEA officer stopped at a ranch in Texas and told the old rancher, "I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs."
The rancher said, "Okay, but don't go in that field over there."
The DEA officer replied, "I have the authority of the Federal Government." Reaching into a pocket, he removed his badge and proudly displayed it to the rancher.
"See this badge? This badge means I'm allowed to go wherever I want, on any land, no questions asked or answers needed. Have I made myself clear? Do you understand?"
The rancher nodded politely, apologized, and went about his chores.
A short time later, the rancher heard loud screams and saw the DEA officer running for his life, chased by the rancher's big Santa Gertrudis bull. With every step the bull gained on the officer, and it seemed likely that the officer would be gored before he reached safety. The officer was clearly terrified.
The rancher threw down his tools, ran to the fence, and yelled as loud as he could yell, , "Your badge! Your badge! Show him your badge!"
My thanks to the following: SantaClara Bob; Lady Jan the Voluptuous; my mother; Dewey and Betty; Robert, of Soledad, California; and Sir Donald the Elusive.
Original Source Unknown. Forwarded by Marilyn, of Bingham County, Idaho.
Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved.
Long ago, when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called wizardry. Today, it's called golf.
Sitting in a church doesn't make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car.
Lord, keep your arm around my shoulders and your hand over my mouth.
When You Least Expect It
These statements are presumably from a collection of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays. I don't know the original source. These were forwarded by Sir Donald the Elusive.
She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like the sound that a dog makes just before it throws up.
Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.
The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.
The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.
He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.
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Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor