• Libertarians who would like an excuse to celebrate might set aside October 16 to commemorate John Brown's famous raid on the arsenal at Harper's Ferry in 1859. Heaven knows that October doesn't offer many other anniversaries for the friends of liberty. For example: on October 6, 1890, the U.S. government outlawed polygamy; the cornerstone of the White House was laid on October 13, 1792; and October 27 is the 73rd anniversary of the opening of the New York subway.
• Our Logician of the Month Award goes to Dr. Mary Calderone of SIECUS for saying; "There's an impression that there is 'all that sex education' in the schools, but if it were there, we would not have the high venereal disease and pregnancy rates we have today." One question: why should the public schools be any less incompetent at teaching sex than at teaching reading?
• Well, maybe we shouldn't blame the schools. A poll of 4,000 high school students at a Future Business Leaders conclave listed Richard M. Nixon as a "modern-day hero." Other "heroes" were Billy Graham, Bob Hope, and Ralph Nader.
• Six months ago yr hmbl srvnt told you that the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was planning to define alcoholics, drug addicts, and the mentally ill as "handicapped," and illegal to discriminate against. So has it come to pass; indeed, HEW regulations now forbid employers who receive federal funds from even asking prospective employees if they are alcoholics or drug addicts. The nation's public schools are covered, of course, and some reactionaries therein have expressed qualms over not being allowed to bar alcoholics from driving school buses. On top of that, employers must take "positive steps" to hire the "handicapped." So if you, Gentle Reader, should undergo surgery for, say, cancer, reflect that if your hospital takes the federal shilling your surgeon may have been recruited from skid row. And they wonder why Laetrile is so popular.…
• Why was the defeat of the breeder reactor an anointed liberal cause? We libertarians would object to spending 150 million tax dollars on the Clinch River experimental breeder, but since when did Teddy Kennedy object to government spending? The breeder would produce plutonium, which terrorists might fashion into bombs, but terrorists from Washington to Peking have lots of bombs already, and anyway the French, German, and Japanese breeders will turn out plenty of plutonium even if the United States never produces a gram. But listen to the ultimate objection, as reported in the New York Times: "Opponents…have contended that the breeder would produce more atomic fuel than it would consume," thereby laying the "energy crisis" to rest for centuries. So the cat is out of the bag.
• How the right wing did howl when the Soviet eavesdropping story broke! You remember how it was revealed that several Soviet diplomatic establishments in this country are equipped with microwave receivers to pick up all long-distance telephone calls for 12 miles around, and with computers to sort out those made to or from government offices. Although the most sensitive federal telephone traffic moves not by microwave but by special underground cables, Sen. Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), for one, damn near had a coronary infarct on the floor of the Senate, ranting about how the "wiretapping" (it isn't) shows how the Soviets treat us "like Russians." An apposite simile, that; Phyllis Schlafly, in her hysterical column on the subject (about July 27), let slip that "The United States has similar equipment in our U.S. Embassy in Moscow, but it is only 10 percent effective because the Russians jam it by beaming radiation at our embassy. This is what causes the high radiation readings at our embassy." Shame on the Russians! Mrs. Schlafly wants us to sever relations with Moscow if they don't behave. Instead, the obvious retaliation would be for us to irradiate the Soviet embassy in turn; but in the meantime, file this under the double standard, Cold War division.
• Can't Teach An Old Dog Dept.: The New York State legislature has voted to give New York City $400,000; so it can bid for the privilege of hosting (and subsidizing) the 1984 Olympics.
• As you may know the Senate Human Resources Committee has voted to shelve any ban on saccharin for 18 months. This caused that veteran VOICE OF MODERATION Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-WS) to cry that "public pressure has caused Congress to collapse and run.…I think it's a terrible precedent." (Terrible isn't the word for it. Can you imagine what chaos would ensue if Congress started to pay attention to the public?) Nelson sees it as "part of a whole pattern, the effect of which will be to go back to the patent medicine nonsense of the last century"—which might be an improvement. The patent medicine hucksters sold their wares only to willing customers; as opposed to Nelson and his ilk, who seek to force their FDA snake-oil on everyone.
• Those who believe that Winston Churchill's epitaph should have been "He was better than Hitler" (as Ralph Raico suggested in The Libertarian Forum) might change their minds after reading Mr. Bradley F. Smith's new book Reaching Judgement At Nuremberg. According to Smith, the Butcher of Dresden thought the German leaders should be shot without trial, and caused the British government to "prepare lists of between 50 and 100 names of leading Nazis who should be executed immediately after capture." Churchill was prevented from carrying out his plans by President Truman—and Joseph Stalin, who thought it "absolutely essential" that the Nazis get a trial. Perhaps Winston's tombstone should read: "He was worse than Stalin"?
• Reportedly some Washington wags call the neutron bomb "the Republican bomb;" it destroys people, not property. It's meant to destroy Warsaw Pact soldiers, if and when they invade western Europe. Almost no one seems to have noticed, however, that according to the Defense Department, the N-bomb has been around for years. The warhead for the defunct Spartan anti-ballistic missile system was a neutron bomb, meant to destroy incoming missiles by spraying them with neutrons. This was a very big secret, at the time.
• Most people, if they think about the plight of the South African blacks at all, probably extrapolate from the former condition of American blacks, seeing apartheid as the counterpart of Jim Crow. But here is South African surgeon Dr. Christian Barnard (of heart transplant fame) to set them straight: "It's much more correct to compare South African whites to American blacks." Indeed, Barnard claims that it is the whites who are the real victims of discrimination—by such as Jimmy Carter. Maybe Barnard is seeking publicity for the first brain transplant.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".