• Many libertarians may not want to celebrate Christmas. If that applies to you, you might instead exchange presents on December 15, the 186th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, or on the 16th, 204th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. Instead of hanging mistletoe, you could hang crepe on December 23, when the Federal Reserve System will start its 65th year of mismanaging the nation's money supply. And in the spirit of the season, with this issue yr hmbl srvnt begins his second year of spreading peace on earth, good will to men in the pages of REASON. Ho ho ho.
• Columnist Kevin Phillips informs us that some Indians have been buying parcels of land in Tacoma, Washington (which used to be a reservation), designating them reservations and opening liquor stores on them. Invoking the Indian tribe's sovereignty, they ignore state taxes and regulations and sell firewater to the palefaces at cut-rate prices. The stores also sell tax-free cigarettes and illegal firecrackers. Other tribes are contemplating opening casinos and race tracks. Indeed, Phillips (who does not like this) goes so far as to ask "Who's to say that tribes couldn't follow Nevada's example" and legalize prostitution on their reservations. Who said the Noble Red Man was a myth?
• After ex-Mayoral candidate Bella Abzug lost her bid to misgovern New York City, producer Otto Preminger said she can have a role in a new movie of his, if she wants it. Probably in the remake of The Thing.
• The Senate, in its wisdom, has voted overwhelmingly to outlaw military unions. Such as Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), waxed eloquent against "forcing" soldiers to join unions. Interestingly enough, while Gallop says 71 percent of the populace opposes the idea of military unions, the Army Times found that 45 percent of the servicemen it surveyed liked it. In addition to complaints about pay and benefits, the Times says they object to the Army's assignment and recruiting practices, its promotion policies and its "chain of command grievance procedures." What a union could do for them is problematical; servicemen can hardly go on strike when disobeying orders is "mutiny," a capital crime. This is the real issue, of course; for all the blather about the "volunteer military" the American fighting man still has only slightly more rights than an ante-bellum Georgia field hand—above all, he still does not have the right to quit his job. Surprisingly, few libertarians have shown any concern for the soldier-slave, although I hear that the Libertarian Party has revised its platform to end the absurd distinction between amnesty for draftees who desert (which the LP supports) and amnesty for non-draftee deserters (on which the LP waffled). But until some future Lincoln strikes off the chains of Uncle Sam's niggers, military unions might give them some small protection against the State. At the very least, they might get the right to sit outside their barracks and sing spirituals.
• If you're as tired as I am of the bluenoses' incessant puling about "kid porn," you might enjoy an article in the September 1977 issue of Human Behavior. In it, anthropologist Richard L. Currier suggests that the real reason kid porn has caused such a fuss is that it "has called into question certain basic cultural assumptions about the sexuality of children and the normal relations between children and adults. These assumptions are: (1) children have no real need for sexual gratification; (2) sexual relations between children and adults occur only in rare instances, only with mentally ill adults and only under duress, and (3) it is possible to change the cultural rules so that adults have far more sexual freedom, while at the same time insulating children from the effects of that change." Mr. Currier refutes all three assumptions, and adds that the prohibitions against sex for children ensure that in our society those adults who are sexually involved with children will tend to be "precisely those whose sexual attitudes are most warped…Driving kid porn underground will not solve the problem. It will only make it easier for us to forget that it exists."
• According to syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, the American officials who went to Saigon to "fight Communism" didn't let it interfere with their style of living; to judge by the goodies they had to leave behind when the Thieu regime collapsed. One official wants the taxpayers to replace his ten oil paintings, a $2000 Chinese rug, 154 shirts, 16 sets of cufflinks and 30 pipes. Another public "servant" lost two sets of golf clubs worth $1685, and a $120 elephant hide golf bag. "Hopefully," says Anderson, "some needy Viet Cong wound up with the four bottles of Jean Nate bubble bath abandoned by another official." Oh, war is hell! The government has offered compensation for the losses up to a limit of $15,000 but many claims will probably be higher, even though the State Department expressly warned Americans against bringing "valuable personal possessions" into the war zone. But only if they were civilians, of course; our rulers forgot to dissuade several million American soldiers from bringing their valuable arms, legs and entrails to Indochina.
• The London Telegraph reports that a British doctor, one Ian Richardson, has proposed that the "grossly" overweight be involuntarily committed to "enclosed hospitals" to shed their excess pounds. He justifies this on the grounds that obesity costs British socialized medicine "hundreds of millions of dollars." Prof. Gilbert Geis once suggested the same thing in a REASON article ("Fable of a Fatty," May 1972) but he meant to be a satirist, not a prophet.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".