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By Vin Suprynowicz

Review by Claire Wolfe

This review of columnist Vin Suprynowicz's long-awaited book originally appeared in my WorldNetDaily column, April 15, 1999, under the title "Not Just Another Ticked Off Book." To get the word out as widely as possible, I reprint it here.

It's April 15, 1999; are you ticked off yet?

Vin Suprynowicz is, and he's written a book about what's wrong in this Land of the Once-Free. His book is called Send in the Waco Killers: Essays on the Freedom Movement, 1993-1998.

Yes, Vin -- the syndicated writer whose column, "The Libertarian," reaches millions of readers -- is angry. But Waco Killers is more than "another libertarian ticked-off book" (as one correspondent dismisses them). This is a book to sharpen your own perceptions of the principles of freedom. It's a book to share with Uncle Harry, who always insists, "All we need are honest politicians and we'll get some real reform."

If Uncle Harry reads this book with an open mind, he'll toss those nave notions into history's garbage can and get on with more effective action.

Books that detail the problem of unfreedom are indeed a dime a dozen, as my critical correspondent observes, and we often use reading them as a convenient substitute for doing the hard, scary work of getting ourselves free. It's so much easier sitting around being indignant imagining we're "doing something" because we bought a book. An increasing number of us already know what's wrong. The questions are: What fundamental principles are destroying our freedom? And what principles -- put into action -- will return freedom to us?

Indeed, Vin does talk about the problem -- from old ladies beaten up by badge-bearing thugs to that systemic disaster, the government education system. He talks about it in clear, well-researched, horrifying, personal detail in chapters called "All God's Children Got Guns," "Demonizing the Militias," "Public Schools...Youth Propaganda Camps," "Where we Went Wrong," "The Courtesan Press," "Why People Hate the Government," "Voir Dire: A French Term for Jury Stacking," and the ever-so-slightly sarcastically named "The Fearless Drug Warriors."

So if you just want a potent analysis of how bad things are getting, Vin's book is a good one. (Another would be James Bovard's brilliant and depressing Freedom in Chains.)

But what Vin does is much more valuable than that. In words that are both lucid and passionate, he not only damns official evil-doers and the doormat people who are their enablers. He points out again and again why certain things -- like the drug war, government schooling and gun-control laws -- can never be merely reformed, but must be wiped away in favor of a return to individual freedom and individual responsibility. His reasoning?

"Radical" comes from the Latin stem for "root"...When did radical become a term of disapproval? If you have a thorn bush and you'd rather have an apple tree, the cosmetic approach is to get some string and tie a bunch of ripe apples on the thorn bush, so it looks like an apple tree.

Of course, a week later all the rotted apples will fall off. But that only shows you haven't hired enough trained specialists, and given them a large enough budget, to keep hanging apples on the thorn bush.

Today, such a scheme would be described as "sensible moderate reform, by working within the existing system."

If I propose to simply dig up the thorn bush by the roots, throw it away and plant a real apple tree where it stood, that is judged radical.

With a few exceptions Vin doesn't describe tactics you as an individual might use to restore freedom. But his lucid statements of principle, and his unflinching, un-cowed attitude toward tyranny, can certainly aid anyone to develop a mindset for effective freedom fighting.

One of Vin's great services to freedom-loving readers who wish to persuade "reform-minded" friends is that he reproduces and refutes arguments reform advocates have sent him over the years -- arguments for "reasonable gun control," "effective national education standards," "better funding for better schools," or a drug war that somehow can be made not to trash the Bill of Rights.

Though many people will, no doubt, be uncomfortable with Vin's unabashed radicalism, I don't believe anyone with a truly open mind could read his arguments carefully and still say, "You're wrong, Vin." His logic and his facts are impeccable.

Ironically, Vin notes that it's often not his philosophical opponents who are the most uncomfortable with his views. "When I talk about drug legalization," it's my friends, not my enemies -- my friends! -- who rush in to say, 'Oh, Vin doesn't really mean that. He doesn't mean you should legalize heroin.'"

Lest there be any doubt about what Vin really means, here it is from his own pen:

The very first chapter of the book of Genesis reports that God gave man every flower and seed-bearing herb and tree for his use. At the same time the Creator gave us the freedom to decide whether and how to use medicinal herbs (including those that can alter our consciousness or provide a religious experience). He also made us responsible to suffer the (natural) consequences if we make foolish decisions about the use of these plants. Any government with the arrogance to think it can take away both our freedom to make such decisions and our responsibility to live with the consequences -- answering for those consequences before that Higher Power, not their jumped-up tribunals -- is insufferable.

This does not mean that, "Marijuana should be available by prescription." It means that morphine sulfate should be available in five-pound bags at the supermarket for a couple of bucks, like sugar...but probably in a different aisle, to avoid confusion.

Morphine at the K-Mart? Heroin in the health-food store? Sounds crazy -- unless you look hard at the underlying principles and the historic evidence.

However, it's a measure of how things have recently changed that Vin placed his anti-drug-war chapter near the beginning of the book. In a phone conversation, he casually mentioned that he did this to introduce the most palatable arguments first. Drug war? That's an easy one. Persuading people that government schools and "reasonable" gun control are incompatible with freedom is the harder task. What a turnabout from 20 years ago, when talk of drug legalization was widely considered one of the maddest of mad libertarian proposals!

But today, the ruin of lives and the terrifying militarization of American police forces provide their own arguments that prohibition of any drug eventually leads to chaos and injustice. Read Vin's words, then observe reality. However uneasy you may be at first, you'll find the two a persuasive combination.

Waco Killers began with material from five years of Vin's columns. But it is not a mere compilation. It is a fresh work with coherent chapters, followups to his original reporting, and new observations.

Vin has millions of readers. However, only a handful of newspapers actually pay his modest syndication fee. If you are one of those who has benefited from Vin's work cost free over the years, I urge you to "vote with your wallet" -- and buy this book by the crate.

Send in the Waco Killers can be ordered from: 1) Huntington Press (1-800-244-2224); 2) The Spirit of 76 Web site; or 3), or Mountain Media, P.O. Box 4422, Las Vegas, Nevada 89127-4422. Price is $21.95 plus shipping ($3.00 U.S.P.S./$6.00 UPS from Mountain Media). Payment options from credit cards to silver dollars are available.

1999 Claire Wolfe. This article may be reprinted for non-commercial purposes, as long as it is reprinted in full with no content changes whatsoever, and is accompanied by this credit line. The article may not be re-titled, edited or excerpted (beyond the limits of the fair use doctrine) without the written permission of the author. For-profit publications will be expected to pay a nominal reprint fee.

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22 April, 1999