Firearms and Madmen

With one hundred million more inhabitants than Brazil, the United States has four times fewer death crimes. Not even taking that into account, Brazilian journalists, those most educated and honest people, will stop taking advantage of the impact of the Sandy Hook massacre to pontificate about “the American culture of violence.” Some even can swear that the Connecticut massacre calls for greater state control of firearms, pretending not to know that this measure is already in full force in Brazil and has only served to encourage mass murder.

There remains, as an excuse for these outpourings of justice-seeking anti-Americanism, the horror inspired by the very nature of the crime, its insane and almost demonic absurdity. Even though being far below Brazil in murder rates, the United States seems to have specialized in massacres of innocents, crimes which at first glance have no other explanation than the ease of access to firearms.

Let’s see if this pretext is intellectually sane and morally respectable.

Since 1985 there have been 62 mass shootings in the United States. Two per year. Even assuming that all of them happened at the same time, it is obvious that taking away guns from 120 million people in order to prevent 62 of them from committing mass murder is like dynamiting a whole neighborhood to kill 62 cockroaches. Whoever, impressed by the Connecticut killings, shouts out “Gun Control! Gun Control!” only proves that either he cannot do math, or he has an interest in the growth of state power at the expense of the people’s rights.

If the mere right to bear arms were by itself the cause of mass murders, there would be no way to explain that out of 120 million arm-bearing citizens only 62 people have committed these crimes over a period of 27 years. If guns were the cause, mass murders in the American territory should be as epidemic as the slaughtering of Christians in Nigeria and Sudan, producing thousands of murder victims each year. Quite clearly then, some other factor must be at play.

Do the math: How many of the 120 million gun owners in America became mass murderers? Approximately 0.000005. How many of the perpetrators of mass murders in recent decades were mentally ill people who, benefitting from the ideology of “deinstitutionalization,” lived in their homes, freed from all medical supervision, and enjoyed all the rights of ordinary citizens, including the right to buy guns? All of them, with no exception.

Oh! Do you get it? Or is the difference between almost everything and almost nothing too hard to grasp?

If the matter is not clear enough, this piece of information may be helpful: there are 500 thousand madmen on the loose in the United States. Of course, not all of them are violent. But the probability that none of them is violent is zero. And to cherish hopes that among them there will not be every year at least two people predisposed to committing heinous crimes is to be more than unreasonable: it is to be as crazy as they are.

Quite clearly, the problem is not that 120 million citizens have the right to bear arms. It is that a few thousand madmen are on the loose, and that there is nothing in the documents they present when purchasing a firearm to distinguish them from ordinary citizens (that would be “Discrimination!”). This explains both the occurrence of mass murders and the fact that these murders are so few when compared to the total number of firearms held by private citizens in America.

Ergo, what causes mass murders is not the fact that there are millions of guns in the hands of people who do not commit mass murders. It is the demagogic and absurd insistence on “not discriminating” the mentally ill, the insistence on treating them as if they were normal and responsible citizens, entitled to all democratic rights, including the right to bear arms.

Until the 1960s, mass murders of innocent people in the United States were unheard-of. The phenomenon of mass shootings accompanied pari passu the growth of “deinstitutionalization,” which gradually shut down lunatic asylums and released to the streets a growing number of mentally ill people, especially from the 1990s on. No, this is not a post hoc, ergo propter hoc sophism (that is, the fallacy of attributing the status of cause to mere chronology): the fact that all the perpetrators of mass shootings were mentally ill people who proves beyond any doubt the causal connection between the two series of events.

Is it necessary to clarify that “deinstitutionalization” was an offshoot of a Marxist theory, and that it was first proposed by the Italian psychiatrist Franco Basaglia, according to whom psychiatric hospitals are instruments of capitalist oppression against the poor? Basaglia died in 1980 and is not here to see the dire consequences of his theory. But if he were here, he would have no reason to be frustrated. Invariably, the masterminds of the revolutionary movement propose solutions which only aggravate problems, and, a few decades later, when no one remembers how problems got started, a new generation of revolutionaries throws the guilt of the intensified evils upon the darned society, proposing new aggravating solutions. Today’s advocates of gun control are Franco Basaglia’s strategic heirs.

In fact, not only regarding this issue has the left used its traditional expedient of creating trouble in order to sell solutions: the Obama administration, which promises so many wonders with gun control bills, has dawdled for four years over the enforcement of the existing laws, thus favoring irregular sales and facilitating events like Sandy Hook (

Olavo de Carvalho is the President of The Inter-American Institute and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Philosophy, Political Science, and the Humanities.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute. This article was translated from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota.

Married to the State

In 1947, with the baby boom in its infancy and few disposed to hearing of family crisis, Harvard sociologist Carle Zimmerman saw the long-term reality: the family had been deteriorating since the Renaissance and was nearing the point of no return. Whenever the family shows signs of dysfunction, Zimmerman observed, “the state helps to break it up.” During the 19th century, “law piled on law, and government agency upon government agency” until by 1900 “the state had become master of the family.” The result, he wrote in Family and Civilization, was that “the family is now truly the agent, the slave, the handmaiden of the state.”

Today we might regard 1947 as a golden age for the family. Without perceiving it, each generation has become acculturated to family deterioration and added to it. We now accept as normal what would have shocked our grandparents: cohabitation, illegitimacy, divorce, same-sex marriage, daycare, fast-food dinners. Indeed, shocking the previous generation is part of the thrill of filial rebellion.

What should shock even the liberal and the young—but today does not much disturb even the conservative and the old—are destruction of constitutional protections and invasions of personal freedom and privacy by the government’s family machinery. Some four decades ago, the Western world embarked on the boldest social experiment in its history. With no public discussion, laws were enacted in virtually every jurisdiction that ended marriage as an enforceable contract. Today it is not possible to form a binding agreement to create a family.

Few stopped to consider the implications of laws that shifted the breakup of private households from a voluntary to an involuntary process. Unilateral divorce involves government agents forcibly removing legally innocent people from their homes and seizing their property. It inherently abrogates not only the inviolability of marriage but the very concept of private life.

The most serious consequences involve children. Through involuntary divorce, a legally unimpeachable parent can be arrested for seeing his own children without government authorization. He can be charged with domestic violence or child abuse, without evidence that he has committed either crime. He can be hauled before a judge for not paying child support without proof that he actually owes it. He can even be arrested for not paying an attorney or psychotherapist whom he has not hired. No formal charge, no jury, no trial required.

To justify this repression, the divorce machinery has generated hysterias against fathers so inflammatory that few dare question them: child abuse, wife-beating, nonpayment of child support. The accused parent simply loses his family and finds himself abandoned, with everyone terrified to be associated with an accused “pedophile,” “batterer,” or “deadbeat dad.”

Our passivity before repression this serious is stunning and the starkest example yet of the erosion of that civic virtue that has been integral to American political thought since before the founding of the Republic.

Conservatives have labored this idea into a cliché. We preach that people must be more virtuous, less selfish, and more devoted to the public good. But these exhortations earn us nothing but contempt when we remain silent in the face of real tyranny, which, as usual, has appeared where we least expected it and are least equipped to resist it. Instead of resisting, we lament a decline in “culture” and declare there is very little we can do.

But as Linda McClain writes, families are “seedbeds of civic virtue” and “have a place in the project of forming persons into capable, responsible, self-governing citizens.” The family is where parents and children learn to love sacrificially, to put others’ needs before their own desires, to sacrifice for the welfare and protection of the whole. If this does not begin with one’s own home and loved ones it, does not begin at all. People unwilling to sacrifice for their own flesh and blood will not do so for the strangers who comprise their country. In the family, children learn to obey authorities other than the state—God, parents, clergy, teachers, coaches, neighbors. By accepting these, some of whom they love, children learn that government is not the only authority and is one that can and must be limited.

Conservatives have recently been eager to declare marriage and the family to be “public” institutions, largely in response to homosexual insistence that families are purely private and therefore may be defined according to the whims of individuals. But it is more precise to say that the family mediates between the public and the private, ensuring each its proper sphere. In the family children learn to distinguish and defend private life from encroachment by public power. Involvement in public affairs, which is important, begins as an extension of private responsibilities as parents, homeowners, neighbors, and parishioners. Citizens participate in public life as amateurs with a stake in their families, homes, and communities, not as professionals with a stake in a government program or ideology.

Children raised without intact families do not as readily absorb concepts such as family privacy, sacrificial love, parental authority, limited government, or civic virtue. For their rules and values come not from parents but from government officials, who have ultimate sovereignty over their lives: courts, lawyers, social workers, forensic therapists, public-school bureaucrats, and police. These are the figures they must obey rather than their parents. Thus children whose authority figures are government officials cannot distinguish the private from the public and come to see the public sphere as a realm not of civic duty and community leadership but of abstract ideology, government funding, professional employment, career advancement, and state power, in whose growth they acquire a vested interest.

It is no accident that the traditional family is described as patriarchal and that civic virtue traditionally suggested masculinity. It is also no coincidence that fathers are the ones marginalized by family decline.

Enormous attention has been devoted to the crisis of 24 million fatherless children, a phenomenon directly linked to every major social pathology from violent crime to substance abuse and truancy. Because these ills justify almost all domestic government spending, fatherlessness has resulted in a huge expansion of state power. The Obama administration aims to promote virtue with programs preaching “responsible fatherhood” and nagging men to practice “good fathering.” The Bush administration used similar schemes to argue for the importance of marriage. The result is the same: bewailing other people’s moral failings at taxpayer expense.

There is certainly truth in the connection between fatherhood and civil society. “Fathers play a key role in developing and sustaining the kind of personal character on which democracy depends,” writes Don Eberly of the National Fatherhood Initiative. Government therapy, on the other hand, cannot create virtue because it requires no sacrifice. Federal funding only gives officials incentives to perpetuate problems, so it is hardly surprising that not only have these programs done nothing to improve either fatherhood or marriage, they have exacerbated the breakdown of both.

Eberly’s point connecting fathers and freedom contains a larger truth. While families require sacrifice from all members, it is fathers whose sacrifice may extend to their very lives. Children deprived of their fathers by state officials therefore lose more than a parent. They lose the parent who connects them with the civic order. When the father protects and provides for his family, he will resist the state’s efforts to assume those roles. Under his leadership, the family is a force for limiting state power.

The single mother does not resist the state’s encroachment. On the contrary, she is our society’s principal claimant on a vast array of state services, without which she cannot manage her children. When the state usurps the roles of protector and provider and disciplinarian, the state becomes the father.

This is the story of modern politics: increasingly centralized police, plus the regulatory and welfare states that also promise various forms of protection. These paternal—and increasingly maternal—substitutes brought massive bureaucracies, fulfilling Tocqueville’s prophecy that democracy would lead to increasingly bureaucratic intrusion into private life. These agencies expanded by creating problems to solve. As police functionaries, they had to create criminals and newfangled, nonviolent crimes that most people (such as juries) could not understand and required “experts” to adjudicate—crimes that were safe for female police, crimes that could be committed only by men.

Fathers whose children are taken away by state officials do not heroically rescue them or organize opposition to the divorce machinery because the enervating power of the bureaucratic behemoth makes resistance pointless. Men are thus politically neutered and, as a result, often despised by their own children and the rest of us.

That most people do not regard these practices as tyrannical may be the most alarming aspect of all. Government agents seize control of children and property of vast numbers of law-abiding citizens through literally “no fault” of their own, and we accept it because of jargon that makes it all appear banal: “custody battle” and “division of property.” Fidelity to one’s word—let alone one’s spouse—is disdained. Basic civilities become irrelevant because family members can be made to obey through court orders. Family wealth—traditionally used to leverage both obedience from children and limits on government—is useless for both purposes. In divorce it is simply confiscated.

So vast numbers of children now grow up believing from the earliest age that it is normal for government officials to assume control over their family life, to order their parents about as if they were naughty children. This is causing more than social chaos. It is destroying our freedom and our will to defend it.


Stephen BaskervilleStephen Baskerville is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Political Science and Human Rights. He is Associate Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College and Research Fellow at the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society and at the Independent Institute.

This article was originally published at on September 25, 2009.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Have You Ever Really Seen Hustler?

Until the current Flynt media-hype, few Americans had ever seen the Flynt flagship publication in which he vents his barbaric brand of graphic violence-and-sex. Who is the man who now “terrorizes” Congress? I have really seen Flynt and his sadistic imagery and fantasy having been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, to direct a two-year content analysis of Images of Children, Crime and Violence in Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler (1953-1984).[1]

Our study documented each issue of Hustler averaging 14.1 children and pseudo-children alongside 47 images of crime and violence; 52 percent of child photos were sexually explicit and most cartooned children were sexually violated. Flynt regularly presents a volatile commingling of images of sex, violence, scatological degradation, fear and horror. Seen routinely are blood-dripping-mutilated hands, arms, heads, breasts and penises, often gutted, decapitated, castrated and satanically murdered and cannibalized, racist and occult images dominate the “magazine.”

December 1978, Hustler published photographs of naked children as young as three-years of age in sex scenes alongside an article, “Children, Sex and Society,” advocating an end to age of consent, calling for acceptance of adult-child sex, and legalization of incest.

Hustler is not for those challenged by human compassion. For example, in:

  • February 1975 in an article entitled “Adolescent Fantasy” an uncle is photographed sexually with his niece;
  • October 1976 a naked girl scout is photographed soliciting sex;
  • August 1981, a nude young girl, photographed with her dollies, saying to the viewer; “You would be surprised what a ‘little girl can do. …”
  • Recurrent cartoon and composite photo themes picturing blood-soaked castration are seen in the reality of child rape and mutilation. In October 26, 1990 a nine-year-old boy in Norman, Oklahoma was raped, his penis cut off and eye gouged out causing Hustler to be   removed from local stores — where a current Hustler depicted a young boy similarly tortured.
  • Flynt’s “Chester the Molester” cartoon character in March 1977, lay in wait under a playground slide for a child to sexually assault. In October 1977 the kidnapping and torturing three girls about 4-years old is depicted; while in February 1979, a car, with “Just Married” is shown driving away, with blood-drenched, aborted babies tied to the bumper.

So much for fantasy! The May 1984 Hustler cartoon of a father sexually abusing his daughter helped convict Hustler editorial cartoon director, Dwaine Tinsely, in real life, of felony child sexual abuse of his own daughter in 1989. He gave her birth control pills at age thirteen, drugged her and sexually abused her until age eighteen, when she became a suicidal drug addict. Tinsley alone had contributed 145 Hustler cartoons of violent child kidnapping and rape. The FBI Uniform Crime Rate from 1972-1991 found a 128% increase in reported rapes, with both offenders and victims increasingly younger.[2] The Reader’s Digest commented on the troubling FBI data, saying, “It could be concluded that some force impelling toward sex crime has been operating on younger males in the United States.”

In reality, the abusive Hustler cartoons commonly exhibit the coarse “humor” which defines the present White House scandal. To this trained eye, the predatory “force impelling” the president toward a powerless White House intern is reminiscent of Hustler’s ongoing themes of deceit, manipulation, degradation and fantasy.



[1] The peer-approved study required researchers to examine each page of every magazine (126) from Hustler’s 1974 inception to 1984 which, in 1983, reached over four million consumers, numerically on a par with Psychology Today readership.

[2] See Emilie Buchwald, et al., Transforming A Rape Culture, (1993) Milkweed, Minneapolis, Minn., p. 7. and Judith Reisman, “SoftPorn” Plays Hardball (1991). Huntington House, Lafayette, La. (1991), p. 15.

6Dr. Judith Reisman is a Distinguished Senior Fellow in the Study of Social Trends, Human Rights, and Media Forensics.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute. This article was originally published on Salvo Magazine in the Fall 2013 issue. You can buy Dr. Reisman’s book Sexual Sabotage on her website.

The Four Reformers

In The Four Reformers, by Robert Louis Stevenson, a meeting takes place under a bramble bush where four conspirators talk about remaking the world. The first says, “We must abolish property.” The second says, “We must abolish marriage.” The third says, “We must abolish God.” The fourth wants to abolish work, and falls silent. The first then admonishes his comrades to a practical expedient; namely, reduce all men to “a common level.” The second says, “Let us give freedom to the sexes.” The third says, “Let us find out how to do it.” The first says, “Let us abolish the Bible.” The second says, “Let us abolish the laws.” The third says, “Let us abolish mankind.”

And how is mankind abolished? As the science of extermination entered its first experimental phase, there came into existence the extermination camps of the Nazis, the Gulag Archipelago of the Soviets, and the Laodong Gaizao (reform through labor) of the Chinese Communists. But now, with the advent of nuclear, biological and seismic weapons (not to mention weaponized nanotechnology), the abolition of what Nietzsche called “the many-too-many” becomes a distinct possibility.  And so the four reformers of Stevenson’s story pave the way with feminism, atheism, legal nihilism, and Darwinism (setting the stage for the abolition of property – as a necessary precondition).

It was F.A. Hayek who pointed out, in The Road to Serfdom (1944), that with the rise of destructive totalitarianism mankind had fallen into decline. Hayek explained: “We have progressively abandoned that freedom in economic affairs without which personal and political freedom has never existed in the past. Although we had been warned by some of the greatest political thinkers of the nineteenth century, by Tocqueville and Lord Acton, that socialism means slavery, we have steadily moved in the direction of socialism.”

Hayek pointed out that the ideas behind National Socialism (Germany) and Soviet Socialism (Russia) represented a total break “not only with the recent past but with the whole evolution of Western civilization….” It is not merely a break with Adam Smith, Hume, Lock and Milton; but a break with “the foundations laid by Christianity and the Greeks and Romans. Not merely nineteenth and eighteenth century liberalism, but the basic individualism inherited by us from Erasmus and Montaigne, from Cicero and Tacitus, Pericles and Thucydides….”

Merely raise a generation that has little or no contact with classic antiquity – with those great men who taught us how to think, how to value the life of the mind, how to nurture the spirit of free inquiry and thought – and you have cut the tree of civilization from its roots. To accomplish this, you launch an attack against the past. The way to do this was described in Richard M. Weaver ‘s essay, “On Setting the Clock Right.” According to Weaver: “If one remarks that … collectivism is fatal to individual liberty, one is blamed for being out of step with the times. If one hazards an opinion that the amount of noise and confusion prevailing today is perhaps not the best thing for the human psyche, one is branded an enemy of progress.” Those who conspire to cut us out of the fabric into which we were woven by historical circumstance, tell us that we cannot turn the clock back. Richard Weaver sweeps this aside by explaining that the past is real and substantial, while the future is unreal. “The past exists in the form of history,” declared Weaver; “it is something we in a sense possess, something we can examine and appraise.” The future does not exist in the same way. We cannot appraise it, though we may realize through study of the past that there is “nothing new under the sun,” and finding ourselves in context, understand our place in history.

But once you take history away, no understanding is possible. Once history has been severed, and we no longer look back, we become vulnerable to the most elementary errors. Stevenson’s four reformers are empowered whenever history is forgotten or set aside. This is because historical knowledge inoculates society against the four reformers. But ignorance of history allows them to advance from one destructive absurdity to another. For example, consider the recent heroic status assigned by the four reformers to homosexuality (along with the irresistible campaign for the legal recognition of homosexual marriage). Today the four reformers have succeeded so well, that few would dare to defend the old view, which can only be dug out of the ashcan of history from a burnt fragment. One such fragment would be Johann David Michaelis’s Commentaries on the Laws of Moses, where it says: “If we reflect on the dreadful consequences of sodomy … we cannot … consider the punishment as too severe. For if it once begins to prevail, not only will boys be easily corrupted by adults, but also by other boys; nor will it ever cease; more especially as it must thus soon lose all its shamefulness and infamy and become fashionable and the national taste; and then … national weakness, for which all remedies are ineffectual … not perhaps in the first generation, but certainly in the course of the third or fourth…. To these evils may be added yet another, viz. that the constitutions of those men who submit to this degradation are, if not always, yet very often, totally destroyed, though in a different way from what is the result of whoredom.”

It is, of course, swimming against the tide to read aloud from books that will soon be outlawed as “hate speech.” Historical memory being corrupted, our discourse disconnected from our forefathers, we are as ready to burn old books of wisdom as were the Nazis. And then, under a totalitarian parade of tolerance, so artfully conceived by the four reformers, one discovers a new intolerance. Animated by intensive hatred for tradition, law and civilization, the new intolerance is aimed at those who nurtured us through the centuries, who prepared the way for our existence. Here is the project of the four reformers: to destroy the foundation of civilized life, despite the fact that the reformers exist upon that same foundation. In their suicidal campaign, it is imperative to punish or intimidate all those who reflect upon the requirements of human procreation, of the breeding of healthy human beings in a way that preserves a path forward (i.e., through successful generations of children brought up to perform their duty in that great chain of being without which human life would disappear altogether). According to Johann David Michaelis, “Whoever, therefore, wishes to ruin a nation, has only to get this vice [sodomy] introduced; for it is extremely difficult to extirpate it where it has once taken root because it can be propagated with much secrecy … and when we perceive that it has once got a footing in any country, however powerful and flourishing, we may venture as politicians to predict that the foundation of its future decline is laid and that after some hundred years it will no longer be the same … powerful country it is at the present.”

If Sodomy was once shameful, and now becomes the “national taste,” what has become of shame? In his book, Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History, Lee Harris asked: “What makes the difference between Happy Lands and Not So Happy Lands?” According to Harris, you cannot build a free society without shame. “Shame is a force superior to reason,” wrote Harris, “because it is rooted in the deepest of our fears – the fear of being abandoned.” Therefore, if you want to abolish freedom then you must abolish shame. “It is through shame,” noted Harris, “that we develop the tendency to treat other people decently, and with fairness….”  Every religion, every successful society, has recognized this fact. The four reformers must add shame to their list of things to be abolished. And while they’re at it, Hell must be abolished since Hell is the place of exile from God. According to Peter Hitchens, in The Abolition of Britain, “Hell was abolished around the same time that abortion was legalized and the death penalty was done away with.” If you are going to eliminate shame you might as well eliminate Hell. After all, you are on the road to making the entire world into Hell. So actual Hell becomes redundant. In this way, as a bonus, you simultaneously abolish the Church. As Hitchens observed, “Like many of the other great British or English institutions, the Church had good reason to feel it was no longer as ‘relevant’ as it had been. It depended upon stable  families and lasting marriages to pass on its faith and traditions, which few would learn outside the home, or without parental pressure and guidance.”

So many things to abolish, so little time. As a matter of course, the four reformers must attempt to abolish war. But this is pure mockery. Such things as stupidity, poverty and war cannot be abolished. So what is the reason for putting forward so many arms control agreements and UN resolutions? It is not to abolish violence, but to break down those national structures which prevent violence, and thereby preserve law and order and property (which the reformers hate).

If I were to update Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of The Four Reformers, looking back at their accomplishments to date, I would record their most recent meeting as follows:

“We have not abolished property, but we have inspired envious hatred against those who hold property,” said one.

“We have not abolished marriage, but we have made divorce so easy that marriage can no longer bind man and woman together,” said the second.

“We have not abolished God, but we have corrupted the Church with a false idea of God,” said the third.

“I wished we could abolish work, and now the welfare state makes work superfluous,” said the fourth.

“We have been practical in our politics,” noted the first, “since we have reduced all men to a common level.”

The second bragged, “We have degraded them sexually.”

The third smiled, “We know how to spread all forms of degradation.”

The first added, “We have replaced the Bible with television.”

The third said, “We may yet abolish man.”

Jeffrey Nyquist is the President of the Strategic Crisis Center and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

This article was originally published at on April 22, 2011. The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.