Jerry W. Gerde, a board member of this magazine, passed away in January in Panama City, Florida, where he had practiced law for over four decades. I remember Jer for many things—often very hilarious things—but we should all remember him for at least one thing. Without him I doubt there would have been an American Spectator.
It was he who suggested that I join the conservative movement. At Indiana University in the early 1960s, the administration in its innocence made Jer my roommate. We had never met, yet suddenly Jer, a farm boy from an admittedly non-traditional farm family in Crown Point, Indiana, and I, a native of the Chicago suburbs, were thrust together in an all-male dormitory under the relatively harsh disciplinary system of the university. That is relative to today’s standards. There were hours for the co-eds, dress codes for both sexes, all sorts of rules and thus all sorts of opportunities for getting into trouble…and we did, both of us.
At one point I was expressing my near anarchic sense of freedom and Jer explained: “If you think that way, you should do as I have done. Join the Young Americans for Freedom.” That I did, and then we joined the ISI—not the Pakistani intelligence service, but rather the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. We were on our way. In three or four years, I had founded this magazine and put Jer on the board, where he served with intelligence and his customary ardor for the principles of a free society with limited government.
He stuck with us through thick and thin. Through the early Nixon years, when Aram Bakshian, John Coyne, and Ben Stein came aboard. Through the Reagan years. Through the Clinton years, when Bill and his friends tried to bring the federal government down on us. And through the long period of rebuilding.
Now of course we are strong and getting stronger, but we shall not have our quirky friend with us, to guide us and find new opportunities to get us into trouble. He will be missed.
I was immediately impressed with your new look and dug into the February edition as soon as I pulled it from the mailbox. Please know that your publication is eagerly anticipated at our house every month. The article by Peter Hitchens, “The Right’s Reefer Madness,” drew my attention. Being a child of the ’60s and having been delivered from drug addictions in 1973 and liberalism in 1974, I have a keen interest in legalization arguments as a conservative with experience.
Mr. Hitchens’ argument included a statement that “we do not own ourselves.” I agree, yet he was rather vague as to who does own us. I am convinced that to whom we belong makes all the difference in our personal and political lives.
Our present leaders in the United States seem to believe we all belong to the government, therefore that we get our rights and responsibilities from the laws of the land and that our children are a “clean slate” and must be educated by the state to be “good” citizens as defined by the state. This is in stark contrast to our founding fathers’ Christian view of man who belongs to God, is sinful, and is in need of redemption. These competing worldviews are diametrically opposed to one another and lead to very different outcomes both personally and politically.
Personally, a Christian will exercise self-control with the help of the Holy Spirit. A Christian will teach his children and all who will listen the dangers of self-indulgence and how to resist those temptations. Politically, a Christian will recognize that an unredeemed man has no self-control; he is bent to sin and will resist absolute prohibitions to pleasurable self-indulgence. Therefore, the Christian will attempt to protect the most vulnerable from choices they are not equipped to make and offer incentives to good behavior. In other words, remove the incentive of huge profits for the drug dealer by legalizing, taxing, and regulating recreational drugs for adults, and thus make it easier for parents and educators to keep them from children until they have a chance to develop the intellectual tools to make an informed decision.
The Christian view is that government is to protect the people’s rights from outside forces and from each other. Government is not instituted to protect us from ourselves! The Church and individual Christians should indeed discourage self-indulgence of every stripe; adultery, fornication, recreational drug use, alcoholism, and gluttony. But government is not equipped for persuasion.
The greatest threat to the evil drug dealer is not an overtaxed criminal justice system. It is legalization of drugs. His incentive to enslave children with lifelong addiction is removed with the loss of the opportunity for huge, tax-free profits made possible by the prohibition of recreational drugs.
Thank you for your thoughtful publication.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?