Voluntary Islam and Other Essays
By Davi Barker
Free Press Publications
ISBN: 978-1938357022 (Paperback)
February 2, 2013
ASIN: B00BHLAQG4 (Kindle)
February 17, 2013
I don’t think I’ve ever started writing an article with as much cognitive dissonance as I begin this one.
I’ll be praising, and giving my highest recommendation to, a book by a man who wrote about me three months ago (and whom I don’t recall ever meeting), “I’m no fan of Schulman. I’ve never read any of his work. I just don’t like him as a person.”
The author of the book I’ll be praising went on from his statement of how much he disliked me to write a hit piece on my movie, Alongside Night, an attack so sweepingly negative that Brad Linaweaver wrote about his review, “The only thing he forgot to criticize was the food catering.”
The web domain Davi Barker’s screed was published on is now missing in action.
So what am I supposed to do now that I discover that this same writer who despises me has penned a book so profoundly in sync with my own deepest libertarian values that by all reason we should be blood brothers in defense of them – and that the movie he attacked dramatizes those same values?
Davi Barker, the writer in question, tags himself a Muslim Agorist.
I’m by no means as well versed in the theology or even the history of Islam as I am with the other two seminal Abrahamic religions – Judaism and Christianity – and I’m by no means a scholar of any religion.
But what I thought I knew about Islam is that it reminded me more of the ancient Hebrews in practice than anything else – punishments like stoning to death or beheading for what we in the west today would consider less of an offense than jaywalking, subjugation of women, and willingness to use brutal violence against infidels and anyone else who denigrated Islam or its founder, Mohammad.
I’ve often said that one shouldn’t judge authors by their fans. In noting the atrocities committed by Jews in the name of Israel, Christians in the name of Christ, and Muslims in the name of Allah, I readily admit that most dogmatics pick and choose what parts of their theology fits their actual agenda, and one could just as readily find scriptural verses or commentary that argued the opposite.
What I am a primary source on is the subject of the second half of Davi Barker’s self-description – Agorism — since I’m considered one of its founders, along with my late mentor, Samuel Edward Konkin III.
In his 1980 New Libertarian Manifesto, Konkin defines Agorism as “libertarian in theory and free-market in practice.”
I did some exegesis on that in my 2011 article, “The Agorist Revolutionary Alternative”:
Konkin, being a scientist, approached the question logically. To his way of thinking the means and ends had to be one and the same. If the end was a society whose institutions were noncoercive and respecting of voluntary contracts and trade then the means of achieving such a society, likewise, also needed to be noncoercive and respecting of voluntary contracts and trade. These were the seeds which led Samuel Edward Konkin III (SEK3, for short) to begin exploring the strategy of counter-economics, and the philosophy of Agorism, as the libertarian means to achieve libertarian ends.
In his book Voluntary Islam and Other Essays (Free Press Publications, February 2013) Davi Barker finds the same principles in a reading of The Quran:
This sentence is only four words: La ikrah fi deen. “No compulsion in religion.” Every scholar I’ve ever heard discuss the word deen says that “religion” is a poor translation, and that it means a complete and comprehensive way of life.
Barker also finds this same principle in Gandhi:
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Muslims might express the same idea as “Your means must contain your ends.”
The principle of non-aggression is a deep and fundamental Truth in human interaction. Actions that are coerced have no moral value. A confession under torture is no real confession. Giving money to the poor at gunpoint is not real charity. The aim of Islam, and religion more broadly, is to place moral value in every action, so how can coercion be virtuous? The simplicity and profundity of the non-aggression principle is, I believe, the keystone to solving the strife in predominantly Muslim countries, and indeed the world.
Davi Barker sees the central positions of libertarian philosophy in Islam:
The primacy of achieving peace over demanding rights;
Contract law: “Do all that you agree to do.” Whether by oath or by written agreement, it is incumbent on every righteous person of any creed to live by their word;
The superiority of restorative justice over punitive justice;
And most importantly:
The Non-Aggression Principle holds that the initiation of physical force, threat, or fraud is always illegitimate, and that the use of force is only appropriate when used in defense. This is the defining lesson of this story, and the criterion for determining between the times when physical violence is legitimate and those when patient passive endurance is appropriate. Even when the terms of a treaty authorize him, and the customs of the society permit him, Muhammad does not use physical force against anyone unless they have first aggressed , or supplied an aggressor with material aid.
Davi Barker’s explanation for how Islam has strayed so far from what he sees as its core principles is
Unlike the Gospels, where a council of bishops decided which accounts of Jesus’ life they thought were authentic and destroyed those they felt were not, accounts of Muhammad’s life are all recorded in hundreds of volumes, but each narration contains a chain of custody describing in detail who gave the account. These chains are used to determine the strength of the narration. So, narrations with long chains are weaker than those with short chains. Narrations reported by many independent witnesses are stronger than those with only one witness. And sometimes the lack of credibility of a particular narrator can cast doubt on an entire chain.
Barker sees the State the way all libertarian anarchists and Agorists do: as violent in its very nature:
Senator Obama said something to the Military Times that sent me on a political odyssey the end of which I have not yet reached. “What essentially sets a nation-state apart,” he told them, “is a monopoly on violence.”
This was no political gaffe. The phrase originates from Max Weber’s definition of government: “a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” Weber’s definition is widely accepted by most political scientists , and he is regarded as the principal thinker in Western statecraft. I know they tell us that honor belongs to Thomas Jefferson, but don’t kid yourself. Weber was one of the architects of the Constitution of the Weimar Republic,
Davi Barker advocates for a version of Islam that is a religion of consistent peace and freedom – and I find little in his historical examples or theological exegesis that I feel qualified to argue with. I just agree with the principles he’s advocating, whether or not other Muslims agree with him. To paraphase Ayn Rand, Barker emphasizes not what Islam is, but what it might be and ought to be.
I have to groove on his book for that.
It’s the idealized Islam that I agree God (and possibly Rand) would support, just as I have concluded that God created us by fissioning us off his own original omnipresent body as free spirits – individual souls who by having the power to reject God serve the function of providing God an escape from eternal solipsism and by offering love to God of their own free will ended his celestial loneliness.
As I wrote in my 2002 novel, Escape from Heaven:
God contemplated the new thought for what even he considered a long time. After contemplating a lot of different possibilities, and even creating and destroying a number of different universes as experiments to verify his thinking, God decided that the only thing that could possibly create the sort of dynamic he was looking for, the only thing that could build up a tension great enough for the sort of thrill he was seeking, would be to split off part of himself into a separate consciousness, independent of himself, a separate consciousness that could say to him, “No.”
With the possibility of the first “no” would also be created the possibility of the first “yes.”
Thus did the Lord trade his omnipotence, his omniscience, and his omnipresence for the possibility of finding love.
In this view I’m no doubt a heretic to mainstream Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Barker comes to a similar conclusion about God making us by a process of splitting off a part of himself:
The concept of fitra is that God has engraved upon the human soul an inborn tendency toward truth and virtue. It suggests that all human beings are born in a natural state of spiritual purity. This position contradicts both the Doctrine of Original Sin proposed by Christian theology , and the tabula rasa proposed by philosophers. Fleshing out the definition requires a look at the Arabic root, and its use in the Quran. In the Arabic language most nouns are derived from a three letter root verb. So a book, kitab, is literally a thing which is written kata-ba. Knowing the root verb often elucidates a deeper understanding of the noun. For fitra, the root verb fa-ta-ra commonly means to split, or cleave asunder.
In his jihad to make Islam a libertarian religion devoted to principles of peace and freedom Davi Barker is likely as much of a heretic as I am.
And even as Davi Barker affirms the Muslim dogma that Mohammad was God’s final prophet, he perhaps commits heresy of being a post-final-prophet by telling us of his own dream:
I stood between two giant floating heads, one in the black Ayatollah turban and the other in the red Al Azhar cap with white turban. I began asking them questions with the intention of seeking qualified scholarship, but every time, one would tell me the literal meaning of a word in Arabic and the way the ruling was implemented in the early community, and the other would tell me the original intention of the ruling and its application in the modern world. The heads always gave opposite answers, and I was left in the middle with no guidance. Frustrated, I moved past the heads, toward the ocean. I discovered a wooden stand holding the Quran, and resolved that if I wanted satisfactory answers I’d have to read it for myself— but inside the book I found the pages were not filled with words, just light pouring out. Doubly frustrated, I asked God to teach me how to read. Then a man appeared, walking up a stairwell that ascended from the ocean. He was all in white, with the same light pouring from his face, so bright that I could not see it. I asked him how to read the light and he answered, “Eat only the purest food. Drink only the purest water. And think only the purest thoughts.” It wasn’t exactly English, but more like a raw telepathic communication.
Having had prophetic experiences, myself – both while awake and while dreaming – I know a prophetic dream when I read about it. And dream prophecies, for both of us, result in a change in how we proceed in living. In Davi Barker’s case, he put into practice the principles of self-reliance:
I started a vegetable garden. I don’t have a yard, only a small apartment balcony. But it was very easy to begin growing. I started with only three rectangular pots where I planted rows of tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. As they grew I transplanted the small sprouts into larger pots and reseeded the rectangular pots with herbs. Now I have thriving cilantro and chamomile, and soon sage and mint. It is a uniquely rewarding experience to taste the fruit of your own labor. To put your hands in the soil and dig out a bite of nature. As Thomas Jefferson famously said, “Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever God had a chosen people.”
This book is essential reading for the libertarian or pacifist anarchist, especially the Agorist; and it’s even more essential reading for the statist, particularly the Muslim devoted to light and reason over the dark side of force.
I give my enemy’s book five stars out of five.
The episode I wrote for The Twilight Zone just as broadcast on the CBS Television Network in prime time on March 7, 1986, is now on YouTube. For full details see my recent article here “Unkilling Kennedy.”
–J. Neil Schulman
The plot description on my DirecTV says it all: “A rape victim refuses to cooperate.”
The show is the immensely popular NBC police procedural, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, about a New York City squad of detectives from a fictitious New York City Police Department 16th Precinct, assigned to investigate rapes, sexual assaults, and other sexually-related crimes. The show described above is the 327th episode with an original scheduled air date of November 13, 2013.
13th Season Cast of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
But how does that plot description even make sense? Isn’t rape, by definition, such that if there is consent by a person over the “age of consent,” there could be no rape? And that means that the general plot description of “A rape victim refuses to cooperate” would apply to every rape?
Logic dictates that refusal to cooperate lies elsewhere.
And it does. It is the police investigation that the victim is refusing to cooperate with.
But if the victim is not laying a charge of rape before the police to begin with, how is there even a crime for the Special Victims Unit to investigate?
There is an assumption in criminal law that every television writer or producer or director or actor never questions: that the police detective, empowered with a shield and a gun issued by the government, has authority to investigate a crime regardless of the victim’s wishes. There is an eminent domain, or nationalization, of crime, such that the victim is no longer the private person but the State.
The very concept of “criminal” as opposed to “tort” law demands this assumption. In suits at common law not involving a breach of contract, a private person claiming to have been damaged by another person sues in court for a monetary award in reparation of the damages.
But in criminal law a crime committed by Party A against Party B substitutes a third party — the State — as a new Party C. This substitution does not require the consent of the actual, real-world victim — Party B. The State does not need to compensate Party B in any way; Party B is on his or her own to pursue damages in a civil lawsuit which is not in any way paid for by the State. The State is not obligated to provide a lawyer to the victim, nor pay for deposition of witnesses or expert witnesses, and if the lawsuit fails the victim might be additionally damaged by the State with a bill for court costs.
Yet, in the State’s pursuit of Party A for the crime against Party B, the State uses taxpayer funds to pay police to investigate, and prosecutors to charge and try, Party A — then to apply punishment upon conviction to Party A, also at taxpayer expense.
The idiocy and injustice of the concept of criminal “justice” where the real-world victim is nothing but an unwilling spectator is so apparent that in recent years criminal trials often involve “victim impact statements” and the attempt to redirect a modicum of reparation from the offender to the real victim. Nonetheless, the primary victim in criminal law is the State, sometimes euphemized as The People.
This bullshit is what makes anarchists and Agorists. Anarchists and Agorists see the nudity behind this Emperor’s New Clothes scheme that dwarfs any Ponzi scheme committed by a Bernie Madoff.
And now, you who are not an anarchist or Agorist, may see it too, and realize how everyday television is so fish-in-water that this Larceny of Crime isn’t even questioned.
Morality demands that a crime victim not be revictimized with a second crime by depriving the victim of the sole right to determine whether or not to proceed with a claim against the attacker, and to define in a claim what might be an attempt at reparation.
Of course some crimes are so heinous that no reparation can be made. It’s the flimflam of inventing the concept of punishment inflicted upon a perpetrator by the State that we all become victims of State Larceny — a theft of victimhood that only total abolition of any “Law & Order” separate from a victim’s individual rights and conducted by a criminal conspiracy of police and prosecutors can begin to correct. And these moral criminals being made heroes in Statist Propaganda TV is how the flimflam is made Unquestionable.
As we approach November 22, 2013 — the fiftieth anniversary of the JFK assassination — I thought it was appropriate for me to remind those who follow me as an author and filmmaker that the thing I’ve written that has reached a wider audience than anything else in my four decade career was the script for The Twilight Zone I wrote in 1985, “Profile in Silver,” that the CBS television network broadcast in prime time on March 7, 1986.
New documentaries and docudramas being cranked out for this grim anniversary focus on the question of whether Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone assassin or whether there was a conspiracy to end the JFK presidency — a coup d’etat as Oliver Stone most-effectively proposed in his 1991 film, JFK. As you can read below in my first-draft script I wrote a second gunman firing from the grassy knoll that was cut out on the demand of a CBS executive who wrote in a memo read to me on the phone, “The CBS television network is not going to rewrite history.”
That establishment history the CBS television network was unwilling to rewrite was the Warren Commission Report intended — depending who one asks — either to implement President Lyndon Johnson’s order that the Soviet Union and Cuba be exonerated to prevent escalation of the Cold War into a nuclear third world war, or to end speculation that the Vice President from Texas ascended to the presidency by conspiring with others who saw advantage in killing Kennedy on the Vice President’s home turf.
For me, my little science-fiction drama asked a different question: what is the nature of political power and following the Second World War had the presidency devolved into the imperial office the framers of the United States had worked so hard to prevent. I asked that question by the story device of unKilling Kennedy for a half hour.
I think it’s clear — half a century later — that whether or not the JFK assassination was at the hands of a Lone Gunman or a conspiracy of Lone Gunmen, what happened in Dallas a half-century ago was only the beginning of normalized clandestinely organized violence that has reached from the rice paddies of Southeast Asia to the mountains of Afghanistan to the core financial district in New York City to the Political Zone in Washington DC.
The following article was first published here June 15th, 2010, and includes links to watch “Profile in Silver” as it was aired on CBS 26 years ago.
– J. Neil Schulman, November 11, 2013
Update: The complete episode just as broadcast in prime time by the CBS Television Network on March 7, 1986 is now on YouTube as a single video.
–J. Neil Schulman, November 15, 2013
This is excerpted from my book Profile In Silver
And Other Screenwritings (Pulpless.Com, 1999).
I got the idea for “Profile in Silver” while driving to a lunch meeting with Robert Jaffe of Vista Films, the production company that was attempting to find a studio to finance All the King’s Horses. Over lunch at Hamburger Hamlet in late 1983, I pitched Rob the idea as a feature and he loved it, but aside from sharing my notes with him, nothing concrete ever came of the pitch.
I also told the idea to my friend Alan Brennert and, two years later when Alan was on staff as executive story consulant for the revived Twilight Zone, and I was living in New Jersey, Alan phoned me and asked me if I could write my script for it at under an hour’s length for the show. I said yes and Alan assigned me to write a story outline.
For the first time, I was officially employed as a Hollywood screenwriter. But I was still living 3,000 miles away, and that was a significant element in everything that followed.
“Profile in Silver” was controversial, inasmuch as nobody at that time had ever used the JFK assassination as a plot element in a TV show, or portrayed President Kennedy and his family in a fictional context. All previous portrayals of John F. Kennedy had stayed extremely close to real life, from PT-109 to The Missiles of October.
How things have changed now! Oliver Stone’s JFK portrayed the assassination from the point of view of New Orleans District Attorney, Jim Garrison, who believed in a conspiracy. Quantum Leap put us inside the body of Lee Harvey Oswald, and the series lead character, Sam Beckett, changes history by preventing Jackie Kennedy from being assassinated, also. The X-Files has the Cigarette Smoking Man assassinating JFK from an underground sewer and setting up Oswald as a patsy. And NBC’s new series Dark Skies has JFK assassinated because he’s been told the truth behind the UFO landing at Roswell. I sometimes wonder whether any of these projects could have made it past industry executives if “Profile in Silver” hadn’t been on CBS prime-time first.
Alan was concerned enough with the JFK element that I wrote two versions of the story, one with real names and history, and another version with what Alan and I called a “Greek Tycoon” approach, where the events and names were fictitious but close enough to reality that everyone would know what we were doing anyway. The Greek Tycoon had been a recent movie which had fictionalized Jackie’s marriage to Aristotle Onassis using just that approach.
I wrote the outlines and Alan submitted them to Carla Singer, who was the executive at CBS Entertainment in charge of developing The Twilight Zone before it actually aired. Carla turned it down, on the grounds that using the JFK assassination as a plot element was in bad taste. Alan told me we would try again after the show was on the air and a different CBS executive was in charge of the show, and told me to develop a second story for the show in the meantime. I did, and it became “Colorblind.”
Carla Singer turned that down, also. I was the only writer who had had any stories rejected, which caused Alan and Harlan Ellison, who was on the show as a creative consultant, to write several long memos to CBS complaining about being made to force the show into a straitjacket.
When Twilight Zone made it onto the CBS schedule, Carla Singer was replaced as overseer of the show by Tony Barr, who approved me to go to script on “Profile.” But there were several story restrictions, the most emphatic was: the second assassin had to be removed from the story. Tony Barr’s memo, which Alan read to me over the phone, said, “The CBS television network is not going to rewrite history.”
Harlan wanted me to fight to keep the second assassin in, but there were other story elements I was more concerned about keeping in, most specifically, JFK’s discussion of political power with Professor Fitzgerald on Air Force One. Alan fought for, and kept in, the story elements I most cared about.
I wrote two drafts of the script. I wrote the second draft after a telephone story conference with Alan, Harlan Ellison, story editor Rockne O’Bannon (who later wrote the movie Alien Nation), executive producer Phil DeGuere, and producer James Crocker.
Then, because of a production deadline, and my being 3,000 miles away where I couldn’t meet their production needs, Alan did the final polish himself.
The main change that Alan introduced in his polish was taking the futuristic scenes from the beginning of my second draft and placing them in 1963. This was done because of the budget limitations on attempting to portray the Harvard campus 200 years in the future. I missed the parallel frame of having the story begin and end in the same future classroom, but Alan preserved a lot of that by beginning the story in a similar Harvard classroom in 1963, with Fitzgerald lecturing on inflation during the American revolution. Alan and I are both American Revolution history buffs, and Alan had pleasantly surprised me by taking a conversation the two of us had several weeks earlier and using my half of the conversation, almost verbatim, as Fitzgerald’s lecture to his 1963 students.
Alan also felt that having Fitzgerald be too specific about the future in the Oval Office conversation with JFK was too distracting from the emotional content of the scene, so he cut that dialogue. It made the script less explicit about the author’s political intent in writing the story, but dramatically stronger.
A word to budding writers: you have to be a top-level producer to have the control over your own screenwriting that a novelist takes for granted.
I flew to Los Angeles for the two-weeks filming of “Profile in Silver,” and the experience was wonderful thanks initially both to the Twilight Zone production staff and director, John Hancock. John’s major work has been as a stage and feature film director–Bang the Drum Slowly, Weeds, and Prancer among them.
John and I hit it off right away because my father is a violinist who had played ten years in the Boston Symphony, and John Hancock, a Harvard graduate himself, had been a violinist while at Harvard and had been concertmaster of the student orchestra at the Boston Symphony’s summer residence, Tanglewood. I developed a warm relationship with him on the set, where he gave me a personal education in directing, with such wisdom as, “When the Director sits down, production comes to a halt.”
John didn’t sit down more than a couple of minutes for the entire shoot.
John invited me to stand as close to him as I wanted to during the entire shoot, and frequently consulted me about my opinion, in essence giving me authorial input into the final form of the production. John also invited me to discuss my interpretations on the scenes and characters with the actors.
I ran lines with Barbara Baxley, who had been cast as Dr. Kate Wang just 24-hours before her first scene, and hadn’t yet had time to understand the time-travel elements of the story. Additionally, the character had been written for an Asian actress, but due to an error in the CBS casting memo describing the part, the talent agency representing most Asian actors had never sent over any Asian actresses in the right age-range to read for it. I improvised dialogue implying that “Wang” was a married name and Barbara added the words “a phrase my husband taught me” to cover the change in her ethnicity.
I also got a chance to discuss character elements both with Lane Smith, who played Professor Fitzgerald, and Andrew Robinson, who played JFK.
One of the first scenes filmed was the scene in Fitzgerald’s office when Kate Wang materializes, and they discuss Fitzgerald’s upcoming trip to Dallas. Lane was having trouble with his extensive speeches in that scene because Lane has a natural Southern accent which he was having to change to a Boston accent for the role. I suggested to him that he let his natural accent come out in the office scene, because it would be exactly like an actor coming out of a role for Fitzgerald to talk with someone from his own time.
Lane took my suggestion, with John Hancock’s approval.
I also got a chance to discuss my story intents with Andy Robinson before the scene between JFK and Professor Fitzgerald on Air Force One that set-up the entire emotional context of the story.
Through interpretation, Andy was able to restore much of the meaning of my earlier drafts, even with JFK dialogue that was no longer explicitly in the Oval Office scene.
Many people have wondered why Andy Robinson, who had been best known as the bad guy Scorpio in the Clint Eastwood movie Dirty Harry, had been cast as JFK. Andy told me that he had played JFK, previously, replacing William Devane in the Broadway production of the satirical anti-war play, MacBird.
(Devane, who starred in The Missiles of October about the Cuban missile crisis, later went on to play a time-travelling historian in a TV movie who was trying to prevent the JFK assassination — but could never prevent it. That movie was based on a book written after my original 1983 outline for “Profile,” and was produced after “Profile” had already been shown on CBS.)
There are several milestones in the production of “Profile in Silver” that are worth mentioning.
The first is that I wrote into both drafts of my script JFK delivering the speech he was scheduled to give on November 22nd, 1963 at the Dallas Trade Mart. As filmed, we hear the speech in the background on the car radio, as the secret service agent is accompanying Fitzgerald to Love Field to meet Kennedy. Andrew Robinson recorded the entire speech so that CBS sound editors could lay it in the background of that scene. To the best of my knowledge, it is the only time that the speech JFK never got to make has ever been delivered by anyone in a motion picture or theatrical production.
Also noteworthy about that speech is that CBS’s broadcast standards department sent a note to the Twilight Zone production staff questioning the authenticity of the Dallas Trade Mart Speech. The note said the speech didn’t sound like authentic JFK. How time changes our perceptions! I had gotten the Trade Mart speech from a book of JFK speeches, and it’s what you would expect: a speech meant to kick off JFK’s bid for re-election in 1964.
CBS broadcast standards didn’t have a single question about the authenticity of the speech I have JFK give at the end of “Profile,” in a Harvard classroom 200 years in the future. I made that speech up completely, but it was inspirational in tone — the way we remember JFK’s speeches through the lenses of time.
I was also able to make use of a wonderful coincidence. November 22nd, 1963 was a Friday — and on the CBS schedule for that night, as usual in its 7:30 PM time slot, was the original Rod Serling Twilight Zone. All regularly scheduled programming for that night was pre empted by the JFK assassination in the universe we lived through — but in the universe in which my futuristic history professor prevents the assassination, CBS decides to end its news coverage of the day’s events just in time for that evening’s airing of The Twilight Zone.
In the scene in the Treasury inspector’s office where the secret service agent who found the Kennedy Half Dollar is having a fellow Treasury agent inspect the coin, we hear a special news bulletin cut back to regularly scheduled programming, and we hear the opening notes of the famous Twilight Zone theme just as the scene cuts to the Oval Office and JFK says he finds Fitzgerald being a Soviet spy “hard to believe.”
Later, in the Dallas hospital scene after the assassination, in the filmed version, you can see a white-coated doctor looking directly into the camera for a moment. That doctor is Yours Truly, who submitted to a 1963-style short haircut just before the scene was filmed, so I could pull an Alfred Hitchcock. I was not overacting. John Hancock told me to look directly into the camera, and I was just doing what the Director told me.
As edited by John Hancock for broadcast, “Profile in Silver” came in at 26 minutes and 52 seconds. Scenes are short and cut quickly, so it plays more like a theatrical motion picture than an episode of a TV series. It took ten days to film and cost about $900,000 to produce — very expensive for a TV series in 1986. When commercials were inserted, it broke the half hour and came in at 35 minutes — which left the balance of the hour for “Button, Button,” starring Mare Winningham.
USA Today ran a feature on “Profile in Silver” in its March 3, 1986 television
column, and I was interviewed about the show by Gene Burns on a Boston radio talk show.
Lane Smith, who plays Professor Fitzgerald, went on to play Nixon in a TV biography, the prosecutor in My Cousin Vinny, and a corrupt senator in the Eddie Murphy comedy The Distinguished Gentleman. Lane now plays Perry White on Lois & Clark.
Andrew Robinson, who plays JFK, can now be seen (through a thick layer of theatrical appliances and makeup) as Garak, on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In a recent interview in Psychotronic Video, Andy Robinson spoke extensively about how much playing JFK in that episode meant to him, and how much he liked the script.
Alan Brennert, who bought the script and polished it, later shared an Emmy as Supervising Producer for LA Law, and is now writing feature film scripts.
And Carla Singer, who as the first CBS Executive in charge of the revived Twilight Zone turned down the story for “Profile in Silver”?
When she finally saw it, she changed her mind, and decided it was one of the best episodes.
CBS must have agreed: the hour containing “Profile in Silver” was the only one which they ran three times in prime time, before the show went into syndication, where it has run another dozen or so times in a half-hour edition.
That third airing of “Profile in Silver” was seen by the veteran TV producer who gave Rod Serling his first job in television. He thought my script was one of the few that carried the spirit of the original Twlight Zone series, and that’s how I got the assignment for The Mars Story.
I have written two novels, short stories, and articles published in major magazines and newspapers. But the power of television is such that even a single episode of a series show that never got more than mediocre ratings after the first week or so has been seen by so many millions of people that it’s probably the only thing of mine that most people have ever seen. The episode has been syndicated worldwide and sold on videotape overseas. I was in Paris just a few weeks before it was broadcast there.
It may only be 26 minutes and 52 seconds long, but if a writer has to be remembered for a single script, I’m delighted that the one I’m remembered for is “Profile in Silver.” — JNS, 1999
THE TWILIGHT ZONE
“Profile In Silver”
by J. Neil Schulman
EXT. CAMPUS – HARVARD UNIVERSITY – 2163 A.D. – DAY
SERIES OF SHOTS and SUPERIMPOSED TITLES–
“HARVARD UNIVERSITY – 2163 A.D.”–
to establish. Even almost two centuries in the future, Harvard
still has ivy-covered buildings and students running late to class–or
taking advantage of warm, sunny weather to study outside. The only
obvious indication of a future century–aside from odd clothing and
hairstyles–is that after a group of students climb into a beat-up car
and rev the engine, the car shoots off vertically.
INT. “DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY” LECTURE HALL
and this, too, has changed little. Students are seated at tablet
armchairs listening to a lecture. That is, those students who aren’t
catching up on sleep or secretly finishing work for their next class.
Delivering the lecture is their professor, DR. JOSEPH K. FITZGERALD, a
handsome man in his mid-forties, whose suit and hairstyle is obviously
professorial, but still, somehow, futuristic. While he lectures, as a
nervous habit, Fitzgerald is flipping a silver coin in his hand.
Living today in worldwide freedom, peace, and
prosperity, it’s almost impossible for us to
comprehend political violence two centuries
ago. The Twentieth Century was a time of
world wars, brushfire wars–the everpresent
threat of nuclear war. Genocide, riots,
hijackings, tyranny–political terrorism. But
there was one event which encapsulates the mad
violence of that period: the assassination in
November, Nineteen-sixty-three of the American
President, John F. Kennedy.
A STUDENT wearing a LETTER SWEATER raises his hand with perhaps a
touch of arrogance. Fitzgerald recognises him.
Your ancestor, Professor Fitzgerald?
Yes, I am proud to say. While I can hardly
expect you to approve the politics of that
insane era, John Fitzgerald Kennedy rose above
the insanities of his time by being a man of
vision and a man of courage. Most important
to you, John F. Kennedy was a Harvard man.
STUDENTS laugh appreciatively.
When they stop, Fitzgerald waves his hand in an odd way; suddenly the
lights dim and WE SEE FILM PROJECTED behind him: STOCK NEWS
FOOTAGE of that fateful day in Dallas–the motorcade, the shots, screams,
the limousine tearing out into traffic.
(continuing over film)
There have always been unanswered questions.
Was Lee Harvey Oswald the assassin? Was there
a conspiracy? Did this relate to other
political killings of that era–Diem of
Vietnam, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King?
Until now, we could only speculate.
Fitzgerald pauses, then resumes flipping his coin nervously.
After trying for six years, my historical-
research grant from the Rand Institute has
come through. I leave for the past tonight.
In the next lecture, I hope to bring you some
As Fitzgerald continues lecturing, his VOICE FADES AND
Dr. Joseph Kennedy Fitzgerald, a Professor of
History at Harvard … descendant of a man who
graduated Harvard and went on to make some of
the history the Professor teaches. In a few
hours, Dr. Fitzgerald will make a journey back
in time to a fateful day in history …
November twenty-second, Nineteen-sixty three.
Dr. Fitzgerald is searching for an ending to a
history lesson. But the ending he finds will
go beyond history … it will go beyond
politics … it will stretch the limits of
human courage. Perhaps it will stretch even
the boundless dimensions of …
CLOSE ON THE COIN
as it drops into Dr. Fitzgerald’s hand. WE SEE that it is a 1964
KENNEDY HALF DOLLAR.
… The Twilight Zone.
ESTABLISHING SHOT “RAND INSTITUTE FOR TEMPORAL
STUDIES” – NIGHT
a formidable-looking hi-tech glass-and-steel office complex, still
active at night, its sign also glowing in the darkness.
EXT. “TEMPORAL DISPLACEMENT PLATFORM” – NIGHT
which looks like a sports arena during a night game, with a floodlit
riser at its center–the PLATFORM. But except for two TECHNICIANS
sitting at a control console near the Platform, it is vastly empty.
We follow Dr. Fitzgerald–now styled and dressed in a suit-and-tie
appropriate for 1963–as he walks toward the Platform with DR. KATE
WANG, a distinguished, Chinese woman in 2163 garb.
On a table near the Platform are a MAN’S LEATHER BELT with a
rectangular buckle, a SIGNET RING, A WALLET, AN ANALOG
WRISTWATCH, and what looks to be a 1963 MODEL 8-MILLIMETER
MOVIE CAMERA. Wang shows Fitzgerald the Belt first–it matches his
We’ve imbedded the temporal displacement
circuit inside the belt, and hidden the
control panel in its buckle. Proper I.D. in
the wallet. The wristwatch is your computer.
Dr. Fitzgerald puts the Wallet into his jacket, then starts putting on
the Wristwatch and the Belt.
Will it tell time?
That’s a very old joke.
Sorry. Where have you hidden the emergency
In a Harvard signet ring. If the displacement
circuit in the belt fails or is separated from
the ring it will home back here directly.
We’ve set it on five minutes failsafe.
Dr. Fitzgerald nods, placing the Ring on his right hand. Wang hands
Fitzgerald the “Movie” Camera. He straps it over his shoulder.
An F-minus-infinity retina, auto-zoom with
three-sixty peripheral. Only a fifty gigabyte
disk, but you won’t need more. Ready?
I’ve been ready for the last six years.
Feel lucky you’re going at all. After the
Sodom and Gomorrah meltdown, our insurance
Fitzgerald’s only reaction is to frown and step onto the Platform.
Dr. Wang joins the Technicians at the control console. The console
starts to VIBRATE with the force of great amounts of energy being
gathered; the Platform starts to PULSE in changing colors.
Dr. Wang, I read a few grams unexpected mass.
What is it, Joe?
A family keepsake–a good luck charm.
Fitzgerald reaches into a jacket pocket and pulls out his KENNEDY
HALF DOLLAR. Dr. Wang walks up to the platform and examines it.
It’s dated one year after your destination.
But not strictly forbidden. No anachronisms
found in any historical document. I ran a
He puts the COIN back into his jacket.
Don’t get involved back there, Joe. You’re an
historian. Stick to your job.
What are you worried about, Kate? Afraid I’m
Frankly, yes. You have a very Chinese view of
She steps back to console and nods to the Chief Technician.
All circuits test positive … Tachyon
modulation positive … Phasing five point
five nominal … Plasma bottle charged …
Displacement on command–Ready.
The Chief Technician nods to the Second Technician who pulls a lever.
On the Platform, Dr. Fitzgerald flashes bright red.
… We have temporal coherence.
Suddenly, Dr. Fitzgerald shrinks to infinity and a super-powerful
laser beam shoots up from the platform to the starlit night sky,
punching a hole in Time.
FLASH CUT TO:
EXT. DEALY PLAZA – DALLAS – NOVEMBER 22, 1963 –
JUST BEFORE 12:30 PM
as Dr. Fitzgerald materializes on the sidewalk near the Grassy Knoll,
just as the Presidential motorcade is approaching.
A TEXAN does a double-take as Fitzgerald pops in next to him.
Where in Sam Hill did you come from?
Before the Texan can get any further into it, Fitzgerald lifts his
“movie” camera up to his eye and starts recording. The Texan goes
back to watching the approaching motorcade.
FITZGERALD’S POV THROUGH RANGEFINDER
VARIOUS SHOTS as he ZOOMS IN ON the open Presidential limousine and
sees (our actor) PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY.
[NOTE: for reasons that will become apparent later, the two Actors
playing KENNEDY and FITZGERALD should bear strong physical resemblance.]
To the President’s left–our actors–JACKIE KENNEDY (in her famous pink
suit), on the jumpseat in front of JFK, TEXAS GOVERNOR
CONNALLY. SECRET SERVICE AGENT GREER is driving the limo,
SECRET SERVICE AGENT KELLERMAN is on Kennedy’s right.
SECRET SERVICE AGENT RAY KINGMAN is walking alongside the Presidential
limo, on Fitzgerald’s side of the street.
Additional limousines follow in the motorcade with more Secret
Service, VICE PRESIDENT LYNDON JOHNSON (our actor),
press and dignitaries.
Crowds line the street, waving flags, shouting greetings to the
A “DALLAS POLICEMAN” (our actor) steps into Fitzgerald’s POV and
Fitzgerald ZOOMS CLOSE IN on the crucial window of the TEXAS
SCHOOL BOOK DEPOSITORY COMPANY, and WE SEE (our actor)
LEE HARVEY OSWALD taking aim with a rifle on the Presidential
FITZGERALD’S POV – IN RAPID SEQUENCE
THE “DALLAS POLICEMAN” is surreptitiously–with his pistol still
holstered–raising his pistol.
Oswald FIRES his rifle, hitting Texas Governor Connally–the SOUND of
the SHOT is delayed.
The “Policeman” now has his still-holstered pistol aimed directly at
SMASH CUT TO:
RAPID SEQUENCE – FITZGERALD AND THE “POLICEMAN”
as Fitzgerald drops his camera onto its shoulder strap and instantly
realizes–emotionally–that the man in front of him is not a Dallas
policeman but a Second Assassin–and this assassin is about to murder
John F. Kennedy.
To Fitzgerald, for the first time, this is no longer the dispassionate
study of the long-dead past: this is happening now. He hesitates,
realizing that he’s just an observer, then the emotional pain becomes
And with that bellow, Fitzgerald leaps forward onto the disguised
gunman just as he FIRES.
RAPID SEQUENCE – SECRET SERVICE AGENT KINGMAN
as he HEARS Fitzgerald’s shout and spins around just as the
“Policeman” FIRES, to SEE Fitzgerald jump him.
RAPID SEQUENCE – FITZGERALD AND “POLICEMAN”
As Fitzgerald tackles him, the “Policeman’s” GUNSHOT is redirected
away from Kennedy’s head and impacts harmlessly on the limo.
RAPID SEQUENCE – SCREAMING BYSTANDERS
At the SOUND of the two GUNSHOTS.
RAPID SEQUENCE – IN LIMO – AGENT KELLERMAN
as he throws himself onto JFK and Jackie.
Agent Kingman and ANOTHER AGENT arrive at the spot where Fitzgerald
has tackled the “Policeman”. KINGMAN grabs Fitzgerald and pulls
him toward the President’s limo; the other Agent holds the assassin.
RAPID SEQUENCE – KINGMAN AND FITZGERALD
RAPID SEQUENCE – THE PRESIDENTIAL LIMO
as Kingman pulls Fitzgerald onto the Presidential limousine just as
everyone realizes that Governor Connally has been shot.
(to agent driving)
The Governor has been hit! Get him to a
(driving; to radio)
I’m pulling out!
LONG ON THE LIMO
as it pulls out of the motorcade and accelerates.
BACK IN SPEEDING LIMO
as Kingman and Fitzgerald are settled in the front seat, quietly
TALKING to each other in the b.g. WE SEE Fitzgerald reach into his
jacket, take out the Wallet, and hand a 1963 Harvard “Faculty I.D.
Card” to Agent Kingman.
(continuing; to radio)
Alert Parkland Memorial Hospital that the
Governor will be there in four minutes.
President Kennedy nods, satisfied, then notices Agent Kingman and
Mr. Kingman, who is this man?
Mr. President, this is Dr. Joseph Fitzgerald,
one of your constituents from Harvard. He
just saved your life.
KENNEDY AND FITZGERALD
as they look at each other for the first time.
Dr. Fitzgerald, Harvard, and I, are in your
CLOSE ON FITZGERALD
as he realizes the full impact of what he has done.
EXT. EMERGENCY ENTRANCE – PARKLAND MEMORIAL
HOSPITAL – DAY
as the limousine pulls up. A stretcher crew immediately takes the
wounded Governor out.
JFK gestures to Agent Kellerman that he wishes to get out of the
limousine, but Jackie stops him.
You can’t do any good in there, Jack.
The others wait expectantly for a moment while JFK decides, then
Kennedy nods determinedly.
Mr. Greer, radio ahead to the Dallas Trade
Mart. I’ll speak as scheduled.
INT. THE DALLAS TRADE MART
where President John F. Kennedy is delivering the luncheon address
that history had never intended him to give.
Dr. Fitzgerald stands on the sidelines, an historian still, recording
it all in his “camera.”
We in this country, in this generation are–by
destiny rather than choice–the watchmen of
the walls of world freedom. We ask,
therefore, that we may be worthy of our power
and responsibility–that we may exercise our
strength with wisdom and restraint–and that
we may achieve it in our time, and for all
time, the ancient vision of peace on Earth,
goodwill toward men.
MASSIVE LUNCHEON AUDIENCE (FROM STOCK FOOTAGE)
There is APPLAUSE.
CLOSE ON FITZGERALD’S FACE
as he realizes that Kennedy’s vision was destined to be fulfilled–but
will it be, now that history has been changed?
PRESIDENT KENNEDY AGAIN
That must always be our goal–and the
righteousness of our cause must always
underlie our strength. For as was written
long ago: “Except the Lord keep the city, the
watchman waketh but in vain.”
As APPLAUSE greets the end of Kennedy’s speech, we
SIDE WINGS OF TRADE MART
As JFK, Jackie, Vice President Johnson, Fitzgerald, and the rest of
the Presidential entourage are walking out.
AN AIDE rushes up to the Vice President and addresses Johnson
Mr. Vice President, we’ve got more problems!
Tornadoes have sprung up all around the state!
One is heading here, another just ripped its
way through downtown Austin, and another just
hit your ranch!
(grimly, to Aide)
Better get the choppers ready, son.
The Aide runs off.
Mr. President, if I were you, I’d hightail it
back to Washington and mind the store. It
looks like fate is set on spoiling our
He knows it’s not fate that’s doing this.
Take care of your people, Lyndon. Let me know
how I can help.
Yes, Mr. President.
Johnson rushes out. Kennedy turns to Fitzgerald.
Dr. Fitzgerald, I can use an extra Harvard
professor in my Brain Trust right now. Are
you free to be my guest at the White House?
Uh, yes, sir.
Then let’s get going. This is turning out to
be “one of those days.”
As they rush out of the Trade Mart, we
EXT. (LOVE) AIR FIELD – STORM – AFTERNOON
as strong rain and winds surround AIR FORCE ONE while it takes off.
STOCK FOOTAGE – TORNADOES
As they wind their way through Texan cities.
EXT. AIR FORCE ONE – BREAKING ABOVE CLOUDS – AFTERNOON
INT. AIR FORCE ONE – IN FLIGHT
this time, not carrying a flag-draped casket and a just-sworn-in new
president, but with JFK still alive and well.
Jackie is sitting forward, being interviewed by a reporter.
Kennedy is sitting catercorner to Fitzgerald in a living room area.
Both men have drinks. Agent Kingman is seated nearby, reading.
AN AIDE comes up to the President.
Mr. President, news out of Texas is bad.
Parts of Dallas, San Antonio, Austin–gone.
Hundreds dead, more missing. The Lieutenant
Governor is requesting federal disaster
relief. The only good news is that Parkland
Memorial was untouched. Governor Connally is
out of surgery in stable condition.
Thank God for that, at least. Okay, get the
paperwork going. I want disaster relief on my
desk before I go to bed tonight.
Yes, sir. One more thing. In addition to the
fake policeman Dr. Fitzgerald apprehended,
Dallas police arrested a man named Lee Oswald.
They’ve charged Oswald not only with shooting
the Governor, but with murdering a Dallas
Kennedy nods seriously.
The Aide leaves. The historian from the future can’t resist asking.
Mr. President, do you have any idea–
Jack. Men who’ve saved my life call me
“Jack.” … I’m “Joe” to everyone but my
Good name. My Dad’s name. Also my late
I … know.
You were asking something?
If you have any idea who would have reason to
shoot at you?
Kennedy takes a sip of his drink before answering.
Considering the awesome power wielded by the
President, who wouldn’t? Two centuries ago,
the Founding Fathers tried to set things up so
we wouldn’t have a king anymore. Now, because
we’re always a pushbutton away from war, the
President has been stuck with more power than
any king in history. It’s no wonder my
administration has been called “Camelot.”
Like King Arthur, you had to win your office.
It must gratify you, no?
What gratified me was getting the world
through the Cuban Missile Crisis in one piece.
Providence was with us that time. But
Scripture tells us to “put not your trust in
princes.” Maybe someday people will take that
That would leave you unemployed.
This job gives me few moments of great joy.
I’ll tell you, Joe, after I’m out of office
what I’d best like to do is help you Harvard
professors find a way to beat nuclear bombs
A century from now, nuclear bombs will power
We’ve studied that idea. But how do you
prevent enemy nations from regarding nuclear
rockets as weapons?
Insurance companies. Next century, people
will replace nation-states with insurance
You have a wicked sense of humor, Joe. I’ll
have to tell that one to Senator Goldwater
when I see him.
Fitzgerald is puzzling out that remark when the Aide returns.
Mr. President, there’s a radiophone call for
you from Defense Secretary McNamara.
Excuse me. (still chuckling) Insurance
The President gets up and walks aft, leaving Dr. Fitzgerald alone with
his thoughts. Without thinking, Fitzgerald sticks his hand into his
jacket pocket, pulling out his Kennedy Half Dollar, and automatically
starts to flip it in his hands.
Suddenly, the plane is hit by turbulence, and Fitzgerald misses
catching the coin. The coin rolls to where Agent Kingman is sitting.
Agent Kingman sees the coin, and looks up to meet Fitzgerald’s frantic
gaze; Fitzgerald looks away quickly. Kingman picks the coin up.
CLOSE ON KINGMAN
as he sees what the coin is.
KINGMAN AND FITZGERALD
As Kingman–seeing Fitzgerald trying to look innocent–realizes that
this must be Fitzgerald’s property.
as President Kennedy returns to the seat next to Fitzgerald, JFK
passes his Aide and waves him over.
(quiet but urgently)
Listen carefully. I’ve just placed our
Strategic Forces on Yellow Alert. Set up an
Emergency Cabinet meeting for tonight at ten.
Rusk is on a plane to Japan–see if you can
get him back. Tell Bundy, Taylor, Sorensen.
And Bobby! But act normally and do it
quietly–I don’t want the press onboard to
know anything’s wrong.
As the Aide leaves, Kennedy straps himself in again and turns to
Fitzgerald, likewise speaking quietly but with urgency.
How familiar are you with the history of our
Completely. My specialty is this era.
Fitzgerald sees Kennedy’s confusion and corrects himself quickly.
I mean this area. Why do you ask?
Soviet troops just captured West Berlin. The
Russian premier is demanding we pull our
forces out of the rest of Germany or they’ll
kill every American in Berlin.
But Khrushchev never would have done that!
(nods with finality)
Premier Khrushchev was assassinated today.
On Fitzgerald’s startled look, we
EXT. AIR FORCE ONE – ON THE GROUND – AFTERNOON
as the door opens. The Secret Service, JFK and Jackie, Fitzgerald,
the Warrant Officer with the “Black Bag,” and the rest of the
entourage begin deplaning.
as he watches Fitzgerald getting into the Presidential limousine with
the Kennedys, then LOOKS DOWN again at the mysterious Kennedy Half
Dollar. Kingman slips the coin into his pocket then walks up to
another SECRET SERVICE AGENT.
I need to do some research at Treasury before
it closes. Can you spare me?
The Agent nods.
THE PRESIDENTIAL LIMOUSINE
as it departs.
EXT. THE WHITE HOUSE – THE LIMOUSINE ARRIVING – AFTERNOON
as JFK and Jackie get out of the limousine first and two children run
to meet them: six-year-old CAROLINE and three-year-old JOHN, JR.
CLOSE ON THE COIN
as we see it being held in a man’s hand.
WIDER – INT. OFFICE – AFTERNOON
as Agent Kingman is sitting across a desk from another TREASURY MAN.
The T-MAN is looking at the coin through a watchmaker’s loupe screwed
into his eye, then removes the loupe and leans back in his chair.
Remarkable. Utterly remarkable. I’ve never
seen counterfeit work this faithful to Mint
standards. Whoever did this is a real artist.
Then it is a counterfeit? It’s not something
our Mint has in the works for next year?
Of course not. How could it be? Other
countries stamp reigning sovereigns on their
coins, but it’s against U.S. law to mint the
image of any living person.
Could it be a practical joke of some sort? Or
a prototype of a campaign handout? Maybe one
of the President’s brothers … or the
I doubt it very much. They’d have to know
it’s a felony … and possibly treason, since
it implies President Kennedy is going to die
by Sixty-four. This man who lost it … you
saw him save the President’s life?
Absolutely. Or I wouldn’t have allowed him
anywhere near the President until his
credentials had been confirmed.
And were they?
I checked during the President’s speech.
Matched Fitzgerald’s prints with FBI. Clean.
Checked Harvard, Internal Revenue, the Army.
All in order. But that’s the really odd
thing. The documents are all there, but I
can’t find anyone who’s ever heard of
Fitzgerald. It’s like somebody got into the
records and just dropped him in. And yeah, I
checked with CIA. They’ve never heard of him.
It wouldn’t be the first time the Company
didn’t tell us about one of their Spooks.
Maybe. Still, this Harvard professor is
Johnny-on-the-Spot to save the President’s
life … he loses a coin that shouldn’t exist
… he’s got three of the President’s family
names … he even looks like the President.
Now, with a crisis more dangerous that Cuba
coming on, the President is confiding in this
stranger like a long-lost brother. If you ask
Suddenly, the office starts shaking violently with a rolling motion
Californians are too familiar with … but that shouldn’t be happening
in Washington D.C.
An earthquake. Lamps fall over, fixtures swing …
Kingman and the T-Man both jump up, startled out of their wits.
My God … an earthquake in Washington?
INT. OVAL OFFICE – THE WHITE HOUSE – SAME TIME
as JFK sits behind his desk talking on the telephone … and the
earthquake hits here, too.
Kennedy drops the phone and jumps to his feet … and by doing so
saves his life again as a massive BOOKSHELF topples onto his chair
where he was sitting.
The Presidential Aide runs into the Oval Office in a flash, as the
RUMBLING DIES AWAY.
Sir, are you all right?
I’m fine! Find out if my kids are okay!
The Aide runs out. Kennedy pulls the phone out from under some books
and picks up the receiver again.
You still there, Bobby? (beat) You’re damn
right we felt it here! (beat) Yeah, I’ll
talk to you later.
The President hangs up just as the Aide returns.
Nobody hurt, sir … the children weren’t even
really frightened. I’m afraid the First Lady
isn’t doing quite as well … we just lost
half her favorite bone china.
Tell her to break out the paper plates!
What the Devil is going on today?
I don’t know, sir. But my father’s a minister
and I can bet you his sermon this Sunday is
going to be on the Apocalypse … if we make
it to Sunday.
as he wearily drops his face into his hands. HOLD on him, then
INT. WHITE HOUSE GUEST BEDROOM – FITZGERALD
as he turns a lamp upright again then starts talking to his Wristwatch
Computer, rubbing his back as if it’s been injured.
Resume program … Last parameter, three-
times-ten-to-the-ninth non-parallel vectors.
Compute time-line status.
(Voice like HAL 9000)
After pressure release by tornadoes at
intervention site, Stable Two was achieved by
Stable, my aching back! What about the
earthquake just now?
Shockwave backwash from first intervention in
time line. No major effects.
All right, then. With Khrushchev
assassination as Stable Two, give me worst-
and-best-case outcomes on this time-line, with
Worst-case scenario: Three-hundred megaton
nuclear exchange between the Superpowers
within nine days, resulting in total
annihilation of biosphere. Probability:
seventy-seven percent. Best-case scenario:
surrender of Western Europe to the Soviet
Union within six years, resulting in collapse
of Soviet economy. In desperation, Soviets
blackmail West for food, West is provoked into
agro-bacterial war between the Superpowers,
resulting in total annihilation of biosphere
within century. Probability: twelve percent.
There’s only an eleven percent possibility of
avoiding total war on this time-line?
Three percent. Eight percent
includes all other scenarios leading to–
–Total annihilation of biosphere.
GIRL’S VOICE (O.S.)
Why are you talking to your watch?
Fitzgerald looks up, startled.
IN DOORWAY – CAROLINE
as she walks into
GUEST ROOM – FITZGERALD AND CAROLINE
Because it gives me smarter answers than I get
from most people.
You should talk to my Daddy instead. He gives
me smart answers on everything.
Yes, I’m sure he does.
JACKIE’S VOICE (O.S.)
Caroline, dear! It’s time for your dinner!
I’ll be right there, Mommy!
I talk to my pony Macaroni, sometimes. But I
never get any answers. See ya!
Caroline ducks out.
Fitzgerald checks the corridor, then resumes talking to his
Wristwatch, more quietly.
Since this time-line is non-viable, give me
all options for repairing original time-line.
There exists only one viable option for
repairing original time-line. The
assassination of President John F. Kennedy
must occur as history originally recorded.
ON FITZGERALD’S HORROR
as the thoughts of the little girl he just met–and the answers she
gets only from her “Daddy”–hit him hard. He drops his face into his
hands exactly like JFK did.
INT. THE OVAL OFFICE – NIGHT
JFK is alone, in his famous ROCKING CHAIR, puffing on a cigar and
thinking. A TELEVISION next to his desk is on in the b.g., a CBS
TELEVISION SPECIAL NEWS REPORT.
ANCHORMAN (ON TV)
–certainly an indication of a conspiracy by
Soviet hard-liners. However, the tornadoes in
Texas and the earthquake in the Capital would
certainly have to be put down to one of those
unbelievable coincidences that you meet so
often in the news business.
There is a knock at the office door. (TV SOUND continues UNDER.)
Agent Kingman enters.
Hi, Ray. (Indicates chair) Take a load off.
Want a drink?
Thank you, sir, but I’m still on duty.
I won’t tell on you.
Kingman remains standing and smiles … letting us know that this is a
game the two of them have played before.
Mr. President, I have some concerns about Dr.
Fitzgerald. I’ve checked with Harvard, and
even though they have him in their records as
a full professor on sabbatical, nobody there
has ever heard of him. It’s possible that Dr.
Fitzgerald is a spy.
(used to being
I don’t know for who, sir, but I wouldn’t
eliminate the Soviets. I can’t think of a
better way to get an agent close to the
President than to set up an assassination and
have your man save the President’s life.
I know people, and Joe Fitzgerald is no Soviet
spy. Also, the Soviets are subtler than that
… if they wanted to pull something this big
they’d use sleeper agents who’d been in place
for twenty years.
There’s more, sir.
Kingman reaches into his pocket, pulls out the KENNEDY HALF DOLLAR,
and hands it to Kennedy.
Dr. Fitzgerald lost this on Air Force One.
CLOSE ON KENNEDY – IN PROFILE
as he LOOKS at HIS OWN FACE IN PROFILE on the half dollar.
I think someone is taking this Camelot stuff a
bit too far.
All right. You’d better get Fitzgerald in
STANDING IN DOORWAY – FITZGERALD
Fitzgerald has his “camera” strapped over his shoulder.
I was already on my way here, Mr. President.
OVAL OFFICE – ALL
In the b.g., WE HEAR
–This concludes this CBS News Special Report.
We now return to our regularly scheduled
Kennedy gestures Fitzgerald into the office.
Dr. Fitzgerald, were you part of an
assassination conspiracy in Dallas today?
No, sir, I was not. But I knew about the
assassination before I came to Dallas.
Excuse me, sir.
Where did you get that coin?
It’s been in my family for almost two hundred
You’ll pardon me if I say that’s a little
IN THE B.G.., we HEAR the original “Twilight Zone” THEME MUSIC and:
ROD SERLING’S VOICE
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which
is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as
space and as timeless as infinity. It is the
middle ground between light and shadow–
between science and superstition–
(gesturing toward TV)
People of your generation should have paid
more attention to the classics.
My generation? You’re the same generation as
Fitzgerald walks over to the TV set.
ROD SERLING’S VOICE
–And it lies between the pit of man’s fears
and the summit of his imagination. It is an
area which we call–
Fitzgerald switches off the set just before we hear the words “The
Twilight Zone.” Then he faces his ancestor directly.
No, Mr. President, I am not. I am of a
generation that won’t be your age for another
two-hundred years. I am a time-traveler from
the future … and your direct descendant by
two converging lines.
Dr. Fitzgerald, the matters we are discussing
are much too serious for you to joke about
I’m not joking, sir.
Fitzgerald picks up his camera.
In a split-second, Agent Kingman has his gun out, pointed at
This isn’t a weapon.
Fitzgerald points his “camera” toward the wall–away from both
Kennedy and Kingman–and turns it on.
IN FRONT OF WALL – KENNEDY GIVING SPEECH
AT TRADE MART
in a Full-size, 3-D, Full-color and Sound Playback.
We in this country, in this generation are–by
destiny rather than choice–the watchmen of
the walls of world freedom. We ask,
therefore, that we may be worthy of our power
KENNEDY AND AGENT KINGMAN
as they watch this phenomenon, open-mouthed.
–that we may exercise our strength with
wisdom and restraint–and that we may achieve
it in our time, and for all time, the ancient
vision of peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.
Fitzgerald turns the “camera” off and the Kennedy Hologram
Kingman holsters his pistol again. After a pause, he speaks first.
Mr. President, request permission to go off
Granted. For both of us, also.
Kingman immediately goes over to the liquor and pours three stiff
drinks. He hands one each to Kennedy and Fitzgerald.
He has time to ponder his remark as the three men drink.
Fitzgerald and Kingman draw up chairs. Kennedy breaks the tension
in the room.
Insurance companies, huh?
That’s only a transitional phase. By my time
we’ve put together a social system I’m sure
you’d consider much-more bizarre than that.
But we have achieved your dreams. We’ve
eliminated war, poverty, and tyranny. Your
dream of humankind moving into space has
become a reality … I took my graduate degree
out near the orbit of Jupiter.
I never thought humanity would achieve that
sort of Utopia.
It’s not even close to being Utopia, sir.
We’ve taken the Biblical advice about not
putting our trust in princes, but we haven’t
beaten our swords into plowshares. We just
finally got it through our skulls that it’s
safer to avoid princes with big swords.
Kennedy gets up (Kingman and Fitzgerald rise immediately) and JFK
starts pacing near his desk. He is still holding the Kennedy Half
Dollar and he looks at it thoughtfully.
You come from the future. Did you come back
to tell me what I’m supposed to do about the
Berlin crisis today?
(suddenly choked up)
I … didn’t know about that.
Didn’t know? How could you not know?
Kennedy looks at the Coin one more time.
ZOOM IN ON THE COIN’S DATE – 1964
as Kennedy sees it and suddenly realizes what it means.
You came to Dallas to observe an
assassination. My assassination.
Dear God in heaven.
Kennedy looks down and sees–on his desk where the earthquake left
it–a copy of his book, Profiles in Courage.
This Berlin crisis would be the end of the
world, wouldn’t it?
Kennedy picks up Profiles in Courage, then puts in down again,
firmly. When he speaks again, it’s with the firm resolve of a P.T. boat
You’re here, which proves that it wasn’t.
You’ll have to take me back. Can you take me
back? Can you make it like it was intended to
Fitzgerald drops his head forward. Then he looks up again and removes
his Harvard Signet Ring, extending it toward Kennedy.
You’ll have to put this ring on.
Agent Kingman, stay out of this!
If there’s anyone you need to say goodbye to–
I couldn’t make myself leave them if I did.
And they wouldn’t remember, would they?
President Kennedy takes the ring, closes his eyes, and slips the ring
onto his right hand.
as he flashes, on-and-off, bright red, and
freezes in place.
What’s happening to him?
You’ve taken an oath to protect the life of
Only Secret Service know that code name for
What do we have to do?
We’ve got to go back.
After several long beats,
EXT. DEALY PLAZA – DALLAS – NOVEMBER 22, 1963 –
JUST BEFORE 12:30 PM
just as the Presidential motorcade is approaching.
watching the approaching motorcade. This time Fitzgerald is nowhere
on the open Presidential limousine, AS BEFORE.
as before, walking alongside the Presidential limo, but suddenly–
momentarily–he FLASHES BRIGHT RED.
Additional limousines follow in the motorcade.
Crowds line the street, waving flags, shouting greetings to the
The “Dallas Policeman” steps forward and pauses.
ZOOM CLOSE IN
on the crucial window of the TEXAS SCHOOL BOOK DEPOSITORY
COMPANY, and WE SEE (our actor) LEE HARVEY OSWALD
taking aim with a rifle on the Presidential limousine.
RAPID SEQUENCE – THE “DALLAS POLICEMAN”
surreptitiously–with his pistol still holstered–raising his pistol.
RAPID SEQUENCE – OSWALD
as he FIRES his rifle, hitting Texas Governor Connally–the SOUND of
the SHOT is delayed.
RAPID SEQUENCE – THE “POLICEMAN”
as he now has his still-holstered pistol aimed directly at JFK’s head.
RAPID SEQUENCE – LONG ON THE PRESIDENTIAL LIMOUSINE
as WE SEE a FLASH OF RED LIGHT surrounding the limousine.
RAPID SEQUENCE – THE DISGUISED GUNMAN
just as he FIRES.
RAPID SEQUENCE – SCREAMING BYSTANDERS
At the SOUND of the two GUNSHOTS.
RAPID SEQUENCE – AGENT KINGMAN
as he jumps onto the Presidential limousine.
RAPID SEQUENCE – FRONT SEAT OF
THE PRESIDENTIAL LIMO
(driving; to radio)
The President’s been hit! I’m pulling out!
RAPID SEQUENCE – LONG ON THE LIMO
as it pulls out of the motorcade and accelerates toward the hospital.
INT. SIDE ROOM – PARKLAND MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
as a gurney holds A SLAIN BODY COVERED BY A SHEET.
Agent Kingman is next to the gurney in conference with an
EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR.
Of course there were serious head wounds, but
still, that doesn’t account for–
Use logic, Doctor. It couldn’t be anyone else
… and the country will be traumatized enough
without raising silly questions about the face
on that body. This man is President John F.
The Doctor pulls back the sheet on the body … and we
ZOOM IN ON
THE SERENE FACE OF DR. JOSEPH K. FITZGERALD.
INT. LECTURE HALL – HARVARD – 2163 A.D. – DAY
as WE SEE THE BACK of a man dressed in 2163 garb, delivering a
lecture–in a wholly distinctive voice–to the HISTORY CLASS.
History records many facts … some of them
right, some of them wrong. But let the record
show that, in any age, good or bad, there are
men of high ideals … men of courage … men
who do more than that for which they are
CLOSE ON THE LECTURER’S HAND
as WE SEE that on it is A HARVARD SIGNET RING.
You will not always know their names. But let
their deeds stand as a monument, so that when
the human race is called to judgment, we may
say–this, too, was humanity.
and WE SEE that the MAN delivering the lecture is JOHN F. KENNEDY.
as they RISE TO THEIR FEET IN APPLAUSE, WE HEAR:
A fitting tribute of the sort only to be found
in … The Twilight Zone.
The Twilight Zone: “Profile in Silver” is available on the DVD collection, The Twilight Zone – Season 1 (1985 – 1986).
A fan has posted it onto YouTube in three parts.
Listening to Bill O’Reilly or Dennis Prager denouncing Brown University students for shouting down New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, making it impossible for NYC’s Top Cop to speak, reminds me how almost everything that passes for political discourse these days would have confounded the Founders. (And take that, Cole Porter!)
First, are college students who shout down a government official so he can’t speak thugs, as David Horowitz’s Freedom Center has made a talking point for everyone called a right-wing pundit by left-wing pundits? Americans protesting their government both before and after the American Revolution would have considered shouting down a speaker mild thuggery at worst, considering that tarring and feathering of government tax collectors was not uncommon.
The Bostonians Paying the Excise-Man, 1774
But getting beyond the question of whether a government official speaking to justify a police policy should be suffered a hearing at an Ivy League university on general grounds of preserving open political discourse, let’s discuss the policy in controversy.
Stop and Frisk is the practice whereby a police officer upon seeing an individual on the street whom that officer considers generally suspicious — that is, not matching the description of a suspect for a specific crime — is allowed to place his hands on a person in a search for weapons or contraband.
If a private person places his hands on another person without that first person’s consent, it’s the crime of assault — and possibly sexual assault.
These police assaults are not usually of Wall Street Bankers. They’re in minority neighborhoods plagued by violent crime. The argument in favor of this policy is an end-justifies-the-means utilitarian one that it deprives gangs and street criminals of illegal arms that are used in violent crime, and a statistical claim that this police policy can be correlated with a reduction in violent street crimes since implemented.
But buried among political debates about racial profiling is the context that these police searches depend on New York gun-control laws that have violated the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitutions’ Bill of Rights for over a century, and the Fourth Amendment which requires a warrant before searching a private citizen.
Let’s bring in to this discussion the actual text of these two Amendments:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
I can read the English language and the intent of these two paragraphs is crystal clear to anyone not trained to obfuscate meaning as a lawyer or political operative.
I’ve been listening for days to right-wing pundits calling President Obama a liar because of the accusation he knowingly misrepresented to the American People that the Affordable Care Act would cause them to lose existing health insurance policies and continued treatment by their doctors.
May not I likewise, then, call the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States liars when they rule that New York gun control laws don’t violate the Second Amendment and Stop and Frisk doesn’t violate the Fourth Amendment?
I can read these two amendments and reach a clear meaning. Can not Bill O’Reilly and Dennis Prager? And if they instead choose to ignore the clearly written protections of what is intended to be the highest law of the land in favor of inferior law that violates the people’s rights, do they not themselves deserve the appellation of statist liars?
But let’s put aside the question of law for the moment and merely ask if police policy that is intrusive of individual dignity should be allowed in a free society merely because it is speculated that its use correlates with an imagined social benefit — reduction in violent street crime.
If a policy that is not intrusive of individual dignity can be reasonably argued to produce the same result, should not the policy less intrusive be preferred?
The stop and frisk policy is more likely to deter a private citizen from carrying a weapon intended to protect against a criminal attack than it is to deter a gang member who upon seeing a police officer who might stop and frisk him passes his weapon to another gang member who can leave the street and not be searched.
The prior cause of any advantage an armed criminal has is the legal prohibition against private citizens — especially minorities without access to expensive private security – being allowed the means to protect themselves.
Why can’t a so-called conservative claiming to believe in limited government understand that their support for the police is the exact same destruction of individual self-reliance that they denounce when talking about food stamps and other government social programs?
The Framers of American government attempted to set up protections so the people would be free and independent. Today’s so-called liberals and conservatives are both statists who favor disempowering the individual and making them dependent on government for their well-being.
The Framers failed and today’s defender of freedom are blind both to that failure and their own failure to know it.
J. Neil Schulman’s latest book, The Heartmost Desire, which contains his manifesto on how individual liberty is necessary for happiness, is now out. Buy it on Amazon.com. Join discussion of The Heartmost Desire on its official Facebook page.
I’ve been spending so much of my time promoting Alongside Night in all its editions — novel, movie, graphic novel, and audiobook — that I have been neglecting to promote my brand-new nonfiction book, The Heartmost Desire, released in September as both a trade paperback and a Kindle edition which is only $2.99 for full purchase.
Friends: I consider The Heartmost Desire to be both my most personal book and my hardest-core case for individual liberty. This is the book I wrote to appeal to people who need examples from real life for why liberty is necessary for personal happiness and neither State nor organized religion can free their soul.
The Heartmost Desire also contains my autobiographical description of the experiences that led me from atheism to God, but still relying on reason and rejecting religion, scripture, and faith.
I have just set up a promotion on Amazon.com which will run from November 1st through 5th, 2013. For the first five days in November 2013 the Kindle edition of The Heartmost Desire will be FREE.
Kindle editions can be read not only on Kindles but on any tablet or smart phone as well as any desk or notebook computer since there are Kindle apps for just about anything.
Don’t miss this opportunity and please pass this along to your friends.
Remember, the free Kindle edition promotion begins on November 1st and ends November 5th!
J. Neil Schulman
From the preface and foreword by fellow Prometheus-award-winning novelist, Brad Linaweaver:
Over the years many fans of J. Neil Schulman have said they want another book by him. Sometimes you get what you ask for … but it’s not always what you think you want.
Neil Schulman is one of those writers who doesn’t just write the same book over and over and over. He writes a book when he has something to say.
Neil crams more into single paragraphs than other libertarians put into entire boring tomes. He can rattle off more limitations on our supposed free speech that most of us ever consider. He can recite a list of cultural taboos to frighten the staunchest social conservative. Neil is a libertarian. So why is he so often in hot water with other libertarians, the natural audience for this book? …
A libertarian defends the right to be wrong. It takes a lot of effort to initiate force or fraud. Short of that, the libertarian is tolerant of actions that liberals and conservatives cannot understand. But a libertarian also has the right to judge the value of values.
A libertarian can have common sense. He can weigh the good and the bad in the shadowlands where ideas have yet to be put into practice. There is one kind of libertarian who will derive no benefit from the words that follow. That is someone who has no heart.
Join discussion of The Heartmost Desire on its official Facebook page.
I’m definitely tardy in posting these videos here, but I think I can claim a good excuse. Aside from supervising a new cut of the Alongside Night movie after getting audience feedback from our series of “Sneak Peek” screenings this past summer, I’ve also been shepherding release of the new Alongside Night Movie Edition — now available on Amazon.com as both $2.99 Kindle edition and a printed trade paperback; the new Alongside Night Graphic Novel scheduled for release by Thanksgiving in both printed and Kindle editions; and the new Alongside Night Audio Book planned for release by the holiday season on Audible.com/Amazon.com and iTunes.
And I’m writing a new novel before I’m back in the saddle for what’s now planned as a 2014 release of the Alongside Night movie — more details on that when our theatrical distribution is locked in.
Meanwhile, here are three new videos to tantalize you.
The Official Teaser Trailer for Alongside Night by Brian Brinkman.
Alongside Night Theme Song by Soleil O’Neal-Schulman
Two years ago when I asked Soleil O’Neal-Schulman to compose a theme song for the Alongside Night movie based on the poem I’d written back in the 70′s for the forematter of the novel I did not specify a style for the song; and a month or so ago our discussions involved how her more recent music was more alternative and less likely to satisfy what I was looking for. I simply told her, “I trust your judgment; I trust your taste” — and left it at that.
When Soleil delivered a one-verse demo, here’s what I wrote her:
“The novel Alongside Night is dedicated to Samuel Edward Konkin III, whose vision of black-market traders developing a libertarian revolutionary code first inspired me to organize two conferences held off-season at my father’s brother and sister-in-law’s Camp Mohawk in the Berkshires in fall 1974 and spring 1975; and to begin writing Alongside Night in 1974. Sam was one of my closest friends when I was your age, living in New York City, and we not only had libertarian ideas in common but we also shared a lot of the same esthetics in books, movies, and music.
“Sam and I made it a practice always to go together on opening day to see the latest James Bond movie, and we both loved the John Barry underscores and the opening song which set the tone for the movie, often sung by female artists like Shirley Bassey (“Goldfinger,” “Diamonds are Forever,” “Moonraker”), Gladys Knight (“License to Kill”), Nancy Sinatra (“You Only Live Twice”), Lulu (“The Man With the Golden Gun”), Carly Simon (“Nobody Does It Better,” from The Spy Who Loved Me, and Sheena Easton (“For Your Eyes Only”).
“You have just given Alongside Night a James Bond theme song. It’s exactly what Sam would have wanted. It’s perfect.”
I wrote two more verses with Soleil’s close guidance so in a way this song is a three way collaboration between myself at around age 24, myself at age 59, and Soleil at age 21.
Soleil provided a first-draft full production of the song to Alongside Night composer, Daniel May, and the final production is their collaboration.
After a series of sneak-peek screenings in summer 2013, it became evident that the placement of the theme song in the end titles and credits was leaving the song unheard by a lot of movie viewers in the habit of walking out as soon as the credits start. So, we have just done a new cut of the movie where the title song is moved near the movie’s opening with a “Goldfinger” style visual sequence. The “Goldfinger” song over a golden body acting as a lens to scenes later in the movie became so popular it was used in later Bond movies and even by Hitchcock in his 1966 spy thriller, Torn Curtain.
We’ve also upgraded the end credit sequence with visual footage of Jordan Page’s live performance of the freedom anthem “Unchained,” second of the songs Soleil wrote for Alongside Night, and an edited version of the speech Adam Kokesh wrote and performed at that same rally scene, which you can see uncut in the video following this.
Here are the “Alongside Night” song lyrics:
By Fearful Flight
In Garish Gray
Will Dawn Alight
And Not Decay
We hide our light
Out of the way
They bring the fight
We won’t obey
To wake our fight
To make our way
We seize the right
So come what may
–J. Neil Schulman, October 7, 2013
Soleil O’Neal-Schulman’s Theme Song for the motion picture, Alongside Night.
Music by Soleil O’Neal-Schulman
Lyrics by J. Neil Schulman
Performed by Soleil O’Neal Schulman
Produced by Soleil O’Neal Schulman
and Daniel May
CGI & VFX by Unreal Digital
One Liberty Gold Piece courtesy of
Liberty Coin Service
400 Frandor Ave.
Lansing, MI 48912
One Liberty gold pieces
Designed and Created By
Jesse Patrick of Patrick Mint, Santa Rosa, CA
And Jeff Juhas of Juhas and Sullivan Jewelry/Design
of Grand Rapids, MI
Photography of One Liberty gold pieces by
Justus Rohlfs and
WILX-TV10, Lansing, MI
Portrait of Ludwig von Mises
Courtesy of Ludwig von Mises Institute
This video contains footage from the motion
picture Alongside Night.
Copyright © 2013 Alongside Night, LLC.
All rights reserved.
Song Copyright © 2012 Alongside Night, LLC.
All rights reserved.
Buy this “Alongside Night” song on iTunes, Amazon.com, and other web music sources
Uncut Adam Kokesh Speech @ Alongside Night Rally Scene
On January 20, 2013, Adam Kokesh performed an original speech he’d written for the rally scene in the motion picture at that time in principal photography, Alongside Night. Here is that uncut speech. None of the crowd reaction to Adam’s speech from the volunteers and extras was choreographed or directed.
This is unedited footage and does not accurately represent the final production values of the completed Alongside Night motion picture.This is footage without sound mixing, editing, post production, or color correction.
The opinions expressed in this video are those written by Adam Kokesh and do not represent the views or opinions of the producers, cast or crew of Alongside Night or of Alongside Night, LLC.
If Trayvon was white, spiked hair, tattoos, piercings, leather & studs, George Zimmerman would have followed him anyway. Shut up about race.
President Obama’s impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room this morning showed the President with a lot of wisdom and common sense, and before I focus on what he could have said and didn’t, let me compliment him for what he did say.
First, President Obama did what President George H.W. Bush did not do following the California jury verdict in the trial of the officers charged with beating Rodney King, and the media did not do after the California jury acquittal of O.J. Simpson in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman: President Obama supported the jury verdict as a final answer that the public has a duty to accept.
This institutional support by civic leaders for the meaning of a trial by jury and the finality of its verdict used to be taken for granted; today it is remarkable and must be commended. It is even more poignant when the President’s own Attorney General, Eric Holder, is looking for grounds to violate the Constitution’s prohibition of retrial of a defendant after acquittal, using weaselly excuses about different trial venues.
Second, President Obama raised a question that heretofore I have only heard raised by libertarians like myself and Brad Linaweaver: if Trayvon Martin had been armed and of age, would he have had the right to “stand his ground” against an unknown stranger who was following him in the rain? We don’t know that this actually happened in the case of Neighborhood Watch Captain George Zimmerman — there is nothing in the trial record that answers this question definitively. Nonetheless it’s the right question President Obama has asked and for those of us who believe in the right to use deadly force when threatened with death or mayhem our answer is: Yes, Mr. President, had Trayvon Martin been trained in carrying a firearm, trained in conflict de-escalation, and armed, he would not have felt he had to put a gang-style “whup ass” on George Zimmerman, resulting in his own death.
Where President Obama failed as a leader of the American people today is his own tunnel vision. As an African-American male he identified with the pain and frustration of African-Americans who are disproportionately profiled and feared. But the President was unable to think outside of his own life experience to affirm that George Zimmerman — regardless of Zimmerman’s lack of wisdom and training that led him into harm’s way in defense of his wife and neighbors — was trying to do the right thing and his family’s frustration and pain needs to be acknowledged as well.
What you missed an opportunity to say today, Mr. President, is that the safety of our families and neighbors is not the responsibility of police departments who are minutes away when seconds count. You missed the chance to say that the job of each and all of us who prize civilization and liberty is to stand watch as George Zimmerman did.
You missed your teachable moment, Mr. President, to tell the American people that the lesson which could be learned from this tragic conflict is that Neighborhood Watch is a vital part of our national defense and that as Commander in Chief of the Militia with the constitutionally defined obligation to arm and train the civilian population known as the militia, you will act to ensure that civilian provision and training in the defensive use of arms will become a presidential priority, as has been neglected for well over a century.
You would have said that not universal spying by the NSA on the American people, presuming all of us to be criminal suspects, but relying on the American people themselves to be the eyes, ears, and arms in defense of our common security and liberty, is how a free people combat crime and terrorism.
Of course it is this very abandonment of Constitutional principles that is the reason Agorists have concluded that your office has become irrelevant, Mr. President, and it’s time for a new guard for our safety and liberty.
Now awaiting release: Alongside Night. Look for it in 2013!
I received a certified letter from my physician yesterday.
This letter will serve as notification to you that (clinic name) is withdrawing you from further treatment as of the date of this letter. You are hereby discharged from care by all of our physicians and treatment locations. … We suggest that you place yourself under the care of another physician and medical facility immediately.
My doctor was firing me as a patient? What was up? Was I dying from some disease they had failed to properly diagnose, and they were hoping I was dead before I discovered their malpractice and sued? Did the nurse who couldn’t draw blood from my arm file a grievance against me as a preemptive move? Had I failed to pay a bill?
None of the above.
I phoned the doctor’s office today. They are no longer accepting any patient who doesn’t sign up for their “Concierge Service” — a yearly fee in four figures for unlimited clinic visits.
No medical insurance accepted, no Medicare, total opting out from any part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — ObamaCare.
Welcome to the future of private medical practice in the United States.
Now in post-production: Alongside Night. Look for it later this year!