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professor who dwells on ideas and never sees sunlight. Maybe for me, the student goes on calmly, it’s that I’ve been studying martial arts since I was young. Martial arts, I say. You learn to think differently, to behave differently, he says. That would be a new approach, I say. The study of literature through martial arts. I don’t know why I’m pissed but I am, and I hold him up outside the class, no karate, no kung fu. So this kind of experience, this journey he took, you’ll never suffer from one, never be sucked up with doubt and fear and guilt? That can never happen, not even for a few hours like when you’re sick or something? Not me, he says. But it’s not just martial arts training. I study Zen, too. Professor Gilb is the author of The Magic of Blood and The Last Known Residence of Mickey Actin& This article is partially funded by a grant from the Austin Writers’ League, with the support of the Texas Commission on the Arts. “Dialogue,” from page 2 we have barely scratched the surface of its potential. Here are a few modest suggestions for tapping this treasure. 1.Privatize the legislature. Think of all the savings in campaign costs alone. And there would be no need for campaign contributions. I am sure that businesses would pass those savings on to the consumer. Let the people who really know write the laws. Everyone knows that business people are more honest and trustworthy than politicians. I know I would feel a lot more comfortable if the pesticide levels for the food I ate were determined by the producers, if the quality of my drinking water were controlled by chemical companies, and if my utility rates were controlled by utility companies. 2.Privatize the executive branch. Get rid of all those expensive elected officials feeding at the public trough! And abolish all state agencies. Politicians are forever promising to run government “like a business.” Why go half way? Since business is so much more efficient, let business do the whole job. And since business is so much more virtuous, they won’t be needing any regulation. 3.Privatize the judiciary. The judicial process could be made significantly faster and cheaper by eliminating lawyers and juries. Juries are notoriously undependable and inefficient. I know I would rather have my fate decided by a legal expert with a profit motive and a case quota to meet. Now, some poor fool is bound to object that all of this is prohibited by the Texas State Constitution. And a sorrier, more inefficient document, I have never seen. The solution is obvious: write a new one. I know that this has been tried before without success, but we didn’t go about it the right way. Contract it out! I’ll just bet that the low bidder could come up with a humdinger for us. Cost-consciously yours, Robert L. Blau Austin NO COMFORT FOR ATHEISTS! I am one of those atheists! \(it seems that the word is never written without an exclamation Happy Holidays! With this issue, the Observer staff begins our annual break for the holidays. Our office will be closed from December 18 through January 4, and our next issue will be dated January 22, 1999. Happy holidays to all our readers, and good luck for the New Year! taph, and my confession continues. With the full understanding that the memorial was to honor early Hill Country Freethinkers, and with the full permission of the initiator of the project, I solicited a Freethought organization tion. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an organization which monitors church/state entanglement and promotes education about Freethought, contributed $1,000 to the Comfort memorial, and was happy to have been asked. The issue of atheism was not a question regarding those early settlers. The word has been maligned as far back as organized religion has existed, but free thought can lead to atheism. The early settlers were Freethinkers, and seemingly proud of it. Modern-day Freethinkers anywhere on the globe would happily honor them. Nobody cared if those early settlers had progressed to the atheist position, or if they had, had chosen not to use the term. That was beside the point. Now, atheism is very much the point. Not only are the Christian bigots trashing atheists in every way imaginable, but, suddenly, some of the Freethinkers who hobnobbed very happily with those of us who are not ashamed of what we are, or afraid of the term atheist, are aghast that atheists have “infiltrated their project and besmirched it!” No such thing ever happened. Freethinkers subdivide under many terms, terms which they prefer as more reflective of their philosophical position. Freethought is an umbrella term for everyone who thinks freely, including thinking freely on the subject of reli gion. Freethinkers of any and all of the sub terms such as Humanist, Secular Humanist, Agnostic, Rationalist, or atheist, worked together on the Comfort project. Who has ever been honored for thinking? Nobody that I know of. People are honored for their accomplishments, but not for the thoughts which led them to achieve good things. This was a firsttime event, and all freethinkers were behind it, proud to be associated with it, thrilled to donate to it, and very much under the impression that there was nothing secret about their participation in.this glorious first: a memorial to peo ple whose thoughts were not chained by dogma or influenced by popular opinion. Well, why did we even dream this was possible? Silly us. We should have known that thought is still not popular, because thoughts that are free can lead to dangerous things such as the abolition of slavery, for one. So the bigots have won, and that’s to be expected. What wasn’t to be expected was that Freethinkers would turn against their own, just because of one little innocent word, the Aword, which it appears nobody understands or tries to. This hysterical reaction could be understood if there were, indeed, indisputably one God. In theory there is. In practice there are as many gods as there are people. Atheists are people who just don’t pretend to buy the oneGod theory, and who have not formed a Godconcept of their own. Gosh, that’s scary! Catherine Fahringer San Antonio PARTEN FOR PEACE I enjoyed the article on J.R. Parten \(“Power in important omission in the article was that J.R. was an early opponent of American participation in the Vietnam.War. He was one of the few major establishment figures in Texas who took that position, and I worked with him toward that goal. Harold Willens, an industrialist in Los Angeles, headed an organization known as The Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace, and J.R. was a member and supporter of that organization, as was I. J.R. correctly believed that the Vietnam War was the wrong war, at the wrong time, at the wrong place, and for the wrong reason. Jesse H. Oppenheimer San Antonio DECEMBER 25, 1998 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23