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xmag.com : February 2001:

Who has the right to kill? Who has the right to steal? Who has the right to sell drugs? Who has the right to hold others in cages? Who has the right to define what's a crime and what isn't?

It ain't us.

Who has the right to declare what can and can't be said?

The same ones who claim the sole right to kill.

Would you pay your taxes if you weren't afraid of going to jail?

And would you refrain from killing your enemies if you weren't scared of the consequences?

Nah. You know it. You live under the constant thorny feeling that you're under their thumb and too scared to make a move.

There's a problem here, and it couldn't be simpler to define. Couldn't be harder to solve, either:

1) They have the power.

2) You don't.

And they won't give it to you. Not on their lives. And there's very little you can do about it. You're at the wrong end of the gun barrel.

So you have two choices:

1) Obey them.

2) Kill them.

Murder is always a personal act. Often, it's a political act. Sometimes, it even manages to be a religious act.

The information has always been there. The techniques have always been in place. The controversy, really, is over who has access to the means of disposal.

Ultimately, you're the one who makes the decision. No one can tell you what to do. I wind up sounding like your mother here: If Johnny Johnson told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it? What about if he told you to become a contract killer? Would you do THAT? And if you were stupid enough to listen to him, would Johnny Johnson really be to blame?

Hit Man is a book that was published by Paladin Press from Boulder, Colorado. Paladin has issued other gems such as Be Your Own Undertaker--How to Dispose of a Dead Body; Ultimate Sniper and Guerilla's Arsenal: Advanced Techniques for Making Explosives and Time-Delay Bombs; and Contingency Cannibalism: Superhardcore Survivalism's Dirty Little Secret.

Hit Man was initially released in 1983 and sold 13,000 copies. It was written by "Rex Feral," who is actually a woman of undisclosed identity who has two children and a property-tax bill which drove her into book authorship. She was not a hit man, but the gal sure had a knack for playing make-believe.

Hit Man justifies itself by stating that we live under a corrupt, unresponsive system where the justice-seeking individual "must step outside the law and take matters into his own hands."

It lovingly describes the ideal hit man as "a special man for whom life holds no real meaning and death holds no fear...a man who faces death as a challenge and feels the victory every time he walks away the winner."

Hit Man is subtitled A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors, and it's this dispassionate description of the hit man as someone just doin' his job that is perhaps the book's creepiest element. It describes the murder scene as the "jobsite." Each contract killing is an "operation" which allows the hit man to "move up the ladder of professionalism and become accustomed to success":

The kill is the easiest part of the job. People kill one another every day. It takes no great effort to pull a trigger or plunge a knife. It is being able to do so in a manner that will not link yourself or your employer to the crime that makes you a professional....Give the employer what he has paid for: the cleanest, most efficient and professional services possible....Just remember, a satisfied customer may be your best source for future employment opportunities....You will find that most of your jobs will come as a direct result of personal recommendations from previously satisfied customers.

There's some helpful info here, to be sure, if your goal in life is to perform "efficient, quiet kills." The authoress informs us that "dynamite is nice,"
"poisons are sweet, silent and effective," and "women are highly emotional, rarely rational creatures." (TELL me about it, sister!) We are told that "quarter-inch plywood is only a little stronger than the human skull," and "if you are the only one running around in camouflage garb, you are more than likely to draw attention to yourself." And hey, if you're having trouble getting rid of the cadaver, "you can always cut the body into sections and pack it into an ice chest for transportation and disposal at various spots across the countryside." The author, however, is not a simple murderous pedant who's content to tell us how to do it her way: During an inspirational moment, she nudges us to "Let your imagination soar!"

James Perry was a mildly imaginative paroled felon who handed out business cards calling himself "Dr. Perry, spiritual adviser and case buster." In 1993, the aspiring hit man blew away Mildred Horn and her nurse with an AR-7 rifle, the gun recommended by Hit Man. Perry also smothered Horn's eight-year-old son to death after disconnecting the boy's respirator. Perry was performing an "operation" for Mildred's husband, Larry Horn, who stood to collect a $1.7-million insurance payoff if the hit went smoothly. According to a prosecutor, Perry followed almost two dozen of Hit Man's recommendations. However, Perry ignored the book's instructions to use an assumed name when checking into a hotel near the "jobsite." He also called the "employer" long-distance after performing the hit, another no-no according to Hit Man.

Police found a copy of the book in Perry's apartment. He admitted that he used Hit Man for pointers, although he also says he began soliciting as a contract killer before he knew of the book's existence. Perry received the death penalty, and his "employer" was hit with a life sentence.

Horn's family members sued Paladin Press for damages, arguing that Hit Man played a role in their loved ones' deaths. A lower-court decision said that although the book's "content is enough to engender nausea in many readers," and although the judges felt the book was "reprehensible and devoid of any significant redeeming social value," it was protected by the First Amendment.

Family members appealed, and a federal court overturned the lower court's decision, ruling that the book has "no legitimate purpose beyond the promotion and teaching of murder." Rather than face trial, Paladin shoveled a few million bucks to the family members and agreed to never print the book again.

It didn't end there. In 2000, a woman in Springfield, Oregon, filed a $4.5-million suit against Paladin after surviving a bungled hit. One of the would-be hit men claimed he'd scoured Hit Man for tips before attempting to ice his victim, who was able to fight him off and identify him to police. Prosecutors allege that the failed assassin followed twenty-five of Hit Man's instructions, such as buying new shoes, wearing rubber gloves and a disguise, and which .22-caliber gun to use.

Jim Bell's hit-man scheme is more complex and far-reaching than Paladin's li'l how-to manual. While Hit Man is ostensibly written for those hired to avenge personal wrongs, Bell's Internet essay "Assassination Politics" is an ingenious e-scheme designed as a cash lottery to bump off parasitic public officials.

Bell writes:

If only 0.1% of the population, or one person in a thousand, was willing to pay $1 to see some government slimeball dead, that would be, in effect, a $250,000 bounty on his head....You and me--the little guys, the ordinary working people of the world--could get together, all pitch in, and pay to have every rotten scoundrel in politics assassinated. And we could do it legally....Using modern methods of public-key encryption and anonymous "digital cash," it would be possible to make such awards in such a way so that nobody knows who is getting awarded the money, only that the award is being given....The money will go to the first person who can "predict" the date, time, and circumstances of the villain's death. Obviously, this information is only known in advance by the assassin.


Somewhat persuasively, the MIT-trained chemist argues that history's greatest holocausts would have all been averted if the common folk were willing to turn the tables on their oppressors. In Bell's scheme, systematic assassination (murder of public officials) would supplant systematic war (murder of the commoners), with a great saving in human life and a dividend of increased freedom because officials would fear being whacked every time they overstepped their power.

Of course, Bell was arrested.

Bell was charged in 1996 with using phony Social Security numbers to hide income from the IRS. He was also accused of "collecting the names and home addresses of agents and employees of the Internal Revenue Service...in order to intimidate them in the performance of their official functions." Police who raided Bell's home also found a stockpile of chemicals they suspected were to be used for terrorist activities. A friend-turned-rat of Bell's told police of how they'd discussed sabotaging government computer systems with carbon fibers. The search warrant also mentioned "Assassination Politics." An IRS inspector said that everything pointed to Bell's intent to "overthrow the government."

Bell pled guilty to impeding IRS officials and using false Social Security numbers. He served eleven months in prison. He was recently re-arrested and accused of stalking public officials. He is being held without bail in a federal jail near Seattle.

Now, this would be all well and good...meaning we could all have closure...if the government didn't rub people out with hit men. The government knows all about murder-for-hire and keeping lists of its enemies. It knows all about printing worthless cash. It knows all about intimidation and terror and power and the force of ideas.

The main problem with these books, at least for the consequences that befell their authors and publishers, is their honesty. There is no pussyfooting. They put it all up front. And that's why they got nailed. The real bad guys pretend they're good.

Y'see, the government only has a problem with murder when it isn't the one doing the killing. The government wants to corner the Death Market.

We have a newly elected president who, when he was governor of Texas, oversaw far more executions than were caused by "Assassination Politics" or Hit Man combined.

The gist of the Declaration of Independence seemed to be that if government officials don't respond to your needs, you get rid of them...and if they refuse to leave you alone, you kill them.

Not much different from "Assassination Politics," really.


The full text of Hit Man is available online at: www.overthrow.com/hitmanonline.html

"Assassination Politics" can be accessed from: www.cyberlaw.at/beitraege/ap.html




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