Interview With The Advocate

Next was a young fellow from the Advocate. He too was a perky blonde, but rather more stylish.

“Could we talk about gay rights?”

“Could we not talk about rights at all?”

“Could you explain?”

“It seems any time people talk about rights, we get into a complicated discussion. Is this a right? Is that a right? I wonder if it isn’t better to look for simpler, neater approaches.”

“We have freedom. Freedom isn’t like a pie, something for people to divide and squabble over. We have a saying.” Jim pointed to the plaque:

“Peace is morally and socially acceptable.”

“What does that mean?”

“Whatever you wish to do, is it peaceful and honest? Alternatively, do you wish to rape, murder, steal, or otherwise do unjustifiable violence to someone? If the answer to the former is yes, and no to the latter, we’re good. Enjoy!”

“What do you think about gay marriage?”

“Are you aware that my son is happily married to a man? It was a lovely, very popular wedding.”

The lad brightened. Hadn’t he done his research?

“What about the ENDA?”

“Could you explain it to me like I’m not an American? Since I’m not.”

“Well, uh, that’s the Employment Non Discrimination Law. it …”

Jim raised a hand. “Please stop. May I show you the Constitution of the government of Wallenberg?”

The reporter perused the sheet. Twice. “This is it? No taxes? No laws?”

“No taxes. We have, by far, the tiniest government imaginable. Any smaller, you might lose it when pulling the drain plug. As for the laws, the people of Wallenberg have as many laws as they deem necessary. And I don’t recall any discrimination laws. But I could be wrong.”

“But aren’t you concerned about discrimination?”

“These issues don’t seem to matter here. I don’t have any idea what to say to you folks in America.”

“What about hate crimes?”

When Jim heard what that was, he was perplexed. “I don’t like to talk about freedom of X, can’t see the point of divvying up freedom like it was a prize. But don’t Americans have freedom of speech?”

“But don’t gays and lesbians suffer more from violent crime?”

“Not in Wallenberg. Let me show a surveillance clip.”

The reporter watched an altercation between a white guy and a mixed-race couple, resolved when Ted prevented the hateful criminal from tumbling over a railing. It concluded with a conversation.

“We need to talk.”

Ted squatted. Daryl followed. “I tried to boost a car today. The <bleep> owner kept the car, but bought me lunch. How am I supposed to live?”

“Kept the car, did he? Sucks to be you. Have you tried living peacefully?”

Ted left a card. It read “Fresh Start. Peace is morally and socially acceptable.”

The reporter from the Advocate was stunned.

“This guy,” Jim said, “was the leader of a group of three thieves who crossed the border. To the best of our knowledge, those three were the only violent criminals in all of Wallenberg so far, this year.”

“Why wasn’t the guy arrested?”

“For being stupid?”

“Why not report him to the police?”

“Would it shock you if I said we have no police?”

“Yes, it would. But … Only three criminals in the entire country? How does that happen?”

“We seem to have no vice laws at all. People care about rape, murder, theft, that sort of thing. Who sleeps with whom, who smokes what, not important.”

“You see this fellow, Ted? He’s from Nigeria, one of my best and brightest students. The girl Sarah arrived about the same time, from South Carolina. Ted works part time with the militia.”

“Anyhow, Ted and I chatted. He didn’t meet this guy by accident. It was their second meet. Ted’s objective, both times, was to keep the guy out of trouble.”

“Why didn’t Ted take the guy’s gun?”

“That would be theft. Ted doesn’t do theft.”

“But isn’t it risky?”

“It is. That’s why we’re keeping an eye on him. We hope to keep him out of trouble. Trouble that could get him killed.”

“Wow. Not what I expected. I got to go. Thank you very much, sir.”

“And thank you, sir.”


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