Bennett Interviews Boston T. Party
[Boston T. Party is the author of many books, including Boston's Gun Bible and You and the Police, available at http://www.javelinpress.com. He spoke at the 2002 Libertarian Convention in Leadville, Colorado. Elizabeth Bennett interviewed Boston there, and her interview originally appeared in the September 2002 issue of Liberty News, the newsletter for the Libertarian Party of Boulder County. The interview is reproduced here with permission of Elizabeth and Boston. -- Ari Armstrong, September 17, 2002]
ELIZABETH: I assume "Boston" is your pen name.
ELIZABETH: How did you come up with such a pen name? While it may seem obvious, however you may have a twist we would like to hear about.
BOSTON: It came to me in a dream. I was looking for some sort of fun patriotic pseudonym, for my first book Goodbye-April 15th! I did not plan to write any BTP books after that, so I just wanted to get in and get out with this book and go back to my life. It has turned out to have more staying power and relevance over the years, and fortunately I still like the name, Boston T. Party.
ELIZABETH: Is "Boston" how people typically know or address you?
BOSTON: Sure. Even my parents now call me "Boston."
ELIZABETH: So when did you write your first book?
BOSTON: I began writing Good-Bye April 15th! in 1989. It started out as a research project for a friend whose wife was an accountant. So, I said, "Surem, O.K., I'll do that, I am interested in it for myself." Then 40 pages turned into 100, and 100 into 200. At that point I had to decide, "Am I going to make a book out of this or just give it up and go on with my life?" I thought about it and talked to my parents, who were actually enthusiastic about the project, and they backed me financially. It turned into a 400 page book from 1989 to 1992.
ELIZABETH: How did Hologram of Liberty come about?
BOSTON: Hologram was my fourth book. I was researching the Constitution for purposes that I can not even remember now. I was reading something in the Federalist Papers where Alexander Hamilton had truncated the Preamble. Instead of quoting the entire thing, he wrote, "We the people of the United States do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America." That caught my mind's eye because it said, "We of the U.S. are doing this for the U.S.A." Why doesn't it say, "We of the U.S.A. are doing this for the U.S.A.," or "We of the U.S. are doing this for the U.S.?" "We of the U.S. are doing this for the U.S.A?"--hmmmm.
From the 1945 Supreme Court case Hooven v. United States I had already learned the difference of meanings of "United States." The ruling explained that the "United States" is a legal term which can mean: 1) the nation vis a vis other nations, or 2) just the 50 States, or 3) just the Federal Government and its territories. When you read, for example, tax law, it is up to you to understand which "United States" they are talking about -- nation, State, or Federal.
So, when I saw in the Constitution's Preamble that "U.S.-for-the-U.S.A." I thought, "Wait a minute, did all of this perhaps originate with the charter document of our political system? Did all of this begin from there?" So, I started relooking at the whole matter with that premise. The story I came up with astounded even me. Hologram was my only book which I did not mean to write; it sort of wrote itself.
Subsequently, I've read only one book with even a remotely similar viewpoint. Lundberg wrote Cracks in the Constitution which is highly critical of the Founding Lawyers in Philadelphia, of their lives, and what became of them afterwards. He totally trashed the idea that they were an assembly of demigods (Jefferson called them). It's a very unique premise, and one quite unsettling for a lot of people who believe in the Constitution and its system, whether they are Republicans or Libertarians. I'd like to believe in our constitutional mythology, and I certainly support a constitutional system in theory; however, I know much, much more about our actual Constitution than to give it the blind faith and credence that I once did. That book changed my life, and I wrote it. It's an eerie experience, I can tell you.
ELIZABETH: That's sign of a good book. Anytime an author can say that the journey his writing took him on changed his life, it tells us he has put that much of himself into it. Then we get to dip in and read it, and, in a sense, read part of the author.
How many other books have you written, and on what subjects?
BOSTON: My second book was You & The Police! which explains your rights during any police confrontation and how to successfully assert them. It's been my second best seller. That $15 spent can save you thousands of dollars in legal fees and court hassle. The book's like a pocket lawyer, really.
My third book, Bulletproof Privacy: How To Live Hidden, Happy, and Free!, is a practical guide on maintaining a low-profile in the modern world. It's got many of my own personal tricks and tips, and has been my best seller. I'd like to double or treble its size by 2004, and call it Boston's Privacy Primer.
I wrote a very comprehensive disaster preparedness manual called Boston on Surviving Y2K back in 1998, which was widely acclaimed as one of the 5 best books on the subject. Doubleday picked it up for The Military Book Club as Surviving Doomsday. Even though "No2K" has come and gone, the book remains highly useful in our fragile world and continues to sell.
Boston on Guns & Courage: Proven Tools for Chronic Problems came out after Hologram, and has been absorbed by Boston's Gun Bible -- newly revised this year with 10 new chapters and over 200 new pages. If it's not in those 848 pages, you don't likely need to know it. It's been endorsed by many shooting professionals already, and is really doing well throughout the industry.
Finally, I am hard at work on my first novel Molon Labe! We may see it by November. It's been great fun to plan and plot, but a much more sweeping story than I first contemplated. If you liked Atlas Shrugged or Unintended Consequences, you'll like Molon Labe! Lots of action in a ripping good story. I can't wait to read it!
ELIZABETH: How would you label yourself politically? Are you affiliated, or do you consider yourself outside that scope?
BOSTON: Small "l" libertarian, I would say. There is probably little within the Libertarian platform that I could disagree with, but I am just not very politically active. I do enough, I think, in being Boston and writing my books. I am paying my dues in the fight, so I don't have much time left over for political party action.
ELIZABETH: What was Boston like before you became Boston T. Party?
BOSTON: I can hardly remember. I was much more footloose and carefree. People who knew me then have remarked that I have become a lot more serious. Not so much the jaded, cynical type, but just a more serious person. I miss the funnier, more lighthearted sense of myself I once had. I am trying to get that back.
ELIZABETH: Do you think you can?
BOSTON: Oh yeah, he's still there. It's just if you are a professional political dissident for ten years, and if you take the precautions that I have, it tends to wear you down. For example, I cannot stock my books in a publicly known location, any more than I could have a phone in my own name (which would be monitored pretty quickly). If you take those kinds of precautions over and over for ten years, plus the social fallout that it causes and the strain amongst your friends, it gets old. It certainly is not a life-style I recommend. It's a means to an end, and a necessary evil. I hope to go back to my former entrepreneurial life where I traveled a lot overseas, with interests that were unrelated to politics. Perhaps after the novel has been out a couple of years.
ELIZABETH: What will be the first thing you do when those couple of years are through and you can reach for that "normal life?"
BOSTON: Well, what I'd like to do is sail to the Ionian Sea for several months and scuba dive with beautiful Mediterranean women. Yes, it's shallow and hedonistic, but that's precisely the point. For a decade I've had to largely combine business with pleasure--which has worked because my business is my pleasure -- but even Boston can read and write and shoot so much.
Actually, what I'd really like to do is marry and start a family. I'm already "Uncle Boston" to many of my friends' children, and that means a lot to me.
ELIZABETH: Do you actually feel free when you take all of these precautions so your personal life is protected? When you always have to worry about the risks?
BOSTON: Well, in this world you sort of choose your own form of bondage, I guess. The slave has a peculiar kind of freedom. When taken care of like an eternal child, it's freedom from thought and choice. It is a kind of freedom, and also a kind of slavery. Conversely, if you are very cognizant of our gilded cage, and you take steps to counter that, or to make it ineffective, you will give yourself a unique kind of freedom that Americans don't have, but you'll also give yourself a unique kind of bondage. The balance point is up to the reader to decide. You asked me once, "Do you do everything that you recommend in your books"? No, I don't. I think it is humanly impossible to do that for any length of time. I know a reader that tries. He is a good friend and highly intelligent, but he is the about most paranoid person I know. He is way, way too wrapped up in all of this, listening to talk radio hours each day, worried about contrails in the sky, etc. I said, "Bill, I've never seen you on a date in a restaurant!" I tell him, "Bill, go live a life! All of this stuff is a means to an end." And that end is a joyous life.
ELIZABETH: I have to say, if you are a person who really gets into what he reads -- like Joe and I did with Bulletproof Privacy -- it really can, and did make me feel so on edge, so cautious. You have to finish the book and take some time to think about it and understand what conditions would push you to take such precautions as you discuss. Fortunately, mine does not, I don't think. I had said to Joe, "...how free can you be when you're looking over your shoulder constantly"? However, as you said, if it is a means to an end, it makes a bit more sense. I assume you are looking to get back to a "real life" at some point?
BOSTON: I am surprised how long my "tour of duty" has lasted. It will be twelve and a half years after the novel has been published and is selling well. And, I am surprised at what I've concluded I had to do to make all of that happen. It is certainly not for everyone. The average person can look at Bulletproof Privacy, which has a lot of outrageous advice, and pick and choose what's applicable to them. You can have a lot of privacy with little effort. It's the 80/20 rule -- Pareto's Law. You can have 80 percent of the privacy for 20 percent of the effort. That final 20 percent of the privacy is likely not worth the final 80 percent of the effort. I write my books "served piping hot from the kitchen." Too hot to eat in their entirety, so the reader must let them cool down as much as they need to, and eat what they are comfortable with. Nobody can live my entire program in its entirety for any extended period of time. Not even me.
That's the biggest misconception readers have with my books, that I am describing a total life plan. Not at all. I write them "piping hot" because I don't know which reader will need full-bore information and ideas. So, I fill every chapter to the brim. If I had written my books to seem reasonable for the average reader, my books would have ended up as worthless Pablum. For these sorts of subjects, one has to overwrite and let the reader graze. Too few people understand that and mistakenly conclude that I'm a paranoid nut. Oh, well...
ELIZABETH: Have you ever had an instance where you felt the pressure, say government or people looking to invade your privacy?
BOSTON: Yes. I had an instance seven years ago because of my overt privacy raising red flags amongst the local authorities. They wanted to "lift up my dress," so to speak. They did not know I was Boston, but they knew I was a very cagey, private guy and that was suspicious to them. It was an interesting afternoon I spent and it went no where. My place wasn't raided, my office wasn't raided -- they didn't even know where such was.
After that I notched things up quite a bit. I had gotten pretty lax in encrypting my computer files, for example, and a few other details. My privacy infrastructure is much stronger today for it, so I've been able to stand down quite a bit. Still, I'd love to goof off in Greece for a year and not be bothered with any of it.
ELIZABETH: I think we would all like to do that. I get the impression you are always on guard, or high alert. You can see that you are someone who is always conscious of your environment, ready at any instance.
BOSTON: That's true.
ELIZABETH: Is it something that is natural for you, or is it something that you have trained yourself to do?
BOSTON: That's always been a trait of mine. I'm very aware of my surroundings. You could say I've made a hyperdevelopment of it after I became a political dissident. I do not go out in public too often as Boston, and when I do I am very alert. I don't want to get nabbed in some preplanned arrest. It may seem tempting for the feds to cause me a lot of grief by putting drugs or contraband in my car. And once that sort of accusation is made, my reputation would be indelibly tainted. By the way, if anything like that ever happens, folks should know in advance that I am being set up. You can count on me not to make any coarse or stupid mistakes. First of all, I don't even own any drugs or contraband, and even if I did, I wouldn't be so stupid as to drive around with it.
ELIZABETH: Now, I am going to get a little more personal. What about Boston when he's not Boston? When you are home and just trying to live your life? How do you have relationships, be they friendships, romantic, or just neighborly? Do you think that will change in your future?
BOSTON: Naturally I try to choose friends who are not fascist demigods. I try to choose friends that are generally libertarian oriented. They do not have to be Randians or LP members, but they must generally understand what honesty is in relation to the political process. That makes for a limited pool of friends to begin with. There are not that many naturally Libertarian people in the world, even in America. I am not looking for quantity, I am looking for quality. I don't have a whole lot of time for a social life anyway, just because of all of the reading I have to do. That's O.K. I've got half a dozen very good friends where I live, and I don't see them often enough.
As far as getting into town and meeting folks in general, that's easy enough to do, but I find that I do not have much in common with them. I don't want to talk about the Avalanche game the night before, or the newest fad. It just doesn't interest me, and besides, recreation is for doing not discussing. I am not lonely over it as I don't require a whole lot of company. The company that I do have is of very high quality, and I am very grateful for that.
It is harder to find a lady, who gets all of this -- or who at least puts up with it. Oh well, I only need one.
ELIZABETH:Well, I hear there are men in Utah that might not agree with that. What about your future? What if you were to have children? Would you raise a child in this world, and how would you do that?
BOSTON: Absolutely. I would not only raise a child, but hopefully children in this world. It is our duty to institute our "reconquista", as I put it. There are people walking around politically in the wrong, and trying to steal from the rest of us. That is flat out wrong. Unfortunately we are being outbreed. So I will do what I can. I I have a friend who has four children. They just had their fourth child. I do what I can to support that, because that is part of the future of this country if we are going to have any freedom.
ELIZABETH: One of the best ways to build Libertarians is to hatch them. Many people have a very hard time trying to speak to their children about politics. Politics is not just local city government or the federal government, really it is life. It is all politics. It is how we treat other people. In a lot of a libertarian household it is the morality taught at home. Not by the schools or other governing bodies. People now seem to see morality, choose, and such lessons, as political. They have handed SO MUCH of their own responsibility over to the government. So many will not discuss morality, let alone politics with their children. I think that is so very wrong. I really wish I had someone who would have share political ideas with me. Instead, I remained unaffiliated, unrepresentative, and basically annoyed at the system, until about 30. That is a long time to wait. Now that I have taken the red pill (as Joe's says, referring to the movie, the Matrix), I cannot turn it off. I cannot let the "small" indiscretions of the government pass unnoticed. I think if I were brought up to think about rights, and basic political ideas, I would have been a stronger voter, a stronger American.
BOSTON: I think if children are brought up on firm and clear teaching on what private property is, where boundaries are, and what personal responsibility is, that will all extrapolate into the political person later on. Politics would be almost a mute issue as adults would be aghast at any suggestions of theft or coercion. You would have a generally moral people from the ground up. You would naturally be a libertarian when you grew up.
ELIZABETH: What has this lifestyle cost you, these past ten years? Any regrets? Fantastic moments?
BOSTON: It's cost me a great deal of money in opportunity costs. Although I am finally comfortable financially, I'd have been a wealthy man applying my talents elsewhere. But, obviously, I value some things more highly than mere wealth, or I wouldn't have been Boston all this time.
Regrets? None so poignant to recall.
Fantastic moments? Plenty! Each of the eight books I've written and published. All of the fine people I've met and befriended. The 40 states I've traveled to for book promotion. The letters and e-mails I receive from total strangers thanking me for waking them up and changing their lives. I am very blessed to have been chosen for this duty.
ELIZABETH: I am going to close with this question. There is a lot of American Pride out there right now. It is frustrating that so many have had that pride all along, and were considered not only "unfashionable," but strange, even. It really unsettles me to thing that disaster brings out the "American Pride" in so many. Would you say you are proud to be an American? Why?
BOSTON: That's a very fine question. I am proud to be an American. I am very blessed and lucky. I could have been born anywhere, as all of us could have. This is the only country that was ever founded with an avowed moral purpose. Although that purpose has largely been lost, it's still a purpose that I am very proud of, and that I fight for, although I do not believe in the adage, "My country, right or wrong.". Where else are you going to live that you can enjoy this amount of modest freedom? I am not going to run off to a foreign country, just because I can be private, have my own life there, and say, "Tough for you people back home!" I am going to stay here as long as I can, and fight for the liberty we once enjoyed, and for the liberty I would like to return to my children. If it doesn't happen in America, it is not going to happen in the world at all.
ELIZABETH: Thank you Boston. I know your time is precious, and I can not thank you enough to sparing a bit to speak with me. I know how much it takes for me to take the time I do, in the effort to fight to regain our freedom. I also know, your time is 100% dedication. I think this weekend the only time I have seen you relax was Friday night at the cocktail hour. Your efforts are appreciated adn you have given so much of yourself. You make a difference in this world. Thank you.
BOSTON: Thank you, Elizabeth. Don't give me too much credit, however. All this was apparently written into my character, so I didn't have much choice! What will be interesting is how this stage play turns out. I plan on doing much more while I can.