are secondary, no, unimportant, evennmeaningless, in the process of creatingna media superstar. Gary Gilmore wasngood “copy”; he was not some derangednhillbilly or ghetto hit man, but a calculating,nreasonably intelligent man whonturned his life consciously to the pursuitnof evil: “I walked in on Benny Bushnellnand I said to that fat son of a bitch,n’Your money, son, and your life.’ ” Thatnhe was a killer rather than a rock-musicnidol or a producer of pornographic filmsnwas only a difference of style. He hadndone things no other media star of LarrynSchiller’s and Mailer’s pedigree had. Henbelonged to a world of brutal violencenand animal cunning, but he was at thensame time totally at ease in their world:ncool, chatty, well-read, and most of all,ncontemptuous of the stodgy, unfashionablencivil authorities, as personified bynWarden Sam Smith and the stiff-lippednMormon community. In a sense, then,nGilmore was like them, and much wasnsaid and done in the name of journalismnto bring him closer into the fold of raffishnbizarros who roost in New York,nlike Mailer, and Los Angeles, likenSchiller.nSecond, that Norman Mailer, a writernof dubious gifts, can find a publisherneven today, when the industry is tight,nfor a volume of boring paragraphs separatednby big white spaces intended tonmake it longer. There seems to be annintractable audience for such slippingnwriters on both coasts of the UnitednStates, who care not a whit about thenquotations or the fate of Gary Gilmore,nbut yearn to protect their standing innthe claque of literati who still think ofnMailer as the relentless exposer of thenquaintness of American institutions.nThe Executioner’s Song, then, isnboth witness and exhibit. Mailer,nthrough his tapes and clippings, detailsnthe press’s disgusting pursuit of everynpointless fact, every tasteless anecdote,nin the progression towards Gilmore’snend. The night before the execution,nwhile attorneys of the American CivilnLiberties Union fought a last losingnbattle in the U.S. Supreme Court forna stay of execution (denied even bynJustices Marshall and Brennan), thenpress were getting drunk in their carsnand radio vans outside the prison. Thenbeneficiary of all this vulturelike circlingnof the corpse, with Geraldo Rivera ofnABC screaming at the producers ofnGood Morning America to cut the RonanBarrett segment, was Norman Mailer,nbailed out again, presumably at the lastnRethinking Linguisticsnand LiberalismnGeoffrey Sampson: Liberty and Language;nOxford University Press;nNew York.nby Gordon M. PradlnJL hat government which governsnbest, governs least, because paradoxicallynit allows its citizens the mostnopportunity to govern their own economicnaffairs and thus to reap the ensuingnbenefits. Sijch heterodoxy is seldomnvoiced today, especially in academicncircles, ruled as we are by the arrogantnauthority of the “expert” who wouldnincreasingly plan our lives away. Innlight of this it is particularly refreshingnto come across a book that makes anstrong case for the old-style liberalismnthat we will need to reassert if all ournfreedom is not to trickle away tonWashington.nGeoffrey Sampson’s argument isnbased on his reassessment of the worknof Noam Chomsky, the MIT linguistnwhose insights regarding the nature ofnlanguage have led him to attack Americannforeign and domestic policy fromnthe philosophical vantage point of hisnown particular brand of socialism.nFocusing on Chomsky’s misappropriationnof the terms creativity and free-nDr. Pradl is Professor of English atnNew York University.nnnmoment, from another lawsuit or overduenalimony payment. Because his viewnof the writer as voyeur and his aberrantnregard for the ethical guideposts ofnAmerican life are intrinsic to his treatmentnof the life and crimes of GarynGilmore, the book is an indictment ofnboth Mailer and his publisher—and will,none fondly hopes, serve to isolate himnand his avid readers from the genuinelyncritical literary currents of America. Dndam, Sampson traces the roots of thenempiricist-rationalist quarrel in ordernto demonstrate that liberalism, not socialism,nis the best political arrangementnfor guaranteeing our continued economicnand social progress. Yet althoughnhe is dealing with weighty and abstractnconcepts, Sampson, himself a professornof linguistics at the University of Lancasternin Great Britain, has consciouslynwritten with the layman in mind. Thusnhe has kept technical jargon, both linguisticnand political, to a minimum,nmaking the material entirely accessible.nAnd what a pleasure to find a linguistnwith a sense of style: fluent, forcefulnand concrete, yet spiced with irony andnwit.nSampson begins by giving due recognitionnto Chomsky’s intellectualnachievement, one which has revolutionizednthe way we now describe humannlanguage. Chomsky’s claim is that actualnhuman languages are clearly lessndiverse than one would logically expect.nIn other words what is surprising aboutnnatural languages is not how differentnthey are, but how similar they turn outnto be on closer inspection. This similaritynacross languages has been expressednthrough the concept of linguistic universals,nnamely those principles thatnoperate at the level of syntax to strictlyngovern how many words may be combinednin order to form acceptable orn••^••H^ISnMarch April 1980n