A Young Champion of Liberty

A Young Champion of Liberty

by Doug French by Doug French Recently by Doug French: Mass Unemployment in the Name of NormaRae

As the state grows in power and influence seemingly each and every day, those speaking out are few and far between. It’s rarely a good career move. The local worthies don’t embrace the anti-state message. Few employers want the controversy. Seeking and speaking the truth is a lonely existence with benefits that don’t make you rich.

Sadly, the cause of liberty lost one of its promising lights last Thursday. Mike Zigler was found dead at his home the following day after he didn’t show up for work. Zigler who would have turned 30 this December was the editor-in-chief of the UNLV Rebel Yell prior to becoming news editor at CityLife, an alternative weekly publication in Las Vegas. For the past few years Zigler served as the communications director at the MGM Grand and in his spare time was the editor of Liberty Watch—The Magazine.

Mike and I met when he was at CityLife. He was filling in as editor one summer while then-editor Matt O’Brien explored the sewer system under Las Vegas for a book he was writing. Mike had published a column or two of mine and he unsuccessfully pitched the idea of me writing a weekly column for the left-liberal weekly.

We started meeting for lunch talking about whether a libertarian weekly could compete with the two leftist Las Vegas alternate papers whose editorial content was and continues to be constant agitation for more government.

The alternative to the alternative newspapers never materialized, but Liberty Watch—The Magazine did with the help of our friend George Harris. With Mike as editor Liberty Watch was slick, colorful, fast-paced and hated by the guys he left behind at CityLife.

Zigler had a hand in the magazine’s best moments, such as cover stories featuring Hans Hoppe recounting his political correctness harassment at UNLV, Vegas libertarian writer Vin Suprynowicz’s talking about his book The Black Arrow as well as interviews with John Stagliano and Drew Carey.

Being against war, Mike particularly liked running Joe Sobran’s syndicated column in LW, as well as Lew Rockwell’s, plus he was able to round up talented local writers like his friend Jarret Keene to write on Nevada issues. I remember us both being very proud of the September 2007 issue that featured Justin Raimondo on the cover and a short story by Vegas writer H. Lee Barnes.

The Vegas economy took Liberty Watch down like it has so many other businesses. But, Mike managed to produce handsome program editions for the last two FreedomFests. In fact the last time I spoke with him was after this year’s event, where he and Keene gave a presentation on police abuse. He was pleased that they had drawn a good crowd, but he was surprised at how some people unconditionally support the cops no matter what they do. Mike loved, read the site daily and had a couple of articles published there. As Las Vegas author John L. Smith wrote on his blog, Zigler was a "gifted writer and critical thinker." The world doesn’t have enough of either, let alone both wrapped into one. I will always remember the laughs we shared and Zig’s enormous talent and wonder what might have been had the heavens let us keep him a while longer.