You Libertarians Are Always Exaggerating the Effects of Laws.

I get it all the time on any number of issues - Coyote, you are just exaggerating the effect of that law.  No one would try to enforce it that way.

For example, who would ever expect that a good-intentioned law to halt cyber-stalking (its for the children!) would be used by government officials to prosecute citizens who criticized them?

  • Mark

    This is the best you can do?

    This is not some outrageous First Amendment issue. I agree that the police are manipulating the law to some degree, but it is also clear that there is a leak and that sensitive information is being spilled to the public. Usually that makes people angry and makes them do stupid things like this.

    The real story about how worthless such an example is, consider how the public responded to the issue.

  • steve

    Yes of course, telling people that a cop is romantically involved with the homicide suspect they are investigating is sensitive information. Naturally, the people involved want retaliation for this leak. Fortunately for them, they have all the means necessary to do so.

    Don't forget to mention that these cases are just isolated incidents.

  • Mark

    "Yes of course, telling people that a cop is romantically involved with the homicide suspect they are investigating is sensitive information. Naturally, the people involved want retaliation for this leak. Fortunately for them, they have all the means necessary to do so.
    Don’t forget to mention that these cases are just isolated incidents."

    1. And I think it is, or at least potentially it is. There are several factors related to why this could be sensitive that really do not need extended discussion. I will just give two of the main reasons, the situation you point out could be part of an investigation and I think that this issue has less to do with what was said than that it was said at all.

    2. And, as I have stated in earlier discussion, the "means" are rather weak, and bumbling, and for the most part they have really made themselves look ridiculous. If these yahoos are what you are afraid of then my sympathies.

    3. ANd they are "isolated" incidents. That is why it is such big news. Do you know how I am certain that there is very little racism in the United States today? For what passes as racism today. Don Imus saying "nappy haired hos" is a major news story. Big deal.

    Do you know how I knew that the press was exaggerating the problems in Iraq? That when a U.S. helicopter got shot down it was a major knews story. If they would have spent as much time during the Viet Nam war covering aircraft losses they would have devoted the entire prime time to just that. You can tell you are losing a war when 9,000 of your fixed and rotary winged aircraft are shot down, not when a single helicopter crash (although tragic) is a news worthy event.

    You know how I know this isn't a big issue in the United States today? That this is a major local news story. Big deal. Far from an abuse of power, this shows that The Man really does not have much left in his bag of tricks. Using the "Internet Stalking" statutes? Come on, please, if you cannot see how weak these people are that is your problem. In the old days, they would have wire tapped all of their suspects (without a warrant), figured out who the culprit was (or close enough) , made a midnight raid on his home (without a warrant), and dragged him down to the station for a real beat down (without his lawyer present or mirandizing him). ANd that would have been that.

    And, really, law abiding people really have little to fear from that.

  • My understanding here is that in a libertarian society people will get to be completely free to act in ways they choose. In other words, they get to choose their own morality, which must be equated to any other morality so long as it does not cause a direct harm to others. While I understand here that you are arguing against laws that may be twisted towards nefarious ends, is the law the problem, or is it the people who feel free to twist (I think that is a evil morality) the law that is the problem? Would this same sort of thing happen without the law? Absolutely it would. There have been all kinds of cases where police exact revenge against people who no more than called them a pig at a bar and they got wind of it. It would just have the police officer using his coercive position to threaten the company on another level, or get one of his suspects to do the digging for him, in order to get out of some charges that might be real against him. All this stuff happened long before this law. I do not agree with the law, but the law is not the problem, it is the people who feel free to be immoral, and in this instance happen to be police. Libertarian philosophy guarantees that more, not less people will turn to the sort of morality the police showed here rather than towards good morality that most of America showed just a few decades ago and no longer does.

    Tell me why I am wrong on this.

  • steve

    Actually you are correct Mark. The beat downs are far more common then this kind of thing.

  • steve

    Contempt of Cop I think is what they the cops that is call it.

  • steve

    "My understanding here is that in a libertarian society people will get to be completely free to act in ways they choose. In other words, they get to choose their own morality, which must be equated to any other morality so long as it does not cause a direct harm to others."

    People are always free to choose their own morality regardless of the society or laws they live under. Granted society can influence peoples moralities even if they can not dictate them.

    A society based upon the premise of first do no harm to others seems like a reasonable place to start. If there were but one tenent of morality that I could influence other peoples individual morality with this is the one. Libertarian philosophy does not preclude you attempting to influence other tenets of morality just so long as you don't violate this one in the process.

    The only difference between libertarian and other systems is it attempts to rigorously follow this proposition to various conclusions on how to organize society. Most of which don't differ much from Classical Liberal thought which is what the U.S. was based upon before the corruption of socialism.

    These tenents have not been proved in any kind of scientific sense I think. It is impossible to run double blind tests on societies so the scientific method is out. The best you can do is draw comparisons with history which always differ in their details so their is always room to argue nearly any case you want.

  • steve

    Oh and astonerii, you are correct that the cops can retaliate in other ways without this law. The complaint is not that bad cops will now retaliate whereas before the wouldn't (they often would). Its that now they have the color of law to do their retaliation. They can't be legally touched. At least with their old methods they could be brought up on charges.

  • Mark

    I am sorry, but if this does not demonstrate how impotent the police and government really is, nothing will convince you.

  • steve

    We have a higher rate of incarceration than any country in the world. The government regulates every inch of business right down to little girls running lemonade stands.

    However, they don't fire on street demonstrations like the government in Syria so that makes them impotent.

  • Mark

    "We have a higher rate of incarceration than any country in the world. "

    So what. I like the fact that criminals are being punished and off the street. The correlation between our incarceration rate and crime rate cannot be denied. Put the criminals in jail and there will be less crime, what a brilliant thought.

    And, as a business owner with 500 employees, I understand business over regulates. But, I also understand that the answer to that problem is NOT get rid of all regulations. Frankly, what I would like to see is that government change the way they view "regulations", as an objective not as a bunch of hard and fast rules that are mostly concerned with paperwork. If safety is an objective, look at what a business is doing (probably in their own interests) to improve safety, not worry about the piles of documentation or trivial issues like how high a railing is. But, our government is a beuracracy and functions as such.

  • steve

    http://www.mapsofworld.com/world-top-ten/countries-with-highest-reported-crime-rates.html

    The link between making more things illegal and reported crime rates can not be denied.

    I personally don't think the U.S. is particularly less safe then other countries as this article implies. I just think more things are a crime. Also, I don't quite believe that even then the U.S. has the highest crime rates in the world. Clearly, the amount of reporting has something to do with it.

  • steve

    http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=3231

    This one appears more realistic to me. It doesn't show the U.S. as overwhemingly the worst just not the best either. It appears to me that it may be based on convictions instead of reports.

  • Steve. I agree that the law is not a good law. It is first too vague, and second too open to twisting. But, I do not see where cops are ever really held to account, unless they go way out on a limb to get someone, they are almost to a uniform, protected from negative consequences.

    I got rear ended by a guy. He decided to run from the accident. His license plate was covered by huge crash bars. I drove to the front, there again, license plate covered by huge crash bars. So I followed him and when he stopped I called the police and confronted him. He happened to be friends with the cop. My choice, suck up the accident, or get charged with stalking and some form of endangerment. Anyone think I would have any chance of getting the cop any negative consequences, not on your life. This was blatant in your face absolutely illegal activity on the part of the cop, no lawyer in town would talk to me and the police just simply said I never had contact with that cop. Never happened, the phone call never happened, nothing.

  • steve

    Still, even if you like the criminals off the streets, it hardly speaks to the impotence of the police.

  • steve

    astoneril - I agree that sort of thing happens all the time. Currently, the few things one can do about it like anonymous criticism on the internet or the use of cell phone cameras to record the actions of police are under attack by new laws.

    I agree with you that the blue wall of silence can't be entirely eliminated. That's why it is important to defend the avenues of justice we do have, as well as those few brave souls who do take enourmous risks to obtain justice. I think it is important for police to believe that they could be prosecuted for any crimes they commit.

  • Mark

    "My choice, suck up the accident, or get charged with stalking and some form of endangerment. Anyone think I would have any chance of getting the cop any negative consequences,"

    To a certain point, I don't really believe you. DId you contact your insurance company? Did you gather any evidence, like photos? YOur insurance company is going to pursue this using legal avenues you don't even have simply because they don't want to pay for the accident. They don't need local attorneys.

    And, this anecdote really does not prove anything. There is no law that allows the police to protect some individuals. This is just renegade police officers. There are plenty of them, no doubt. But the "Internet Stalking Rule" does nothing to create them.

  • Mark they do not need laws, that is the point.

    Believe what you will. I have no reason to make up the story. There are plenty of stories out there of other people to make my point. My personal one is just easier to write up, cause I do not have to go looking for it.

  • Oh, I got a much better one. I grew up in a small town. My aunts and uncles used to tease the Barker brothers, because their nose was flat, like a pigs and they were over weight. There was a kid that was in an out of MHI (mental health institute) that was always getting into trouble. The cop did not like me, and I got into my fair share of trouble. One winter, someone broke into a business and stole some stuff. Barker (now the towns only police officer) imagined I did it, but had no evidence, he was outside the local store talking to the MHI kid and my cousins were there and saw Barker hand over to the MHI kid 5 $20 bills. About half an hour or an hour later the MHI kid showed up to my scout meeting in a trench coat with a shot gun/rifle inside telling me how he was going to shoot me if I did not confess to the theft, I told him to get lost and that two other people had already told me they purchased some of the stolen goods from him, so why on earth would I take blame for his crimes. He left, I told the scout leader, got an escort home and learned what my cousins saw. I can put one and one together. Would the criminal system be able to do that without photographic or other recorded evidence and even so, Mr Barker would be able to say he had no idea what little MHI dude was going to do to get the information out of me. Sorry, maybe being 12 years old and having things like this happen to you pretty much make you a pessimist about law enforcement officers ever getting the justice they deserve when they are outside the law. By the way, MHI was found guilty for the theft and just went to MHI yet again. He later beat the Methodist preacher and again went to MHI. Got to love small town politics. Made family reunions there pretty interesting though until my grandmother died. Now I have no reason to ever go back to that town.

  • ErisGuy

    Hmm.... lemme think. Lawyers write laws, lawyers enact laws, lawyers enforce laws; so, now it does not come as a surprise that lawyers uses laws to prohibit mockery of lawyers. Of what use is power if you do not use it for youself?

  • Mark

    "Got to love small town politics"

    So, move. Voting with your feet is one way that tyranny is defeated. For example, if you are being persecuted for your puritan religious beliefs, cram onto a small boat and sail across the Atlantic to uncharted territory. If you don't like it there, go found Rhode Island. Easy solution. I

    "Mark they do not need laws, that is the point."

    NO, THAT IS MY POINT AND JUST THE OPPOSITE OF STEVE'S. If some rogue police officer wants to hassle you he doesn't need any stinking "Internet Stalking Statutes". He can just hassle you, wallup you upside the head with his billy club, taze your ass silly to the ground, or take you out to the swamp never to be seen again. But, the fact that they are resorting to such lame excuses as outlined in this explicit story shows you that this police force is rather impotent, chickenSh*t, and very mockable.

    AS far as believing your story, I "mostly" believe it. I just do not believe all of your conclusions. For example, if you were in an automobile accident why did you not get your insurance company involved? Instead of chasing the guy who crashed into you, why not just get his plate number and report it to the police. Even if the police is "rogue" it is now a public report that your insurance company will be your partner in solving. My point is, I just don't think you exhausted all of your opportunities for "justice".

  • Mark

    " Of what use is power if you do not use it for youself?"

    Because, ummm, the overuse of power really does not sit well with the electorate????? Most judges and district attorneys are elected by the voters and most of these tailor their decisions to win reelection. The naked abuse of power has been seldom tolerated in the United States.

  • steve

    Yes of course, it best to avoid having the police break the law by providing them legal means for their revenge. Then, if they use that legal means instead of breaking the law, it proves their impotence and what nice guys they are.

  • Mark

    "Then, if they use that legal means instead of breaking the law, it proves their impotence and what nice guys they are."

    And they pretty much failed, didn't they? Instead of the omnipotent representatives of government you fear so much, these guys acted like a bunch of country- bumbkins. FEEEAAAARRRR THE MAN!.
    "

  • Mark.

    I answered every last one of your questions.

    His license plate was unreadable. Front and back.

    I did move, the moment I graduated high school at age 17.

    As far as getting the insurance company involved, I am not willing to pay extra money every month for an $800 repair. In three years I likely would have paid an extra $1200 from having an accident on my record.

    As an example. When I was 18, in my new place of residence... I got rear ended by an illegal immigrant driving a stolen vehicle at midnight +/- 10 minutes while they were driving with no headlights. Guess whose fault the accident was, guess what race/gender the driver was, guess what race/gender the police who responded was. I found out 2 weeks later from my insurance agent that he wrote it up as if I rear ended her. Insurance went up about 50%. A few months later, it snowed, a rarity where I moved to, and some jerk took the opportunity to hit as many vehicles as possible with their old beat up 1970's Oldsmobile, no fault, since there was snow on the ground, insurance jacked up again. The kicker was the last accident there, had a green arrow, no vehicles in sight, started the turn, some chick driving a brand new Cadillac being chased by the cops, near 70MPH came around the curve in the road, ran a red light and head on crashed into me. At least 7 witnesses gave me their phone numbers, my insurance company contacted all of them, but the police report is the one that mattered. Want to guess whose fault the accident was? So, if I pretty much do not go running to the insurance company when someone rear ends me and runs while proving that they are well connected to the police, I got my reasons, I see them as valid.

  • steve
  • steve

    I don't know of course. But, the speculation that makes sense to me is that the police believe the cartoonist is a police officer because of all the scuttlebutt he knows.

  • Kresh

    Mark appears to believe that because he has not been bitten, the wolf has no teeth. Such an interesting concept. Will his howl of outrage be as loud as it is now if one of the furry buggers affixes itself upon his derriere? I assume not, seeing as how they have no teeth with which to bite. Surely Mark wouldn't be offended by a furious and impotent gumming, would he?

  • Mark

    "Mark appears to believe that because he has not been bitten, the wolf has no teeth. "

    I am a fast driver. I have dealt with bad cops before. It is often unfair and very annoying. BUT, there is a difference between saying there are "rogue" cops and claiming we do not need laws or even police enforcement.

    I guess I am not a big fan of the "Internet Stalking Law" as I understand it because it seems to be some general "feel good" laws (like "Hate" crime legislation) that are more political than anything else.

    But, what I think is even dumber is to be against statutes soley based on the slippery slope. Oh, the cops can manipulate the law and therefore we should not have it. In that case we wouldn't have any laws at all. I am not saying we should not look at unintended consequences, but Libertarians seem to seek out the most unlikely consequence and use that against almost every statute, no matter what the benefit. Usually, when there are inintended consequences that are egregious the law can be easily addressed.

    The merits of the statute are what is important. Balancing the value versus teh cost is the main purpose of our political system.

    And, police abuse as outlined by Astoneri is just police abuse. Driving with "blocked" license plates is illegal (I would find that such a person really must be provincial because how does he get away with it when he isn't protected by the local police?). That some of the local cops look the other way for some favored (????, they sound like they are models for the local characters in Deliverance so some things are relative) people does not mean that we should not have laws against "blocked" license plates.

    That the police in this hodunk city found a way to try to use the "Internet Stalking Laws" to obtain a warrant does not necessarily mean that we should do away with that or similar laws.

  • steve

    Speaking of similiar laws, here is an article outlining a couple similiar cases as well as the Renton case.

    My favorite is easily, the guy who received the 5 year stalking protection order to prevent him from stalking the police.

    http://lewrockwell.com/grigg/grigg-w226.html

    Mark seems to think such cases are easily corrected. In theory that may be. Three legal options exist if something like this happens to you, the courts, the legislator, and the executive.

    The best option for the individual is to win in the lower courts, but this has little effect on future interpretations of the law. For this to occur, you have to reach the higher courts.

    In practice it takes hundreds of thousands in legal fees and several years of repeating yourself in court rooms to reach the supreme court. Unless you are a professional activist or have nothing better to do (like if you are sitting jail) this is an extremely costly way for the individual to seek justice.

    For the legislative path, it takes heart rending cases of injustice and national news exposure before legislators will take action. The dreaded charge of being soft on crime is just not conducive for a politician to take a stand on rolling these laws back once they have been established.

    Finally, the executive (president, or governor) may pardon you. While good for the individual pardoned, this has no effect on future interpretations of the law.

  • Goober

    1. astonerii: said…
    My understanding here is that in a libertarian society people will get to be completely free to act in ways they choose.
    Wrong. This is a total misunderstanding of the libertarian stance. You should be allowed to act in whatever manner you choose so long as your actions do not infringe upon the rights of another individual. These rights are very simple – property, life, self-determination, and good faith (no fraud).
    In other words, they get to choose their own morality, which must be equated to any other morality so long as it does not cause a direct harm to others.
    No, but yes. There is no “must-be equating” of moralities, or forcing for them to be “equated”. All libertarianism does is say that you don’t have a right to force your morality on anyone else, and that people can live by whatever morality they choose so long as it does not harm another (as laid out above). It doesn’t say that an individual must see another, different morality as equal to his. It doesn’t say that all morality’s are equal or even desirable. It just says that a man can’t force another morality’s adherents to live by his morality and deny their own under threat of violence or coercion by the state.
    While I understand here that you are arguing against laws that may be twisted towards nefarious ends, is the law the problem, or is it the people who feel free to twist (I think that is a evil morality) the law that is the problem?
    Same thing. Libertarianism is the firm belief that if you give a person authority over another, they WILL, by human nature, seek to expand that authority in any way possible, including by twisting laws to their ends, and so that is why libertarians believe that power over others should be as limited as possible – ie, enforcement of the four rights that I listed above, and absolutely nothing else.
    Would this same sort of thing happen without the law? Absolutely it would. There have been all kinds of cases where police exact revenge against people who no more than called them a pig at a bar and they got wind of it.
    Exactly our point. People in authority positions will ALWAYS use their authority to their own benefit (it is just a matter of how far they go, but they all do it). So why give them more tools to use against us? Why give them more tools to twist laws and come after us with the “rule of law” putatively on their side?
    All this stuff happened long before this law… …it is the people who feel free to be immoral, and in this instance happen to be police.
    EXACTLY. You are hitting the nail on the head with everything you are saying, you are just drawing the wrong moral from the information you’re given. “The people” that you reference will always be there. Human nature guarantees that there is no remedy to that problem of individuals incorrectly using power. Libertarians understand this intimately. We have no illusions that you can find some “white as snow” public servant that will truly work for the good of others, instead of working to expand his power and authority. Maybe you can, but statistically speaking, I wouldn’t bet on it. So, we libertarians suggest that the solution to this problem is to strictly limit the power that any authority figure may hold over an individual, and that one of the ways to do that is to limit the reach of law to only cover those things that one individual might do to directly harm another – ie, the bare necessities.
    Libertarian philosophy guarantees that more, not less people will turn to the sort of morality the police showed here rather than towards good morality that most of America showed just a few decades ago and no longer does.
    Wrong. Libertarian philosophy guarantees that these people who have turned away from morality won’t have the power over you to do anything about it. Period. End of story. We do not encourage immoral behavior any more than it being against the law DIScourages it. We are just against giving immoral people the power over us to do these things to us, and recognize that the only way to minimize that is to minimize the power some individuals hold over others.

  • Goober.
    Thanks for the reply.
    I already understand the concept of not infringing on other people's rights, but those rights are extremely limited as far as all the liberal arguments go. My case in point is that I live in a community, everyone in the community has decided that they will not tolerate gay activity in any way shape or form. How can they enforce this right of theirs to live in their community free from activities such as what happens in San Francisco, in city parks around the country, and so forth? Libertarian freedom of the individual will always supersede that of a community. So, it does in fact allow them to act in any way they choose, and those rights you argued they cannot infringe upon are never hit according to the libertarians I have discussed with. Nice business you got there (implied but never states of course) be a shame if something were to happen to keep your customers from getting to it. Rise a mob up and block the entrances, do not block the entrances, but act crazy making people leery of passing by you. On public property freely associating and utilizing their free speech. But that is not the kicker, the kicker is that while your business/home/where ever is under effective siege, those laying the siege are protected from you doing any activity to restore the order you desire in you business neighborhood. Whats the name of that group that protests military funerals and other high profile funerals in order to provoke people so they can be sued? Yeah, libertarians know who they are, cause they are a pet cause for libertarian arguments. So, who is the empowered group in a society like that? I would argue moral people are automatically disenfranchised.

    Yes, actually it does force equating. Society is prevented at the force of a gun as well as legislatively from determining what is acceptable behavior in the society. That is equating and in fact promoting what ever moral behaviors they choose, because there is quite a bit you can that does not cross the libertarian argument of infringement on another persons rights.

    There will always be people in authority, the opposite of that is anarchy, which I am vehemently assured libertarianism will not be. As I see it, it just changes the direction that the guns are pointed.

    So, your main point came last "Wrong. Libertarian philosophy guarantees that these people who have turned away from morality won’t have the power over you to do anything about it. Period. End of story. We do not encourage immoral behavior any more than it being against the law DIScourages it. We are just against giving immoral people the power over us to do these things to us, and recognize that the only way to minimize that is to minimize the power some individuals hold over others."

    I am sure you remember the good old libertarian American days. I remember them as a time when immoral people were run from town, beaten by one or more if needed at the local pub, asked to step outside at high noon, hung up over a tree and basically prevented from continued immoral behaviors by those who were moral. Do we get to have a similar society, because that is how morality wins and won over the centuries. Remember, moral people are busy people, being productive, and the method that allows them to keep their communities moral is that which is quick, decisive and lets them get back to work. So, how do you keep immorality from having the upper hand since I am quite certain we are not going back to the way it was done in the old days, when morals were not legislated but simply enforced?

  • Goober

    My case in point is that I live in a community, everyone in the community has decided that they will not tolerate gay activity in any way shape or form. How can they enforce this right of theirs to live in their community free from activities such as what happens in San Francisco, in city parks around the country, and so forth?

    Easy. Public lewdness causes harm to other individuals. It is in violation and is totally within the libertarian realm to have laws banning harmful behaviors. We aren’t talking about anarchy here, just a society where things that you do that don’t harm others shouldn’t be outlawed. Public lewdness is hardly harmless. In fact, I think it is a clear case of malum in se and there would be laws in place to prevent it, while still sticking to the libertarian ideal.

    Libertarian freedom of the individual will always supersede that of a community.

    Yes, that is correct, because to say that the needs of many outweigh the needs of a few is to essentially say that the needs of some people are more important than the needs of others. I think we can all agree that is wrong, right?

    So, it does in fact allow them to act in any way they choose,

    Wrong - further backing my point that you aren’t quite getting the libertarian stance on things, which I admit is kind of hard to wrap your head around after living a lifetime under a different system. If the things that you are doing are harmful to others, you can’t do them. Period. It is that simple. If the things these hypothetical people are doing are not harmful to you or anyone else in the community, why do you, or anyone else, for that matter, even care if they are doing them?

    Nice business you got there (implied but never states of course) be a shame if something were to happen to keep your customers from getting to it. Rise a mob up and block the entrances,

    Absolutely illegal under a libertarian system. Your right to private property and the free use of that private property would be violated under such an arrangement. No one has the right to deny you the use of your private property. You would have legal redress under such a condition.

    do not block the entrances, but act crazy making people leery of passing by you. On public property freely associating and utilizing their free speech.

    I actually fail to see how this would be illegal under our current system – especially considering how it happens all the time. How would a libertarian society change anything in this regard? It already happens all the time. I had picketers out in front of a Wal Mart store I just finished building just a few months ago doing exactly this, and the WaMart had no redress because they were on public property excersizing their right to free speech. I guess I fail to see the problem here. Can you elaborate more on why you think this would be more of a problem under a lib society when it is perfectly legal to do now?

    But that is not the kicker, the kicker is that while your business/home/where ever is under effective siege, those laying the siege are protected from you doing any activity to restore the order you desire in you business neighborhood.

    Again, this is the case NOW. What would change?

    Whats the name of that group that protests military funerals and other high profile funerals in order to provoke people so they can be sued?

    The Westboro Baptist Church. Who exists now. Under our current system because what they do is perfectly legal now! Against whom those affected have no recourse because of Westboro’s 1st amendment rights. You realize you are undercutting your argument massively by making this argument, right? These things are all perfectly legal RIGHT NOW, and the people effected have no recourse RIGHT NOW. Becoming a libertarian ideal society wouldn’t change this one whit.

    Yeah, libertarians know who they are, cause they are a pet cause for libertarian arguments. So, who is the empowered group in a society like that? I would argue moral people are automatically disenfranchised.

    Yes and no. They are a pet cause for free speech advocates, a lot of whom are libertarians. Most libertarians, however, adhere to the rule of non-aggression and see Westboro’s activities as being absolutely beyond the pale (like me) but would be against any law being passed that would stop them from doing what they are doing. Free speech doesn’t just mean speech you like – it means speech you hate with a thousand firey passions. If that disenfranchises moral people, then they are disenfranchised right now under our current system, too.

    That is equating and in fact promoting what ever moral behaviors they choose, because there is quite a bit you can that does not cross the libertarian argument of infringement on another persons rights.

    If you would be so kind, could you please give me some concrete examples of behavior that you believe would be legal under my system that should never, ever be legal under a moral system of governance? I’ve tried hard to think of any over the years and have failed. I think if you analyze your examples (such as the free gay lovin in the parks example above) you will find that there is harm in the action and it would be illegal under a libertarian system. We can’t have 10 year old kids watching a couple of dudes (or hetero couples, for that matter – lewdness isn’t strictly a gay thing) pound each other in the park. I can’t imagine any person who would argue that such an arrangement is not harmful and detrimental to those kids. Meaning their right to be free from harm is being violated.

    There will always be people in authority, the opposite of that is anarchy, which I am vehemently assured libertarianism will not be. As I see it, it just changes the direction that the guns are pointed.

    There has to be a method by which crimes can be punished, which means that there has to be people who have the authority to punish crime. I am not advocating anarchy – anarchy relies on the same incorrect basic assumptions of human nature that communism does, which is why they will both always fail. There will always be people who want to perform sex acts in public parks in front of kids, and so you have to have laws to keep that from happening, and you have to have law enforcement to enforce those laws. I’m just saying that you must – MUST – limit the authority that these people are given, and strictly limit the circumstances under which they can express that authority, and have methods by which anyone who chooses to not follow the rules INCLUDING THE AUTHORITY FIGURES - can be punished. Instead of the crony, buddy-buddy thing we've got going on right now where they cover up for themselves because THEY HAVE TOO MUCH POWER TO DO SO.

    I am sure you remember the good old libertarian American days. I remember them as a time when immoral people were run from town, beaten by one or more if needed at the local pub, asked to step outside at high noon, hung up over a tree and basically prevented from continued immoral behaviors by those who were moral.

    Ahh, those wonderful days of mob rule. I can’t tell, are you seriously saying that this was a good thing? Vigilante justice? Against whom? What actions, which would be within acceptable libertarian standards, were these folks taking that were so beyond the pale that it necessitated physical violence against them?

    Do we get to have a similar society, because that is how morality wins and won over the centuries. Remember, moral people are busy people, being productive, and the method that allows them to keep their communities moral is that which is quick, decisive and lets them get back to work. So, how do you keep immorality from having the upper hand since I am quite certain we are not going back to the way it was done in the old days, when morals were not legislated but simply enforced?

    I guess I am struggling with your definition of morality a bit. I’ll ask once again to provide an example of immoral behavior that wouldn’t be illegal under the system I’m proposing. Your first example – public lewdness – doesn’t work. I think we are after the same thing here, but you are thinking that I am advocating a “free love in the streets” kind of anarchy when I – and other libertarians like me – are absolutely not doing so.

  • Goober. "I’ll ask once again to provide an example of immoral behavior that wouldn’t be illegal under the system I’m proposing. Your first example – public lewdness – doesn’t work."

    This is where libertarianism always loses me. Libertarians refuse to see immoral behavior as immoral behavior. Being gay and acting out the gay lifestyle, one is neutral, the other is immoral, period, but libertarians argue that public displays of the gay lifestyle are perfectly within good mortality. They argue that it causes no harm, but in fact it does cause harm, to the individuals who are practicing it, to those exposed to their activities, and the whole of society through the culture of death that the practice necessitates in order to tolerate it as a public right of expression and libertarians go even further saying that it should be celebrated in marriage in many instances. What is to celebrate? The fact that two people have been effectively stripped from the diverse gene pool? The fact that any kids society grants them custody over will grow up handicapped by the fact they only got a testosterone or estrogen parental upbringing and are likely to be be indoctrinated into a similar lifestyle of death? It is not just gays, but it also includes Westburo church. They absolutely have the right to freedom of speech, but what they do not have the right to is the abuse they lay upon others to be granted a reverberating and louder than they earned speech. Nothing stops them from spewing their filth away from funerals other than the desire for a larger audience and an opportunity for tort action to continue paying for their activity. Much like a government action that takes place today that I am sure you abhor, environmentalists sue a company or even the government for supposed environmental issues, the government then pays for the legal fees of the group, a self perpetuating scheme. Westburo is in fact supported by the government, as the government has the right to make certain torts unfruitful to the plaintiffs like Westburo and others who bring frivolous lawsuits.

    So, I get what you are saying about it being legal now. My argument is that the libertarian world that you envision is unworkable without those mob vigilante activities, as without them, then the moral people are handcuffed from any action to stamp out the immoral public activities of others, and those forms of recourse offered by the government to make right being absolutely impractical in accomplishing the end goal of making immorality far more costly than faked morality.

    So the first problem is the fact that libertarians refuse to see immorality as immorality, thus equating one person's sex life with another persons public broadcasting of their abhorrent behaviors. Equating one persons right to free speech with another persons public intimidation and provocation. What Westburo does is nothing different than the argument I made that you shot down as illegal, "that's a nice business you got there ...". So you lose me there, as you have shown a blatant hypocritical stance, as when I was talking about the, be a shame if something kept your patrons away only requires someone to act out precisely like Westburo, which is why I made the argument, as in the one instance, it is blatantly illegal, in the other instance, you consider it free speech. Note that when I made that argument, it was always considered that the threat was silent, the activities not so much.

    The second problem comes from the fact that a libertarian government activity in pursuit of stopping those things they finally understand to be immoral would highly likely be totally useless in discouraging those behaviors. Would completely tie off any of societies moral actors from acting as the only activities that would deter would be considered illegal.

    You pretty much lost the entire argument for libertarian government as a potential functioning form of law when you made it blatant that mob vigilantism would be illegal, discouraged and priced very steeply.

    Thus, since we already know that mob vigilantism is completely outside the realm of possibility, both of us do, which is why I always came up shy from endorsing libertarianism, libertarianism cannot survive, as the society would implode. At least with social conservatism, moral actors are at least on par with the immoral and if enough backing from the populace occurred, it would actually put the immoral where they belong, on the losing side of the argument. Libertarianism offers me nothing I do not already have that I want and takes away many things that I do have that I prefer. And yes, I absolutely do think that one group of people have the INHERENT NATURAL LAW RIGHT to make others adhere to their morality, as if it was not so, then it would not be the natural order of life in all societies. Murder is a moral question, in fact there is not one law that I can think of right now that is not either morally good or morally bad, or both depending on the end user of it. Can you?

  • Goober:

    Thanks again for the reply. Sorry, forgot to get that in the previous post.

  • Mark

    'You should be allowed to act in whatever manner you choose so long as your actions do not infringe upon the rights of another individual."

    And there are really very few public actions that you can do that do not infringe upon the right of another individual. Sure you have the "right" to enjoy your music, but you do not have the right to play your music as loud as you want. Hence, government intervenes with noise ordinances, balancing out the conflicting rights of both "parties".

    In the end, the Libertarian argument to most laws is that it "reduces individual liberty". But that is true with all government actions. The very creation of governments of all forms (including Democracy) reduces individual liberty. We are fortunate to live in a representative government were the People have the power to change these laws. But, almost every one of them reduces "your rights".

    SO, my point is that the Libertarian argument is essentially worthless. It is a given.

    AS for the legislation of "morality", the states were given very general police powers to choose the laws it wanted. One of the main features of our federal system is that we DO NOT HAVE A HOMOGENOUS SET OF LAWS FOR EVERYONE. If you wanted to pay taxes to support the Congregational churches, then living in 18th century New England was for you. If you did not, then you could easily pack up and move to a different state or even the frontier. ANd many did.

    We should NEVER wish to force homogeneity of the law on the country. That is a terrible mistake. Some states should serve as conservative bastions. Other states should offer liberal alternatives. Maybe in the world of instant communication this seems like an ancient relic, but it truly isn't.

  • astonerii

    Nice response Mark.

    A few laws do however seem to need to be universal in order for the states to remain open to free citizen movements between them. The basic core value system that keeps things running.

  • Mark

    "A few laws do however seem to need to be universal in order for the states to remain open to free citizen movements between them. The basic core value system that keeps things running."

    Certainly, but the founding fathers recognized that these "universals" are truly limited. Those basic, fundamental values are defined in Article IV of the Constitution. This article guaranteed to every citizen of the United States a republican form of government and awarded the immunities and priveleges of states to citizens of other states.

    What a wonderful construct. The Founders recognized that the new national governement was both a national system and a federal system. They did a very good job of designing the constitution to addess both of these aspects, gaining value from each type of function even though in many cases the two can be exclusive of the other. By joining us AND seperating us, we got the best of both worlds.

  • steve

    "In the end, the Libertarian argument to most laws is that it “reduces individual liberty”. But that is true with all government actions. The very creation of governments of all forms (including Democracy) reduces individual liberty. ... SO, my point is that the Libertarian argument is essentially worthless. It is a given."

    Some libertarians reduce this to the same reductio ad absurdium you do. Because all government reduces freedom all government is evil. They usually call themselve anarcho-capitalists when talking to other libertarians.

    Of course, your taking the other side of the coin from an anarcho-capitalist. Basically saying, all appeals to freedom are meaningless because all laws reduce freedom. Surely, you don't agree that appeals to freedom are senseless in the face of legalized slavery. I can accept that it is always a matter of degrees of freedom and trade offs, but that hardly makes the appeal senseless. Its like saying all government actions cost money so an appeal citing the cost of a government action is senseless.

    "We should NEVER wish to force homogeneity of the law on the country. That is a terrible mistake. Some states should serve as conservative bastions. Other states should offer liberal alternatives. Maybe in the world of instant communication this seems like an ancient relic, but it truly isn’t."

    I agree with you whole heartedly here. I would be pleased beyond my wildest expectations and hopes if nearly all federal law enforcement and regulation was halted returning these functions to the states. I also agree with you that this applies to morality laws which I personally wish were chosen at the city level. i.e. let Las Vegas be sin city and let Orlando be Disney World. However, the constitution does say it's a state thing. And, no I really don't care if Utah goes polygamous. (Not that you automatically do, its just a common objection I hear.)

    Of course, this wouldn't change my own views of morality but at least I would have a lot more choice in selecting the restrictions I wish to live under. Currently, you basically have to move to another country, learn a new language, leave behind friends and family, etc to find anything more then minor variations in laws and their inforcement.

  • Mark

    "Basically saying, all appeals to freedom are meaningless because all laws reduce freedom. "

    No, I am saying that each law needs to be judged on its merit. And, to show some "libertarian" shading, I believe that the burden of proof is on the State to demonstrate that the benefits of any statute vastly outweigh the costs. The cost-benefit analysis should not just be a dollars and cents issue. Real individual liberty is at stake. For example, I oppose the state level registration of guns. I fail to see any benefit to society from registration (which is much different from recording a gun transaction, which the State can obtain with appropriate probably cause) and I see how requiring registration would harm the rights of an individual. But, if someone could demonstate the benefit of gun registration to a degree I thought its benefits outweighed the costs, I would support it.

  • Mark

    "if nearly all federal law enforcement and regulation was halted returning these functions to the states"

    And, I don't totally disagree except for the fact that the states essentially lost this for themselves. There obviously is a need for intra-state law enforcement and that is why the FBI evolved. ANd, I also believe that in a limited basis there is a need for a contribution of resources from the national government. But, I also agree that the federal law enforcement has had "branch" creep, with the FBI, Secret Service, ATF, DEA, and many other organizations all involved in crime fighting/prevention. Some of this has to go to make federal law enforcement more streamlined, effective, and less expensive.

  • steve

    I have no real problem with anything you said in the last two posts. Our differences in these posts seem to be a matter of degrees.

    For example, I also see a need for interstate law enforcement (and international). If the FBI was restricted to simply hunting down fugitives running from states where they commited a crime, I would be content with them, but this is not their role. Instead the FBI enforces a second layer of criminal law all by itself that has nothing to do with state law. The FBI doesn't enforce state laws only federal laws.

    In fact, most crimes can get you convicted in either state or federal courts. This is often used as an end run around double jeopardy. Have you been found innocent for a crime by a state government? Well they can usually find a federal crime with a different emphasis and try again at the federal level. Oddly, murder seems to be an exception to this rule.

    I particularly like your line about the burden of proof being on the state. If only this was true. For the most part, the state just asks itself if it went too far in a particular case. Its usually not even a judge just the head of some agency. It should be no surprise that it usually decides it didn't.

    The only real remaining checks on the federal government are the popular vote and the supreme court.

    The Supreme Court seems to only act as a delay mechanism and not a limit on federal power. In other words, forcing people to buy health insurance may be unconstitutional until enough democratic presidents have been in power to pack the court. Then once it is declared constitutional the court uses the excuse of star dieses (sp.)(ie. settled law) as taught in law schools to never look at the issue again. You would think a string of Republicans would reverse this. But no, we still have social security, medicare, abortion, etc. All things Republicans thought unconstitutional at one time.

    As for voting, its better then nothing. Unfortunately, you can only vote baskets of issues. Want to roll back the patriot act? Well the guy that promised that in the last election (and reneged) also promised massive keynesian spending.

    Want less keynesian spending? Well most of the guys promising that in the primaries are also hinting that they think war with Iran is a real near term possibility.

    Want to end the Fed? Well the only guy promising that is also saying drugs and prostitution should be legalised at the federal level (Doesn't bother me, but I can see that it would bother a lot of people)

    Of course, perfection is unattainable, but a massive return of state rights would provide a lot more choice then just red and blue.

    "ANd, I also believe that in a limited basis there is a need for a contribution of resources from the national government."

    I can agree with this line except my definition of limited (disasters, insurrection, etc.) tends to be more ... um ... limited then most people who don't think of themselves as libertarians. In fact, in a true states rights regime (i.e. up until about the civil war.) The resources of a large state would be larger then those of the federal government anyway.

  • Mark

    "This is often used as an end run around double jeopardy. Have you been found innocent for a crime by a state government? Well they can usually find a federal crime with a different emphasis and try again at the federal level. "

    Oh well. My guess is that 95% of the people that this is done to are not "innocent". As for the other 5%, that is just bad luck. I do not subscribe to the adage "I would rather let 1,000 (or name your number) guilty people walk free than one innocent person be sent to jail." The damage that the 1,000 criminals do has real consequences that is too big of a price to pay for some of the loopholes we have in the criminal justice system.

    I do not want to end the Fed. I do not want legalized drugs or prostitution. The damage of legalized drugs would be an enormous cost to this society.

    I do not reflexively reject something just because it cost money or is a governemnt program. We ned to judge things on their merits. There are true societal benefits to many governemnt programs and as a TRUE CONSERVATIVE economist I understand externalities and social welfare. At the same time, most entitlement programs have gone well beyond the point were they add to the social welfare of the country, and I would argue that the societal marginal utility of most government programs has become negative.

  • steve

    I don't see our criminal code as being riddled with loopholes as you seem to.

    The United States has the highest prison population in the world, while our violent crime statistics are basically the same as everyone elses. Maybe this kind of thing has something to do with it.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/16/victoria-hill-10-years-in-prison-for-can-of-beer_n_928694.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

    Also, while I agree that longer prison terms should have a deterent effect it is hardly any panacea to crime as the following graphic presents.

    http://www.aclu.org/infographic-safety-numbers-prison-population-statistics-new-york-vs-indiana

    Furthermore, most of the prisoners are in for non-violent crimes at a cost of 29 grand or so a year. I would just as soon charge non-violent criminals fines and full restitution than lock them up at these costs. Perhaps, you could suggest some measure that a "TRUE CONSERVATIVE economist" would use to make such trade offs.

    "I do not subscribe to the adage “I would rather let 1,000 (or name your number) guilty people walk free than one innocent person be sent to jail.”"

    Surely you don't really mean this. Some number must be too high for you. If not 1000/1, then certainly 1/1 must be too high for you. That's one innocent man convicted for each guilty man convicted. At some level, even you must agree, convicting innocent people does real damage to society in the form of deteriorating trust in the justice of the courts. I suspect we just disagree about where that number lies and not that it exists.

    Furthermore, if the police fail to collect enough evidence to expect a conviction of someone because the standards are high, they can keep watching him and catch him later if he is really a criminal. However, every time an innocent person is convicted by making convictions easier it means there are more guilty people whom the police stop looking for because the case is closed.

    "I do not want to end the Fed. I do not want legalized drugs or prostitution. The damage of legalized drugs would be an enormous cost to this society."

    Fair enough, but the drugs and prostitution thing could easily be done at the state level with no effect on you. Do the legal brothels in Nevada have any impact at all on your life? Does the medical marijuana in California effect you? You seem to be for states rights except when you are not, but this is understandable since states rights isn't really a near term option anyway. If you are against something, the only current practical choice is to be against it nationwide.

    "I do not reflexively reject something just because it cost money or is a governemnt program."

    No few people do, but I do reflexively ask how much does it cost in terms of money and freedom. As you have made clear, you believe these considerations are easily trumped by claims of law and order. Perhaps we can at least agree that the police should have to live by the same rules as the rest of us. Please tell me you don't support the police position in the following:

    The videos:
    http://www.fullertonsfuture.org/2011/fullerton-beating-video/

    The details:
    http://lewrockwell.com/greenhut/greenhut66.1.html

    "most entitlement programs have gone well beyond the point were they add to the social welfare of the country, and I would argue that the societal marginal utility of most government programs has become negative."

    We can agree on this.

  • Goober

    And there are really very few public actions that you can do that do not infringe upon the right of another individual. Sure you have the “right” to enjoy your music, but you do not have the right to play your music as loud as you want. Hence, government intervenes with noise ordinances, balancing out the conflicting rights of both “parties”.

    Exactly. I'm not advocating that destruction of laws that protect one individual from another. That is just fine with us Libertarians. Noise ordinances, for instance, cause me no pain and suffering whatsoever because they fall within the bounds of government protecting one from another's boorish behavior. You guys seem to be trying to paint me as an anarchist - I am not.

    What I am saying is that under our current government, there are a lot of laws dictating actions and behaviors that do not, in any way, shape, or form hurt anyone else. Period. people are going to jail for "crimes" that they committed that have no victims. For instance, a woman in detroit was facing 3 months in jail for having a garden in her front yard. She is now facing 3 months in jail for not properly licensing her dog.

    She is lucky that they didn't send in the SWAT team and just kill her dog.

    As for Asteronil's discussion on freedom of speech and denying it to people with whom he disagrees - I'll let that stand on it's own and will not comment further. You draw the moral there.

  • Goober

    The damage of legalized drugs would be an enormous cost to this society.

    Support your thesis. We have multiple examples that we can use to disprove - not theoretically, but actually, honestly DISPROVE the source of your fears.

    For instance...

    When the "demon rum" was banned back in the 20's, the amount of crime, alcohol abuse, and injuries from poor-quality moonshine skyrocketed. The crime rates, specifically from prohibition, were like nothing we've ever seen before or after. Alcoholism did not decline, and in some quarters, became even worse. The normalization of the alcohol trade, upon the repeal of prohibition, resulted in a massive decline of crime and problems caused by alcohol. Care to argue?

    Now, let's review Portugal's recent legalization of previously illicit drugs. Crime rates plummeted. Addiction rates are dropping along with them, because addicts no longer have to hide in the shadows for fear of prosecution - they can go in for help, and help is given. Portugal has mostly solved their drug problem within a few short years of stopping the "war on drugs" and actually helping people on drugs instead of trying to punish them.

    As for cost to society, the countless billions we spend every year on our current fruitless "war on drugs" could be reduced by factors of ten to create treatment facilities to help these folks and get them off drugs. Instead of punishing them for a crime with no victim, and spending countless billions more incarcerating them all every year when we really should be helping them.

    The "costs" to society would be drastically reduced, total "use" rates would drop, and the "drug problem" would become a fringe thing, not a front-page item like it is now. Cartels could stop slaughtering people in Mexico wholesale...

    Well, if you want to continue the war on drugs, you're going to have to spill a lot of ink to convince me why it is anything other than a horrible atrocity, because when I look at it, that is all I see.

    And before you accuse - I've never even smoked a joint. I've never taken an illegal drug in my life. I have no plans to start. I am a completely removed observer of this entire situation and came to this conclusion based upon independent thought, not individual proclivity or desire.

  • Goober

    I am saying that each law needs to be judged on its merit. And, to show some “libertarian” shading, I believe that the burden of proof is on the State to demonstrate that the benefits of any statute vastly outweigh the costs.

    YES!!!! A thousand times, YES!!! That, my friend, is libertarianism - the firm belief that the passage of a law greatly risks creating more evil than it is designed to fix, and that as a result, laws should be constrained to only the most common-sense, freedom oriented laws that we possibly can have to avoid this problem.

    People who are against libertarianism want to always conflate it with anarchy - "Well," they say, "If I don't want my neighbor to play his music loud, isn't that a violation of his right to do so to make him turn it down?"

    NO! In a libertarian society he has no right to negatively affect you with his loud music! We aren't talking about banning noise ordinances or allowing people to have gay sex in public parks! We are talking about getting rid of federal laws that say that you have to buy health insurance or you'll face violent retribution from the government. We are against laws that say that a person who sells too many rabbits in one year is going to go to prison for a decade because he didn't ask the government first (look it up - it is happening right now!). We are against a person making a personal choice that victimizes no one going to prison for that choice. We are against all of these things because they are not freedom - they are the antithesis of freedom, and we think that every law should undergo exactly the test that you described above - a strict burden of proof that the law fixes more problems than it creates. We think that the best way to measure that is to look at the effect of a person's actions on another person - if no one is negatively affected, why, exactly, do we need a law again?

  • "As for Asteronii’s discussion on freedom of speech and denying it to people with whom he disagrees – I’ll let that stand on it’s own and will not comment further. You draw the moral there."

    Actually, your argument is the one that failed.
    Me:
    "Nice business you got there (implied but never states of course) be a shame if something were to happen to keep your customers from getting to it. Rise a mob up and block the entrances, do not block the entrances, but act crazy making people leery of passing by you. On public property freely associating and utilizing their free speech. But that is not the kicker, the kicker is that while your business/home/where ever is under effective siege, those laying the siege are protected from you doing any activity to restore the order you desire in you business neighborhood."
    Goober Response:
    "Absolutely illegal under a libertarian system. Your right to private property and the free use of that private property would be violated under such an arrangement. No one has the right to deny you the use of your private property. You would have legal redress under such a condition."
    There is effectively no difference between the free speech rights you say are sacrosanct and what I just outlined above. None at all. The only difference is the perspective of the viewer. Get a mob of people together, stand outside someone's place of business, and practice your free speech. But, if they decide to cave into your whims, you will accept their free speech apology and move on, to the next target. Not unlike unions do, not unlike Westburo does, not unlike how the gay rights activists libertarians adore beyond belief do. All exactly the same, but because I put the perspective in their, suddenly it is illegal. Same activity, same motives, same everything, just a different perspective.

    Let my argument stand on its own as though I am the loser in the argument. You sir are the one who failed, even after I even put "But that is not the kicker, the kicker is that while your business/home/where ever is under effective siege, those laying the siege are protected from you doing any activity to restore the order you desire in you business neighborhood. Whats the name of that group that protests military funerals and other high profile funerals in order to provoke people so they can be sued?" See, your argument that Westburo is protected speech indicates that my argument was perfectly legitimate.