This is another historical piece from the pre-blog writing archive. On rereading it I remembered that I had used a little literary license in writing the piece.
The first time I heard the word ‘Libertarian’ was at the Texas State Capitol building, about ten days before the the Gulf War in ’91. During an anti-war protest there, I got to talking to Terry Liberty Parker, and he mentioned that Libertarians were against the war unlike the Democrats. I have since fallen out of friendship with Mr. Parker (and, in fact, his behavior is at the core of why I’ve become inactive in the party both times it had happened) but I will always be in his debt for introducing me to the party.
I had said several times prior to that event, in discussions with The Wife, if I was given a choice between socialism and fascism, I would choose socialism because you live longer (socialists just want your money, fascists want you to agree with them philosophically or they shoot you) but I could not understand how the Democrats (the party of Jefferson, the party that cast itself as the opposition to the Vietnam war) would be in support of a war that was not in our own interest. I was all for getting involved with a group that wanted to end the military adventurism that we’ve been involved in since the end of WWII, so I started looking for libertarian meetings and talking to libertarians when I found them.
I was already an Objectivist, I had read most of Rand by that time and found her philosophical outlook to be very much like my own, so I was already ‘in tune’ with the core of Libertarian thought. At some point I took the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz” and found that I was a dead center Libertarian (These days I’m nearly 100/100 on the chart) I spent a good bit of time in the old TCLP office on Middle Fiskville Rd. talking to Bruce Baechler, and I think he was the one who made me feel most comfortable with supporting Libertarians as more than just a protest vote.
Anyway, what follows was what I posted in response to a request for “Why I am a Libertarian” articles. The Republicans coming to power within the article was Reagan in 1980. I thought Carter was a great president at the time. The Wife still does.
I am a libertarian because I believe, first and foremost, in the concept of limited government. Most people, when told this will exclaim “ah, you are a Republican”. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Before I discovered the Nolan chart (http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html) and through it the LP, I was a staunch yellow dog Democrat, like my parents and grandparents before them. I believed that government was there to help, and that social freedoms could be taken for granted under the Democrat’s benign rule. But I was at a loss to explain why the drug war persisted, why the term PC was ever created and why taxes were increased, even in the face of Democrat dominated legislatures and presidents.
When the Republicans came to power they talked of reducing the size and expense of government. My fellow Democrats cried over this, but I could not understand how reducing government, and the tax burdens on the people, was necessarily a bad thing. Strangely, the cost of government never got smaller. The Republicans did reduce taxes, but the debt burden passed on to the next generation went through the roof. I started to think that the politicians were not being truthful with us, and if they were lying to us about their intentions, then what else were they lying to us about?
It took eight years of a Democrat president to convince me of the truth that I know today; If a politician has words coming out of his mouth, he’s most likely lying. You well may laugh, but to an honest man, this was shocking. I discovered something else in the course of nearly 30 years of following politics: Government is a weapon. It is a loaded gun that you point at wrong doers to make them stop what they are doing. That is the only help that government can give, and it doesn’t even do that cheaply. If you want government to do something for you, then you are employing force to get it done.
Everything that government does can be done by private industry better, faster and cheaper. The fewer government run programs, the less force that is present in our system and less force means more freedom. Jefferson and those who started the ball rolling way back when understood this. They were Democrats. Because of this, I was a Democrat. What I did not realize was that the allegiances of the parties have shifted over the course of 200+ years, which brings us back to the Nolan chart, and the LP.
Chart the beliefs of the founders, and nearly to a man they will turn up Libertarian. Jefferson was solidly Libertarian. When I took the test, I too charted as solidly Libertarian. It has been more than 10 years since I took the test, lodging protest votes against the two major parties, discussing issues with fellow libertarians; and it’s been only recently that I have come to the realization that I was indeed a Libertarian in belief, and not just a political misfit.
Ask any libertarian why they are what they are, and you will get a different story. Some are former Republicans and some, like me, are former Democrats. Most of them are of the younger generation, fresh out of college and worried about the future they face at the hands of an ever-expanding federal government. If there is a core libertarian belief, then that is a good portion of it; the requirement that government at least return to constitutional limits, and be responsive to the people who fund it. That force not be employed except in response to force. That we are all capable of governing ourselves, just as has been done throughout our history. We are the Libertarian Party, and we are here to stay.
June 11, 2016. The wife of the blowjob president is the presumptive nominee for the Democratic party and I support her. It is a weird world we live in. I still have libertarian delusions but I have medications that keep those in check. I used this article as a template for a submission to a local newsletter. It became my About Me blog entry until it was superseded by this one.
The city of Austin proposed a smoking ordinance in 2003 that would have banned smoking in public places. It passed. They then went on to offer to sell smoking permits to businesses that wanted to allow smoking. In other words, they could pay to get a permit to do something that they should have been able to do anyway, but now have to pay for because the city government felt pressured to act. Then they realized they’d created a massive cash cow that they could suck funds out of. It’s a beautiful world, isn’t it? There was a chance that other alternatives to the original ban might be entertained alongside the permits idea.
Rock Howard proposed the following in response to the suggestion that any form of compromise would be an abandonment of our principles as libertarians. This is a compromise on the smoking ordinance that would simply clarify business practices that already exist, allowing the customer to then make an informed choice.
To me an example of a workable compromise would be:
a) If they wish, an establishment can sign up on a city maintained smoking registry, but doing so is not necessary if the owner puts up a sign near the entrance(s) of the establishment detailing their smoking policy. (Minimal signage would be: “Smoking Permitted”.) or
b) If they wish, an establishment can sign up on a city maintained “smoke free” registry, but doing so is not necessary if the owner puts up a sign near the entrance(s) of the establishment to the effect detailing their smoking policy. (Minimal signage would be: “No Smoking” or “Smoke Free”.)
This compromise would hopefully placate those who consider cigarette smoke as an assault on their personages. (For some people it actually is an assault) As far as abridging rights goes, it is simply coupling the right of the property owner to the equal and legitimate responsibility to make their smoking policy clear to prospective patrons either through signage or by the public process of signing up on a registry.
As far as the permit idea goes, let’s see if we can dig up actual examples where a permitting process for smoking turned into a ban. If we can do that, then that would be helpful as it might give the business owners more intestinal fortitude about defending their rights. At this point many are seeing this as a life and death issue for their businesses and that makes more susceptible to a slippery slope compromise.
When further objections were offered, he then posted the following.
It is possible to stay with our principle but also get involved with the current process too. If we refuse to get involved for the sake of principle, then we abandon our constituents to their fate (which likely entails a slippery slope compromise that dooms them in the future) The only other avenue is the courts, but we have no friends or power their either.
I have seen this fight in other cities and with the current political mindset of the voters, as long as it remains a political battle, we are doomed. If we can be smart and lucky we might be able to help craft a compromise that staves off the rights-snatchers for a while and, more importantly, helps preserve the livelihoods of our core constituents for the time being. If we do, then we will have bought ourselves some time as well as additional support for the long term project of opening up the minds of the people to the larger issue (i.e., the critical importance of personal property rights.) This will take time and money and, without it, we are just kidding ourselves about our ability to win this battle.
The only reason that I used the word compromise in the first place is that there are only two possibilities right now: 1) no compromise happens and the current harsh Smoking Ordinance goes into effect; or 2) a compromise occurs to stave off the most harsh effects of the ordinance for some time. I do not accept that there is a third option (as much as we would all prefer it) in the near future. I suggest that to get to the preferred outcome that we all want, it makes sense to be involved in the current process as the outcome of “no compromise” will simply kill off many of the small businesses that we are supposedly trying to support.
In point of fact, if the local [LP] works against some sort of compromise, then we are, in effect, working to enact the Smoking Ordinance. Go ahead and do so if that is what you want, but in my considered opinion that approach is counterproductive in the short, medium and long run.
Then the argument really started.
If we try to mediate a compromise in this case, we are saying that government taking away just some of our rights is ok verses taking all of them. If we need to take this to court to fight this injustice we should, it would really make a name for ourselves. We should stand up for what’s right, not for what we feel is acceptable for the moment.
What about the rights of the non-smokers to do business in a smoke-free environment? What about the real health issues involved in breathing smoky air? I assure you that the solid majority of Austinites are 4-square behind an outright ban based on those two arguments alone.
I don’t agree with them, but they are our audience.
A requirement to sign the exterior of your business is no different than putting ingredients on the outside of packages, or spelling out the details of a contract in advance. It’s not a compromise it’s collaboration, an acknowledgement that there are telling arguments for those who support a ban, but that a ban is not necessary or even desirable.
IMO, signing the exterior of your business IS what is right. Some of us would prefer to do without the smoke. Thank you, Rock, for the level headed suggestion.
The outcome of the vote on the smoking permits was a landslide in favor of it, the council couldn’t resist that cash cow. The local LP candidates (except for the exceptional Rock Howard) opposed all compromises and sunk any chance of sidestepping what happened then, and what happened next. At the suggestion of the moderator at TCLPactive, I then moved the resultant discussion to my Liberty List
Getting in your car and driving will lead to serious health consequences, to the same degree that lighting a single cigarette will lead to serious health consequences.
It has nothing to do with the number of trips. I can get in my car right now and drive, and while I stand a statistical chance of harm, the mere act of driving the car does not increase the chance in and of itself.
My wife and I were test car drivers for quite awhile. She has driven more than a million miles. She’s still breathing.
A relative of mine has smoked 3 packs of filterless cigarettes a day for 30 years. He’s had cancer twice, (thankfully not lung cancer) cancer that is statistically related to smoking, and he still insists that the smoking isn’t the problem, all the while smoking like a chimney. He may still be breathing now, the latest radiation treatments won’t start for a few more weeks. The man could have lived in good health to the age of 100 or more, without the cigarettes. I personally don’t think he’ll see 70 because of them.
Your rights are not being transgressed when someone smokes in your presence, because you are free to leave, or not to breathe the smoke, or to wear a mask. Your rights are being transgressed when someone forces you to do something that harms you or others, or when they harm you directly.
When I am engaged in commerce, dining out for instance, I and the parties I am doing business with have entered into an informal contract. Part of that contract involves a smoke-free environment if you are doing business with me. During the process of commerce, while I’m eating for example, someone decides to engage in their particular form of self-destruction and lights a cigarette.
How am I free to leave? I daresay that the owner of the establishment would take exception to my departure before contracts are satisfied, before I paid, in this example. As someone who is known to demand a smoke-free environment, why should I be expected to leave? Since non-smoking is something that I demand up front, should not the smoker be ejected if he refuses to leave?
…”wear a mask”. Why doesn’t the reverse apply? Since smoking carries no negative impacts, let the smokers wear a mask and not waste a single breath of their precious nicotine.
…”not to breathe the smoke”. Not breathing as a choice. No, I don’t think so.
The truth is, when someone lights up in my presence, they are in fact forcing me to engage in their habits. It’s a cop-out for libertarians to say “you’re free to leave” or “it’s a (property) rights issue”, because that is just the surface. The reality is much more complex than that.
Your usage of “informal” is as a euphemism for implied. A contract not discussed and not agreed to is a contract which does not exist.
Informal does not equal implied. The words have different meanings. Walk on a check at a restaurant and see if the restaurateur doesn’t think you have a contract. That you are expected to pay for services rendered and food consumed is an informal contract; informal because you did not agree to the contract in writing, in advance.
When people complain about an aspect of free-wheeling liberty (such as people lighting up whenever they please whenever the owner of the property they’re standing on doesn’t mind), it is my reflexive assumption that the person making the argument would turn a blind eye toward government force should it be stamping down on that aspect of liberty…
I have the right to object to harm and I will exercise that right vehemently. To put the shoe on the other foot; do you put tags on your car? carry a driver’s license? pay income taxes? If you answer yes to any of those questions, then by your definition you can apply the label to yourself, because government force is used to mandate things which are infringements on our liberty as we define them.
Austin banned smoking recently, and no, I’m not going to spend time fighting that battle now. The alternative wording (see above) that I agreed with was deemed a compromise by the local activists, and they decided to stand on principle and go down with the ship. Well, the property rights ship sank, and smoking is banned here now, unless the business owner agrees to pay the city for the privilege of allowing smoking. As Austin is “the liberal island in the conservative sea of Texas”, this is probably the way it’s going to be for awhile.
The net effect is positive for me personally, since health issues are deemed too touchy-feely to be taken seriously by hard-core types. My choices were reduced to either choke on the smoke of the free-wheeling, or breath the socialist air. So my fellow libertarians (who love to talk about choice) forced me to pick the lesser of two weevils. Not a position I relish, I assure you.
That’s also an assertion. I don’t know what study it’s based on but I’ve enough smoking and second hand smoking studies demolished by examining their statistical methods that I don’t put any stock in them. Cato has plenty of these. The claim that 400,000 Americans die every year from tobacco is an outright fabrication from the American Cancer Society, for example.
Back to the original question, the only acceptable smoking ordinance IMO is having establishments clearly post their smoking policy at the entrance so you can make your decision before entering, as was suggested by Rock Howard previously
About the only thing that the writer got right was that it’s not an issue of smoker’s rights.
What most people who aren’t in the architecture field don’t realize is just how controlled building standards are in EVERY OTHER AREA except indoor air quality. The establishment of building codes that spell out minimum standards would go a long way toward addressing the problems of smoking vs. non-smoking, giving more choice to people in the long run rather than a strict smoking/smoke-free establishment.
Back in the good ol’ days the upper class spent the money to have smoking rooms, because it was ill-mannered to smoke in front of the ladies. Now we’re all slaving in a socialist paradise, chucking the niceties of proper etiquette and the class structure, dragging the unwilling along with us kicking and screaming in whichever direction the whim of the majority takes us. Soon we will all be trailer trash (what in math is referred to as a Lowest Common Denominator) and not even the trailer trash will be allowed to smoke. Ah, democracy.
Business owners want one thing over all others: profit. I say fine, but let’s get to the real cost and benefit of the systems that we create. restaurateurs and club owners will not take a hard stand for property rights. It doesn’t sell food and drink. Oh, they’ll cheer us on, but they’ll toe whatever line that a) causes the least trouble, and b) makes them the most cash in the system.
…and the system does not take long-term health effects into account.
So, you had business owners who were more than happy to crowd everyone together with sub-standard ventilation, breathing each other’s exhaust fumes, because it was cheap and the majority of the population smoked. Now the majority are non-smokers, don’t want to smell smoke, and are willing to subvert property rights (Just as it’s been done since the beginning of time) in order not to have to. Guess what? The business owners will make the just-enough-to-prove-a-point noise about it, and then roll over and comply. That’s how they ‘work the system’ to their advantage. They get to appear sympathetic to the ‘poor smoker’, but they can follow the majority and their dollars into a non-smoking paradise; best of all they get to keep their poorly ventilated, overly crowded buildings just the way they are, and look good in the process.
Best bang for the buck that there is.
This has been my point all along. Ya’ll can stay on the high horse of property rights, and loose. You will lose, mark my words. If it’s a choice of defending this myth that business ownership is some kind of grandiose last stand for property or defending my desire to breathe cleaner air, then I’m going to breath easier.
I could do that or we could establish that the system should take account of air quality, just as it does minimum structural standards, minimum exiting standards, minimum bathroom sizes, etc, etc, ad infinitum. Call it signage, call it minimum codes, call it defending my property, my body, from the negative health effects of your bad habits, even when I’m not physically on land that I own. I don’t care what you call it but it’s better than establishing smoking bans all over the nation, which is where we are headed right now. Then we can add tobacco to the list of black market drugs. How about ‘smoke-easy’ establishments? They probably already exist in New York.
Do you know what I would love to see? Smokers wearing space helmets to smoke in. With a HEPA filtration system on the helmet, no smoke would escape to annoy the non-smokers. Can you arrest him for smoking in his own private space? Would anyone bother? That would be an argument involving the rights of the smoker and no one else. Do you think we’d find a volunteer to test the theory? Or does even the most devout smoker balk at being cooped up in small space with too much smoke in it? If you really believe that it’s not a health hazard to smoke, then why would you not be willing to?
There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.
I’m sure some of you out there dismissed my solution out of hand “Bah, more minimum standards. Just another there-oughta-be-a-law solution for problems that are none of the gov’ts business.”
Now, if I were talking about law, then I would agree with you. However, that wasn’t the subject. Building codes are not laws. Yes, I know, in most places they are adopted and enforced as laws; but they start out as guidelines drawn up by groups concerned about public safety. They are minimum standards for safe building, and are as necessary in the scheme of things as any written manual. Anyone interested in limiting their liability, and most businesses are interested in this, will attempt to follow some acceptable standard of practice. So the creation of minimum standards for building was inevitable and actually desirable.
The problem with building codes is that they become bound up in the bureaucracy of government. Wander down to the building department in nearly any city in the U.S. and you will see the stellar results we get from this approach. In Austin, the indecipherable rat’s maze of overlapping authorities has lead to the need to create an office – the Development Assistance Center – just to tell the newcomers where they should start in the maze. One size fits all – and you will comply with the standards.
Tying the codes to government has several other undesirable side effects. I want to focus on one of them: The negative effects that rigid standards imposes on innovation. Many of the new technologies face impediments placed in their way by codes that were drawn up before they existed. IMHO, minimum standards for indoor air quality is one of the areas that has been affected by this, which has lead to the panic over the negative effects of secondhand smoke.
The solution to making the codes more responsive is to divorce the creation and enforcement of building codes from the government altogether. Much like independent Underwriters Laboratories creates minimum standards and tests assemblies and devices based on those standards, building codes should be based on logical, definable standards that can be tested, inspected and approved by any sufficiently educated third party. Allow the property owners and the professionals who design the facilities to decide what standards they wish to meet; and then hold them accountable for failures in design.
…and the solution to the smoking issue in the built environment is to create a minimum standard for indoor air quality that addresses the public’s concern.
It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change
Editor’ note and Postscript
This is another historical argument from my file of archived messages. Austin passed several smoking bans. Passed and overturned and passed again. This back and forth of the issue of how to handle the hazards of smoking in the city of Austin lead to some interesting thoughts on mine and other’s parts. This is some of it.
Since Yahoo has shuttered its groups and removed the group archives from public access, this record and others like it scattered across blog sites on the internet are the only records available of the more than twenty years of conversations that happened in groups hosted by Yahoo unless Archive.org or some other group interested in preserving history gets ahold of those old group archives.
These conversations were a clusterfuck to edit together the first time, and it has been a clusterfuck every other time I have tried to re-edit them. Pulling quotation marks and semicolons left and right. Typing out full words for stupid abbreviations. I think it sort of makes sense now. This article remains a cautionary tale for trying to record conversations in a format that doesn’t permit real dialog. The question that should be asked before embarking on this task is this one: “is it really worth the trouble? Can I turn the dialog into a monologue that doesn’t sound insane?” If the answer to that question is no, then don’t even start the editing process in the first place.
There were arguments along the way through the conversation about smoking bans that suggested something to the effect that “the average person doesn’t care about smoking, and so the smoking ban will never pass if put to a vote.” Not too long after the Round 3 discussion, a referendum on banning smoking indoors in Austin was put before the voters, and it passed by a slim majority. This development put Case Closed on the subject of smoking here in Austin, and it reversed the council’s transparent attempt to milk cash out of business owners who wanted to cater to smoking clientele.
The battle went on in court over the new ban, but it never looked good and eventually was upheld. Personally, I don’t think the courts want to reverse a ban instituted by referendum. There is such a fear of the will of the majority that minority rights are ignored when the majority deems it necessary. This has been true since the day when democracy was invented.
So the dust up over the property rights of business owners comes to naught, except for those business owners who see a serious dent in their profit margin in complying with the new ordinance. Which is pretty much how I saw it shaping up in the beginning.
An Anarchist friend of mine suggested that I wouldn’t find anything to object to in “The Libertarian Immigration Conundrum“ by Per Bylund. However, I didn’t get into the second paragraph without doing so.
On the one hand, it is not possible as a libertarian to support a regulated immigration policy, since government itself is never legitimate.
I don’t want to argue with anarchists, I really don’t. It’s counterproductive. I want government out of my life, they want government out of their lives, we shouldn’t have to argue about the little nit picky things like government legitimacy.
And then one of them goes and throws a bombshell like the above. For the record, there are two kinds (at least) of libertarians. One group freely calls themselves anarchist (technically anarcho-capitalist) and takes the above view. The other (far larger) group just wants less government interference in day to day life (Less government interference = more freedom) some of us freely use the label that Robert Nozick (that Per Bylund references in his piece) coined for us, Minarchist, which loosely translates into “The least amount of government needed.” Mr Bylund himself must therefore be aware that his sweeping generalization is in error, but he goes on with the article anyway based on this erroneous assessment of Libertarians.
The reason that open borders is the right way to look at immigration policy is pragmatic, not idealistic. Pragmatically, the cost to close borders is prohibitively high, just in monetary terms. The cost in lost privacy, freedom, etc. doesn’t even bear thinking about (which is why anyone that advocates closing the borders isn’t a libertarian) Realistically, we have never been able to close the borders, not even in a state of war.
Which is why we should just let ’em in. Get whatever information the control freaks think we have to have in order to track the new immigrants (fingerprints, DNA, retinal scans, whatever) and let them get to work. I don’t have time for fantastical arguments concerning natural rights and the ownership of the commons, those sorts of things can be saved for the day that the anarchists get rid of government. I doubt that I’ll be there for that.
Wait a minute. What did I say in that last paragraph? I don’t have time to argue about rights? Who is this imposter?
Listening to Boortz today (Yeah, I know it was a repeat, so what?) He goes raging on about closing our borders so as to deflect terrorists and preserve “our way of life”. I like to listen to the guy, but a libertarian he is not.
The reason I’m bringing this up is that I’ve noticed a disturbingly repetitive mantra going around for the last few years concerning closing borders and (like the title says) keeping out those immigrants mucking up our country. From where I’m sitting, the immigrants that are mucking up the country are the descendents of the European immigrants (those pesky white people) who seem bound and determined to destroy liberty in the name of security.
I’d just like to point out that, unless you are a brown-skinned native (what the average white American thinks of as Mexican but are most likely people who aren’t from Mexico at all; merely true Native Americans, those pesky indians that white settlers have never been able to get rid of, or the native populations of America that the Spanish subjugated and abused for hundreds of years. Chicanos, Hispanics, whatever you want to call yourselves) then you are the descendant of an immigrant. You have no more right to be here than those being called illegal aliens today because they crossed some line drawn on a map by people who have never been to the area in question.
And closing the border is an impossibility. You can patrol it, and turn back the migrants, but truly closing it can’t be feasibly done. Nor do I think that it’s desirable in the long run to do the limited amount of patrolling that can be done. Why? Because migrant workers do most of the work in the South and Midwest, and not just because they work cheap. I don’t know any real immigrants (white guys. see above) who are willing to work out in the sun all day, every day for a living; but I can’t count the number of natives that I’ve worked with over the years who don’t even blink at doing so. If the border could be effectively closed, the resulting price spikes for construction and food production (not to mention manufacturing) would probably devastate the economy.
So what would work? Allowing in and documenting anybody who was willing to work (one of the only things the sitting president has said that I have ever agreed with) Ending 9/10’s of the welfare programs (including corporate welfare) that act as a lure, and a crutch, for people who aren’t willing to work. Ending the empire building and military meddling around the globe that the US is engaged in. Get back to the core of what this country was about to begin with (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) and stop thinking that we have the right to demand whatever we want of the world.
And the Terrorists? Frankly, the only terrorists that we’ve seen on our own soil were trained by terrorists that we trained in Afghanistan. We seem to be our own worst enemy, or as people more poetical than me have said “We get the best enemies money can buy.” I think we should stop buying them.
I’m sure the mantra will go on. It’s a mindset that sells in this day and age; fear of others, fear of those outside. However, if you are going to go raging on about closed borders and true Americans, you are going to eventually look like an idiot, because the reality of the situation won’t be corrected by that type of rhetoric. But then I think that time has come and gone when it comes to Boortz. He is the Mighty Whitey, indeed.
To a nation built on immigration it should seem strange to have a president investing in keeping foreigners out, and considering fines on employers hiring immigrants
I was doing so well, keeping the rabid spittle from showing in my text, right up to the point where I say the part about ending government welfare. If we are cutting checks to anyone, we should be cutting checks in dollar amounts for every person on the planet, just so they know that Uncle Sam is why they can buy stuff. What comes around, goes around. Better yet send them a smartphone with a US government sponsored account funded in dollars on a monthly basis. They’ll all want to get their governments to join the United States then.
Reading Knappster today (“Surf Naked for Jesus” why did you change that?) Ran across his entry on the 1000th death penalty victim. I don’t shed tears for murderers, whether they work for themselves or the state, but I do have one point I’d like to make.
The quote is:
“For some reason, apart from my general opposition to capital punishment (which pretty much comes down to “I can’t trust politicians to deliver mail on time; why the hell would I trust them to decide who needs killin’?”), I didn’t find “Tookie’s” case exceptionally compelling. Maybe if I’d studied the case more closely I would have, but I let it go by because … well, pretty much because a lot of people more prominent, more educated in the facts of the case and more interested had already taken it up. So. Anyway. Another state-sanctioned killing under the bridge.”
I can define my opposition to the death penalty quite easily. The government should not be allowed to do anything that individuals within the society are not allowed to do. Killing in self defense is allowed, and cops and prison guards should be armed (and forgiven) for actions taken in ‘self defense’ of themselves and ‘society’.
But, I have a hard time believing that an unarmed prisoner strapped to a gurney (or a chair, depending on your states murder predilection) presents any kind of a threat. And the killing of that person can only be counted as murder, making us no better than the murderer that we have exacted justice upon.
Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is preferable, in my opinion, than making myself party to murder; even if the man that we are killing “needed it”.
I know I’m not a libertarian anymore because I feel no need to utter the word state when I mean government. When you need special words to describe the thing you hate, so that people like you can understand what you mean, you have started down the road to mass hallucination. However, the subject of killing in cold blood remains largely the same as it was back in the 90’s when I convinced myself I was a libertarian. This post was reworked for another post in 2017.