Category Archives: Freedom of Association

This is Government

According to the Iranian government, the person dying below was a terrorist. No doubt all the people walking around her in apparent unconcern for there were fellow terrorists, and the people she was terrorizing were outside camera range.

She is being called Neda. The person who uploaded the video to Youtube claims that he was nearly half a mile away from the demonstrations when a sharpshooter shot a teenage girl standing nearby with her father. Within a few seconds, she was dead, her eyes turn to the camera before being obscured by the pools blood that pour out of her mouth and nose.

A student at Kent State University gunned down by U.S. government troops.

A student at Kent State University gunned down by U.S. government troops.

Many people are arguing that this is the sort of thing that democracy is supposed to prevent. Of course, democracies also shoot people opposed to the government’s policies.

Why? because government, at its heart, is an organization that uses force to get its way. It is incapable of limiting its violence to socially beneficial causes like apprehending murderers. At some point, it points a gun at a group of people and demands they submit, and anyone who refuses gets a bullet.

This is government. Over there or over here, it is the same; the few exploit the many, and they are ready to use beatings, kidnappings and murder to get their way.

So who are the real terrorists?

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.
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I Don’t Ask Congress To Applaud Iranian Protesters, But I’ll Do It Myself

Congress has voted to condemn the actions of the Iranian government, and as Reason points out, Ron Paul in typical contrarian fashion is the sole “no” vote:

I rise in reluctant opposition to H Res 560, which condemns the Iranian government for its recent actions during the unrest in that country. While I never condone violence, much less the violence that governments are only too willing to mete out to their own citizens, I am always very cautious about “condemning” the actions of governments overseas. As an elected member of the United States House of Representatives, I have always questioned our constitutional authority to sit in judgment of the actions of foreign governments of which we are not representatives. I have always hesitated when my colleagues rush to pronounce final judgment on events thousands of miles away about which we know very little. And we know very little beyond limited press reports about what is happening in Iran.

I applaud Ron Paul for taking his usual principled stand. Our Congress does not need to be spending their time issuing Resolutions toothless moralistic statements about America, much less other countries. Even if I were to retreat from my cautious anarchist tendencies and accept that Congress actually deserves real responsibilities, that responsibility is to legislate, not preach.

But a part of those anarchist tendencies is Heinlein’s rational anarchy. All actions are ultimately morally within the hands of individuals. Immaterial of laws or society, it is the individual who is morally responsible for acting rightly or wrongly.

So I don’t ask Congress to speak on Iran. Taking a chance to personalize H Res 560, let me do it myself:

Resolved, That Brad Warbiany —

  1. expresses his support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;
  2. condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones; and
  3. affirms the universality of individual rights and considers any government which infringes upon those individual rights to be illegitimate.

Iran is at a very important point. In a mere matter of hours, this may come to a head. The mullahs have signaled that they will resort to violence with a call that any who continue protesting “will be held responsible for the consequences and chaos.” Many people in Iran have said that they’re going to protest anyway.

As I write this in California, it is 10:15 AM in Iran. Much will happen in the next few hours. To those Iranians who are not sure what will happen next, I can only wish you safety and success. I’m not sure you’ll have the former, but if you don’t I at least hope you achieve the latter.

The Limits of Campaign Finance Law Abridgement of the First Amendment Tested in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission

During the 2008 presidential campaign, an organization called Citizens United produced an anti-Hillary documentary called “Hillary: the Movie.” The movie was available on pay-per-view cable channels until the FEC pulled the plug claiming that the broadcast violated campaign finance law. The case, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, is now being considered by the Supreme Court.

During oral arguments, the government’s attorney revealed that campaign finance law as currently written could be interpreted to restrict not only documentaries such as “Hillary” but any other political speech “broadcast” during a campaign. A banned “broadcast” could include a store advertising the sale of candidate dolls, toys, or action figures. Even if the advertisement makes no direct endorsements nor advocates the defeat of a candidate, the mere mention of a candidate’s name or likeness would violate current election law.

But surely books would be safe…right?

Not if the book is “broadcast” on a device such as a Kindle, says the government’s attorney. While the FEC believes “dead tree editions” are currently safe from FEC regulation, former Chief of Staff and Council of the FEC Allison Hayward, says that such regulations could be imposed if congress brought such an interpretation into the law.

In the very beginning of the video below, Steve Simpson, Senior Attorney for the Institute for Justice says something which bears repeating here because he captures exactly the First Amendment problems found in current campaign finance law:

“The problem is not too much money in politics; the problem is too much power in government. Government regulates everything and of course, people want to affect the course of the government. So the campaign finance reformers ultimately what they want to prevent is that. It’s the ability to affect the course of our government; it’s the ability to affect which way people vote. That’s the dirty little secret of campaign finance law. They don’t just want to control money, they want to control speech.”

I would like to believe that free speech will ultimately prevail in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, but given SCOTUS’s history, ruling on the side of the Constitution is by no means sure thing. I also can’t help but wonder how an Obama appointed Justice would rule if this case was before him or her. Which side would receive the most “empathy,” the federal government or a private organization or individual citizen? We already know that such a judge would not be considering “abstract legal theories” such as entailed in the First Amendment.

Something for the left to think about regarding hate crime laws

As a libertarian, I find Republican Congresswoman Virginia Foxx’s comment that Matthew Shepard’s death was a “a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills” as reprehensible as anyone on the left ever could.  Although she’s now apologized for the remark, she’s yet another good example of why the Republican Party continues to lose elections.

However, some of the well-meaning arguments used by the left regarding hate crime legislation make no sense to me, either.  Most of my progressive friends are fairly bright people — and they are certainly smart enough to know that they probably won’t control Congress and the White House forever.  It seems that the progressive movement is promoting a slippery-slope issue which will ultimately be used to target the left side of the aisle should the social conservatives ever take over.

When the Department of Homeland Security report branding of most people on the right as potential terrorist threats was made public, I had a difficult time being sympathetic to those who applauded President Bush’s egregious abuse of executive power and blatant disregard for civil liberties.  Now that the worm has turned on them, a lot of conservatives are once again concerned about more than one of the first ten amendments to the Constitution.  Their problem is similar to the same general slippery-slope the left is currently creating with the hate crime legislation soon to hit the Senate floor.

“Personal bias in officers or prosecution is absolutely indicative of what’s going to happen sometimes,” said Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, on The Rachel Maddow Show the other night. “Not always, but sometimes.”

While it isn’t the point that Ms. Shepard was trying to make, she brings up a very valid topic.  Personal and political bias will happen as a matter of public policy should extreme social conservatives manage to gain political control. Imagine a President Mike Huckabee, Vice President Rick Santorum, Attorney General John Yoo, and Senator Ralph Reed.

If you don’t think social conservatives will do everything they can to define those in opposition to their agenda as hate-mongers, think again.  They already call folks opposed to the Iraq War or the Patriot Act part of the “Hate America” crowd.  With control of Congress and the White House, it would be easy to expand the definition of hate crime to suit their purposes.

Next, imagine that some gay guy murders some straight person. While he admitted some dislike for straight people in his confession, there is still doubt in the minds of some intelligent and reasonable people about his true intent.  What is established is that the police found evidence that the suspect had participated in local Pride parades and his personal library contains works by Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Oscar Wilde and Gore Vidal.

If you don’t think social conservatives would use ownership of books like these as evidence, think again.  If you don’t think the right is capable of stretching a legal definition to suit their own purposes, I’ll suggest that you go ask John Yoo about his definition of torture.

If the intent of the left is to provide some level of federal oversight to crimes ignored at the local level, please do the right thing and amend the Constitution if you don’t feel that the 14th Amendment provides enough protection in these sorts of cases.

By creating and now expanding hate crime laws, the left is unwittedly drawing the papers with which they’ll later be prosecuted.

MD and AL: Two Tea Party items of interest

Maryland

It’s being reported that the Maryland National Guard issued an alert to be on the lookout for numerous entities which “have formed recently to express displeasure/anger over recent federal/state government actions: more taxes, increased spending, higher deficits, a surge of borrowing to pay for it all, bailout of the financial institutions.”

“This movement can be identified by different variations of “TEA Party” or “Tea Party.” Past “TEA Party” events have been peaceful. There was a “Tea party” event at Solomons, Maryland, on March 22, 2009. “TEA” stands for “Taxed Enough Already,”the report continues.

Following the Missouri Information Analysis Center report and the one issued by the Department of Homeland Security, this is beginning to look like a most disturbing trend.

Alabama

The following blog comment (from a source I personally know) illustrates that the Birmingham/Shelby County Tea Party stuck to their activist guns:

The highlight of the event in Birmingham was Beth Chapman, our Secretary of State.

Unbeknowst to most people, she showed up unannounced at the back of the stage and demanded to speak. Apparently she wasn’t there when I announced that no elected officials would be speaking and that at this rally politicians would listen to we the people.

As a matter of fact, she wasn’t there when the Rainy Day Patriots (25 in number) stood on 280 in the middle of a tornado warning with their protest signs. She wasn’t there during our organizational meetings. She wasn’t there during setup of the event. And she certainly wasn’t there during cleanup.

Needless to say, she wasn’t a very happy camper when she was told “NO”. I guess politicians are not used to being told no because she lingered for another 30 minutes quibling for a speaking spot.

It was a great day in Alabama when a group of citizens can grow their numbers from 25 to 7000 in a couple of weeks and tell our politicians “NO!”

Chapman is Alabama’s Republican Secretary of State. Commenter Marcelo Munoz is a local Campaign for Liberty organizer.

DHS Responds To Uproar Over Report On “Right Wing Extremism”

In light of the uproar that we’ve seen over the report that Stephen Gordon brought into the public light earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security has issued this press release:

Release Date: April 15, 2009

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

The primary mission of this department is to prevent terrorist attacks on our nation. The document on right-wing extremism sent last week by this department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis is one in an ongoing series of assessments to provide situational awareness to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies on the phenomenon and trends of violent radicalization in the United States. I was briefed on the general topic, which is one that struck a nerve as someone personally involved in the Timothy McVeigh prosecution.

Let me be very clear: we monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States. We don’t have the luxury of focusing our efforts on one group; we must protect the country from terrorism whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence.

We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not – nor will we ever – monitor ideology or political beliefs. We take seriously our responsibility to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American people, including subjecting our activities to rigorous oversight from numerous internal and external sources.

I am aware of the letter from American Legion National Commander Rehbein, and my staff has already contacted him to set up a meeting next week once I return from travel. I will tell him face-to-face that we honor veterans at DHS and employ thousands across the department, up to and including the Deputy Secretary.

As the department responsible for protecting the homeland, DHS will continue to work with its state and local partners to prevent and protect against the potential threat to the United States associated with any rise in violent extremist activity.

I’ll leave it to others to comment more fully, but I will say that it’s worth remembering that Timothy McVeigh got his start with the so-called militia movement, and he ended up killing hundreds of people.

H/T: Little Green Footballs

If you are reading this, you may well be a terrorist

Last night, I uploaded a document I had received by e-mail and wrote the following:

According to this new Homeland Security report, all it takes to fit the terrorist profile is to have general anti-government feelings or prefer local/state government to federal control over everything.

The federal Homeland Security Department document entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Environment Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” contains the following definition:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.  It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

Also targeted in the report are veterans, folks anticipating additional restrictions to their Second Amendment rights, and those concerned about the loss of U.S. sovereignty.

This report implies that one harboring these sorts of views is a racist as well as a potential terrorism suspect.

Michelle Malkin has followed through and verified that the Department of Homeland Security takes credit for the report:

The “report” was one of the most embarrassingly shoddy pieces of propaganda I’d ever read out of DHS. I couldn’t believe it was real.

I spent the day chasing down DHS spokespeople, who have been tied up preparing for a very important homeland security event later today: The First Lady is coming to visit their Washington office. Priorities, you know.

Well, the press office got back to me and verified that the document is indeed for real.

They were very defensive — preemptively so — in asserting that it was not a politicized document and that DHS had done reports on “leftwing extremism” in the past.

As Malkin suggests in her posting, it’s time to make a few last minute signs for April 15th Tea Parties.

UPDATE: The White House responds:

The White House has distanced itself from the analysis. When asked for comment on its contents, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said, “The President is focused not on politics but rather taking the steps necessary to protect all Americans from the threat of violence and terrorism regardless of its origins. He also believes those who serve represent the best of this country, and he will continue to ensure that our veterans receive the respect and benefits they have earned.”

$1.00

This is the amount a jury awarded the America hating professor, Ward Churchill in his civil rights lawsuit against The University of Colorado. Despite charges of academic misconduct “deliberate and repeated plagiarism, falsification, and fabrication” Churchill and his legal team turned his dismissal from CU into a First Amendment free speech issue.

Maybe I don’t quite understand how tenure is supposed to work, but this idea that someone is entitled to a job regardless of how his or her actions damage the reputation of his or her employer (CU in this case) is asinine. Ward Churchill’s firing is not a First Amendment issue but a freedom of association issue (in this case, CU decided to discontinue its association with the professor).

The First Amendment protects speech from government reprisals. I suppose one could argue that Churchill’s employer was the State of Colorado (a wonderful example for why all higher learning institutions should be privately owned, operated, and funded) and therefore, was a government reprisal.

Local Denver attorneys and talk show hosts Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman point out that Churchill took an oath pursuant to Colorado State law to uphold the U.S. Constitution. From their legal point-of-view, Churchill violated this oath when he encouraged students (on multiple occasions) to commit acts of violence against private and government institutions as well as private citizens. How can Churchill take an oath to a constitution he finds illegal and immoral, violate that oath, and still have legal grounds to remain employed by the State?

Beyond this, university speech codes, politically correct as they are, how is it possible to say that one professor could be legitimately fired for violating the prevailing P.C. orthodoxy while Churchill is entitled to a job despite praising the OKC bombing and the 9/11 terrorist attacks? Caplis, on his radio show, pointed out that if Churchill had said, for example, that female students on the CU campus deserved to be raped; his career would be over (and rightfully so). Few would be claiming his First Amendment rights were being violated by CU if these were his words.

Ward Churchill may not deserve to be prosecuted for his hateful speech but he doesn’t have the “right” to teach at CU either.

To Mr. Churchill I would just like to say the following:

Congratulations on your $1 civil rights victory (which you do not deserve); don’t spend it all in one place…asshole!

The Liberty Papers Welcomes Fellow “Militia Members” and Enemies of the State

Are you an enemy of the state? Chances are if you are reading The Liberty Papers, you are! According to a new report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center, “The Modern Militia Movement” authored by Governor Nixon and Attorney General Koster, signs that you may be a domestic terrorist or militia member include:

– You supported Ron Paul or 3rd party candidates such as Chuck Baldwin or Bob Barr in the 2008 election (Guilty!)

– You have “anti-government,” Campaign for Liberty, Gadsden Flag, and “libertarian” bumper stickers on his or her vehicle or possess other related literature (Guilty!)

-Anyone involved in The Campaign for Liberty (I’m sure that anyone associated with the Tea Parties or those in the “Going Galt” movement should also be considered a threat)

-People who frequently visit or participate in libertarian related blogs, discussion boards, or websites (Guilty!)

-Those who write about or talk about the coming economic collapse of the U.S. (Guilty!)

Basically, anyone who distrusts the state on any level could be profiled as a potential militia member, domestic terrorist, or enemy of the state.

I first learned of this report from the video clip below (Glenn Beck with Penn Jillete as his guest).

So what does Chuck Baldwin, Bob Barr, and Ron Paul think about being associated with domestic terrorism?

Chuck Baldwin’s response:

Can you imagine the fallout of this preposterous report had the names Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Maxine Waters been used instead of the names Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr?

Accordingly, Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and I wrote a formal letter to the above-named Missouri officials demanding “that the following-described document be immediately removed from any and all websites associated with or maintained by the state of Missouri or any agency thereof, including the MIAC; that the said document no longer be circulated by the state of Missouri or any agency thereof or associated therewith; and that the state of Missouri repudiate its references to the three of us contained therein.”

Bob Barr seems to be content with the response he co-wrote with Baldwin and Paul, at least for now (I haven’t found any response so far from Barr other than the aforementioned letter)

Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, however; is not taking this laying down and is circulating a Citizen’s Petition for Redress of Grievance

Both Ron Paul and Campaign for Liberty champion principles of freedom, peace, and prosperity. We believe that the Founder’s vision for America can be reclaimed through education and peaceful activism.

Simply supporting the Constitution does not make you worthy of a watch list; it makes you a Patriot.

I find it interesting that some (mostly Democrats) who when Bush was president said that dissent was patriotic now get nervous when anyone dares to question the policies of “The Messiah” a.k.a. “The Chosen One” a.k.a. President Obama. To be against this enlightened being is to commit heresy and obviously should be considered a wild-eyed, dangerous enemy of the state.

Well, believe it or not, not everyone believes that the direction Obama and the Democrat controlled federal government are in the best interest of those who value the rights of life, liberty, and property. The State has become an enemy to these very basic human rights.

Does this make me an enemy of the state? Well, I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as a “friend of the state.”

To those of you who have my name on a watch list and reading this, you can take that statement however you like.

Don’t Tread on Me!

Nader Scores Big Court Victory for Third Party Candidates

It’s not often that I sing the praises of unsafe-at-any-speed Ralph Nader, but his recent legal victory is worthy of such praises.

LOS ANGELES, March 9 /PRNewswire/ — In a significant move for open-election laws, the U.S. Supreme Court today rejected an attempt to overturn a federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that the state of Arizona could not require independent presidential candidates to register earlier than candidates affiliated with major political parties.

Arizona’s petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court had been closely watched after 13 other states supported Arizona’s bid to have the High Court hear the case. The federal civil rights case, originally filed in Arizona federal district court, stems from Nader’s 2004 presidency bid.

Ralph Nader had challenged the deadline, contending it violated his First Amendment rights to free speech and political association. Lead Attorney Robert Barnes of the Bernhoft Law Firm represented Nader before the Ninth Circuit, which overturned the district court and unanimously declared the Arizona law unconstitutional. Nader’s Bernhoft Law legal team successfully argued that requiring independent candidates to register by June was unfair when the two major political parties did not hold their conventions until the fall.

Perhaps as just as important was the other aspect of Nader’s challenge was the lower court striking down the provision in Arizona law which required petition circulators to be registered to vote within the state. Paul Jacob and others can now circulate petitions to any state government without fear of being put in jail. What a concept!

Which is Freakier: A bong hit or “the application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris [as] an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement?”

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps took a bong hit; Kellogg’s has dropped their sponsorship of Phelps.

In my opinion, Kellogg’s has every right in the world to drop the sponsorship. And I have every right in the world to quit using Kelloggs’ products. If the Phelps issue wasn’t enough, let’s take a look (H/T to Huffpo) at some of the bizarre history of John Harvey Kellogg’s radical beliefs. Here are some cut-and-pastes from his Wikipedia entry:

Some of his work on diet was influenced by his belief that a plain and healthy diet, with only two meals a day, among other things, would reduce sexual feelings. Those experiencing temptation were to avoid stimulating food and drinks, and eat very little meat, if any. Kellogg also advocated hydrotherapy and stressed the importance of keeping the colon clean through yogurt enemas. [snip]

He appears to have gone beyond his own advice, since though he and his wife were married for over 40 years, they never had sexual intercourse and had separate bedrooms all their lives. It has been suggested he worked on Plain Facts on their honeymoon.

He was an especially zealous campaigner against masturbation; this was an orthodox view during his lifetime, especially the earlier part. Kellogg was able to draw upon many medical sources who made claims such as that “neither the plague, nor war, nor small-pox, nor similar diseases, have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of onanism,” credited to one Dr. Adam Clarke. Kellogg strongly warned against the habit in his own words, claiming of masturbation-related deaths “such a victim literally dies by his own hand,” among other condemnations. He felt that masturbation destroyed not only physical and mental health, but the moral health of individuals as well. Kellogg also believed the practice of “solitary-vice” caused cancer of the womb, urinary diseases, nocturnal emissions, impotence, epilepsy, insanity, and mental and physical debility – “dimness of vision” was only briefly mentioned. Kellogg was the first to mention the psychological role in producing insanity. [snip]

Kellogg worked on the rehabilitation of masturbators, often employing extreme measures, even mutilation, on both sexes. In his Plain Facts for Old and Young, he wrote

“A remedy which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision, especially when there is any degree of phimosis. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment, as it may well be in some cases. The soreness which continues for several weeks interrupts the practice, and if it had not previously become too firmly fixed, it may be forgotten and not resumed.”

and

“In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid [phenol] to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement.”

He also recommended, to prevent children from this “solitary vice”, bandaging or tying their hands, covering their genitals with patented cages, sewing the foreskin shut and electrical shock.

I’ll strongly defend Kellogg’s right to no longer support Michael Phelps. I’ll also strongly defend the rights of consumers who choose not to purchase products from Kellogg’s anymore.

The Absurdity of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

The first bill that Obama signed into law is the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.  The bill is designed to plug “holes” in the Civil Rights Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the American’s with Disabilities Act, namely in the requirement that people sue within 180 days of the unlawful discrimination occurring.

The very premise of this law should warn people that the law is a bad one; usually victims are aware that they have been victimized, which is clearly not the case with the actions the law seeks to criminalize.  This law  attempts to protect  people who arbitrarily, possibly years after the fact, decide that a contract they accepted was suddenly unacceptable.

Good laws, ones that attempt to criminalize acts which harm or injure a victim don’t need such a clause.  A victim of assault and battery, for example, will become immediately aware that he or she has been attacked.  A person who is the victim of fraud can pinpoint when the other party failed do to satisfy their contractual obligations.    While on occasion, it may take years for the fraud to manifest itself, inevitably, the victim becomes aware of the fraud and can point to the contractual violation that took place.

The case of Lilly Ledbetter, after whom the law was named, shows the absurdity of the law very plainly.  Lilly Ledbetter worked for Goodyear.  Over the course of many years, they offered her an employment contract that paid her far less than contracts made with men performing the same or similar duties.  At the time, she voluntarily accepted the contracts, clearly meaning that she thought the salary was an acceptable payment for her services.  As she neared retirement, she became aware of the fact that male coworkers were paid more generously and sued on the grounds that she was the victim of unlawful discrimination.

Interestingly, had Lilly Ledbetter’s male coworkers been paid salaries that were approximately equal to hers, under the law she would not be a victim.  This highlights the bizarre nature of discrimination law.  Compare this law to laws governing assault.  If a person assaults someone, how many other people were assaulted, how consistently the attacker assaults people he comes in contact with are absolutely irrelevant to the question of whether or not a crime has been committed.  Under such a rubric, we could argue that Ted Bundy wasn’t really a murderer, after all he killed nearly every woman he picked up, thereby not unfairly signaling out any one of his victims for unusually harsh treatment.

Odds are that any person, at some point in their lives, will regret some contract they entered into willingly that seemed like a good idea beforehand.  The notion that the law can punish the other party after the fact for fulfilling the terms of an agreement that was freely entered is dangerous; it assumes that society is improved by making the legal system more arbitrary and capricious.

The authors of this law claim that it will improve commerce by making commercial transactions more orderly.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  This law makes the decision to employ members of protective classes to be quite perilous.   Under this law, a person can work for a company for decades, and then turn around an sue the company for discrimination and be awarded decades of back pay.  It will, if anything, make businesses more reluctant to hire women, minorities, disabled or gays or any of the other protected groups that the law seeks to protect.

The law is also unconstitutional, not only because it depends on an incorrectly expansive reading of the General Welfare clause, but also because the law appears to be retroactive (to me anyway).

While I applaud the goals of the law, to expand the options available to women, minorities, the disabled etc, this law is very counterproductive.  The bargaining power of workers is enhanced when they can more easily switch jobs and employers have to compete for the labor they hire.  When the government intervenes in the labor market by making employing certain people more risky, they are in effect making those laborers less attractive to people who are considering buying their labor services.   In short, this law will hurt women, hurt minorities, hurt the disabled, etc.  It is, in short, an own goal.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Open Thread Question: Is Naming a Child “Adolf Hitler” Child Abuse?

Heath and Deborah Campbell have three young children. Their names: JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, and Adolph Hitler Campbell. Unsurprisingly to everyone (with the exception of Heath and Deborah Campbell), having such names for their children can have very negative effects on their children. When it came time to request a birthday cake from ShopRite complete with the words “Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler,”* ShopRite refused. ShopRite offered to leave room for the Campbells to write the inscription themselves but the Campbells refused.

In the comments section of this news story, some suggest that the very act of naming a child Adolf Hitler constitutes child abuse. There’s no question that in the course of Adolf’s life his name will cause him a great deal of hardships; not having a cake with his name on it will probably be the least of them. But child abuse?

I am hesitant to say that naming a child after a despicable person is child abuse for the same reason I oppose so-called hate crimes legislation: criminalizing thought. Are those who would argue that naming a child Adolf Hitler is child abuse suggesting that CPS should take the children away from the Campbells? If so, what other names should be considered child abuse worthy of the state taking action? David Duke? Joseph Stalin? If the Campbells would have chosen “Che Guevera Campbell” or “Mao Zedong Campbell” (Mao who killed many times that of Adolf Hitler), ShopRite probably would have had no problem inscribing those names and the child would likely have far fewer problems associated with those names in his lifetime.

Perhaps when Adolf reaches adulthood he can choose to change his name** and serve his loving parents with a lawsuit for a lifetime of otherwise avoidable emotional and psychological damages?

But until that day, how should the public respond to the Campbells? They should be shunned.

And goods and/or services businesses would otherwise provide the Campbells? ShopRite did the right thing by refusing to grant their request. Businesses should have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason.

If enough people refuse to associate themselves with the Campbells, perhaps they will be shamed into learning that naming a child Adolf Hitler isn’t the best idea. But to say that giving their children such terrible names is child abuse may be a bridge too far.

» Read more

Che, Mao, and Pop Culture

One thing that disturbs me to no end is the way despotic Communist serial killers like Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Mao Zedong are iconic figures in American pop culture. When I see someone wearing Che’s ugly mug on his/her chest, I want to ask him/her: “Do you really have any idea who this man was or what he did?” I suspect that if I were to ask, I’d get a blank stare.

This short video below from reason.tv features interviews with two individuals who lived under the thumbs of Che and Mao. Neither are what you would call fans of these pop culture icons.

A Letter to Senator Kerry

Dear Senator Kerry,

I was aghast to read your response to my email on the subject of requiring people to get Federal government approval to work.  It is the sort of totalitarian policy I would expect from some right wing fascist dictatorship. I am especially stunned see a former nominee of the Democrat party send out a letter under his name defending such illiberal policies.

Let us ignore the obvious peril of permitting someone like a Bush appointee telling employers whom they may or may not hire.  Let us pretend that people will never be victimized by enemies withing the government.  Instead, let us pretend that this law will not be abused.

First, let us examine what you call an ‘illegal worker’.  I assume that you are not implying that people are somehow illegal.  That notion hopefully died with the victory of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s.  I am sure that what you meant was that rather some people are working illegally, i.e. without your permission.

So let us examine what workers do.

Workers produce things.  When they work for pay, selling their labor services to some customer who needs help getting something done, both the workers and the customer benefit.  The worker of course gets the wage that he values more than his time.  The customer gets the wealth created by the labor which they value more than the money they expend in paying for it.

In effect, two people (or one person and a company, or two companies) decide to engage in trade.  You have declared that some of these relationships are illegal.  I assume that you believe that these transactions should be illegal because someone was harmed (the alternative is too depraved to consider).  Obviously, the people engaged in the practice you want to make illegal are not harmed;  they wouldn’t enter into these arrangements if they didn’t feel that the trade was better than not trading at all.  Obviously the person who is harmed is someone else – someone not involved in the trade.

It is clear that you want the customer to be forced to deal only with a subset of labor sellers.  Much like the segregationists in Virginia who sought to prevent black people from marrying whomever they wished and limit them to only marrying other black people, you want to force employers only to employ people you approve of.  Of course this is ridiculous.  Am I harmed because your wife decided to marry you and not me?  Is Sacks 5th Avenue harmed because Target makes me a better offer?  The very notion is absurd.  Like the segregationists in the old south, you are taking your emotional disapproval of how other people interact each other and are threatening them with violence.  Of course, you don’t want to dirty your hands; the clubs that beat lawbreakers will be wielded by the police, allowing you to sleep comfortably in bed with no inconvenient memories threatening your delusion that you are somehow a moral person.

Much like the Mr and Mrs Loving who decided to ignore the racists in the Virginia legislature who declared their love ‘illegal’, people are deciding to do business despite your attempts to stop them.  You call it an ‘underground’ economy in an attempt to discredit it.  What I see are people heroically asserting their right to choose whom they do business with.  Of course they hide it from you!  If my wife and I had lived in the 60’s in Alabama, we’d hide our marriage from the Ku Klux Klan.  The fact that people are hiding from you does not discredit them – rather it discredits you.  Think about it!  People are hiding from you.  They are scared of you. Are you proud of this?  Do you consider this an accomplishment?  If your son came home from school proudly announcing that he’d bullied someone, would you tell him how proud your were of him?

I am told you are a religious man: when you face your creator on judgement day, I don’t think you will earn many brownie points by  telling your maker that your big accomplishment was threatening people who wished to peacefully do business with each other.

In these difficult times it is shameful that an influential senator like yourself is throwing rocks at your countrymen’s efforts to earn a living and improve their lives.  I hope you will come to your senses and stop threatening us and let us go about rebuilding our lives.

The letter that triggered my ire below the fold » Read more

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Gay Marriage, Religious Rights, and Freedom of Association

California’s Proposition 8, the ballot measure aiming to outlaw same sex marriage, passed on a very close vote. Prop 8’s supporters* pushed a campaign of fear, misinformation, and a complete distortion of the meaning of individual liberty. This campaign commercial is typical of the intolerance and hysteria being promoted from the “yes” campaign.

Argument #1: Churches could be forced to marry gay people.

Argument #2: Religious adoption agencies could be forced to allow gay couples to adopt children; some adoption agencies would close their doors as a result.

Argument #3: Those who speak out against gay marriage on religious grounds will be labeled “intolerant” and subjected to legal penalties or social ridicule. Careers could be threatened.

Argument #4: Schools will teach students that marriage is between “party a” and “party b” regardless of gender. Schools also teach health and sexuality and would now include discussions of homosexuality.

Argument #5: There will be “serious clashes” between public schools and parents who wish to teach their children their values concerning marriage.

Argument #6: Allowing gays to marry will restrict or eliminate liberties of “everyone.” (Example: Photographers who do not want to work at same sex weddings)

Argument #7: If Prop 8 fails, religious liberty and free speech rights will be adversely affected.

My response to these arguments is that we should be advocating for more freedom for everyone rather than restrict freedom of a group or class of people. The state should recognize the same contract rights** for a gay couple as it would between a man and a woman. To get around the whole definition of marriage issue, I would propose that as far as the state is concerned, any legally recognized intimate relationship between consenting adults should be called a “domestic partnership.” From there the churches or secular equivalent to churches should have the right to decide who they will marry and who they will not (just as they do now).

Rather than subject an individual’s rights to a vote or either party forcing their values on the other, we should instead advocate freedom of association and less government in our everyday lives. Somewhere along the way, we as a people decided that the government should involve itself more and more into the relationships of private actors. The government now has the ability to dictate to business owners quotas of who they must hire, family leave requirements, how much their employees must be paid, and how many hours they work (among other requirements). For the most part, businesses which serve the public cannot deny service to individuals for fear of a lawsuit.

A return to a freedom of association society would remedy arguments 1, 2, 6, and 7 from this ad. As to Argument #3, the anti-gay marriage folks are going to have to realize that in a free society, they are going to have to deal with “social ridicule”*** or being called intolerant. Anyone who takes a stand on any issue is going to be criticized and called names. In a freedom of association society, an employer would have every right to decide to layoff individuals who hold views or lifestyles they disagree with.

While we’re on the subject of intolerance, perhaps we should take a moment to consider if people who would deny equivalent rights which come with marriage are intolerant. This ad is exactly the same as the previous ad except that the words “same sex” and “gays” have been replaced with “interracial.”

Believe it or not, there was a time in this country when there were such laws against interracial marriage. Those who argued against interracial marriage made very similar arguments to what the anti-gay marriage people are making now. Today most of us would say those people were intolerant.

Intolerance aside, Arguments 4 and 5 can also be answered by reducing the role of government in our lives. What the “yes” people should be arguing for is a separation of school and state. While we as a nation are trending toward more government involvement in K-12 education, those who do not want the government schools to teach their children the birds and the bees or enter into discussions of homosexuality can put their children in private schools which share their values or home school. School Choice is the obvious answers to these concerns.

Prop 8’s supporters have turned the whole idea of individual liberty on its head. They claim that in order to preserve the rights of the greatest number of people a minority of people necessarily must sacrifice their rights. This is absurd and dangerous. Perhaps it is this complete misunderstanding of individual rights among Californians which contributed to Prop 8’s passage.

When explained properly, the rights of life, liberty, and property is the easiest concept to understand.

Hat Tip: The Friendly Atheist

Posted Elsewhere:

Dan Melson @ Searchlight Crusade has written a very thought provoking post on this issue. Some of his arguments I agree with, others I don’t but all of his points are well argued.

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