Category Archives: Freedom of the press

Even San Francisco Protesters Are Criticizing Chavez

Chavez is no stranger to criticism from those of us who are anti-socialism… But you know he’s screwed up when protesters in San Francisco are out for him:

Dozens of protesters opposed to the closure of a television station in Venezuela are sounding off in front of San Francisco’s Ferry Building.

About 50 demonstrators are marching around the plaza area in front of the San Francisco Ferry Building in protest of the abrupt closure of a popular Venezuelan television outlet.

Participants chanted “Libertad” and walked with their hands up in the air, according to KCBS reporter Tim Ryan, who is covering the event.

He describes the scene as being full of colorful Venezuelan flags and signs, one of which, was a 30-foot banner with painted handprints.

“This is a peaceful protest..we have no weapons in our hands..Hugo Chavez has all the weapons,” said protestor Gabriel Lee of Fremont.

Wow… San Franciscans are protesting someone who hates Bush as much as they do, and happens to be socialists, just like them.

It makes me wonder, just who are the people who still try to defend Chavez commenting on this blog?

The Woman Who Refuses to Submit

Cross-posted here at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one brave woman who refuses to submit to Islam. Ali grew up in a devout Muslim home in Somalia and witnessed the brutal treatment of women first hand. When her father arranged a marriage to a complete stranger to whom she would be required by Islamic tradition to obey his every command, Ali refused. Ali moved to Holland to pursue her own dreams (an act is strictly forbidden by the Koran).

After some time outside of Islamic culture and after the events of September 11, 2001, Ali rejected her religion of Islam in favor of reason (she is now an atheist). Since that time Ali has worked, at great personal risk, to educate the West of Islam’s subjugation of women and confront the politically correct Western media for its apologetic approach to her former religion.

In 2004, Ali co-produced a short movie with Theo Van Gogh entitled Submission to bring attention to the plight of women in the Islamic world. On November 2, 2004, Theo Van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim man who took offense to the blasphemous film. A note was found on Van Gogh’s body warning that Ali would be next.

Ali now lives under the protection of body guards in the U.S. but continues to speak out for the women who are victims of Islamic society. In April, her book Infidel hit the shelves (I just picked up the book myself; very fascinating what I have read so far).

The first of the 2 videos is a short interview with Ali where she explains the message she was trying to get across in Submission. The second video is the movie itself (Be patient, the video begins in Arabic with some non-English subtitles but the dialogue from that point on is mostly English).

Despots Say the Darndest Things

While most of us learn from the words of those who we admire, it is also possible to learn from those we detest. Here is a collection of quotes from some of the vilest despots in human history. From these quotes, perhaps we can gain some insights from their thought processes. You may also find the words of some of these despots eerily similar to those of some who are running for president or seeking other high office. Others seem to expose the motives behind those who seek to regulate the media, guns, education, and etc. I encourage anyone who reads this post to respond with a quote from an American politician whose quote has a similar meaning of those here (or exposes their motives).

Education/Indoctrination

“Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”
Vladimir Lenin

“Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.”
Joseph Stalin

“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”
Adolf Hitler

“The universities are available only to those who share my revolutionary beliefs.”
Fidel Castro

Censorship

“Ideas are far more powerful than guns. We don’t allow our enemies to have guns, why should we allow them to have ideas?”
Joseph Stalin

“When one makes a Revolution, one cannot mark time; one must always go forward – or go back. He who now talks about the “freedom of the press” goes backward, and halts our headlong course towards Socialism.”
Vladimir Lenin

Propaganda

“By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.”
Adolf Hitler

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”
Vladimir Lenin

Political Strategy

“There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.”
Vladimir Lenin

“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.”
Adolf Hitler

“Democracy is the road to socialism.”
Karl Marx

“Democracy is indispensable to socialism.”
Vladimir Lenin

Individualism vs. Collectivism

“The day of individual happiness has passed.”
Adolf Hitler

“All our lives we fought against exalting the individual, against the elevation of the single person, and long ago we were over and done with the business of a hero, and here it comes up again: the glorification of one personality. This is not good at all. I am just like everybody else.”
Vladimir Lenin

Guns

“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
Mao Tse-Tung

“We don’t let them have ideas. Why would we let them have guns?”
Joseph Stalin

“One man with a gun can control 100 without one.”
Vladimir Lenin

“The only real power comes out of a long rifle.”
Joseph Stalin

Life, Liberty, and Property

“I think that a man should not live beyond the age when he begins to deteriorate, when the flame that lighted the brightest moment of his life has weakened.”
Fidel Castro

“It is true that liberty is precious – so precious that it must be rationed.”
Vladimir Lenin

“We must confront the privileged elite who have destroyed a large part of the world.”
Hugo Chavez

Chavez The Totalitarian

In Friday’s Miami Herald, U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos (D-California) had a column about Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez’s closing of RTCV, the last private and opposition TV station in Venezuela. I bring up Congressman Lantos’s thoughts for several reasons. First, he’s the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and his column gives an insight into how Congress is viewing the situation in Venezuela. Secondly, Lantos is both a Holocaust survivor and a refugee from Communist Hungary and a lifelong supporter of human rights so his words do lend some kind of moral weight.

Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez is nearing the end of his campaign to stifle independent media — not due to a change of heart, but because through the years he has been singularly successful at cutting off dissenting voices in Venezuela. If he succeeds in his latest ploy, another will fall silent in the coming days.

Chávez intends to pull the plug on the country’s oldest and most popular station, Radio Caracas TV (RCTV), a source of radio programming for 76 years and television for 53. Chávez has refused to let the station renew its license, which expires on Sunday.

The roster of critics of this impending move grows daily. So far, we have heard from the Secretary General of the OAS, the Inter-American Press Association, the National Association of Newspapers of Brazil, Reporters without Borders, The Committee to Protect Journalists and no less than the Congress of Chile.

The Inter-American Human Rights Commission has objected as well, and it has been criticizing the gradual collapse of free expression in Venezuela since 1998.

None of this has deterred Chávez, who plans to whip up a crowd and lead a march to RCTV’s headquarters formally to shut it down.

The facts surrounding the looming closure point to a political vendetta by Chávez against a band of broadcasters who have consistently criticized him. So Chávez has decided to close what he calls a ”fascist channel,” adding ominously in a recent speech that, “We won’t tolerate here any media outlet that is coup-mongering, against the people, against the nation, against national independence, against national dignity.”

No doubt Chávez would want every program on the air to be like the hours-long broadcast Hello President, which he hosts. And for speaking out, I’ll probably earn a rant on the next show. But the stakes are too high to keep silent.

The next question is, will Congressman Lantos sponsor a resolution in the US House condemning Chavez’s closure of RCTV? If he does sponsor one, will Speaker Peliosi let it come to the floor? The obvious answer to both questions should be yes. If the United States is serious about freedom and human rights around the world, condemning these actions are necessary.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Socialist Defends Venezuela Shutting Down RCTV — “Not Free Speech Issue”

Today is the end for Venezuelan media company RCTV. Chavez’ stated reason for shutting them down is due to the involvement of the station in the failed coup attempt of 2002. At the same time, though, the station has been a reliable opposition station ever since, and failing to renew their broadcast license now is a convenient way to get rid of their voice.

However, that’s not what makes the article I’m referencing a farce. A writer for Monthly Review, an American socialist publication since 1949, believes that this isn’t a free speech issue. His justification, of course, is laughable:

This sovereign decision of the Venezuelan government not to renew RCTV’s concession has prompted claims that freedom of speech is somehow under threat in Venezuela.

But many discussions of freedom of speech rely on a fundamentally flawed assumption: that existing media outlets in some way embody “freedom.” The debate surrounding RCTV is no exception. It is this flawed assertion that has been openly embraced by the Venezuelan opposition and equally openly challenged by those who reject efforts to paint the non-renewal of the broadcasting concession for Venezuela’s RCTV as an issue of free speech at all (see my previous comments here).

Decades spent under the hegemonic shadow of the discourse of “civil society against the state” has led us to assume that all that is not under state control is free, thereby conveniently obscuring the unfreedom of economic, specifically market forces. So for the non-renewal of RCTV to be a free speech issue at all, one would have to make the ultimately doomed argument that RCTV, under the direction of Marcel Granier and media conglomerate “1 Broadcasting Caracas” (1BC), somehow represents an expression of the people’s freedom rather than the freedom of its small group of shareholders.

You see, according to this author freedom of speech doesn’t mean that you should be free to say what you believe. It only means that you should be free to speak in support of the principles of freedom. And who’s better suited to arbitrate whether or not they’re advocating freedom that a bunch of socialists?

This is a strawman from the start. His first statement, “But many discussions of freedom of speech rely on a fundamentally flawed assumption: that existing media outlets in some way embody ‘freedom.’ “ is an outright falsehood. Speech of the wicked is no less worthy of protection than speech of the virtuous. The fundamental assumption is that if the government begins deciding what speech is and is not acceptable, it leads to a slippery slope where only government-approved messages are allowed. Defending against government’s power to shut down unpopular speech is the only way to ensure the government doesn’t have the power to shut down any other speech it doesn’t like. I think that situation is quite clear here, as Chavez is using the failed coup as an excuse to put down opposition media.

This entire premise for his article (which mostly goes on to point out that the owners of RCTV are capitalists and tied to the previous regime, and the new TVes, which will replace RCTV, is “democratic”) is based on the flawed assumption that freedom of speech should only be extended to those you agree with. I’ll freely admit that the owners of RCTV are advocating not for a free society, but a return to pre-Chavez society in which they were the rulers. That doesn’t mean that shutting them down isn’t a free speech issue. As an advocate of free speech, I know that I often have to defend the free speech rights of groups that I absolutely abhor, such as Fred Phelps and his minions, in order to ensure that my own free speech rights are protected.

Socialists believe they’re advocating for freedom. The problem is that their definition of “freedom” is largely different from everyone else’s. Their definition of freedom involves a lot more government coercion than any I’ve ever heard of. RCTV isn’t advocating for freedom, but neither is Chavez, and when Chavez pulls RCTV’s license, he is most certainly trampling on their free speech rights.

In fact, I’d go a step farther and say that when government assumes the power to only allow “licensed” broadcasters to broadcast, they’re stepping on freedom. But that’s an argument for another day.

When government broadcast licenses are revoked due to content, it’s an abrogation of free speech rights. That’s true whether the content is pro-freedom or not. I have a feeling if the US government shut down Monthly Review for advocating anti-freedom ideas such as socialism, this author would be crying about his rights as well.

When corporations fight proxy wars using governments

It is always depressing to see a political battle erupt where you know, no matter who wins, the average citizen will be screwed. One such slow motion train wreck is taking place in Massachusetts as we speak. I became aware of it when one of the groups put an ad on TV that was so offensively anti-consumer that I knew some bait and switch had to be taking place. What I found was quite an interesting battle.

In Massachusetts, most roads are owned and operated by local governments. Among the many decisions these owners have to make are ones concerned with services run under or over these roads. One set of services are television cables. Generally, and perhaps universally, these towns select a single cable provider and give them a monopoly on television service, allow them to run lines along the roads, and grant them exclusive access to the market composed of the town’s residents.

The towns also made similar arrangements with telephone providers.

These monopolies are starting to break down due to technical advances. A thin fiber-optic line can carry the same amount of data that a thick cable would be used for 20 years ago. The technologies have converged to the point that the cable infrastructure can provide telephone service, and the telephone infrastructure can provide television service.

The two types of companies went from indifference to each other to competing with each other. Since they are used to having governments kneecap competition, they each tried to use local governments against their competitors. In the case of my home town, Comcast very effectively lobbied town authorities to prohibit Verizon from offering television, even though the infrastructure was in place. Apparently Verizon got tired of this, and decided that they would have an advantage if these legislative battles were fought in the statehouse rather than in town council meetings. And so, they drafted this law:

AN ACT PROMOTING CONSUMER CHOICE AND COMPETITION FOR CABLE SERVICE.

The law basically shifts control of the monopolies (which they call franchises) to the state-house. Once the state approves of a monopoly, the towns must make their roads available for whatever cabling is required.

They then set up what looks to me like an astroturf group called Consumers For Tech Choice, which appears to be sponsored by Verizon.

The New England Cable & Telecommunications Association, which appears to me to be dominated by Comcast, didn’t like this, and they set up a competing organization: Keep IT Local MA which tries to look non corporationy by only listing members of local governments as members. They were the ones who produced the execrable ad.

I spent an hour or so noodling around the two astroturf sites, and noticed some really amusing parallels:
1) Neither site provides a link to the legislation.
2) Neither site is actually providing a forum for the citizenry to actually communicate with each other.

In other words both groups have utter contempt for us citizens. They want to treat us like mushrooms. They also seem to have studied the same textbook.

While I am sympathetic to Verizon because of the disgusting way in which local towns governments have screwed the citizenry by trying to keep them out, in the end, I think the NECTA has the stronger case. If one accepts that towns must “own” the roads then the towns should control who or what travels on them. But given the way that town councils mismanage the road system and abuse their monopolies, I don’t for a minute think they are fighting this battle on principle. They are fighting Verizon merely because they wish to keep their little empires, either because of the graft they collect or the psychic pleasure they derive from pushing their neighbors around. It’s just a shame that there is no actual grass-roots group fighting to end government control of telecommunications in the first place.

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.

Democrats Will “Aggressively Persue” Fairness Doctrine

The Democrats, according to the American Spectator, are going to aggressively persue the Fairness Doctrine.

The decision to press for re-establishment of the Fairness Doctrine now seems to have developed for two reasons. “First, [Democrats] failed on the radio airwaves with Air America, no one wanted to listen,” says a senior adviser to Pelosi. “Conservative radio is a huge threat and political advantage for Republicans and we have had to find a way to limit it. Second, it looks like the Republicans are going to have someone in the presidential race who has access to media in ways our folks don’t want, so we want to make sure the GOP has no advantages going into 2008.”

So basically, the Democrats admit that the goal of this bill is to eliminate any voice opposed to them. They’re also directly targeting Fred Thompson because of his role as an actor and his radio commentaries on ABC radio.

Who are the first targets of this purge:

According to another Democrat leadership aide, Pelosi and her team are focused on several targets in the fight, including Rush Limbaugh and the Salem Radio Network. In fact, Kucinich’s staff has begun investigating Salem, one of the fastest growing radio networks in the country, which features such popular — and highly rated — conservative hosts as Bill Bennett and Michael Medved, and Christian hosts such as Dr. Richard Land.

Basically, Commissars Pelosi and Kucinich are going after Rush Limbaugh and the Salem Radio Network for having impure thoughts.

I don’t know guys, what part of the First Amendment don’t you get.

h/t: QandO.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

The Shackles Tighten In Russia

In another sign that the regime of Vladimir Putin continues to advance it’s plans to stifle freedom in Russia, the state is continuing to consolidate control over what’s left of the independent media:

MOSCOW, April 21 – At their first meeting with journalists since taking over Russia’s largest independent radio news network, the managers had startling news of their own: from now on, they said, at least 50 percent of the reports about Russia must be “positive.”

In addition, opposition leaders could not be mentioned on the air and the United States was to be portrayed as an enemy, journalists employed by the network, Russian News Service, say they were told by the new managers, who are allies of the Kremlin.

How would they know what constituted positive news?

“When we talk of death, violence or poverty, for example, this is not positive,” said one editor at the station who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution. “If the stock market is up, that is positive. The weather can also be positive.”

In a darkening media landscape, radio news had been a rare bright spot. Now, the implementation of the “50 percent positive” rule at the Russian News Service leaves an increasingly small number of news outlets that are not managed by the Kremlin, directly or through the state national gas company, Gazprom, a major owner of media assets.

This isn’t exactly like the old days of the Soviet Union, where all the media was state-owned and state-controlled. Instead, Putin appears to be engaging in something that more closely resembles fascism than communism:

“This is not the U.S.S.R., when every print or broadcasting outlet was preliminarily censored,” Masha Lipman, a researcher at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said in a telephone interview.

Instead, the tactic has been to impose state ownership on media companies and replace editors with those who are supporters of Mr. Putin — or offer a generally more upbeat report on developments in Russia these days.

The new censorship rules are often passed in vaguely worded measures and decrees that are ostensibly intended to protect the public.

Protect the public, of course, means protecting from bad news about the economy, or the truth about the autocratic tactics of the Putin regime.

Interestingly, though, the people are not necessarily going along this time:

“I want fresh morning broadcasts and not to fall asleep,” one listener, who signed a posting on the station’s Web site as Sergei from Vladivostok, complained. “Maybe you’ve tortured RNS’s audience enough? There are just a few of us left. Down with the boring nonintellectual broadcasts!”

The change leaves Echo of Moscow, an irreverent and edgy news station that often provides a forum for opposition voices, as the only independent radio news outlet in Russia with a national reach.

And what does Aleksei Venediktov, the editor in chief of Echo of Moscow, think of the latest news from Russia?

“For Echo of Moscow, this is positive news,” Mr. Venediktov said. “We are a monopoly now. From the point of view of the country, it is negative news.”

One wonders how long it will be before Mr. Venediktov gets a knock on the door.

Did They Just Say That?!

Last night I was listening to XM Radio online, Channel 47 (Ethel). I’m not sure of the exact time, but I was up reading until the wee hours, so it was probably already well after midnight. I heard a little promo (they don’t have commercials, but they do occasionally have segues), and it took my attention away from the book.

Ethel Channel 47: Delightful tunes, even if you’re stoned.

All of a sudden the statist brainwashing I got in public schools kicked in… “Are they really allowed to say that?!” Then I realized it’s XM, but I was still surprised they had the cojones. Of course, then as I started to settle back into my lawless personality, I was pretty impressed… Even if they’re not allowed to say it, good for them! After all, when the FEC was considering regulating blogs under campaign finance rules, I pledged that regardless of what laws and regulations they imposed, I wouldn’t stop blogging. If they wanted to come after me, they could come after me.

But I thought about it a second… XM radio, along with the internet, and the rest of the “new media”, is a sign that they’re losing control. Not XM, of course, but the FCC and regulatory establishment. They can do all they want to punish Viacom for letting a breast be shown on national TV, and they can fine Howard Stern, and 15 years ago, that would have been enough to actually put a stop to a lot of that activity. But now, they’ve been outflanked, and people are getting used to having the ability to choose for themselves what to listen to and read.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s a dangerous thing for the government to accept. And they’re not going to take it lying down. They’re going to try as hard as they can to get their regulatory hands into the new media. But I think the arguments they used back in the days when they were regulating TV and radio won’t work. People aren’t as willing to submit to the government as they once were. The regulators can’t claim that bandwidth is limited on the internet. And there are too many voices out here that are willing to be loud and fight.

So to answer my original question, “Did they just say that?!” Yeah they did, and what the hell are you going to do about it, bureaucrat?

Russian Censorship And American Liberty

Over at Reason, Cathy Young relates a story about the increasing online censorship in Russia. Putin is tightening the screws, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that Russia is slipping back into authoritarianism.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s steady rollback of hard-won press freedoms has entered a new stage. Not content with suppressing television, radio, and newspapers, the long arm of the state is reaching for political websites.

In March, Putin signed a decree merging two existing federal agencies—one for media oversight and the protection of culture, the other for telecommunications monitoring—into a single body, the Federal Service for the Oversight of Mass Communications and Protection of Cultural Heritage. It is perhaps no accident that the Russian word for “oversight” used in the agency’s name, nadzor, has a somewhat sinister ring for a Russian speaker: It commonly refers to the supervision of a prisoner. The new agency, which will start its work in about three months, will oversee and license broadcasters, the print media, and websites.

A lengthy investigative report published in 2006 on the Russian Democratic Union website alleges that in the Putin years, political forums on the Russian Internet have been the target of deliberate, organized intimidation by pro-government forces. The article, by former St. Petersburg television and BBC Russian Service correspondent Anna Polyanskaya (now Paris-based) and two colleagues, cites disturbing evidence that these digital goon squads are not simply loud, obnoxious, and well-coordinated but quite possibly connected to the government. Their members often seem to have mysterious access to personal data about anti-Putin posters; on some occasions, they have posted disinformation intended to discredit the opposition a few days before these exact same canards are officially circulated by the government.

As she goes on to point out, while technology is adaptable, totalitarian regimes can also be adaptable. It’s been credibly accused that government plants in online forums are there watching and driving the conversation. While an ineffective totalitarian regime might simply try to ban these online forums, a crafty regime understands that it’s much more able to watch their opponents by leaving the forums open, and to perhaps even actively counter and discredit them using arms-length goons squads.

But reading this, I was struck by another thought. Russia is a land that doesn’t have nearly the cultural inertia of freedom that those of the British/American tradition enjoy. America, and the British before us, have a history of fighting government overreach that goes all the way back to the Magna Carta and before. Culturally, we view freedom and our relationship with the state in a fundamentally different way than many other cultures, including that of Russia.

Russia had a short stint of freedom, between the end of Communism and the rise of Putin. In the span of those 10 years or so, it is clear that the freedoms that we take for granted were foreign to Russian citizens. Sure, they had their freedom fighters, but I don’t think the average person on the street had the sense that there were some things that the government just could not do. When they fell back into the authoritarianism of Putin, we in the West were heartbroken, because it seemed as if they had tried freedom and failed. But thinking further about it, perhaps it’s that they simply need more time and more fighting for freedom before they can achieve the sort of cultural inertia of freedom that will keep them from allowing the government to rest boot soles on their necks.

America faces the opposite problem. America has a history, or to again use the term, a cultural inertia towards freedom. But that freedom is under fire, and the constant drumbeat of collectivism in our media, our government schools, our Supreme Court, and our general society is reducing that inertia. But they haven’t reversed it. We are still a populace which values freedom. We still get angry when we see Kelo. We still look at the police as criminals when they gun down Kathryn Johnston. We still get angry about warrantless wiretaps. Each one of these issues gets under our skin. Taken collectively, they’re each just another beat of the drum.

But the cultural inertia still gives us a chance. The British, before us, had to fight the First Baron’s War in 1215 and the Glorious Revolution in 1688 when government overstepped its bounds. Our Founding Fathers had to fight back when the British overstepped their bounds on our soil in 1776. We have an 800-year legacy of fighting for our freedoms. And I still have hope that Americans won’t lie down forever and let this government walk all over us. Trouble is brewing, and we’re starting to beat a different drum — to the tune of freedom. I don’t think the day has come for violent revolution, and I hope that day never comes in modern society. But the American people are becoming more and more ready to simply stand up and proclaim “NO MORE!”

And that’s all it takes. Russian society wasn’t ready for freedom, and although they knew that Communism was hell, they gladly asked government to step in and deal with the dynamic chaos of freedom. American society has been given a lullaby into submission for decades, but the time has come that people are beginning to WAKE UP! With our eyes open and our resolve strong, we can remind our government that they are our servants, not our masters.

Injunction issued against COPA

The Child Online Protection Act has been struck down by U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed:

Sexual health sites, the online magazine Salon.com and other Web sites backed by the American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the law on grounds it would have a chilling effect on speech. Joan Walsh, Salon.com’s editor in chief, said the law could have allowed any of the 93 U.S. attorneys to prosecute the site over photos of naked prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

“The burden would have been on us to prove that they weren’t” harmful to minors, Walsh said Thursday.

In his ruling, Reed warned that “perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection.”

Well, the law wasn’t enforced as it was, but the judge is absolutely right in his opinion.

H/T: Reason: Hit & Run

Meet Michael Charles Smith

If the 2008 presidential campaign wasn’t about electing the first woman, African American, Hispanic, or Mormon president but rather about ideas, candidates like Ron Paul might have a fighting chance to be the next president. For the purposes of this post, I’ll pretend that this race is about ideas.

Ron Paul seems to be a fan favorite here at The Liberty Papers. I also have a great deal of admiration for Ron Paul. I hope that he draws a great deal of attention in the debates so that certain libertarian issues will be discussed that the G.O.P. front runners wouldn’t touch with a 10’ pole. As far as domestic issues go, I think Paul is right on the money…its some (but not all) of his foreign policy positions I have problems with (the same problems I generally have with the Libertarian Party platform in regard to foreign policy). More specifically, Ron Paul’s inability to understand the very real threats to the U.S. by Islamofascists makes it very difficult for me to endorse him or pull the lever for him.

So what is a liberty and small government minded person who also recognizes the threats of Islamofascim to do? The G.O.P. front runners (Giuliani, McCain, Romney, etc.) all seem to want to combat these threats but will also most likely continue to grow the government in much the same way as President Bush has. Ron Paul would work to decrease the size of government and restore some of our lost liberties but would cut and run in Iraq and leave America vulnerable (as would most if not all of the Democrats who are running). No good can come from a defeat in Iraq. There is at least one candidate who is perhaps even less well known than Ron Paul that might be a reasonable compromise between the G.O.P. front runners and Ron Paul; meet Oregon Republican Michael Charles Smith.

For those of you who are looking for the perfect presidential candidate, I have some bad news: there is no perfect candidate. But as I went through the list of things I am looking for in a candidate, Michael Charles Smith is about as close as I can find who reflects my views. Smith is not your typical Republican and certainly won’t be receiving any support from the Christian Right. Smith calls himself a “fiscal conservative” and “social libertarian.” By fiscal conservative he means that federal spending should only be used for functions specifically mandated in the U.S. Constitution (what a concept!), federal taxing and spending should be reduced in favor of state and local control, and the federal income tax should be abolished and replaced with the Fair Tax. By Social libertarian he means that he is pro choice, that illicit drugs should be de-felonized (not a complete withdraw from the war on drugs but a start), and that gays should have the same rights of marriage and be able to openly serve in the military.

In matters of war and peace Smith was opposed to going to war in Iraq but does not believe the troops should leave until the job is done. Though I did support the reasons for going to war with Iraq and continue to support the war, the president and the congress did not use the constitutional approach and was therefore; reckless and possibly illegal (I’ll leave that up to the lawyers to decide). Smith, on the other hand, actually believes the founders had it right in the first place. Smith explains:

Fundamentally, our approach to military engagement should be reset. The threshold for military commitment should be stringently limited to specific threats to Americans, not American “interests.” Any extended commitment of military force should require a formal declaration of war from the Congress. Discretionary commitments and preemptive justifications are too prone to political motivations and lack sufficient checks and balances.

Let’s honor the sacrifice of those who volunteer to protect our freedom by not carelessly putting them in harm’s way.

While I don’t think Smith would be as strong of a leader in the war on Islamofascism as Giuliani, at least Smith seems to recognize both external and internal threats to liberty in the United States. Most importantly, he wants to restore what he calls “constitutional integrity” by returning to a smaller government, less spending, returning more responsibility to the states, restoring the Bill of Rights by upholding church/state separation, civil liberties, and state’s rights.

Obviously, the chances of Michael Charles Smith being the next POTUS is a long shot (lack of campaign funds, name recognition, the MSM, the G.O.P. establishment, etc.) at best. He probably will not even qualify for the early primaries. Though I’m not prepared to give Smith my endorsement at this moment, I think he deserves some careful consideration by those of us with libertarian leanings. How great would that be to have not one but two ‘true’ Republicans in the Republican debates with the likes of Rudolf Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Duncan Hunter? Is it possible that perhaps one of the front runners might adopt some of the Smith and Paul platforms? In this 2008 beauty contest, this is probably the best we can hope for.

Thomas Paine: More Harm than Good?

Thomas Paine is one of the least respected figures of the American Revolution and early American history. Many of Paine’s compatriots believed that his anti-religious ideas found in The Age of Reason were so dangerous that they would undermine the moral character of America (Keane 475). Paine further caught the ire of the American public with his open letter to President George Washington in which Paine called Washington “a cold blooded traitor” (Keane 429-33). Upon Paine’s death, The New York Citizen had eulogized: “He had lived long, did some good and much harm.” Criticism for Paine and his works continued long after his death. Theodore Roosevelt once referred to Thomas Paine as a “filthy little atheist” (Stade 382). There has never been a shortage of criticism of Paine or his work whether in his own time or since. Certainly, some of the criticism is warranted, but the notion that Paine “did some good and much harm” is hardly fair for a man who sacrificed his wealth, risked his life, and inspired countless others in the cause of America’s independence from England.

When Thomas Paine arrived for the first time in America on November 30, 1774, no one could have predicted the enormous influence he and his writings would have on citizens of every class. Paine was not well known at this time, but Benjamin Franklin’s letter of introduction to Philadelphia’s movers and shakers would soon change that. As Paine became comfortable with his new surroundings, he spent many hours in book stores and conversing with others about his literary interests. One day, Paine was in one of his favorite stores visiting with the store’s owner, Robert Aitken. Aitken was so impressed with Paine that he offered Paine a job as the editor of the upstart periodical Pennsylvania Magazine (Kaye 49-50).

Rather than writing directly about controversial issues, Paine used allegory and the increasingly popular medium of the fable to express his ideas. The fables opened up the world of politics to the general public; something which was not done in literature prior to Paine’s writing and editorship of Pennsylvania Magazine. Paine’s impact on the magazine was immediate. Circulation of the fledgling magazine more than doubled in the first month of Aitken’s hiring of Paine as contributing editor. The magazine would sell more copies than any other magazine up to that time (Larkin 261).
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More Chinese Censorship?

From WaPo:

A freelance videographer, jailed for refusing to turn over footage of a demonstration to state investigators. The incarceration has become widely publicized as Chinese authorities search for his footage.

Jin-Hua Tseng, 24, has spent 169 days in a Beijing prison after declining to reveal the location of unaired videotape he shot of a chaotic July 2005 protest in Shanghai against China’s treatment of the Falun Gong movement. A police officer suffered a fractured skull and a police car was vandalized during the melee.

Ohh, wait.

That wasn’t in China, where state authorities won’t blink before throwing you in jail for 169 days. This is in the US:

A freelance videographer, jailed for refusing to turn over footage of a demonstration to federal investigators, became the longest-incarcerated journalist in U.S. history Tuesday.

Josh Wolf, 24, has spent 169 days in a federal prison after declining a federal subpoena for unaired videotape he shot of a chaotic July 2005 protest in San Francisco against the Group of Eight summit in Scotland. A police officer suffered a fractured skull and a police car was vandalized during the melee.

“The longest-incarcerated journalist in U.S. history”? Seeing that mark crossed is not a good sign for the future.

California Court Extends First Amendment Rights To Bloggers

In a first-of-it’s-kind ruling, a California Court has ruled that bloggers are entitled to the same First Amendment rights extended to journalists:

Santa Clara, CA (AHN)-In a landmark ruling in favor of bloggers and cyber journalists, a Santa Clara County Court defended the First Amendment rights of online journalists to protect their confidential sources, effectively giving web journalists the same protections afforded to traditional print journalists.

Apple Inc., had issued subpoenas to online tech journalists, including the publisher of AppleInsider.com and PowerPage.org, over reports the company claimed “violated California state trade secret law” which divulged so-called confidential information about not-yet released Apple products. Apple claimed the journalists were not entitled to First Amendment protections similar to those afforded to their print counterparts.

However, a California court disagreed, ruling against Apple and in favor of the defendants, who were represented by legal counsel from The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Apple was ordered to pay all legal costs associated with the defense, including a 2.2 times multiplier of the actual fees, bringing the total to about $700,000.

The ruling was hailed by web journalists and EFF staff members as a legal victory in the battle to defend and protect the rights of online journalists.

Kasper Jade, publisher of AppleInsider.com, one of the defendants in the case, said, “The court’s ruling is a victory for journalists of all mediums and a tremendous blow to those firms that believe their stature affords them the right to silence the media. Hopefully, Apple will think twice the next time it considers a campaign to bully the little guy into submission.”

Time to start removing the word citizen from that phrase “citizen journalist.”

Old Media vs. New Media

(Cross posted here at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds)

A rather interesting comment was posted in response to a minor point I made about the new media vs. the old media in a post I wrote entitled The Scales of Justice Need Rebalancing. I thought the comment raised some interesting questions that deserved to be answered in a post of its own as opposed to a response to the response on the original post.

My original point had to do with the MSM’s (the old media’s) incomplete, sloppy, and biased coverage of the so-called Duke Rape Case and how bloggers and talk radio (the new media) managed to turn the tide against the narrative the MSM was trying to establish. The MSM basically convicted the lacrosse players before they had their day in court. When it comes to accusations of rape or sexual assault, all too often the MSM automatically presumes that women never lie about these sorts of things, therefore; the men who are accused of the act are guilty. Very few in the MSM were even open to the possibility that Crystal Magnum (the stripper who accused the lacrosse players) was lying; few wanted to hear the other side of the story or even ask some very basic questions.

The following is the statement I made in the original post:

Thanks in-part to talk radio, bloggers, and others in the alternative media asking questions the MSM failed to ask, everything seems to be swinging in the defendants’ favor.

William L. Anderson of LewRockwell.com made a much stronger case for the way the new media exposed the unethical and quite possibly criminal behavior of the District Attorney Michael Nifong. Anderson’s main point is that had it not been for the new alternative media, the other side of the story might not have come to light and Nifong could have gotten away with his framing of the young men in question.

This time, the new media got it right but was this good investigative reporting or just luck? The person who commented on my post who identifies herself as VRB believes it to be the latter:

I found the bloggers to be just as bad as MSN [the MSM?], they just happened to wind up on the right side. They did all their best to vilify the alleged victim before all the facts were in. They looked for every snippet of so called evidence to prove their point. Most seem to be saying if you are a whore you can’t possibly be raped and rapist aren’t smart enough to drug or use a condom. Of course all their arguments were so high minded how dare anyone questioned their motives. I think that bloggers are beginning to think the power they have, gives them truth. They just got lucky, so I wouldn’t pat them on the back. Bloggers are not any more pure than the rest of society.

I am sure that there were bloggers out there who instinctively went the other direction without considering any evidence but there were others who were fair-minded and only wanted to get to the truth. I hadn’t weighed in on the issue up to now but when the story first broke, I was concerned that the MSM wasn’t telling the entire story. I cannot speak for others but I would never be one to say that it would have been impossible for the lacrosse players to have raped Crystal Magnum because she was a ‘whore’. I wasn’t there, nor was anyone who commented on the case other than Magnum, the other stripper, and those who were at the party. All any of us can do is ask questions and draw our own conclusions.

When those in the new media started asking the questions, we discovered problems with Magnum’s story (such as the timeline), statements from witnesses (the other stripper, Magnum’s cab driver, etc.), a lack of DNA and other forensic evidence to implicate the accused players (some of which was withheld by Nifong), a report that Magnum had made false rape charges in the past, and other reports that cast doubt on Magnum’s version of events. In the end, all Nifong had to go on was Magnum’s ever-changing statements.

As to the motives, veracity, and ‘high mindedness’ of bloggers in the new media I just have to say they come in all shapes and sizes and are by no means ‘any more pure than the rest of society.’ Some are not at all concerned about accuracy and shoot from the hip while others do their homework and rival the veracity of MSM reports. Bloggers come from a much more diverse array of backgrounds, opinions, and motivations. It’s quite proper to question the motives of anyone who presents information (whether in the old media or new media) and VRB is correct in saying that power does not in any way equal truth.

Having said that, those in the new media who did ask the questions and uncovered facts about the case where much of the MSM failed do deserve a ‘pat on the back’. To avoid embarrassment, the MSM had to start asking the questions that ordinary people with laptops were already asking. If not for the new media, who knows what would have happened in this case?

The only reason the new media is gaining influence is because the old media is no longer adequate. The old media has one agenda and is driven by that agenda. The old media is much easier to censor and control than the new media; this is why some powerful people want to bring the new media down with legal restrictions such as McCain-Feingold and the so-called fairness doctrine.

One of the things that drew me to blogging was when bloggers exposed the forged documents in Dan Rather’s story on George W. Bush’s National Guard service. At the time I didn’t even know what blogging was. I was already skeptical of much of how the MSM reported the news as if everything they reported was stone cold fact. But when this fraud was exposed, I became even more skeptical. There is usually more than one side of the story but all too often, the MSM only presents the side they like. Now the new media has filled some of the void.

There is one problem no one seems to address when it comes to media of all kinds: the media consumer. Yes, you and I are the main problem. Far too often, we do not think critically about the news and receive it passively.

As consumers of the news, we should ask the same questions journalists are supposed to ask: who, what, when, where, how, and why. These are very simple questions that are rarely explored. For example: Why does the minimum wage need to be raised? Who says it should be raised, politicians or economists? What are the positive and negative consequences of raising the minimum wage? When should it be raised? How should it be raised? How will it affect the economy?

Apply these questions to any problem or issue and you will find that these questions are often not answered in the news story. Always be prepared to question the answers.

More restrictions on speech?

Are you a blogger? Then S. 1 may concern you.

From Of Arms and the Law:

S.1 has been introduced in the Senate as “lobbying reform” — which in this case means “First Amendment infringements.” An amendment has been attached, which requires registration of bloggers with more than 500 readers, and who comment on policy issues. Violation would be a criminal offense.

I looked it up on the Library of Congress webpage (which is essentially unlinkable) and have attached section 220 in extended remarks, below. As the bill is reported, it appears to cover any “paid” grassroots lobbying, that reaches more than 500 people. But a blogger who receives contributions might be classed as a “paid” grassroots type. It looks like Congress wants to keep an eye on annoying people like Porkbusters. It may be significant that S.1 was introduced by Harry Reid, one of the Kings of Pork.

[UPDATE] We won this round. The Senate passed the Bennett Amendment, which eliminated the questionable language. Here is the roll call vote.

However, the Gregg Amendment, which would have established a line-item veto was blocked by the Harry Reid and Robert Byrd.

[ANOTHER UPDATE] Welcome to all Instapundit readers!

The Road To Media Serfdom

At the National Conference for Media Reform that my fellow contributor Doug touched on earlier, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps spoke. During his speech, he outlined an agenda that he called The New American Media Contract. The rationale he follows is that the American people own the airwaves and there is:

Too little news, too much baloney passed off as news. Too little quality
entertainment, too many people eating bugs on reality TV. Too little local and regional
music, too much brain-numbing national play-lists. Too little of America, too much of
Wall Street and Madison Avenue. That’s what we get for half a trillion dollars. It’s one
hell of a bad bargain, don’t you think?

What Mr. Copps doesn’t understand apparently is that the viewer or listener has a choice not to listen or watch those things he describes. But, he’s a government bureaucrat so he has to come up with a five point plan to solve this outrage of media catering to the consumers’ demand.

First, let’s make sure the FCC backs off any further loosening of the
few media ownership protections we still have. This is not the time for more duopolies,
triopolies and sweetheart newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership deals that strangle
localism, diversity and competition.

In other words, if we think your company owns too much of the airwaves (nevermind things like cable and satellite) and newspapers, we’ll break your company up. Why, we’re the government and we can. Oh and we’ll make sure we’re going to have a precence in every market via NPR and PBS.

Second, let’s make FCC license approval and renewal into more than a paper
tiger. That means enforcing the American Media Contract every time a media company
comes in to renew a license or get a new one. No more postcard license renewals—but
instead a requirement for license-holders to prove they are fulfilling the Contract.

This will kill political speech in the mainstream media, and possibly the Internet. I point to the threat by the Democrats in late 2006 to revoke ABC’s license over the movie The Path To 9/11 which had some criticism of Bill Clinton’s terrorism record as an example. The media will be afraid to criticize the government for fear of losing their license.

Third, give minorities a seat at the media table. Wait a minute—seat at the table?
Why can’t they own the table? Thirty per cent of our population cannot be consigned to
owning three per cent of our broadcast outlets—not unless we want another century of
equal opportunity sham and shame.

Another words, affirmative action for media ownership, to be enforced by the redistribution of property to comply.

Fourth, expand the number of media outlets in each community. That means
more support for Low Power, PEG programmers and community wireless—movements
that defend the last bastions of localism as Big Media marches toward one-size-fits-all
national programming and distribution.

To be taken and run by government. Now this is a violation of the principles of the First Amendment because this can be used again to muzzle speech government disapproves of.

Fifth, protect new forms of media from the awful consolidation that ensnared
traditional media. The Internet can be truly transformative—or it can become another
network monopoly. Does everyone here tonight support Network Neutrality?

Why should the companies that developed the Internet not be allowed to profit off their creation?

If the New American Media Contract is adopted by the new Democratic Congress, this will result in a chilling effect for free speech as the threat of government revoking the license of stations and Internet providers who allow speech it doesn’t like. The real solution is to privatize the airwaves and restrict the FCC’s power to only making sure the stations stay on their assigned frequencies and channels.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Bias, Moral Relativism, and Hipocrisy

A commentor at The Other Side of Kim Forums calling himself Raucous recently posted this tolerably well written, but I think ultimately blind post, positing the question what do we want out of our reporters with regard to bias, and support of the American (or any other) war effort.

“As an aspiring journalist I note with some dismay the frustration, animosity and anger with which the media is seen by many on this board and others. Which leads me to the question, what do the people want from their press?

Much of the frustration, it seems, stems from reporting of controversial issues. For example, should the enemy in Iraq be referred to as insurgents or terrorists? This, I supposit , is not as easy as people may think. There are, certainly, clear cut examples – car bombings in public markets are easily labeled as terrorist acts. But, how should we refer to the man who takes up arms against what he perceives as an illegitimate invader? If he is shooting at U.S. soldiers engaged in military operation on his homeland is he a terrorist, a militant, an insurgent, a fundamentalist?

Our own empathy with the men and women of our armed forces will steer us to the conclusion that anyone who stands against them must do so for nefarious reasons, but we must look beyond emotion. We can note that words such as terrorist have been used throughout history to illicit ill feelings toward a group. The Czech and Ukrainian partisans of World War II, even the Minutemen of the American Revolution were cast in a similar light. The projection is effective, because we KNOW what a terrorist is – and castigating someone in the light of “terrorist” brings us, for a moment, to the images of September 11th . It is easy to hate someone when we associate them with men and women jumping to their death to avoid flames, it is easy to despise them we recall the grieving widows of the FDNY.

But do we want the media to assume a role that validates our emotions, and if so which ones?

As journalists we are, by necessity, careful as to what we write. Printing a quote incorrectly or forgetting to put “alleged” in front of murderer means that we can have our asses hauled write to court. It could be an honest mistake, that doesn’t mean it won’t cost us lots and lots of money. This care spills over into choosing between such terms as “migrant worker” and “illegal alien.” I shall admit that print journalists worry too much about political correctness and semantics, but as I’ve said one word can make the difference in our increasingly litigative society.

So, from what I gather “insurgent” and “militant” are not a strong enough words because they somehow lend validity to the act and the personcommitting it. “Terrorist,” however, labels both the person and the event in a negative light, and should be the standard.

Imagine then, this imaginary headline. “Terrorists open fire on U.S. military killing four.” This, we would say, is accurate regardless of who the “terrorist” are or what their motives might be. Our affinity for our fellow Americans rallies us to their side.

Imagine now, this imaginary headline from a different perspective. “U.S. terrorists open fire on Iraqi fighters killing four.” This, we would say, IS TOTAL @#$%ING HORSE#(&^ WHERE DO THOSE &!@#SUCKERS GET OFF CALLING US TERRORIST?!

The editorialising is exactly the same – simply from a different perspective. If we are to say that one is desirable then we should also accept the other as fair. Do we?

To reach further back in time to Oklahoma City, and even Ruby Ridge, we may recall when these mantras worked to the distinct disadvantage of members of the gun culture. Suddenly, everyone who owned a gun became a McVeigh – we all became “militants,” “extremists,” “fanatics,” “gun-nuts.” Randy Weaver was a “racist,” and a “white supremacist .” Poor reporting and more poor reporting. But reporting in the same vein as what many seem to want – biased towards their own perspective.”

Some good points there, but I think some basic misunderstandings.. perhaps even a moral blindness that I wish to address.

First, my thought on bias is simple. The U.S. press should be as biased as it wants to be, and stop pretending to be objective or neutral.

The fact is people are biased. While it is possible to be objective about some things, once you have formed an opinion that you are confident and justified in, you WILL NOT BE unbiased about things which either strongly support, or strongly contracdict your opinion.

You may force yourself to appear unbiased, but even then, the bias will still be there. It will color what you think, and what you write, no matter how much you think it does not. Subtle elements such as word order, punctuation, basic elements of tone and style will be different when you are writing about things you have strong opinions on… at least if you are any good as a writer.

Unbiased reporting is either unifnormed, or passionless. It is inhuman in nature… Human nature is passionate, and it is baised.

In times past here, and in most other countries today, reporters dont even pretend to be unbiased. They acknowledged they are biased gleefully and dove into their bias with gusto. So long as they do not lie, alter, or distort FACTS, and seperate FACT from their own OPINIONS, then I think that is just fine.

IF THEY ADMIT IT.

The U.S. press is in a situation today where not only are they radically biased, but they continue to lie about, and deny that bias exists; or worse, pretend that the bias is exactly opposite of what we all kow to be true. Read Bernie Goldbergs “Bias” and “Arrogance” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

I am an informed, passionate reader; and I want a passionate, informed writer writing my news, and just as important, I want him to admit what his opinions are about what he is writing, rather than pretend they aren’t there, when so clearly they are. Then I can judge if he is being reliable or not, just as I do with any man talking with me on the street.

Now, I wanted to address the main illustrative thrust in the piece, and that is the editorial judgement of writers as described in this sentence discussing calling Iraqi bombers terrorists, vs. calling U.S. soldiers terrorists:

But do we want the media to assume a role that validates our emotions, and if so which ones?”

“The editorialising is exactly the same – simply from a different perspective. If we are to say that one is desirable then we should also accept the other as fair. Do we?”

Only if one assumes moral equivalency, and moral relevancy are valid philosophies.

It is my (and many Americans) explicit rejection of these philosophies that is the genesis of our dislike of such politically correct usages as calling terrorists anything but that.

A terrorist is one who uses forcible terror without legitimate authority for the use of force, and without hope of military or political victory through legitimate means; to effect a social or political change that they desire.

This is the very definition of the so called “insurgency” in Iraq. It does not, never has, and never will apply to conventional military forces.

Though there are certain circumstances when special operations use terrorist tactics, it would be unfair to call those executing them terrorists. They are using those tactics because they are appropriate to the situation, and as part of a larger overall plan and goal WHICH THEY ARE CAPABLE OF ACHIEVING, through legitimate means.

If however it would not be possible for a group to do so, or that group was not acting under the color of legitimate authority (either in just rebellion, or as agents of a legitimate government) then it is plainly fair to call them terrorists.

The Israeli spcial operations forces, and intelligence services, are well known for using terrorist tactics against terrorist groups. This doesn’t make them terrorists. There is a very clear definitional difference, in that they are operating under the color of legitimate authority, and in concert with the principles by which that authority is derived.

Now as to whether one is using terrorist tactics, there can be no question. As to whether one using force outside of the color of recognized legitimate authority is a terrorist, there is only one moral question, “what is a just rebellion”.

It may be morally acceptable to promulgate terrorist acts in support of a just rebellion (or other just war), but what is a just rebellion?

At this point it is necessary to make a moral judgement. Morally, a rebellion is just if it is against a government which does not recognize or protect the basic rights of the sovreign man; or if it is against no government at all but against those who would abrogate those basic rights; and if that rebellion is dedicated to instituting a government which does. There is no other legitimate moral justification for either a government to base itself on, or for a rebellion to base it’s opposition.

Of course moral relativisms core principle is that all moral judgements are invalid; thus a writer who cannot make a moral judgement cannot call someone a terrorist, and someone else a freedom fighter.

I make the moral judgement that the so called insurgents in Iraq are not in legitimate rebellion, and therefore they are terrorists. They are not insurgents, freedom fighters, militas, minutemen, or anything but terrorists. As terrorists they are unlawful enemy combatants, and subject to summary execution upon capture, and to unlimited prosecution of conventional force to effect that capture.

If you cannot make a moral judgement, then you also cannot condemn me for making a moral judgement against a terrorist, or against you for that matter. Of course it seems that moral relativsts principles do not extend that far. They will remain free of judgement until they come up against someone who disagrees with them, and then their judgement is applied with great force.

This is the grossest form of hipocrisy; which coincidentally is the most frequent accusation of the moral relativist against those who do not share their views.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

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