Wild-eyed Libertarians

Pat Ryan

I’ve been challenged a few times on this blog to defend myself as a “libertarian”. Here’s a quick and incomplete statement of principles that I use to fit myself into that pigeonhole. As a “Jack Libertarian” I’m guessing that I’m in the minority of citizens of the state of Oregon, but I don’t really understand why. It’s probably the case that most people would rather let the experts (preachers, doctors, advertisers, talk show hosts, Ph.Ds, country music stars, gummint bureaucrats, etcetera) make their choices rather than listening to them and making our own choices. Small “L” libertarians are people that just wanted to be left alone to make decisions affecting their personal behavior without interference from government.
My favorite definition of “libertarian” comes from the Online Dictionary and reads as follows: “One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.” Many of us include the following qualifier: “My rights extend only to the point where they infringe on your rights.” So, for example, your right to swing your fist ends just before you make contact with my nose. If you violate my nose rights, I’ll feel free to respond in kind.
When I say that I’m “Pro-choice” on just about everything, I mean that everyone should have the right to decide how to live their lives. This includes, but is not limited to:

The right to keep and bear arms
The right to absolute control of your own body
The right to engage in risky behavior as long as I don’t put you at risk without your consent
The right of consenting adults to engage in any kind of sexual behavior
The right of citizens to protest, burn the flag, and advocate crackpot ideas, left and right
The right of any citizen to respond to violence with violence
The right to use or abuse any and all drugs, food, etcetera
The right of you and your family to be healthy
The right to commit suicide
The right to buy, sell, and trade with other citizens
The right to do what I want to do with my real estate as long as it doesn’t physically damage your real estate.
The right to protect my personal property from theft or destruction
The right to religious freedom

All of the above is limited to adults as science shows that minor children’s brains are in the development process all the way through the teen years. (Apologies to some extremely well developed intellects in the under 21 set). Also, and most importantly, you don’t have the right to impose your will or vision on someone else by use of force, intimidation, or threats of any kind.
You don’t have the right to make me pray, salute, or show any kind of loyalty to any religion, political ideal, or belief system of any kind and you don’t have the right to take my stuff or hurt my friends and family. You don’t have the right, much less the duty, to protect me from myself.
A world that actually ran this way, would require that you get informed as a matter of self preservation. You would need to know that alcohol, coffee, aspirin, water, heroin, and french fries can all kill you in the long run or the short run. You would learn moderation and tolerance or you would die sooner rather than later. You would spend some time researching the people that think they are qualified to lead us and pay attention to their actions instead of voting on the basis of whether they talk like a tough guy or whether they “look French”. You would make sure not to buy bread from the guy that uses broken glass as an ingredient. We would all have to tolerate things and people that we don’t like. In return, they would have to tolerate us.

Still, I’m forced to grudgingly accept that we do need a civil state to enforce these rights, and to step in when “individual rights” conflict with the interests of society. It is here that most civic debate takes place.

It really is that simple to me, and it really is that complicated. Follow the news from a lot of different viewpoints. Stay informed about everything that affects your life. It’s hard work in this complex world, but hey, it’s your life. Live it well. We’ll all be dead soon enough.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    And my favorite definition of libertarian (just to stir the pot a little):

    "There is nothing particularly innovative about short-sightedness and lack of compassion. Nevertheless, the way libertarians combine these elements is innovative." -- Malcolm MacLachlan, In Formation, Summer 1998

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    Ah yes, an allusion, no doubt, to the Ayn Rand branch of libertarianism. Ms. Rand, having read one too may pop psychology texts that dovetailed nicely with her own myopic selfishness, declared as a central tenet of her dogma that altruism doesn't exist.

    I totally disagree with the late Ms. Rand on this issue. While I agree that libertairanism is definitely skewed toward the individual, it seems to me that to the degree that it requires skepticism, research and analyisis, and most of all personal responsibility, it is a useful framework from which to view the world.

  • (Show?)

    Personally, I am attracted to the concept of libertarianism in the context of personal responsibility and protection of individual rights. However, I see some libertarians (not necessarily Pat I think) missing the balance of indiviudal rights vs. public interest in a some areas... to illustrate:

    We mandate motorcycle helmets in most states for individual protection, yes, but also because we know the consequences of unprotected heads on concrete means higher medical costs that are bourne by insurance companies, therefore passed to consumers, therefore the public. An individual's choice not to wear a helmet therefore has a negative impact (cost) on society. If our helmet-free friend is not insured, the public bears costs even more costs since we (as far as I can tell) rarely just let someone die of injuries just because the insurance card's not in our helmet-less friend's wallet. So, sometimes the initial take that big bad government is trampling on individual liberties does not reveal the whole story.

    Pat, I thought this was an excellent post - it reminds me that progressives have a great deal in common with libertarians, even with the obvious differences in regulatory philosophy.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    'Libertarian' is possibly the most nebulous word in the American vocabularly. Most often, in actual practice, it translates into 'farther Right than most Right Wingers.' But, you say, some libertarians claim to favor gay rights or to be against laws that make using some drugs illegal. A minority does, usually while supporting other extremely backward policies. The majority of libertarians, including those in the Libertarian Party, would make John Birch blush. Their presidential candidate, Michael Badnarik, was all too typical. He:

    • Refuses to pay taxes

    • Refuses to use a driver's license

    • Refuses to use zip codes (According to Badnarik they are a form of control by the federal government.)

    • Has regularly violated the law by carrying concealed and, possibly, illegal, weapons

    • Opposes any form of ameliorating poverty, including paying unemployment compensation to those who are jobless, and food stamps

    • Supports 'freedom of association,' meaning opposes all protections against racial, gender, and religious discrimination

    • Opposes the right to abortion (Which is getting into citizens' business in the strongest way.)

    I could go on, but I'm sure most people get the picture. As a haven for the sort of male* who played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons and thinks Ayn Rand was a genius and great writer, libertarianism serves a purpose. For the rest of us, it is only good for jokes.

    *(There are few women who drink the libertarian Kool-Aid.)

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)
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    Pat,

    I enjoyed your post as well. I might be considered a "jack libertarian" myself. Libertarian purism for the sake of ideological purity is self-defeating in the political sphere unless people are responsible enough to shoulder the responsibilities associated with additional liberty (or at least willing to let the chips fall where they may).

    I prefer to look for opportunities for socially sustainable expansions of individual liberty rather than spin my wheels arguing for the legalization of crack.

    BTW, Rand's opposition to altruism was a little more nuanced than she is generally credited, but given her tendency to question the intellect of anyone with whom she disagreed, it is not surprising that she usually receives short shrift in return.

    Rand's critique of altruism was more of an opposition to holding it as a spiritual ideal (whether "altruism" was venerated by papists, collectivists or nazis). Having escaped persecution in Russian as a college student following the Communist Revolution, she was extremely sensitive to the ideals justifying the "noble experiment" that resulted in the death of millions.

    However, she supported private charitable giving with the hope that the donors consider their act of benevolence to be consistent with their own self-interest.

    <h5></h5>

    Tim,

    An intellectually honest libertarian would require the helmetless motorcycle rider to carry insurance or post a bond to cover the costs that foregoing a helmet places upon others (even if those costs were just limited to cleaning up the roadkill).

  • (Show?)

    I hope this doesn't get us too off track here, but... Heltmetless riders with insurance cost the system more becuase statistically we know there will be more frequent accidents that result in very expensive care (and, sadly, roadkill maintenance). The higher costs are passed on and cause insurance premiums to be higher for other policy holders. Therefore, even the intellectually honest individual's choice has a negative impact on the whole. There are very few things that are without cost to others... it's a question of where to draw the line and to balance things appropriately for society (in my humblest of opinions...)

    MacDiva reminds me that I have yet to see libertarianism manifest itself in a way that would get me to vote for a libertarian! Interesting position on the abortion/choice issue for Badnarik.

  • Aaron (unverified)
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    I have notice that portions of Oregonians have a strong vein of libertarianism in them from both major parties. However, with the extremist mindset within the national and state Libertarian parties, we shy away to use that word or the ideology to communicate our views and values.

    Pat,

    I, personally; would revised The right to buy, sell, and trade with other citizens to The right to have fair-trade commerce with anyone. Since I am against the “free-market ideology”; since that is part of the Statist Republican agenda.

    Mac,

    ...who played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons ... Nothing wrong with us D & D players; plus the couple of women that I have played with where more than less barbaric then the men.

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    Lovely piece of writing Pat.

    I remember arriving at Oregon State University as a 17 year old freshman and seeing "Who is John Galt?" spray painted on the sidewalks all over the campus. Gawd I felt smug having already read Atlas Shrugged.

    Then the Black Bag began to sit in one of my classes on a regular basis. It was good to be alive in 65'.

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)
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    Aaron,

    Had to chuckle when you labelled "free market ideology" as part of a "Statist Republican agenda".

    Was this attempt at progressive newspeak?

    Consider the dictionary definition of "statist":

    "The practice or doctrine of giving centralized government control over economic planning or policy." [Dictionary.com]

    It usually takes a very "statist" agenda to collectively prohibit people from trading freely with one another.

    I won't defend the Republican agenda (which may indeed be statist - although arguably less so than Dem's), but you should look yourself in the mirror before you label other ideologies as "statist".

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    Aaron, I am more of a Starcraft person. I actually broke down an repurchased Brood War in the expansion set last week after weaning myself for more than a year.

    I did a lot of sparring with libertarians during the election season and have kind of gotten use to 'statist' being slung about. I think it amusing that they believe 'statist' is the worst thing a person can be.

  • (Show?)

    Addressing a few points made in no particular order.......OK except first is first as I am the membership director for BikePAC, a group dedicated to (among other things) the repeal of the mandatory helmet law:

    Yep, you can reasonably argue that requiring individuals to wear helmets while riding motorcycles, driving cars, riding bicycles, skiing, wind surfing, walking down the street, or taking a shower in their own homes saves lives and thus eases society's burdens, you may not argue in an intellectually honest way that singling out motorcycle riders in particular for this punishment is fair in any way.

    When our opponents site studies, they predictably ignore those statistics that weaken their case and highlight those that support it.

    <hr/>

    To the degree that you enact laws limiting behavior for the greater good, you do in fact create new classes of "criminals" who are less likely to buy into the common good argument when you really need their support.

    As a small "L" libertarian, (and a card carrying member of the Democratic Party), I am always fighting this fight.

    If Dorothy English had been allowed to build a couple of additional houses on her property, or if the Multnomah County commissioners hadn't sneaked around Commissioner Roberts on the Public Meeting Laws, if duly permitted houses in the Gorge hadn't been opposed for years, if measure 34 guys hadn't tried an end run around a carefully crafted treatment of the Tillamook Burn which included spokespersons for all stakeholders.......there's a good chance that the Dems could have made significant additional gains in the last election cycle. There's also a good chance that measure 37 would have failed.

    When the state and its reps interfere in personal liberty, they should be very cautious indeed.

  • (Show?)

    I first met Pat a couple summers ago, as a part of a coalition of like-minded people hoping to get something other than right-wing hate on the radio. And it's well to remember that that's what ruling blocs are: coalitions. Pre-Bush, lefties were too quick to impose purity standards for membership, and we drove progressives to Nader and some Christians to Bush, and probably a lot more we compelled to just stay home. (I use the "we" here in the larger, I'm-a-part-of-the-solution-not-the-problem we; I actually voted for Nader.)

    While we try to put back together the pieces of a ruling bloc, we'll do well to listen to Libertarians like Pat--guys who are willing to join with suspicious, big government types like me rather than let the John Ashcrofts get into power. It's all about compromise.

  • (Show?)

    Pancho: Great point about Aaron's laughably self-contradictory statement about free-market ideology and statism.

    I'll point out another (really sad) problem with that very sentence. He said:

    "Since I am against the “free-market ideology”; since that is part of the Statist Republican agenda."

    In other words the REASON he is against the free market ideology is because it is part of the Republican agenda.

    (First, I wish it were more true that the Republicans were for free markets, but it too often ain't the case.)

    But my point is: it really is sad when someone automatically opposes something just because it is supported by someone else. Not very high quality analysis, and certainly reveals a special kind of bigotry.

  • (Show?)

    And to Pat:

    Where does a wild-eyed libertarian come down on issues such as anti-discrimination laws: should the gov't compel people to associate with others who they irrationally dislike?

    If the "interests of society" as you put it, are such that it is OK under a libertarian viewpoint to compel individuals to associate with each other, I would ask:

    Then what limits can there possibly be on how much the principle of "interests of society" can be used to justify the infringement of private behavior?

    I could make an "interests of society" argument to argue against EVERY one of your list of things that you assert come under freedom of choice. Can I make a coherent argument that society has an interest in limiting drug use? Sure. Same with any of the things on your list.

    So the real question becomes, does it not, WHO gets to decide what is and what is not in the "interest of society?" And that is where the problem starts, where the lie is revealed about the true results of the collectivist world-view.

    Does the majority get to decide what is and is not in the "interest of society?" So anytime the majority decides it needs to infringe on an individual's rights it is by definition appropriate? Most people are uncomfortable with this (especially when THEY are the target of the majority) because they see the obvious.

    So who, then? A ruling elite? That is pretty much what we have now.

    An "interest of society" exception to individual rights doesn't work, because it there is no limit on what rights get infringed upon. It always ends in tyranny.

    It is the same essential argument used by every tyrant who ever lived.

  • (Show?)

    a much better presentation of libertarianism than is usually found. most libertarians, so-called, seem to bear an arrogant, superior-than-the-unwashed-masses attitude towards democracy.

    my real problem with your presentation, pat, is that i boils down to this: "i want my rights." and i have come to believe the "i" and "rights" are pretty harmful to a civil society. when we elevate "us" and "responsibility" to positions of civic primacy, then we'll all be much better for it.

  • Anthony (unverified)
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    Tod Barnhart wrote:

    "...the i and rights are pretty harmful to a civil society"?

    What are rights if they don't apply to the individual?

    The emphasis on individual rights in this country is one of the best things about it.

    I'm no libertarian myself, but I'm sure libertarians will tell you they embrace plenty of responsibility, and obviously Pat has made a lot of effort on the community level.

  • miles (unverified)
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    You say "My favorite definition of “libertarian” comes from the Online Dictionary and reads as follows: “One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.” "

    Why would a person think that there is an inherent conflict between the role of the state and individual rights?

    You say: "Many of us include the following qualifier: “My rights extend only to the point where they infringe on your rights.” So, for example, your right to swing your fist ends just before you make contact with my nose. If you violate my nose rights, I’ll feel free to respond in kind."

    It is my experience that the state often maximizes individual rights by protecting me from "me firsters" who think, for example that they can swing a fist at my face, stopping just short of hitting it, and that they have done nothing wrong because they avoided contact. Well I have news for such people... the ways that people touch each other are more than just physical. How reductionist can you get? The real connections between people aren't physical but moral and ethical.

    We have social norms and a state to enforce them to protect the individual rights of me and my family and others from fist swinging predators.

    Just to take one example, your not wearing a helmet is a predatory act. It is predation on our norms of social compassion, which compel us to assist you should you badly injure yourself.

    You cannot force us to create a society in which people who are injured riding motorcycles are allowed to die by the side of the road. We have a right to declare a policy of compassion, even if it is a very expensive policy, if we decide that compassion is central to our humanity and sense of collective selfhood.

    Because it is expensive to be compassionate and because we are not willing to be otherwise (because compassion is core to our self image as human beings), we have a right to require you to wear a helmet, so that you do not impose medical and care costs on us.

    Now in theory if you could sign a waiver saying you choose to be left dying by the side of the road if you crash without a helmet... well I'd consider that argument... but I might well decide... we might well decide... that we are not able to let you die or go without care, and that therefore your nonhelmet wearing is simply a potential theft of public resources.

    That's what it means to live in a human society.... you are already connected, and your ideology cannot free you, as long as you remain part of it.

    Go live on a mountain as a hermit if it doesn't work for you.

    The essential problem with libertarianism seems to be that its advocates are stuck in a state of permanent (male) adolescent rebellion. "Leave me alone!" they shout again and again. Sure that's a sensible position for a 17 year old boy, but surely there comes a time when you join with others, with a partner, with your community, and actually work together to create something, and to balance your own interests with those of others.

    Peace, Miles

  • (Show?)

    "An 'interest of society' exception to individual rights doesn't work, because it there is no limit on what rights get infringed upon. It always ends in tyranny. It is the same essential argument used by every tyrant who ever lived."

    So what's your position Rob? I only pointed out that the trade offs will always exist, but that where possible, responsible government attempts to favor the individual over the group to foster autonomy and hence responsibility.

    You seem to say that any trade off is unacceptable. Are you arguing for zero government?

    That's called anarchy if memory serves.......

    How very Hobbsian of you.

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)
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    Miles wrote:

    "We have a right to declare a policy of compassion, even if it is a very expensive policy, if we decide that compassion is central to our humanity and sense of collective selfhood."

    That is possibly the most amazing statement I've read on this site.

    Where did the "right" to force others to honor the your "sense of collective selfhood" spring from?

  • Scott Lindsley (WA) (unverified)
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    "There is nothing particularly innovative about short-sightedness and lack of compassion. Nevertheless, the way libertarians combine these elements is innovative." -- Malcolm MacLachlan, In Formation, Summer 1998

    Yes, libertarians would stop the government from forcing compassion and um, long sightedness.

    But I would ask if YOU look at our federal government and describe it as 'compassionate and um, longsighted'.

    They system wastes far more than it needs to, PLUS we are at war.

    I would counter (as a social libertarian) that libertarians I know want to provide an organic environment for communities to build up strengths without the darn expensive crutch of the federal government.

    BTW, Badnarik was opposed to corporate welfare, actually all welfare. -Opposed to the war in Iraq (And all the other countries we occupy wrongfully), -opposes giving Israel ten billion per year, -actually was pro-choice on the abortion issue, -AND was pro-choice on Gay marriage (Can Kerry say that. . NO), -anti-NAFTA (Kerry voted for it), -ANTI-patriot act (Kerry voted for it)

    So he had some 'Progressive' ideas too.

    Perhaps you need to take another look at the libertarians. I would place them far closer to progressives {Meaning good for communities - providing 'progress', not as in 'socialist by centralized government force') in most areas than ANY democrat or republican, excepting maybe Kucinich.

    Best wishes on your journey, Scott

    PS, Buddha, Christ and a few other religious leaders were, at thier uncorrupted core, were Libertarianish!~~~

  • Scott Lindsley (WA) (unverified)
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    "But, you say, some libertarians claim to favor gay rights or to be against laws that make using some drugs illegal. A minority does, usually while supporting other extremely backward policies."

    'Some'???

    All Libertarians are for individual rights. and ending the war on drugs, ALL drugs. ANd ending the war on prostitution.

    Here's why -

    'The govt.'s job is to defend individual rights, gays are individuals, case closed' -(gasp) Badnarik, our latest presidential candidate.

    'The war on drugs forces the price to rise and gives the gangs the money to buy cars and guns and more drugs. End the war, lower the price, remove the incentive. Plus, you have the right to be stupid to your body.' unknown

    'Funny how people can be 'pro-choice' on abortion, but when they discuss what a woman does with her body a few inches down they say it should be illegal. Nonsense.' Tim Slagle

    SOunds like most 'understandings' of libertarians in this progressive world are misunderstandings.

    DO you watch Fox news. . . ?

    I thought so.

  • Scott Lindsley (WA) (unverified)
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    "Had to chuckle when you labelled "free market ideology" as part of a "Statist Republican agenda"."

    AGreed pancho, obviously they have not seen the worlds smallest political quiz with Libertarian in one corner and statist on the opposite corner.

    Bestest wishes, Scott

  • Scott Lindsley (WA) (unverified)
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    "I did a lot of sparring with libertarians during the election season and have kind of gotten use to 'statist' being slung about. I think it amusing that they believe 'statist' is the worst thing a person can be." Mac Diva

    - I would like to think that a self contained, libertarian person and community are the best things to be.

    Where we act with respect for our fellow man withouth a big gun. . . er government forcing us to be kind. Kind of removes the genuine feel of compassion to make it mandated, or machine like.

    To be a Libertarian, you must pledge to NOT use force to achive political or social ends. Kind of odd that the progressives (You know, the ones that want gun control) are the ones who want to force people to be good. (the left side echo of the religious right).

    Libertarians are realistic pacifists. Don't use force, take care of yourself, help others if you can. Don't pollute (That's right, watch Badnarik on the environment in the www.c-span.org debate with Cobb, you'll be amazed.) __

    "guys who are willing to join with suspicious, big government types like me rather than let the John Ashcrofts get into power. It's all about compromise." Jeff Alworth

    - Jeff, I bet you are not as 'big govt' as the repubs, and If we just did your progressive social programs, there is a good chance it would be ten times cheaper than the giant system we have now.

    Libertarians just don't look at the system we have now and say, 'gee, let's give them MORE of our money! That will solve everything.'

    We see too much waste, and are NOT willing to continue to give the federal government a blank check. I would hope Noone here would want to give the govt a blank check.

    <hr/>

    "Where does a wild-eyed libertarian come down on issues such as anti-discrimination laws: should the gov't compel people to associate with others who they irrationally dislike?"

    - NO, in a Libertarian society, I would prefer to know whether the shop I was at refused service to blacks (for example) so I could avoid them. In today's world, you don't know if the owner of the local deli donates large sums to the KKK.

    <hr/>

    "my real problem with your presentation, pat, is that it boils down to this: "i want my rights." and i have come to believe the "i" and "rights" are pretty harmful to a civil society. when we elevate "us" and "responsibility" to positions of civic primacy, then we'll all be much better for it." todd barnhart

    - Nope, it is abuse, not selfishness that is 'harmful' to society. Ask yourself this, How can any law that violates individual rights,be considered good for the masses? I submit to you It can not.

    So are you suggesting that a more civil society does not recognize rights or individuals, only groups, or the group. (Ominous Paralells- Piekoff)

    So you forgive the violations of the lives of people in the quest for a proggressive society (ie deaths and destruction in the struggle for socialism/communism), yet you find great offense in a person that chooses to not hurt anyone*, but be on thier own and maybe join in society voluntarily?

    Hmm, Which actually harms society more? Please don't confuse Libertarians as people that want corporate welfare. They do not. They would remove all the exemptions and polluting 'rights' that are out there and protect the farmers downstream, and the homes downwind.

    Protection of property. Simple.

    Also,

    So you [or should I say 'they', since you, as an 'i' individual does not exist] are saying that the 'self' can not be good, but somehow a group of us will be.

    Did you come up with that idea yourself, or can someone else take credit for that?

    Was that last question insulting? I meant for it to be funny. {'deep in my heart, I know I'm funny}

    BY THE WAY-

    The American government is the LARGEST polluter on the Earth. Does it work for an individual, or a group? It pardons countless pollutions from companies that get 'Grandfathered' in to their pollution rights. (That's the repubs AND dems BTW)

    *remember the pledge you must take to be Libertarian?

    <hr/>

    "Why would a person think that there is an inherent conflict between the role of the state and individual rights?"

    - Actually, you do not have the right to swing at anothers face. That would be assault. Even if you miss. It could easily be harrassment. That is an outdated and incorrect line, the one about swinging at someones face. You do NOT have the right, in a Libertarian society to walk down the street waving your gun, even if you never shoot or load your gun. It is considered assault and you should be charged.

    ______- "Go live on a mountain as a hermit if it doesn't work for you."

    - Ouch, didn't Rush write the lyric, "Conform or be cast out"?

    "The essential problem with libertarianism seems to be that its advocates are stuck in a state of permanent (male) adolescent rebellion. "Leave me alone!" they shout again and again. Sure that's a sensible position for a 17 year old boy, but surely there comes a time when you join with others, with a partner, with your community, and actually work together to create something, and to balance your own interests with those of others." Peace, Miles ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| =

    - "The essential problem with socialists/progressives seems to be that its advocates are stuck in a state of permanent (female) adolescent dependancy. "Take care of me!" they shout again and again. Sure that's a sensible position for a 17 year old girl, but surely there comes a time when you join find yourself alone, without a partner, without your community, and actually work alone to create something, and to balance your own interests with those of others."

    I just changed a few words to hold a mirror back at your comment.

    <hr/>

    Scott

  • Andrea (unverified)
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    My first time to this blog (off of google news alerts) and I found the first three or four comments to this post incredibly irritating. First off, I'm a woman- a very young, traditionally "progressive-thinking" woman, in fact- who loves drinking that "libertarian kool aid" and couldn't imagine any higher ideal. I don't "claim" to favor gay rights or "claim" to be against laws that make drugs illegal- I am. Say what you will about the gun-worshipping conspiracy theorist libertarians, but the vast majority of people (whether they know it or not) who actually think in a libertarian manner could care less about gun control, aside from how it fits into their general perception of the role of government in the lives of citizens.

    Pop-psychology books? For Christ's sake, Ayn Rand was the first and one of the only female political philosophers of any acclaim in the western world, and just because she challenged that warm 'n fuzzy "global community" idea all the Wilsonian liberals so enjoy hiding behind her ideas are completely invalid? Argue with them all you want, but don't fault her process. Read her books. Not her novels, her essays. She's got plenty to say that you ought to actually consider.

    And that bit about motorcycle helmets and insurance was entirely beyond the scope of government. It has no place in the economy aside from preventing fraud, period. I could just as easily argue that a post-industrialized economy jacks up the prices for my tuition, since more people with a generally acceptable standard of living means more people that can go to my school. Maybe the government ought to put a cap on that whole "modernization" thing, huh?

    The Libertarian party is pretty full of bullshit. Believe me, most of us know that. It's hardly in our nature to group up for anything besides the common cause of liberty, so a political association as such is hardly going to be indicitive of libertarian thought or policy in general. They do an okay job- a better job than the dems or republicans do of respecting liberty, no doubt- but they're fatally flawed, and thus almost entirely ineffective.

  • Michael (unverified)
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    As a 25 year member of the Libertarian Party, former Chair of the Oregon Party and Chair of the Multnomah Co. Party may I clear up a couple of things. I have to be quick though, becaue my computer is making strange noises. Before there was Ayn Rand there were many others. Isabel Paterson (with one "t") is an excellent writer on the subject and Rose Wilder Lane, of Little House on the Prarie fame. Just to mention two other women writers. There is nothing wrong with compassion. There is however, something wrong with forcing others to live according to some standards set by the state. Coercion is not, in my opinion, acceptable in a civil society, nor are closed markets acceptable in an open society and we have plenty of both in America. The Libertarian Party wants to bring all of America's troops home from around the world, end the Drug War, and that is on all drugs, end corporate welfare, any inflation is unacceptable, and I could go on. Here at the state level we wish to end the transit monoply known as Trimet as well as the taxi cartel, repeal occupational licensing laws, which I sure you know were part of the Black Codes. Of course that means that nurses will be able to provide medical services they are now prevented from providing by law, legal secretaries will finally be able to open up offices and provide services to the public that they spent years explaining to lawyers, bus drivers will be able to start their own business. Then perhaps we can talk about repealling the laws that restrict housing options and subsidize the mortgage and insurance industries. Some of this will rebuild the social safety net the government ripped out from under people over the last few decades and failed to replace all though they talk about it all the time. May I suggest a book titled "The Voluntary City; Choice, Community and Civil Society" from The Independent Institute. Let's take some of this one step at a time. I don't think anyone expects to solve all the world's problems overnight, or by withdrawing into a shell. Michael Wilson

  • Scott Lindsley (WA) (unverified)
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    Great points Michael and Andrea.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    Miles, Pat's example of fist swinging reminded me of the holiday shooting in front of Meier & Frank. A man who had been going around hitting people randomly punched another fellow, knocking off his hat and eyeglasses. The second man responded by pulling out a Magnum and blowing the first away. Under Pat's rule, that response is acceptable. Under mine, it isn't. The response involved the use of too much force. Walk or run away. Punch the aggressor once you get over your surprise. Yes. But, maim or kill him? No. Therein lies the problem with the liberal right to own and carry weapons Pat supports. But for the ease of acquiring guns and using them at the drop of a hat, (literally, in this episode), there would not be so much carnage in our society.

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)
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    Mac,

    The right to carry a weapon does not give someone the right to employ deadly force at the slightest provocation. Self defense is limited to dealing with a threat, not exacting vengence for indignities.

    All (sane) libertarians recognize that.

    However, you are less likely to be hassled by street punks outside of M&F if they have to wonder whether you are packing.

    An armed society is a polite society.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    Scott Lindsley is just plain wrong in much of what he is saying about Badnarik. Badnarik opposes abortion. From Badnarik's campaign site:

    Abortion: Badnarik personally opposes abortion, but believes that decisions regarding abortion rights should be made at the state and not the federal level. He recognizes that there is significant controversy surrounding when life begins, and argues that therefore the state should not legislate against abortion, since a fetus is not unarguably a human life.

    Badnarik was even more clearly anti-abortion before becoming a candidate. He latched on to claiming it is acceptable for the state government to regulate abortion, but not for the federal government to do so, afterward in an effort to appear less loony. It doesn't work because there is no reason for one branch of the government to be superior in decision-making about abortion over the other. Furthermore, as those of us who actually learned law (*instead of just pretending to have) know, the federal government traditionally takes the lead in matters of public health policy. (I guess the federal Centers for Disease Control would be on Badnarik's list of buildings to blow up.)

    You see, he has suggested bombing federal agencies he opposes the purpose of. (Maybe it was hyperbole, maybe not, considering Badnarik has been involved in the militia movement.) Some longterm Libertarian Party members found the selection of Badnarik so embarrassing that they did not support him. Much of Badnarik's more bizarre ranting was removed from the Web after he became the party's presidential candidate. But, anyone who followed the story should know that Badnarik is way out on the fringes of American political thought.

    This article in the libertarian publication Liberty paints a realistic picture of Badnarik. Read it and chuckle . . . and be glad he is completely unelectable.

    *Badnarik teaches a class on his beliefs which he calls 'Constitutional Law.' The claims he makes are barely recognizable to anyone interested in real constitutional law. However, the classes are a good way for Badnarik to make money off the credulous.

  • Anthony (unverified)
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    "The problem with the ... right to own and carry weapons Pat supports," is that it's specifically affirmed by the Constitution.

    "But for the ease of acquiring guns and using them at the drop of a hat, (literally, in this episode), there would not be so much carnage in our society."

    Does anybody have reliable statistics on how much carnage is perpetrated by citizens exercising their legal right to bear arms versus that perpetrated by people in criminal possession of firearms? What really is the cause of "so much carnage in our society"?

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    A familiar but good point Pancho, and Anthony ask a very valid question as well.

    Mac,

    Please be careful to not put words in my mouth. Here's the quote:

    "...The second man responded by pulling out a Magnum and blowing the first away. Under Pat's rule, that response is acceptable."

    I neither said nor implied that such an overwhelming response was justifiable.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    The right to carry and bear arms is a limited right under the Constitution. The Second Amendment states:

    "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    The claim oft made by gun nuts that they have a right to possess whatever weapons they want, whenever they want and wherever they want is not supported. Tom, Dick and Harry are not "a well-regulated militia." And no, adding Anthony does not change the result -- the Constitution envisions dangerous weapons and arsenals being in the hands of branches of government, not individuals.

    The seminal constitutional law case U.S. v. Miller v. U.S. 307 U.S. 174 (1939) affirms the limitations on gun ownership.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    Pat, you said, direct quote:

    "So, for example, your right to swing your fist ends just before you make contact with my nose. If you violate my nose rights, I’ll feel free to respond in kind."

    That is exactly the defense the accused will likely make to homicide charges in the Meier & Frank case. His notion of "in kind" is subjective, like yours. He believed that his rights had been violated by an assault and responded with an assault. But, society will intervene in his subjective perspective by applying the reasonable person standard to his behavior. Another way of stating what others have said about your laundry list of rights is that they don't pass that very same reasonable person standard. You may see that as oppression because it means other people have a say in deciding what you can do, but I don't believe most folks have the same complaint. We accept that our subjective views are not sufficient to run a complex society by.

  • Anthony (unverified)
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    Mac Diva,

    Was that meant to be a refutation? Looks more like support for my point.

    Pat's quote shows him affirming a perfectly proportionate response. By what "reasonable standard" is shooting of the same "kind" as punching"?

    I suspect your own subjective view resulted in your comment about "carnage," otherwise you would have presented some evidence to support it already.

    What Pat articulated (correct me if I'm wrong) was simply a right to self defense, moreover by proportionate means. Your use of the shooter in question as an exemplar of Pat's principle is illegitimate.

  • (Show?)

    Thank you Anthony. Nothing more to add beyond the fact that I apply the "reasonable person" standard to my behavior too.

    I hope that you do the same. I'd hate to think that you'd characterize a person whos behavior you know absolutely nothing about as a "nut", based on his or her decision to legally own a firearm, a dog, or a good set of steak knives.

  • Scott Lindsley (WA) (unverified)
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    "Scott Lindsley is just plain wrong in much of what he is saying about Badnarik. Badnarik opposes abortion. From Badnarik's campaign site:

    Abortion: Badnarik personally opposes abortion, but believes that decisions regarding abortion rights should be made at the state and not the federal level. He recognizes that there is significant controversy surrounding when life begins, and argues that therefore the state should not legislate against abortion, since a fetus is not unarguably a human life."

    <hr/>

    Um, can you tell me the number of Americans who agree with badnarik?

    Abortion is not something he is fond of, yet he says, (From your post here) "the state should not legislate against abortion, since a fetus is not unarguably a human life"

    Now, when anyone talks about the issue of choice, if someone disagrees with your choice, but will not enact a law to stop you, nor advocate the state to stop you, THAT, in my book, is PRO-CHOICE.

    Where else was I wrong in my posts?

  • JJ Ark (unverified)
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    Anthony wrote: Does anybody have reliable statistics on how much carnage is perpetrated by citizens exercising their legal right to bear arms versus that perpetrated by people in criminal possession of firearms? What really is the cause of "so much carnage in our society"? Sorry, Anthony, but such statistics on carnage do not exist. Not in the way you have asked. Further, it is important to note that there is obfuscation on both sides of the issue, and you will find convoluted methodologies by many folks who purpote to be "researchers". I have found the Brady campaign to be the worst (indeed almost useless once you scratch the surface of their "studies" but some stuff on GunCite is equally bad.

    we know a few things, empirically: 1. there are 260 million privately owned firearms in the US, ignoring distictions such as pistol, rifle, powdergun. They are in roughly 60% of the households in the US. 2. 37 of the states in then union have some form of concealed carry licensing, allowing citizens to carry a firearm hidden on their person. While those people who carry firearms do commit crimes, they are arrested as a far smaller sampling of population, and their arrests tend to be for non-violent offenses, i.e. traffic, etc. 3. There is not a single recorded instance of a concealed weapons holder firing on a sworn law officer. Indeed the opposite is true, where concealed weapons carriers have come to the assistance of law officers. 4. States that allow concealed weapons for the first time have a 4% reduction in violent crime initially. There is also a corresponding drop in police shootings. Seems that criminals get nervous that the person they attack might have a firearm. This wariness soon wears off, however, and within a year crime returns to just below the pre-CWP level. 5. Out of 740,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the year 2003, 146 were killed in the line of duty. That is a rate of .00019% per 1000. as a comparison, trash collectors have a rate of death of .554 per 1000, and airline pilots (the safest form of travel) .65 per 1000. 6. From the 146 deaths, the number one cause were firearms. The next greatest cause of death in the line of duty was heart attack. Then came auto accidents. 7. 36 of these deaths came from firearms. 20 were from handguns, 5 were from rifles, 3 from automatic rifle (including one that might or might not be automatic, but shared a bullet caliber with an AR-15). 1 from shotgun, 6 from unknown guns (most appeared to be 9mm...so handguns). and 1 semi auto. 8. 10 of the officers killed were killed using their own service weapons, including an accidental shotgun death. 9. 1 officer was killed with his own baton.

    So the empirical data is out there, but it isn't so easy to find. Logic would tell us that if all the people who owned guns were criminals, there would be a LOT more deaths. Further, logic would tell us that concealed weapons aren't the problem, but rather criminals and a lack of gun education are. Oh, and that we need better psychological care for police officers. A LOT of those "own service weapons" deaths were from officers eating their own guns.

    One other conclusion I would hope that people would draw is that after 30 years, our version of gun control isn't working. we need to radically overhaul how our party viewed gun control, and put an emphasis on gun education. Our children are still dying due to an incorrect perception of the impact and use of firearms. Only by education can we change that.

    JJ PS: I am at work, and do not have references on hand. Email me privately, and I would be happy to provide them to you.

  • (Show?)

    Pat,

    Nice post. As a recovering Libertarian (I think I viewed myself that way when I was about 18-23ish) I can certainly feel where you're coming from. I also appreciate the acknowledgement that there is a place for civil society.

    Take the case of zoning laws. If I want to put a tannery in an established residential neighborhood, a property rights will say I have that right. A more thoughtful libertarian will say I have that right, provided I am personally responsible for any negative effects on the value of my neighbors property. A realist, in my opinion, will observe the resultant cost to society of adjudicating all of this mess and recognize the need for zoning laws.

    After all, what is the foundation of the belief that private property rights (or any other absolute freedom) are part of the natural order. You can't really argue that they derive from the Constitution, because the fervor with which some of the purist arguments are argued transcends the interpretations of the Constitution. In many cases, I would argue that the purist individualist positions derive from a Darwinian world view, which came into vogue in the 1920s and 1930s, and which have as their ancestors Calvinist notions of pre-determinism.

    After spending the last decade working through issues like education, poverty, and zoning, I have come to believe very strongly in the need for a commons. I put great stock in the thinking of people like the Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen, who made his name studying famine, and who argues that paper freedoms need to be distinguished from actual freedoms.

    In the real world, which is quite different than the theoretical world, people have differing abilities to make use of the freedoms that the law allows. Prejudice isn't the only factor. If I am Rupert Murdoch's son, the cash value of the freedom of speech is very different than if I am the son of Frank Murdoch, steamfitter from Gary, Indiana.

    An honest and robust intellect requires us to step out of theoretical confines and judge the world as it actually exists. Otherwise, we're only debating different theories of salvation, not public policy.

  • Anthony (unverified)
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    Jeff,

    Thanks for the statistics. It seems pretty clear that lawful gun owners aren't responsible for "so much carnage," as Mac Diva alleged. I wish you had statistics that addressed that carnage more specifically regarding the incidence of crime involving the use of firearms, especially those crimes resulting in wounds or death ("carnage").

    I don't see how the statistics lead to your conclusion that:

    "...our version of gun control isn't working. we need to radically overhaul how our party viewed gun control, and put an emphasis on gun education. Our children are still dying due to an incorrect perception of the impact and use of firearms."

    There have been some notorious shooting incidents involving students at schools, here in Oregon, but those incidents were crimes that wouldn't be prevented by education. We hear of kids killing themselves with firearms in the house, and that might be helped by education. Nevertheless, the problem there seems to be negligence of the gun owners, and in any case, my impression is that these events are far more rare than has been suggested.

    That impression comes from having worked at a hospital that worked in partnership with a gun-control non-profit. They had produced some very dramatic and effective public service announcements, which themselves made an impression on me. But when I read the statistical arguments in the organization's materials, I found it to be riddled with fallacies. From what I recall, only a tiny fraction of cases were analogous to the scenarios in the PSAs, where children found and played with guns. Many more had to do with children struck by stray bullets in neighborhoods were gunplay was prevalent, and "children" who were in fact people under 21 who were killed in action, so to speak, while participating in gang activity, or were adolescents and young adults who were the presumably innocent victims of gang and other armed criminal activity.

  • (Show?)

    Let me toss an anecdotal reference in here.

    In the culture that I grew up in, receiving your first firearm form an adult was a rite of passage. My uncle brought me a single shot 22 rifle for my tenth birthday. We were taught early on not to touch any firearm at any time. Later we were taught that all guns are to be checked and the breach cleared each time we picked one up. Fianlly, with weapon in hand and breach cleared, we were to handle it as if it were loaded and ready to fire at all times.

    We first had Daisy BB Guns and were taught to treat them as firearms, and when we graduated to our first rifle, there was another layer of learning. In my family, at least, we were taught to never shoot an animal that we were not prepared to eat.

    This sort of cultural education is now done much less, and there is a large group of people who find the whole concept apalling. Nonetheless, it has come to be the case that there are large numbers of gun owners, both "solid citizen" types, and "gangster" types, whose only education is the way that they see firearms handled on TV or in the movies. This to me has some useful analogies to the condom/birth control education issue, in that if children learn about sex through pop culture alone, they will be ill equipped to handle the realities of a sexually active life.

  • JJ Ark (unverified)
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    Anthony writes: "There have been some notorious shooting incidents involving students at schools, here in Oregon, but those incidents were crimes that wouldn't be prevented by education. We hear of kids killing themselves with firearms in the house, and that might be helped by education. Nevertheless, the problem there seems to be negligence of the gun owners, and in any case, my impression is that these events are far more rare than has been suggested."

    If you are thinking of Kip Kinkel, then yeah...there is no amount of education taht could have quelled that boy. He is very deeply disturbed, as we now know. But he is a statistical anomolie. Think about it...260 MILLION firearms, and this one kid goes nuts. If things were as out of control as the anti-2nd amendment lobby would have us believe, then we should have 100's of these. one a day. or maybe just 1 per 1000 guns owned? How about 1 per 1million owned? that would still be 260 Springfield Highs a year. This just isn't happening. I absolutely agree with the negligence issue. I would support a change in legislation suggesting the following:

    1. Get gun education into the schools. Bring in Eddie Eagle. Pass laws mandating gun education in Health Class. After all, the goal of health class is to keep kids safe. It pretty obvious that most kids killed with handguns are accidents due to unfamiliarity with the effects of firearms and the "video game outlook". Dispel that notion.

    2. Support and legislate sane and sensible gun safety, with an emphasis on responsible ownership. Mandate that ALL firearms sold be accompanied by an appropriate lock. Do not mandate their use, but legislate responsibility for possession and physical control into law. In other words, if someone uses YOUR gun to kill someone, or hold up a grocery store, YOU are responsible unless it was reported stolen. If a kid gets a hold of your gun, and kills a friend YOU are responsible. Encourage responsibility in ownership.

    3. Increase the sentences received with conviction of a gun crime. Double or triple the time behind bars. Make this clear that it is to be a deterrent for crime. Punish the criminals who commit the crimes, not the legal owners who do not break laws.

    4. Advocate for a trained gun user in all households. Recommend that the 215 MILLION firearms out there be turned into the tools that they truly are: a complement to everyone's Disaster Preparedness Kit.

    5. Work on reciprocity agreements for Concealed Weapons Permits between the states. Reciprocity makes sense, as the incidence of CWP holders committing crimes are far, far lower than non-CWP holders. Something about having something truly deadly in the small of your back or in your purse keeps most folks out of trouble.

    Many more had to do with children struck by stray bullets in neighborhoods were gunplay was prevalent The term "gunplay" has always amused me. Gunplay is not the correct word. They don't "play" with guns, they are committing crimes. When I go to the range, and squeeze of 20 rounds at a target, that is gunplay. what they are doing is driveby shootings. All the laws we can pass won't do much to stop them from getting their guns to do this...it will only limit the ability of the legal gun owner to respond to such a threat. And Pat makes some VERY good points about gun education. We have a whole gaggle of kids who think that real firearms make a "bang" and when the game is over, they get up and play over again. it don't work that way, folks. But unless we do something to teach them otherwise, they will never know...

    As for how this ties into Libertarianism: The education we are discussing here is aimed at, and directed towards a fundemental level of responsibility for a citizen. Mess up on THIS, and you might not go home tonight. The decision to defend yourself and your family has inevitable consequences on your involvement in government, and the safety of society. In essence, instead of depending on the "government" for your protection, you admit and accept your place in society, and take it upon yourself. You have become the citizen soldier that defeated the British. You have asserted your place as an American.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    I can buy libertarian notions on the basis that individuals should have the right to choice on matters that cannot substantially harm other nonconsenting adults. So we need some rubric to determine which activities should qualify. Some would argue that almost every behavior effects others, true to some extent. I think reasonableness needs to be part of the judement. Some activities are so personal in nature that prescribing rights around them seems unreasonable to me. Religion, sex, reproduction, and life itself would qualify here, although I might listen to an argument about the destructiveless of rampant reproduction on an overpopulated planet. I believe drug taking should fall in the personal rights category as well. what about addicts who committ crimes to support their habits? Prosecute the crimes, not the protected behavior. I also think driving under the influence should be judged by an impairment test, not a substance level test, but just call me a stickler for laws being to the point.

    Pat's list contains a number of activities outside of the personal, though. One's private property activities can injure more than others' private property rights. They can, for instance, injure the air I breath, the economy of the whole region, the longterm climate of the planet, etc. On a small crowded, over-exploited planet, we cannot allow property rights to trump the public good. That's a recipe for disaster.

    Economic activity, in a general sense, also has far reaching effects that must be controlled. Capitalism is a great wealth producing strategy, but uncurbed, it creates miserable inequality. To prevent that, curbs on commerce are justified.

    On helmets, the argument that society must be allowed to be compassionate, so Pat must wear a helmet is seductive, but, you know, it is Pat's head. He may have what he believes to be good reason for riding bareskulled. Yes, society may want to limit its liability in some cases, but take into consideration, also, the difference in the amount of damage that can be done by a motorcycle and a 5000 pound SUV. Cut the little guy a break, already.

    Guns. Ah yes, guns. The things are way dangerous, based on statistics, not my fears. I'm a decent shot with a rifle, actually, and have eaten my share of venison, pheasant, and rabbit. The second amendment does talk about militias, anyway, doesn't it. In the end, my reasons for not supporting gun control are purely political. In America, it is a losing issue that takes down with it more important issues. So for the record, I'm for a gun shop in every neighborhood. Pass the ammunition, brother!

  • Anthony (unverified)
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    Very interesting and thoughtful post, JJ Ark.

    Just a quibble in answer to a quibble. The word "play" need not imply diversion or frolicking of any kind. Complaining about the above use of "gunplay" is be like saying, in response to a comment about how, say, the events of the recent tsunami will "play out," that "there's nothing playful about it!"

    Let's not even bring up "friendly fire"...

  • Scott Lindsley (WA) (unverified)
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    A- Zoning laws, a person, company or corporation does not have the right to plop a pollutiing factory right in the middle of a neighborhood.

    That, once again, is a misunderstanding of libertarianism.

    Ye progressives,

    Michael Badnarik suggested, in the latest campaign, that we go to the model that England has. Where the smallest landowner downstream can defend himself in court from the largest polluter upstream.

    I dare say that is a better plan than Bush's (Not hard to beat.) and even Kerry's.

    Force of law would keep the polluter from violating the (gasp again) property of the owner down the way. This goes for air and any other issues as well.

    What have the repubs and dems done? What do you advocate?

    They have grandfathered in pollution rights.

    They have exempted companies, and sold pollution licenses.

    AND - Need I remind you, the American government is the LARGEST polluter on the Earth.

    When will that bother you enough to www.downsizedc.org ?

    <hr/>

    B - Guns.

    Remember the Bill of Rights?

    It is not only the second amendment that clears the right to bear arms, it is the ninth and the tenth.

    Remember, the Bill of Rights and Constitution were not designed to regulate 'the people' but to design the federal government.

    So when you condemn and say that something is not granted as a right in the Constitution, just remember that is not the source of rights, AND it never was designed to act as grantor of rights.

    Just as conservatives do not have the right to control gay marriage, you do not have the right to control how many guns I have, how much pot I have, etc.

    Just because many of us will be happier when guns are next to non-existant (Including me) does not, for one second give us the power to take guns away.

    Just as the power is never in the hands of the religious right to stop abortion.

    No matter how much they dislike it.

    That's how I like it.

    Peace through Liberty,

    Scott

  • SteveL (unverified)
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    JJ said:

    4. Advocate for a trained gun user in all households. Recommend that the 215 MILLION firearms out there be turned into the tools that they truly are: a complement to everyone's Disaster Preparedness Kit.

    Sorry JJ, but I have to ask, are you missing some meds? Earthquake/blackout/storm preparedness does not require a gun. What "disaster" are you concerned about again that requires me to have a gun? I don't get it.

    You will never be able to impose firearm training if that is what you were getting at, because just as you have the right to own one I also have the right to choose not to.

    There is no genuine need for me to own a gun or to know how to operate a gun. I can say that with absolute certainty. I know because human beings survived for millenia without firearms, we could do it again. There are other tools that are perfectly appropriate to the tasks we face.

    cheers,

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    SteveL, they've turned the thread into Libertarian Looney Land. Fantasy stuff with no basis in fact whatsoever. Best to let them carry on until they can find a new game of Dungeons and Dragons. You are not going to get any rational discussion from people who somehow fail to grasp that the U.S. has the highest gun injury and fatality rate in the world.

  • Anthony (unverified)
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    Mac Diva,

    You apparently prefer insult to rational argument. When the issue was raised as to whether the "carnage" that you so readily mentioned was caused by people in legal possession, as you suggested, or by people with in criminal possession of firearms, you went silent.

    The right to bear arms is in the Constitution, as well as the customs of this country. If that's problematic, then it ought to make for an interesting discussion.

    It's a question about which intelligent, serious and sincere people can have divergent opinions. You prefer to avoid serious challenges to the flaws in your arguments and simply dismiss all that disagree with you as fools of some species. That shows at least a lack of sportsmanship and generosity. It also awakens the suspicion that you're simply not equipped to handle such a debate, for emotional, moral or intellectual reasons, or some combination of such deficiencies.

    I'll mention for the record that I have never professed Libertarianism nor owned a gun.h

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
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    Hmmm. You made similar allusions on the 'auteur' thread, Anthony. Seems that you believe persons of color have certain, direct quote, "deficiencies." Interesting.

    I cited the Second Amendment and the seminal case on gun possession and ownership in comments above. Though that factual information was largely ignored, it is where rational discussion of the topic begins.

    The fanciful, anecdoctal claims you and your ilk of truly uninformed persons make are not rational discussion. It matters not a whit whether a gun used to maim or kill is owned legally or not. What matters is the carnage itself. You are apparently foolish enough to believe that legal gun ownership somehow justifies the high rate of injury, homicide and suicide that result from the easy availibility of firearms. It doesn't. Your inability to grasp that is not my responsibility.

  • jj (unverified)
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    SteveL wrote:

    Sorry JJ, but I have to ask, are you missing some meds?

    I sat on this insult for a coupla days, cuz I didn't want respond irrationally:

    No. Not on meds. Don't need them. Please refrain from insults in the future. Thank you.

    Earthquake/blackout/storm preparedness does not require a gun. What "disaster" are you concerned about again that requires me to have a gun? I don't get it.

    I can see that, Steve. The September 11th commission concluded that al Qaida will attack again. Most likely in a "Spectacular" way. I would be amazed if they weren't able to carry out another attack, and frankly, it wouldn't surprise me if there were even more deaths. I am hardly alone in that belief. What I seem to be alone is in thinking that this administration is capable of finding its hineyhole with both hands, a flashlight, and a dozen CIA analysts, much less reading bulletins with provactive names that tell them the exact plans of terrorist attacks.

    How could a gun protect you against terrorism? If we had air marshals aboard the airliners that were used as bombs on sept 11, do you think their plans would have succeeded? Against box cutters? I highly doubt it.

    How about when they decide that lloyd center is the target? How many rentacops in there? I would say that on a slow day at the Lloyd, there are more CCW holders than rentacops by a 2 to 1 margin...and during the busy holiday season 10 to 1 easily.

    You will never be able to impose firearm training if that is what you were getting at, because just as you have the right to own one I also have the right to choose not to.

    I mispoke, and that was my error. Corrected post should read:

    1. Advocate for a trained gun user in all households that possess firearms.

    There is no genuine need for me to own a gun or to know how to operate a gun. I can say that with absolute certainty.

    You have made up your mind that you are happy to be prey as opposed to prey that can resist. That is fine. I do not wish to dissuade you, but I do ask you keep three things in mind: 1. Our police do a GREAT job, but the average police response time is 3 mins in Portland. They can't be everywhere at once. A LOT of shots can be fired in 3 minutes. A LOT of damage can be done in that time. 2. The police are not legally responsible to protect you. They do so because they want to do so...see Bowers v. DeVito. Further, ask folks in South Central how the police protected them against rioters in Los Angeles 3. Roll over and play dead. Let the perpetrator do whatever they want...statistically, you are 4 times more likely to die when you resist than when you don't.

    If the very best effort you can make at protecting yourself and your family is to make a phone call and then hide from the boogey men, then you seem to be well suited for doing just that. Good Luck!

    I know because human beings survived for millenia without firearms, we could do it again.

    Is that what they Jews thought? How about those who were slaughtered in the Balkans after being disarmed, promised protection, then the protection left?

    I want to remind you that the largest artificial killer of civilians in the 20th century was organized government. 170,000,000 civilians killed by their own or other other's governments.

    There are other tools that are perfectly appropriate to the tasks we face.

    I am interested in knowing what those tools are. In my 34 years of searching, I have YET to find something that allows a 98 lb asthmatic who is wheelchair bound to have the same projected force as a murderer of professional rapist. --as a sidenote, that 98lb asthmatic is not me.

    Mac Diva wrote:

    Fantasy stuff with no basis in fact whatsoever.

    I gave you facts. I even gave you admissions that some facts do not exist.

    I don't play dungeons and dragons. Indeed, I am reading a comprehensive report on gun control by a group of folks from the National Research Council, a group appointed by Clinton. Its a bit long, so bear with me. They have discovered that NONE of the laws currently on the books make a whit of difference one way or the other towards firearms. Then they called for more study, saying that perhaps they missed something, but the net effect of all our efforts is ZERO.

    Here is the report...Bon Apetit! http://www.nap.edu/books/0309091241/html/

    You are not going to get any rational discussion from people who somehow fail to grasp that the U.S. has the highest gun injury and fatality rate in the world.

    I am not sure how many other ways I can ask you: gimme YOUR facts? I am kinda curious as to how you put the genie back in the bottle, but I am willing to listen to ideas.

    and don't get all "ban all guns" on me; that requires rewriting the consitition and we do NOT want to open that can of worms at this point and time. I can guarantee you that the Repubs would LOVE to rewrite the constitution.

    Mac Diva: since you are apparently a person of color (I really had no clue, and actually couldn't have cared less) you might find this bit of history interesting:

    http://www.lizmichael.com/racistgc.htm

    again, bon apetit. Its a MIGHTY long list of laws banning gun ownership by African Americans. Seems that the white folk were a bit worried about some folks getting guns and figuring out that their "enemies" could shoot people who were doing evil. Oh, and the last law listed in in 1995, Maine.

    Ultimately, we ALL have a responsibility to protect ourselves to the best of our abilities. The ONLY people who tell you otherwise are after your money, your fealty, or your soul.

    Oh, and on Miller V. US...they only said he couldn't ahve a 16" barreled shotgun...cuz it wasn't in the national arsenal at the time. Indeed, it was in the national arsenal at the time (we had shotguns in the trenches in France), but no one bothered to include that in the brief as Miller was mute. By the time Miller came to trial, he was dead. Gangsters at the time had a rather high rate of death. He was represented in writing only by his attorney, with zero facts presented to the court. Further, as with all Supremes decisions, take a look at what WASNT said, not jsut what was said. You get a much more interesting view. And do me a favor and smack Warren Burger on the head. Starre Decisis will carry the day, and it just won't work. This will fall to the individual states, and failing that, to the individual municipalities where 2nd amendment is not clearly copied over. Miller had a very lasting, but very weak effect on firearms possession and ownership.

  • Anthony (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Mac Diva,

    Can you get through a single thread without playing the race card? Perhaps you might try to do without that crutch and debate like an honest person.

    You wrote:

    "Hmmm. You made similar allusions on the 'auteur' thread, Anthony. Seems that you believe persons of color have certain, direct quote, "deficiencies." Interesting."

    Perhaps you have me confused with someone else. I invite readers here to visit the auteur thread to discover the plain untruth of this claim. Whatever the case, your use of "direct quote" is a piece of rank dishonesty. I used the word "deficiencies" in commentary about your character. The only "direct quote" is that word itself, used in my last post. But you couch it in a sentence that can only be construed as my having used it to assert that non-white people have characteristic deficiencies. That is a very sleazy rhetorical technique.

    Departing from these irrelevancies, you mention that you cite the Second Amendment. OK, but what do you do with it? Then you brag about having cited "the seminal constitutional law case," namely Miller. But what do you intend to establish by the citation? That gun ownership ought to be limited? I never disputed that, and I certainly never took the position that private citizens have a right to possess machine guns, or rocket launchers or other weapons of military grade, so to speak.

    Frankly, in the absence of any commentary on your part explaining what you intended to establish by citing Miller, I took the citation as demonstrate nothing other than your pretentiousness. It would be useful to consider how Miller has specifically affected gun laws, and whether it's been found entirely adequate to the problem inherent in the phrasing of the Second Amendment, whether it's been effectively challenged or not, etc. It would also show whether you really a respectable legal scholar rather than just a pretentious fool.

    Obviously Miller hasn't prevented the legal private ownership of guns, including in concealed possession, in some places and under some circumstances, not requiring formal affiliation with any militia. So just how enlightening is this 1939 case? Since all the legal scholarship you chose to share with us terminated at the mere mention of this single case, and since that, according to your last post, "is where rational discussion of the topic begins," then why not begin it!

    But no, your demonstrated preference is for irrational and insulting rant.

    You write:

    "It matters not a whit whether a gun used to maim or kill is owned legally or not. What matters is the carnage itself. You are apparently foolish enough to believe that legal gun ownership somehow justifies the high rate of injury, homicide and suicide that result from the easy availibility of firearms. It doesn't. Your inability to grasp that is not my responsibility."

    First of all, let's untangle the characteristic mendacity and viciousness of this statement, wherein you suggest my indifference to "carnage." You distort the course of the argument, which began with my challenge to your statement:

    "Therein lies the problem with the liberal right to own and carry weapons Pat supports. But for the ease of acquiring guns and using them...there would not be so much carnage in our society."

    From this you get that I believe "gun ownership justifies carnage"? Again, this is a sleazy way to argue. It's also an evasion. You clearly associate legal gun possession with "so much carnage in our society." I ask whether legal possession is responsible for that degree of carnage. You respond with adhominem insults against me and my "ilk."

    I obviously don't approve that there is "so much carnage in our society," but even as a layman I understand that it matters very much whether any particular injury is inflicted under legal circumstances or not. This is an ethical question as well as a legal one. It is regrettable when anyone is injured, and in proportion to the severity of the injury. But the meaning of a wound inflicted in legitimate self defense or the defense of others is very different than a wound inflicted out of cruelty, depraved indifference or in any other way as the circumstance of a crime.

    Any responsible diagnosis of the widespread "carnage" you refer to has to include the specific causes of that "carnage." And if the perpetrators of the high incidence ("so much") of that carnage are, far and away, people possessing the weapons illegally, then laws governing ownership are of limited relevance.

    Now, I don't disagree that the overall "ease of acquiring guns" contributes hugely to the problem, but again, that has little to do with the terms of legal possession. And in any case, that's not what you argued. You said the problem was with the "liberal right to own and carry weapons." We're yet to see your proof that it is.

  • jj ark (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Mac Diva writes:

    Currently, there is a thread gun advocates took over. Claims that Americans need more guns are being greeted enthusiastically. Meanwhile, a point I made about the Second Amendment foreseeing government entities as the owners of dangerous weapons and arsenals is being ignored. Good information being overwhelmed by bad is a hazard of the Internet.

    First off, I want you to understand that I am not an outside interloper. I grew up in North Bend and Eugene and currently live in SE Portland. B!x can tell you that I am quite real. I have been active in democratic politics for many years. I cut my teeth doing anti-oca elections work and HIV education in Eugene back in high school. I have been involved in queer political activism for over 1/2 my life.

    I didn't take over here. I responded with a real suggestion for altering the outlook on gun control. So far, the only supporting documentation offered has been a very flawed interpretation of Miller v. USA. I didn't ignore it...I addressed it. And then gave you MORE facts. FWIW, I just did 4 months of study on gun control. You want facts, you get facts. Basing your sole judgement upon a flawed interpretation of an old supreme's ruling is just nuts. However, it IS the party line, and it is this very party line that is costing elections for no gain. None. Zip.

    I had begun to question if it was worth my time to try and put forward any other opinions here or elsewhere. I am sure you would like it if I disappeared, but the truth is, I donated money to Kerry, and I voted for the guy. I am as much a part of this party as you are. I have as much right to my opinion as you do. You have no right to dismiss my viewpoint because I refuse to march with you in lockstep, unthinking and unquestioning. Dismissing divergent opinions within our party is one of the fundemental problems of the 2 parties that exist.

    Besides: We probably agree on more things than you think. Healthcare, Social Justice. Equal Pay. Safety and Honor in the workplace. Support for Families. Education reform. Purity and safety in our food supply. Dismantling the class structure.

    Oh, and I have taken the liberty of returning this discussion to the place it belongs...away from polluting the water supply and crappy free computers ;-)

  • Anthony (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Britain has enacted extremely tough gun laws and has treated citizens defending themselves very harshly.

    How has this helped? Well, gun-related crime is up in Britain. Go figure:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000102&sid=agceOIMf5nfc&refer=uk

    So much for the liberal right to bear arms causing carnage.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)
    (Show?)

    "An old Supreme Court ruling...." ROFL!

    JJArk, you are not an insightful person, but there is a certain humor is some of the disingenuous things you say. For future references, unless it is overruled, an old U.S. Supreme Court decision is called "the law." Miller is the controlling case on gun ownership and possession. No person with a knowledge of constitutional law would take the dismissive attitude toward it you do. Your "studies" likely focused on the advocacy propaganda of discredited gun advocate John Lott, and people like him. They make up stuff to try to justify widespread availability of firearms. That is not research, but propaganda.

  • JJ Ark (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Mac: and as an attorney, your interpretation of Miller is....????

    Insults are fine and dandy, but they do very little to further the discussion. I am still waiting to hear how the National Research Council's report is biased. Appointed by Clinton in fact. Or how a list of laws enacted can be "biased". Or what, to you, would be a credible source?

    As for research, a good chunk of from both sides is biased. I prefer to get to the source of the info whenever possible. For example: Instead of going to the Chief's Assc, I went directly to the lists of officers killed in the line of duty, and then used the FBI's statistics to corroborate. Then I did the math, going through the deaths one by one. Instead of trusting the Brady group, I went to the actual source of statistics, read the studies, and found the errors in sampling, and in methodology. As for Miller, I read the entire body of work related to it. Took several nights. It was very, very extensive (going back to the original citation that the entire case is predicated on.) Indeed, you can read the entire body yourself, if you care to take the time (which I am quite sure you won't). As for it being an old ruling, yes...it is just that. Keep in mind that this ruling was pre-Columbine, pre-Kinkel, pre-9/11, indeed pre-WWII. I am quite sure that the court would decide differently today, but they haven't seen a need to revisit this issue since (and they have had several opportunities in the subsequent 60 odd years).

    <h2>Please have a bit of decency and actually contribute to the discussion, not insult us. Thanks.</h2>

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