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Stop Virtue Signaling.

It’s been a weird few days.

The Neo-Nazis have done more to make fascists out of libertarians than Molyneaux, Cantwell, and all the Jared Howes of the world could ever have dreamed; in one single day, they managed to take countless people who otherwise advocate the NAP and turn them into irrational hawks screaming for bloodshed. As one of a relatively small group of people advocating calm, peace, and dialogue, I’ve found myself insulted more in the last five days by allies than I have been by enemies across two years of being trans in the south. People who have routinely disagreed with me amicably about the radical/pragmatic split suddenly resort to insulting me.

If there is any succinct and honest way to describe what’s going on, it would be this:

The word “Nazi” has #triggered lots and lots of people.

I was surprised, honestly, on Sunday night to have host of the show Thom Gray yelling at me, angry and hostile, because I had the audacity to ask what the Neo-Nazis had actually done. He was angry. He wasn’t interested in hearing anything that I said, because he instead wanted to shout over me. That brief segment of Libertarian Drama of the Week was basically a preview of everything that has been going on since–right now, it is simply about who shouts the most and who shouts the loudest.

And virtue signaling. Oh, by God, there is so much virtue signaling right now that I’ve not scrolled through my Facebook feed since Sunday morning. Every other post is an open admission that they want to inflict violence on people they disagree with, because they disagree with them, and because the point of disagreement is something that they consider really, really, really awful. Hey, I totally agree. White Nationalism is horrific and stupid, Nazism is horrific and stupid, and the alt-right’s ideology is stupid.

And the fact that I don’t let the presence of Neo-Nazis reduce me to a drooling mess shouting and carrying a pitchfork somehow makes me less moral than the people itching to take up arms. That has been what I’ve observed. Two distinct cliques have formed, divided entirely on this issue, and the allegations coming from the other side are constant and bizarre. Just a little while ago, Vermin Supreme posted in the Audacious Caucus’s Facebook page that if you say something negative about Antifa and you don’t also say something negative about the Neo-Nazis, then you’re going to be taken as a Nazi sympathizer.

What kind of divisive, Us and Them bullshit is this?

When I condemn the United States’ actions in the Middle East, does that suggest or imply that I’m an Isis sympathizer?

It’s a measure of the loss of perspective that has occurred because of That Word–that Word of Pure Evil. I reject all Us and Them bullshit, and this is merely a new form of that. Whether they intended to or not, Vermin Supreme and all the others who are saying such things are carving the world in two and asserting, “You either explicitly condemn them every chance that you get, or you’re with them.”

It is the purest form of virtue signaling, least of all because none of these people seem to be making trips to the southern states to “punch a Nazi.” That’s what makes it virtue signaling. Not even 1% of these people are doing anything to punch Nazis. I would be more inclined to take them seriously and treat them as ideological equals if they were doing that, but they’re not. They’re just virtue signaling about how they want to punch Nazis, and, in the process, throwing absolute vitriol at me because I’ve proposed an alternative solution to dealing with the rise of Neo-Nazism, and have actually taken steps to implement that alternative solution: I’ve reached out to The Non-Believer, Atheism is Unstoppable, Chris Cantwell, and Molyneaux. I want to talk to them. And if they reply, I’m going to reach out to people like Michael Moore and other leaders on the left, and try to organize a sit-down for people to talk about this shit before it gets out of hand.

That’s a lot better than punching people, if you ask me, and it’s several orders of magnitude better than endlessly spouting on Facebook about the desire to punch people with no effort or intention of actually doing so. Posting about wanting to punch Nazis isn’t the same as actually punching Nazis. And I wouldn’t even have a problem with the people posting about wanting to punch Nazis if they weren’t bending over backward to take everything I say out of context, to twist what I say into bizarre and nonsensical forms, to insult me, to berate me, and to treat me like I’m some kind of scum because I’m not willing to signal the virtue that they want me to signal.

If you want to signal virtue about how much you hate Nazis, fine. I hate them, too, and have written at length about what’s wrong with their ideology. But don’t you fucking dare look down your nose at me because you’ve confused your virtue signaling with actually doing something. Talking about your desire to punch them on Facebook and Twitter isn’t going to do anything to stop them. And, you know what? Going out and punching them isn’t going to do anything to stop them, either; it will just reinforce what they already believe. But whatever. Actually going out and attacking them is a different subject entirely.

When Thom yelled at me on The Call to Freedom, it was before and after he’d stated multiple times how badly he wanted to go to Charlottesville and kick in some skulls. Am I missing something? These people aren’t hard to find, especially in Tennessee and Mississippi. I’d bet that he lives within ten miles of at least fifteen of these people. See, the thing is… People who want to do something… do it. It’s sort of how “desire” works. And if someone doesn’t do something, it serves as ipso facto proof that they don’t want to do it.

What do they want? They want to talk about punching Nazis. They want to make sure everyone knows what their virtues are, and they want to look down with disdain at anyone who dares express virtues that, you know, are actually in-line with the Non-Aggression Principle.

I intended to talk once more about how violence and force are the mechanics of the state, and so anyone who attempts to use violence and force to achieve a political or social goal, even if that goal is “getting rid of the Neo-Nazis” is, by definition, attempting to be a state, an Army of One, a dictator, a tyrant who backs up their moral proclamations with guns and bloodshed. Because that’s true, too–it’s the definition of “the state” that libertarians have been using for a long time. It must be the definition, because a single bloodthirsty tyrant ruling over a small village and enforcing his decrees personally is still a state.

But instead, the virtue signaling… It’s well past the point of obnoxious.

You want to punch Nazis? Stop talking about it and go do it.

Otherwise, come down off your high horse and admit that you’re full of shit. And stop pretending like you’re morally superior because you’re too chicken shit to do it yourself and instead want to cheer on for other people while they fight your battles for you.

Demons, Demons Everywhere, and No Exorcist In Sight

“Nazi.”

The very word inspires fear and enmity from those who hear it, evoking emotional responses that leave rational discourse behind in ashes like those of the Reichstag Building. The “Nazi” is the Go To enemy for video games, movies, television shows, and literature, whenever an unambiguously evil enemy is needed, and no further justification for killing them or defeating them is necessary. They are Nazis, and so they deserve death. It’s that simple.

It would appear, based on widespread reactions from otherwise normal and rational people, that this mentality has carried over into the real world, and real people are reacting to the presence of Nazis in Charlottesville with the disgust and hatred typically reserved for cartoonishly evil supervillains, which is dismaying, because one look at any of the photos or videos circulating of these Nazis will reveal that they are just cartoonishly comical.

This is what happens when a word, a label, is demonized to this extent. Yesterday, I was repeatedly called a Nazi Sympathizer, and even blocked by one person in the liberty movement, for having the audacity to point out that it is required, if we are to have peace, to actually listen to these people and acknowledge their concerns. This is a foolish interpretation of my position—I’ve long been anti-authoritarian, and that will not change simply because many of my allies are demanding that I become authoritarian to forcefully stop the other authoritarians. And that is, in essence, what many libertarians are demanding.

After all, the libertarian idea is that the state is an institution of force and coercion, and they wish to use force and coercion to eliminate the Nazis, from suggestions of widespread murder of them to just beating them all unconscious. It is not in any way different from what the actual Nazis of Germany did to Jews—a comparison I made last night on The Call to Freedom—except that, as of right now, most of the anti-Nazis have not yet carried out their plans to round up and exterminate everyone who disagrees with them to that extent.

Co-host of the show Thom pointed out that the Nazis have chosen their ideology, while they targeted people who were born with a certain heritage. Ironic, isn’t it? Especially given that so many of these Nazis are flying Confederate Flags and throwing around that word “heritage” with reckless abandon. There is also the fact that Judaism is a religion, and that not all of the Jews killed by the Nazi Regime were Jews by heredity; some were converts to the religion, and were exterminated all the same.

It shows a remarkable disconnect, since the position is basically that the Neo-Nazis (the term I’m going to use to continue differentiating these people from, you know, actual Nazis who actually exterminated people) are basically told that they can have their heritage—as long as they aren’t proud of it, as long as they don’t expect any monuments to their heritage to remain standing, as long as they don’t try to protect it from being erased from history, as long as they don’t take pride in it, and as long as they roll over for the “progress” of society.

I spent most of Saturday sharing memes mocking these people. Because, absolutely, they are worthy of mockery. These poor, pathetic basement dwellers with pedo ‘staches and tiny dicks can’t get laid, and so they figured, “Well, fuck it. I guess I’ll become a Nazi.” They’re terrified of everything and everyone that isn’t exactly like them, and they’re so meek and afraid that they refuse to allow their cultural values to be stacked in fair competition against other cultural values—because they know they will lose, because they are losing. It wasn’t long ago that I wrote this critique of “traditional values,” and pointed out that the beauty of the United States is that we are a cultural buffet, where a person can take dishes from whatever culture they want, grabbing only the dishes they like and leaving the ones they don’t. The net result of this, over a period of time, is that the dishes that very few people like fade away, as we are seeing with homophobia, transphobia, and racism.

Racism is on the decline, of course, with even the KKK, despite its resurgence in the last few years, basically defunct, and the reason is simple: racism is stupid. A businessperson who refuses to hire anyone but white people will not hire the best except by sheer coincidence. It is entirely possible that the best person he could hire is a black man, but instead he would hire an inferior white man, and his business would suffer as a result. This is why diversity is a good thing, and why diversity quotas are a bad thing—merit should be the sole determining factor. Using skin color, gender, orientation, and other things as factors is fundamentally flawed, even if we have twisted it such that it’s a positive thing to have your black skin factored into the equation because the company will hire you to meet its quota. It’s bad for the company if you’re not the best person for the job, and this is what the “Google Memo” was all about: these other, unimportant considerations have supplanted merit, such that a woman who is less suitable for a position is more likely to be hired because of her sex than a man who is more suitable for the position. Just as it is not good or acceptable for a company to refuse to hire a person because she’s a woman, so is it not good or acceptable for a company to choose to hire a person because she’s a woman. This should not be a controversial statement.

Yet it is.

And so extensive is the demonization that pointing this out results in one being called anti-diversity, misogynistic, bigoted, and hateful.

And this is what so very many people are getting wrong about the current political climate.

I watched former vice presidential candidate, Muslim activist, libertarian activist, and all-around awesome guy Will Coley have his work repeatedly spit upon and rejected solely because he is white. I’ve seen people say to him, “No, you are not my brother. You are a white devil.”

Yet this vile vitriol is considered acceptable, and it is a sentiment that is echoed all over the United States. The Southern Baptist Convention can’t even come together and vote by an overwhelming majority to condemn racism without being called racists. That’s the position we’re in today, and nothing is going to change if we pretend like that isn’t true, or that it isn’t a problem. It is. In fact, it’s the root of what the Neo-Nazis complain about. As I said, the root of their grievances is legitimate. They have, in their desperation to wear the Victim Badge that everyone is welcome, taken those grievances and blown them to ridiculous degrees, but what American group has not done so? Hardly a week goes by that I don’t see a trans person crying foul because they couldn’t use the restroom of their choice, and they present this as though it’s just the height of discrimination, and as though it’s just one step removed from extermination of trans people. It’s hard to take these people seriously, and I don’t think they should be taken seriously. But, as with the Neo-Nazis, there is a legitimate core to the grievances expressed by these misguided trans people: there is resistance among institutional powers to restrict one’s gender identity and sexual identity to whatever it happened to be at the moment of birth.

During the course of discussions yesterday, someone assured me, “I’ve been observing these people before you even knew they existed!” The exclamation point, of course, was part of his emotional rant–a rant so emotionally charged that he ended up unfriending me, calling me “he/his” purposely and deliberately to try to elicit an emotional response from me, and finally blocked me when these efforts failed. The conversation was quite interesting, because I provided sources directly from these Neo-Nazis to back up what I was saying, and he repeatedly declined to do so, saying only “Stormfront!” and “Google it!”

It really shows a remarkably myopic viewpoint, though, to say something like that to me–the Anarchist Shemale, born and raised in rural Mississippi to fundamentalist Christians who are openly racist Trump supporters. My grandfather and uncle own a gun and confederacy store called “Confederate State Arms.” In fact, I’d speculate that some of the flags waved in Charlottesville were purchased from my grandfather and uncle. I was born to these people. I grew up around these people. When I was 11 or 12 years old, my family was training me to fight the Anti-Christ, and telling me things like, “When we’re patrolling, if you hear something, turn and shoot. Don’t hesitate, don’t call out. Turn and shoot.” We had actual compounds for when the Anti-Christ took over. It would be really hard for someone to be more exposed to these people than I have been.

I’ve written an entire book about the brainwashing and abuse these people inflicted upon me. They are solely the reason that it took me to my mid-20s to come to terms with being trans, even though, as early as three years old, I preferred wearing female clothes and preferred women. Don’t even get me started on the many, many ideological problems these people have, or the grotesque abuses of which they are capable. There is, naturally, no dispute: the majority of these Neo-Nazis are white southerners and cling to their Christianity-inspired “traditional values,” despite anything that Jesus actually said.

So during the course of saying all of this–I, the transsexual atheist anarchist with a long history of arguing against authoritarianism and identity politics–was told that I was a Nazi Sympathizer, virtue signaling to the alt-right, a boot-licker, and then, when those claims proved wildly inaccurate, I was told that I couldn’t possibly understand the people we’re talking about as well as Random Guy #13 who occasionally browsed Stormfront. After pointing out that I have been around these people literally my entire life, fully exposed to their ideology and reasoning, and firmly rejected their positions, and that these are the reasons (aside from being trans) that I lost my entire family and many of my friends, predictably the phrase “Stockholm Syndrome” started getting thrown around.

Whatever it takes to discount what I’m saying, right?

Kangaroo done hung the juror with the guilty.

After spending Saturday laughing at and mocking these people, I spent yesterday attempting to build a bridge, because a bridge is necessary. We know how the alt-right and Neo-Nazis came into existence and prominence. They told us so. For years, they expressly stated their fears. They reluctantly accepted the social changes, but they routinely stated that the feared the changes would go too far. They reluctantly tolerated homosexual marriage, but stated the fear that churches would be forced to provide same sex marriage ceremonies. They stated they were worried that Christians would become oppressed by the state, forced to service people with whom they didn’t want to associate. They stated that they were worried that any random guy could claim to be trans in order to gain access to the women’s restroom. They stated that they were worried “LGBT Equality” would become “LET’S ALL RAVE NAKED IN THE STREETS AND BE DEGENERATES!” They stated that they were worried that Affirmative Action would become “Well, this person is a woman, and this person is a man, so… Hire the woman. Who cares that the man is more qualified?” and “Well, this person is Hispanic, and this person is white, so… Hire the Hispanic guy. Who cares that the white guy is more qualified?” They stated that they feared expressing their conservative positions would become demonized, and that their right to free speech would be trampled, that they would lose the right to say that they personally don’t approve of gay people–and they worried that they would lose the right to act in accordance with those beliefs. Because, whether we like it or not, the right to believe something necessarily includes the right to act in accordance with those beliefs.

Yes, Bob has the right to dislike homosexual people. He also has the right to act in accordance with that belief by refusing to associate with homosexual people. The two things are inextricably linked, because behavior, as we all know, is a function of beliefs and environment. A person’s behavior cannot be separated from their beliefs without threatening their right to belief.

Anyway, so that was what these people were saying in the mid-90s. Though they gritted their teeth and weren’t happy about it, they went along with it, for the most part, and didn’t do much to actively resist it, even here in the south. They did this because of their hope that it would be limited to tolerance, and “gritting one’s teeth and allowing the behavior in question” is literally what tolerance is. We’ve twisted it to mean “acceptance” these days, and have decided that Bob saying “I don’t like gay people” means that he is intolerant. However, he isn’t. In fact, “tolerance” strongly suggests disapproval. We don’t tolerate things that we like. We like them and embrace them. We tolerate things that we don’t particularly care for. I don’t enjoy having the cats sharpen their claws on the back of my furniture, but I tolerate it. It makes me grind my teeth, and it makes my skin crawl, but I tolerate it. When did we forget this? And why? Seeing “tolerance” twisted into “acceptance” put the writing on the wall–they were not going to be required to tolerate people whose behavior they didn’t approve of; they were going to be required to accept people whose behavior they didn’t approve of.

Meanwhile, the various identity politics groups allied together under the left’s banner repeatedly put on the Victim Badge, over any and every possible slight, no matter how trivial and inconsequential it was. This continues happening today. Trans people, of course, love crying about “oppression” and “discrimination” if they can’t use the restroom of their choice. In the grand scheme of things, that issue is wholly asinine, not to mention that it absolutely pales in comparison to the trans women who are placed in men’s prisons, where they are raped a reportedly 2,000 times in a handful of years. Additionally trans people pretend like they don’t have to tell romantic partners that they’re trans, and then they cry “I’m a victim!” when their romantic partner finds out and, quite understandably, rejects them. I know of one trans girl who purposely put herself in that position, where she was attacked, and used the excuse, “Why should I have to tell him I’m trans? It’s just normal to me, so I don’t think about it to tell people!”

Bullshit.

Let’s look at this from a related angle.

In essence, you’re a woman who can never give your partner children. Imagine a woman who is sterile going out on dates. How many dates are required before the woman confesses to the man that she is incapable of giving him children? I’d say “Before they had sex, at least.” Before there was too much emotional attachment, certainly. Because, for whatever weird reason, most people do want kids, and being unable to provide those is very often a deal-breaker. It is certainly the woman’s responsibility to tell the man that she cannot bear children, because there’s a very high chance that he will one day want children. As a trans person, she was incapable of providing children, and should have told him that. This would have led him to ask why, at which point the only acceptable answer would be the truth: “Because I’m trans.”

But despite all of this, she and others wear the Victim Badge. It’s not their fault that a man expects to take off a woman’s pants and find a vagina, not a penis. They’re the victim here, not the man who was deceived by omission of important details.

Then, of course, there was the disastrous attempt last year for people on Twitter to use the hashtag “Straight Pride.” Goodness, what a fiasco that was! The single most common response that anyone received for using that hashtag was “Die” and “Kill yourself.” What is the message here? “You’re allowed to be proud of your sexuality, unless you’re straight. Then fuck you.”

I recently saw a Tumblr post from someone who said something. One person replied, “Or, you know, straight people exist?” To this, someone else replied, “Ugh. Don’t remind me.”

Such hateful, divisive rhetoric. What did people expect?

You’re allowed to have LGBT Pride, Asian Pride, Hispanic Pride, Black Pride, Muslim Pride, and Female Pride. And asinine though all of these things are, and asinine though this response is, if you dare try to take pride when you’re not in one of these groups, you will be condemned as a bigot. People will gleefully tell you to kill yourself.

Now we see a good employee, and certainly a qualified employee, dismissed from Google because of his dissenting opinions. He went against the status quo, and the status quo is “LGBT Pride, Asian Pride, Hispanic Pride, Black Pride, Muslim Pride, and Female Pride are good. And it’s perfectly okay to hire a woman who isn’t qualified over a man who is, or a minority who isn’t qualified over a white who is.” That status quo is wrong and needs to be changed. We shouldn’t take pride in the fluke conditions of our births, and this is true whether one wants to take pride in being LGBT, being white, being 6 feet tall, being brunette, being black, being female, being male, or whatever.

That is egalitarianism: sexual orientation, race, and gender shouldn’t be determining factors in things. This is what Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated. He never said, “I dream of a world where black men are hired because they are black.” He explicitly and repeatedly said, “I dream of a world where a man is judged not by the color of his skin, but the content of his character.” And giving someone a job because of their skin color… is judging them by the color of their skin, even if you’re doing it to their advantage. Just as it was racist and messed up to give people jobs simply because they were white, because this actively harmed qualified people who weren’t white, so is it racist and messed up to give people jobs simply because they aren’t white, because this actively harms qualified people who are white. Skin color shouldn’t freaking matter to any of this. We should all be treated as individuals with our own merits, abilities, thoughts, and gifts, not as monolothic entities defined by arbitrary flukes of birth.

The alt-right saw this, too. They saw these changes. They saw how “skin color shouldn’t matter” became “this black person should be hired, because he’s black.” They saw how “gender shouldn’t matter” became “this person should be hired, because she’s a female.” All of this shit happened in plain sight for anyone with the intellectual honesty to look and see it.

Some small portion of them resisted, certainly, and clung to the past, to what they thought were the “glory days” of racism, sexism, and sexual orientationism. But these people were very small in number, and they continually waned over the last few decades. By and large, most of them came to tolerate the changes, even if they didn’t like it. But it doesn’t matter if they like it or not. That’s up for them to decide personally. It’s not up to us to tell them they have to like it, to make them like it. We can choose to disassociate from them if we don’t like the fact that they don’t like it, sure, but that’s not what we did. We went further than that, as they feared we would.

Their response to this has been to play the Identity Politics game themselves, and to clamor after the Victim Badge that everyone else is wearing. They want to be victims just like everyone else. They want to feel like martyrs, like they’re oppressed and treated like dirt because of relatively small and almost imperceptible slights. And, ironically, many on the left demand specific examples of this institutional assault on straight, white, normal, Christian men, which is an inevitable byproduct of shooting past equality and going straight to elevation of all non-straight, non-white, non-normal, non-Christian non-men, even though, if you ask them for specific examples of the “institutional racism” that they talk about, they scoff at the idea. Yet there they go, demanding that same thing of the right.

They were being called “Nazis” long before they really started looking and talking like Nazis. Do you remember when Hillary Clinton referred to Trump supporters as “a basket of deplorables?” Do you remember how they responded to that? They adopted the moniker proudly, getting it emblazoned on hats, and happily called themselves deplorable. Since they disagree with the left, there is no greater honor for them than being called “deplorable” by the left. That, to them, means they’re on the right track. “If you’re a degenerate, disgusting maggot and you call me deplorable, then I guess I’m on the right track!” was their take on it, and this is why they consciously took on the label.

But they weren’t just called “deplorable.” Goodness, no. Through the last two years, it’s been almost non-stop attacks from the left, with increasingly hyperbolic and vicious insults thrown at them. Racist, misogynists, sexists, homophobes, transphobes, bigots, fascists, xenophobes, Nazis… Again, what did people expect to happen? We didn’t listen to their relatively benign and genuine concerns that they expressed meekly twenty years ago, when they said they feared it would become a celebration of degeneracy, anti-white racism, anti-male sexism, anti-Christian hatred, and so on. We laughed at them and mocked them, saying, “Yeah, equality only feels like oppression when you’re privileged. Hurr dee hurr dee hurr!”

Even today, the overwhelming majority of Americans insist that we haven’t even reached equality–and we haven’t, in many places, but this isn’t a dichotomy–in any meaningful sense, and that straight, white, Christian men still have so much privilege that no amount of wrongdoing done to them because they’re straight, white, Christian men could possibly matter. “Fuck them. They’re privileged. Who cares that he didn’t get the job because someone less qualified had a vagina? Who cares that he didn’t get the job because someone less qualified is black?*”

I’ve been through it–twice, in fact. I was the only white person in the Pizza Hut that I worked at, and I faced minor slights regularly. The most egregious example was when I worked 10a to 6p one day, and other drivers began showing up at 4:00. There hadn’t been a delivery the entire day. The girl who came in and started dispatching assigned deliveries back-to-back-to-back to the other drivers, even though I was first in the queue to do a delivery, since I’d been there 6 hours before anyone else, and yet they took several deliveries. I didn’t get a delivery until I brought it up to her and pointed out that I had been there all day and she gave the deliveries to people who were behind me in line. The distinction? The other two drivers was black, and so was she.

I went through it even moreso when I worked at Sam’s Town in the hotel housekeeping department, because I was literally the only white person in the entire department. There, the most egregious example came about one New Year’s Eve. Everyone had to work on New Year’s Eve, that was the policy for the first year. By the time the second one rolled around for my employment there, I was second in seniority, and business had slowed down considerably–people were actually going to be allowed off. So even though New Year’s Eve fell on my regular day off, I was told to come in and work, while one of the newer guys was given the day off, even though it was, for him, a regular work day. There were countless smaller examples, like how I was always given a secondary set of keys instead of one of the primary sets, even though I had seniority, and I was always the one sent to the backdock to unload the truck. Always. What’s particularly odd about that is that one needs the primary set of keys to get into the backdock. Their argument for having me unload the truck every day that I worked was that I had seniority, of course, but the backdock required the primary keys. But that “seniority argument” didn’t matter then, and I routinely had to call someone who had been there a full year less than I had to come and open the back dock for me. It’s insulting to be treated that way, and so I have the greatest sympathy for anyone who has experienced racism. But if you think the fact that I’m white and experienced racism somehow discounts it, then you are the problem here. You are the racist.

All of these things are real, and they actually happen. It doesn’t mean that anti-black racism has ceased to exist. Certainly, it still exists, and it needs to stop. How do we stop it? By treating people as individuals, and by not having skin color as a factor. That’s how we stop using skin color as a factor, which is the definition of racism.

Now I’ve been demonized for having the audacity to treat the Neo-Nazis as anything other than detestable scum who need to be shot and killed. I’ve committed the groupthink heresy of daring to admit that the core of what they’re saying is a valid point, and it’s their solution that is wrong. Many of them are simply idiots who are throwing out Nazi salutes and flying swastikas for the same reason they wore t-shirts that said “Deplorable,” and have no interest in killing anyone, forcing anyone to leave, or any of that other shit that the more extreme ones–who do exist–want. But we’re not talking about those extreme fools who have always been white supremacist idiots. We’re talking about the ones who begrudgingly accepted diversity in the 90s, and who have since warped into Neo-Nazis.

Those types can be talked back from the edge, and they should be talked back from the edge. We’re not going to achieve anything by continuing to push them, by continuing to insult them, and by escalating it into violence against them, because they will perceive it as a violent attack against straight, white, normal men. They will. If you attack them, you will reinforce their position. What are you going to do? Kill them all? Kill everyone who has even the smallest seed of these ideas in their heads? If you’re proposing that, then I would suggest that you are the actual Nazi here.

Stop demonizing them and listen to them. Go back to the source of their arguments, put aside the hyperbole, and put aside the emotions. It didn’t have to come to this. It did not have to come to Neo-Nazis marching in the streets. It came to that because no one listened back when they reluctantly went along with the social changes. Instead, they were mocked and derided, and slowly pushed into a corner. Now they’re in that corner, and they’re beginning to lash out, as cornered animals do, and as terrified people do. We will achieve nothing by pushing them further.

If we’re to resolve this situation peacefully, it’s going to take doing something that apparently few people are wiling to do: listen to them. Already, though, that’s nearly impossible, because of that word–that demonized word that invokes so much emotion that people instantly and vehemently reject the idea that they could have anything worthwhile to say. But we can’t forget the critically important fact that, ten years ago, very, very few of these people were Neo-Nazis. They were pushed to that, because they embraced Identity Politics and Victimization–the left’s tactics–to use against the left. This is, of course, wrong.

They can be shown that.

But to show them that, we have to drop our own Identity Politics and Victim Complexes. We have to start advocating actual equality, not this shit that people call “equality” but is actually just a reversal of the power structures. We have to start advocating that skin color, sex, orientation, and religion should not matter, not that “they should matter, as long as historically disenfranchised groups are benefited by it.”

It’s not an easy road ahead, and it may already be too late, considering that I can’t even say this without being accused of being a Neo-Nazi, or being a Nazi sympathizer, of being on their side, licking their boots, and so on. Because when you’ve demonized people to that point, you split the world into Us and Them. You dehumanize Them into a homogeneous blob of pure evil. This has been going on for a long time. Just last week, I read someone on Quora who said, “I can’t for the life of me figure out why these otherwise moral people can still support Trump…” I couldn’t help but wonder, “Did you consider asking them why they still support Trump?”

No, of course not. Because Trump supporters are pure evil, and nothing they say matters. We don’t want to hear what they have to say, because they’re pure evil.

I once pointed out to a girl that the confederate flag does not represent racism to the people who fly it. It really does just represent an anti-government heritage for them. She disagreed. I asked whether she had actually asked some of these people what it means to them. Naturally, she said she had not, and that she wasn’t going to.

It’s a widespread refusal to given any credence whatsoever to the other side. We’ve seen how refusing to acknowledge the validity of someone’s grievances results in escalation. It’s what caused 9/11. If we had listened to Al Queda and others who told us for years and years and years that their issue was that we wouldn’t leave them the hell alone, 9/11 wouldn’t have happened. But instead, what happened? People booed Ron Paul when he got on-stage and pointed out that the United States was in the wrong.

“I’m in the wrong? INCONCEIVABLE! The people who are saying I’m wrong are evil and clearly in the wrong themselves!”

Refusal to listen.

We absolutely must start listening to the other side. And we must start now, before this shit escalates further.

* Obviously, qualifications are independent of skin color and sex. It’s sad that I have to say this, but a person is more or less qualified regardless of their skin color, and there are plenty of examples of women who are more qualified for jobs than men, and plenty of examples of black people who are more qualified for jobs than white people. This is a given, and there’s no reason I should have to say it to ward off cries of sexism and racism.

 

Timing is Everything — Media Manipulation Part 2

And the media clearly knows that.

Much of what I hear on Facebook these days–aside from North Korea bullshit–is stuff about families being broken up by Trump’s immigration policy, and his harsh deportations. Yet, in reality, Trump has deported fewer people than President Obama did. In both absolute numbers and averages, Obama deported more people than Trump. But because the media chose not to report on any of that, people now being exposed to it are under the impression that it’s a new thing, and that Trump/Republicans are to blame for this “uniquely” awful problem.

I just watched a popular libertarian page say that they wonder if Trump will claim responsibility for the famine that is going to be caused by the “entire fields being left to rot” because so many people have been deported that there’s no one to pick the crops. I’m not even kidding. Those are the headlines right now: “Entire Fields Left to Rot Because of Deportation of Illegal Immigrants.”

But that’s been the case for years. The corn field right across from me is going to rot again–an “entire field left to rot.” This happens all over the United States, because the government just pays people to plant the crop, and doesn’t really care if the crop is harvested or not. The media didn’t report on it, though. Now they have. The result? Predictably, everyone thinks this is a new thing, brought about by Trump “deporting so many people.”

Two absolute falsehoods. Old news, really. But because it’s only now being delivered, people are manipulated en masse into believing that Trump is responsible, and that his “singularly harsh deportation policy” is responsible.

It’s scary, really, that people are so easy to manipulate. Because, two years ago, fields not being picked wouldn’t have been newsworthy. It still isn’t, really, except that it can be used to promote an agenda.

I would have hoped, and expected, if I had the interest, knowledge, and awareness then, in the mid 90s that the upcoming age of social media would have prevented this sort of thing from happening. It doesn’t seem to have abated, though, because not many people are sharing these experiences, but I know from firsthand experiences, having friends all over the United States and having been across most of the United States, that “rotting fields” are not new, and neither are they caused by a lack of illegal immigrants to be paid under the table for picking the crops. It’s actually quite standard. In the eons of human history, it has never been especially common that an entire society’s fields would be successfully picked–anything from weather to war to earthquakes to wild animals could destroy a crop. Yet now it is Trump’s fault.

I talked yesterday about how the media and the state are able to determine what you and I discuss, and I want to point out that I’m not asserting the state and the media are colluding together to control the conversation. They don’t have to, because the media wants your attention. It doesn’t really matter why they want your attention. They do. To get your attention, they’re going to talk about things most likely to interest you, and those will be the sensationalized things. That lunatic who we have as Secretary of Defense saying that he’s willing to annihilate the North Korean people would qualify, of course.

Another way of manipulating people, though, is to just withhold information. It’s inevitable that information will be withheld, and this is just part of human nature. Right now, your senses are taking in far more information than your brain can process, so most of it gets discarded. This has, on many occasions, resulted in strange things happening. Perhaps the most common is “hitting one’s funny bone,” which occurs when one collides with something and has no expectation of it at all. Psychologists enjoy playing with these quirks of the human brain and nervous system, and there are even a few television shows that exploit it. In one, viewers are asked to count how many times a person wearing blue jumps rope. Viewers, focused on counting, didn’t notice the man walk by wearing a giant chicken costume, because their brain discarded that information.

The media functions the same way, especially in today’s hyper-connected society. I could, if I cared to, find out exactly what conditions are like on the ground in Portland, Oregon, right now. I could find out the weather, the local issues, and could probably peer inside of a local restaurant as though I was there. How many people each day post something on Twitter and hope that it goes viral? How many people have family members killed by cops and attempt to spread it on Facebook and Twitter each day (note: at least three, just in the United States)? Yet these stories rarely gain traction. Just this month, an estimated 30 people have been killed by police officers. How many of them have you heard about? Probably “none.”

This is because there’s just so much stuff happening that it can’t all be talked about. The bulk of it is discarded as uninteresting and not newsworthy. Three years ago, a few rotting fields of crops across the United States was discarded as uninteresting and not newsworthy. But now! Now that the media has spent months telling us the previously-neglected horror stories of families being broken up by deportation, there is yet another angle that can be worked to push that agenda: finally mention the fields that have been rotting for years, if not decades, and people will come to the conclusion that it’s a new phenomenon, simply because they hadn’t heard about it before.

It’s clever, on their part, because they can’t be criticized for choosing not to report on something before. Something has to be discarded, after all, just like police officers can’t chase after everyone speeding on the highway. They can only go after some of the people they see speeding, just like we can only process some of the information our brains receive. The problem with police officers it that they appear to have racist motivations when determining who to pursue and who to ignore, given that a disproportionate number of black Americans are harassed by police each day. The problem with the media is similar: they often choose what to report on and what to discard based on their own agenda.

That agenda is clearly to manipulate Americans into disliking Trump and, in particular, his immigration policy, despite the fact that the numbers don’t bear this out, which even left-wing news sources admit. They’re perfectly free to admit this without hurting their narrative, though, because these are cold, emotionless, facts-based stories of numbers. It’s the personal stories that matter. It’s their focus on Juan Hernandez being deported from his wife and kids after 19 years in the United States that grabs people’s attention and is embedded in their minds. Similarly, news stories that properly cite that more than half of people killed by police are white, and the other half are divided among black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, middle Eastern Americans, and other Americans, have no impact, because the focus on the personal stories of black Americans who are killed by police do far more to construct the narrative than any raw numbers will.

Throw them a personal story that tugs at their heart strings, and it really doesn’t matter how many facts you throw out afterward that refute that personal story as an anomaly, or the agenda behind that personal story as flawed and biased. Once set, the narrative is set, and facts don’t change our minds.

Do I like Trump? No. I can’t stand Trump. Don’t take any of this as a defense of that buffoon.

Take it instead as a warning about manipulation. We must always be on guard against manipulation, because they are always trying to manipulate us.

Conversation Control

To a certain extent, we’re all reactionaries, because we react to news as it happens to provide–ideally–insights and perspectives that other people may not have considered. I think that definition, though, is a bit too limited, because many of us are using reactionism as a way of being proactive, contradictory though that seems, because there are underlying ideas that are being spread by the reactive writings. At the same time, many of these “reactionaries” I’m talking about are doing work on the ground that is certainly proactive, aimed at creating the circumstances instead of reacting to changing circumstances. I’m pretty sure this paragraph could be deleted without changing what I’m about to say much, but I’m going to leave it in anyway, because it’s still true: we’re all reactionaries.

That said, there’s one area where are reactionism is hindering us, especially libertarians and anarchists.

If we are to be free, we must stop allowing the government and other institutional authorities to set the agenda, to set the tone of the conversation, and to set the topic of the conversation. Last week–if you can believe it was only a week ago–it was Trump’s tweet about banning transgender and transsexual people* from military service. This week, it’s North Korea and the prospect of nuclear war. It should be interesting to note that both issues received similar levels of reactions: many Facebook posts, articles, and tweets, very little real activism. In fact, it’s just a lot of reactionism. We’re letting the government and other institutions decide what we’re talking about. Instead of advocating libertarian principles, we set aside what we want to discuss so that we can jump on the bandwagon and join the conversation that the government wants us to have. Scratch all the tweets, articles, and Facebook posts about Trump’s proposed ban on transgender/transsexual soldiers, and pencil in statements about North Korea. It seems pretty likely that you’ll find the same people have produced both sets of reactive tweets, with very few exceptions, and that, perhaps, the transgender ban received more attention than the North Korea one. However, the North Korea thing is still young.

How can we ever talk about freedom and the value of liberty if we’re jumping at the state’s beck and call to discuss whatever random issue they have landed on when they spun the Wheel of Reactionary Division? If the government can control what we’re talking about so effectively, there is no reason that it should ever stop doing so, because doing so gives us the breadth that we need to discuss liberty, sound money, non-aggression, rights, peace, and love–and the government doesn’t want that, because liberty, sound money, non-aggression, rights, peace, and love are ideas that can destroy governments.

Imagine that you own a multi-billion dollar company, and you treat your employees like crap, because they can’t work anywhere else–you have a monopoly in the area. Some of these employees are trying very, very hard, however, to form a union that would give them the leverage needed to fight for better standards, if not eliminate the people at the top altogether. How would you handle this? Ignoring morality (since not many of us would be so callous in the first place), would you just sit there and watch them unionize and take some of the power away from you?

Of course not. And one of the most effective weapons at your disposal is Conversation Control. Create scapegoats. Blame a small segment of the workers for the plight that everyone faces. “I know it’s bad,” you might say, “and it’s those migrant workers who are responsible. Being from poor countries, they don’t care if they can’t each afford to pay a car and house note with their wages. So they’re working for less, which drives down everyone’s wages. They’re the ones responsible.” Suddenly the workers are no longer talking about unionizing, because they’ve been divided into two camps: those who defend the migrant workers, and those who fell for the scapegoating. The conversation is no longer about unionizing. It’s about a manufactured enemy.

When that enemy expires, randomly pick another one–bonus points if the new enemy has never been encountered by any worker, and demonstrably poses the workers no threat at all, such as Isis or North Korea. They’ll stop talking about the harm being done to them because you’ve presented them with some imagined harm that is multitudes worse than what they’re already facing. To prevent that from coming to fruition, they’ll stop their talk of unionizing in order to prevent those evil, distant devils from making their situation worse. Once that problem is dealt with, of course–presuming it’s not an indefinite and eternal problem, like “terrorism”–their situation will certainly have gotten worse, and, as an added bonus, they’ll accept the worsened conditions as normal, as “the price we pay for protection from those external enemies.”

We are being manipulated en masse, and it is apparently pretty easily done. The masses are marionettes being made to dance and neglecting the dance that we want and need to perform. This has to stop. We have to begin ignoring the government’s attempts to change the conversation. We have to talk about the things that we want to talk about, not simply react to whatever they want us to discuss. Otherwise, they will always set the agenda, and Liberty will never be on that agenda.

* As a transsexual person, I don’t particularly care for how “transsexual” is being pushed out of the conversation by the same people who enjoy pointing out that gender and sex aren’t the same thing; therefore, “transgender” and “transsexual” aren’t the same thing. For months now, I’ve watched my allies push me and my type out of the conversation because they mistakenly have decided, as I once did, that “transgender” is a more palatable version of “transsexual.”  But that’s incorrect.

By the way, I would ask that you consider sharing and contributing to former libertarian vice presidential candidate Will Coley’s attempt to open an interfaith religious center in western New Hampshire, which you can find by clicking that link. New Hampshire, of course, is the home of the Free State Project, and contains, currently, the highest number of Libertarian state legislators.

A Psychopath’s Responsibility

I’ve been asked repeatedly my thoughts on the girl who cajoled her boyfriend into killing himself, and I’ve been hesitant to really say much on the subject, but I’ve given the matter enough thought now. So strap in–we’re going to cover many different angles very quickly.

Prison?

Whether the girl is guilty of murder or not, prison is not the answer, because two wrongs don’t make a right. Whatever the girl may or may not be guilty of, prison is not the answer. So it goes without saying that, whatever my thoughts on what the girl did, I am not saying that she should be kidnapped and imprisoned against her will by the state.

With That Said…

I’m frankly stunned by the number of libertarians I’m seeing who express the sentiment that the girl bears absolutely no responsibility for the guy’s death, and, without being overly generalizing, I suspect that most of these people have never witnessed nor experienced psychological abuse. It should go without saying, though, that psychological abuse… is abuse. Not only is psychological abuse abuse, but it’s a critical tool in the psychopath’s toolbox, if not the most important tool at their disposal. It is, after all, psychological abuse that prevents men and women in violent relationships from leaving. It is what causes one to continually go back to the abuser, no matter how flagrant the abuses are. I’ve written about this before, having gone through it with a psychopath, and won’t spend a lot of time on it here.

I’ll say, however, that only someone who is ignorant of the damage that a psychopath can do to a person’s mind could allow someone to absolve psychopaths of the consequences of their psychological abuse. It is psychological abuse that causes teens to kill themselves. It is psychological abuse that causes transgender and gay teens to kill themselves. Psychological abuse, while not as obviously a violation of the NAP as punching someone yourself, clearly is a form of violence. I would argue that it’s a more horrific form of violence than physical abuse, because it is the psychological abuse that causes victims of violence to return to their abuser, and that causes kids in abusive homes to believe they are wicked and filled with demons, even if they have done nothing wrong, which may manifest in the person’s mind for decades to come, longer after the scars of any physical violence have healed.

It was long-term psychological abuse that caused me to be in the third grade and begging a devout Christian friend to stand before me and say, “Get thee behind me, Satan” to exorcise the demons from me–demons that I firmly believed possessed me because of the desires and needs that I had to repress. It was that same psychological abuse that caused me to be in my late 20s before I was able to come to terms with something that had been true at least since I was three years old and hiding my underwear so that I had an excuse to wear my sister’s. More than two decades of self-loathing, doubt, confusion, strife, and suicide attempts followed before I was able to come to terms with everything, and the psychological, religiously-motivated abuse is the reason why–a fact to which the scars on my wrists will testify.

I was in the fifth grade, I think, the first time I attempted to hang myself. Young and inexperienced, I used a braided leather belt. It snapped. For the next several years, I cut myself regularly. They were not suicide attempts by any means, but neither were they cries for attention; I did everything that I could to hide them. I wouldn’t be able to explain why I did it, but I did. My body is marked with scars from razor blades. My wrists, my upper arms, my chest, my legs… And, of course, there were the sincere attempts, the hospitalization in a behavioral ward, and all that fun stuff.

Testaments to the tremendous damage that extended psychological abuse can cause.

If you don’t think that the girl who texted her boyfriend and stayed on the phone with him as he cried out and choked to death bears any responsibility for that, then you don’t have any ground to stand on to lament what my father and grandmother did to me, because they are two manifestations of the same thing: psychological abuse.

The Psychopath’s Toolkit

The psychopath is an expert at manipulation. David Karesh, the Church of Scientology, and countless other cults around the world are experts at manipulation, but there are also those whose ambitions are smaller, and bloodlust more controlled. They seek out damaged people and then destroy them. They know exactly how to worm their way into your mind, and how to bend you to their will.

If you think you’re immune to it, you’re not.

The only thing a person can do to arm themselves against it is to gain knowledge in the psychopath’s tactics, to learn the manipulation techniques, to stay alert of them. However, in learning those techniques, a person will find out exactly how much damage a psychopath can do to a person’s mind, and I find it hard to believe, to be completely honest, that anyone aware of the manner in which a psychopath can manipulate a person’s mind and destroy their agency would go on to deny that the psychopath has responsibility for what this destroyed person does.

Where shall we draw the line?

Is it morally wrong to type out “kys” in World of Warcraft’s Trade Chat? Should a person be considered guilty of murder if, having typed that out to someone, that person then kills themselves?

Why do we have to draw a line?

“One size fits all” justice is fundamentally flawed, because the circumstances of actions matter, infinitely more than the actions themselves.

If I push someone down, and they break their arm, then I am guilty of assault.

However, if I push someone down and out of the way of an oncoming train, and they break their arm, then I am a hero.

What’s the difference? There isn’t one. In both scenarios, I pushed the person, they fell, and they broke their arm. The only thing that’s different are the circumstances. Since the circumstances are different, the hypothetical result if I had done nothing have changed. If I had done nothing in the first example, the person would have continued on through their day without a broken arm–a superior consequence than what came about when I pushed them. If I did nothing in the second example, though, the person would have died–an inferior consequence than what came about when I pushed them. We are comparing hypotheticals here, and we’re making our assessment of morality based around that. That is always how we assign our moral values.

The alternative, had this girl not taken her actions, are that the guy would still be alive. Because of her actions, he is dead.

I see no way of escaping the conclusion that she is responsible for that. We’re not talking about someone who opted not to run into a burning house to try to rescue someone else. We’re not talking about hateful children who laughed as they watched someone drowned, and who couldn’t have saved the drowning victim anyway*. We’re talking about a girl who explicitly told her psychologically vulnerable and long-term victim of psychological abuse boyfriend to get back in the vehicle and finish dying. I am stunned that so many people are arguing that she did nothing wrong simply because she didn’t physically hold the door shut.

Group Responsibility?

While discussing this with someone on Facebook, someone said that only the individual is responsible for their actions. I pointed out that, by this reasoning, Hitler was not responsible for the Holocaust, and Stalin was not responsible for the murder of twenty-five million Christian farmers. To my shock, she said that was correct–the individuals who carried out those orders were responsible.

I don’t deny that the individuals who committed the actions are responsible. I’ve pointed this out in the past. However, the person who gave the command is absolutely as responsible. That’s what it literally means to have authority, to have power over someone, to have the responsibility of making decisions for someone. The psychopath takes this power slowly and with systemic psychological abuse, but they take the power all the same. Even so, the brainwashing tactics of the military are shockingly similar to those used by psychopaths: destroy their individuality and make them dependent on the command structure. That’s at least as much the point of boot camp as is physical training. The stated purpose is to break people down as individuals and build them back up as a part of a machine. This is done through psychological abuse.

No one is saying “Group responsibility.”

I am saying that all individuals who play a role in making sure that an action is undertaken bear responsibility for that action being undertaken. Quite the opposite, I’m the one arguing for individual responsibility. I’m not absolved of responsibility if I order a friend to kill someone and that friend does it. “Woah! I didn’t kill that person!” I could argue, and these NAP-advocates, evidently (the ones with whom I’ve spoken directly) would agree. I didn’t kill that person.

Even though I’m literally the one who caused it to happen…

Yes, the soldier who drops the bomb bears responsibility for that. So does the commander who ordered the bomb to be dropped, though.

“They could just disobey orders” is an inadequate answer. And it’s true that, if everyone refused to obey orders, war would cease to exist. But who is advocating group responsibility now? For the individual, refusing to obey orders results in arrest, kidnapping, and imprisonment. Through coercive means, that individual has most, if not all, responsibility for the action waived, in the same way that we American citizens bear no responsibility for what the state does with our tax money because, through coercive means, we are forced to obey and pay taxes. You can’t have it both ways, where Americans aren’t to blame for how tax dollars are used because we could just choose to not pay taxes, but other individuals are to blame for the results of actions they take under duress.

To say that only the person who personally executes a given action is responsible for that action is short-sighted and extremely narrow. It is tunnel vision on the minutae of the action. There is a lot of cause and effect that goes into every single action that a person takes, and not all of that is the person’s fault–much of it is beyond that person’s control. To suggest that only the person who personally executes the action is responsible is to say that a man who wakes one day to find a gun to his head and someone telling him, “If you don’t find and kill one person right now, I will kill you,” is the only person responsible for the action he commits, and that the person who put the gun to his head and gave him that ultimatum bears no responsibility.

“He still made the choice, though… He could have chosen to just die. He didn’t. He chose to murder someone, so that’s on him!”

It’s such a narrow way of viewing… reality. Cause and effect. Actions and consequences. Responsibility.

Suicide Isn’t a Violation of the NAP

No, it isn’t, and a person of sound mind has every right to take their own life. I’ve argued before, and will again, that suicide is not indicative of mental illness. However, this guy in question was clearly mentally ill. He was clearly unstable and incapable of making the decision to kill himself. If he was capable of making that decision alone, he wouldn’t have gotten out of the vehicle, for fuck’s sake. That he did get out of the vehicle is ipso facto proof that he did not have the agency required to soundly make the decision to kill himself.

I think a lot of the people arguing that the girl didn’t do anything “that wrong” don’t know what the girl did. They seem to think she just sent a few text messages. If only that was the extent of what she did… But it isn’t. He got out of the vehicle and called her, and she told him to get back in and finish killing himself. Then she stayed on the phone with him while he cried out in agony and died, because she wanted to ensure that he did see it through. That’s a FAR cry from typing out “kys” in a chatroom.

Through the verbal persuasion that is the gift of the psychopath, she held him in that vehicle until he died.

You can’t possibly think that a guy who got out of a vehicle, having decided that he didn’t want to go through with killing himself, called his girlfriend, and then climbed back in and stayed on the phone with her while he died was “of sound mind” to be making decisions about whether he wanted to live or die. The girl was clearly a poison to him.

If someone called you and confessed that they had been about to kill themselves, but gotten out of the vehicle, would you, under any circumstances, tell them to get back in, and then stay with them on the phone while they died? Absolutely not. Every single one of us would say, “Where are you? I’m coming to get you. Stay on the phone with me while I drive to you. Don’t get back in the vehicle.”

Because we’re not psychopaths.

No, we shouldn’t let the state set precedents in its One Size Fits All legal system that would allow it to prosecute anyone who ever said “kill yourself” in a text message, phone call, or chat room. Yet there’s an enormous gap between these things and what this girl did. And just as we should not allow the state to set precedents like that, neither should we set the precedent that psychopaths are not responsible for the consequences of their psychological abuse because it technically doesn’t include physical assault.

But abuse is abuse.

The NAP does not specify that violence has to be physical.

* Those who are not trained divers or trained lifeguards should never attempt to rescue a drowning person. Cold though it is to say, attempting it will ensure only that two people die. Drowning people thrash wildly, panicking, and are extremely likely to knock you unconscious. If you do not have a lifejacket and a rope or boat, you should never attempt to rescue a drowning person yourself, unless you’ve explicitly been trained to be a fantastic swimmer. Not only that, but if you do manage to get behind the person without being knocked unconscious, do you know how heavy another human being is when you’re pulling them through water? The average person doesn’t have the stamina to swim a hundred yards alone, much less when dragging someone else through the water.

Suicide is Not For the Coward

So the lead singer of alternative rock band Linkin Park is in the news, because he killed himself by hanging. While I haven’t liked Linkin Park since their first album, and since I was in the 9th grade, a lot of people are coming forward to call Chester a coward for committing suicide, primarily because it means he left six children behind.

Regardless of whether you approve of his choice, it is stupid, and a horrific misrepresentation of the situation, to call someone a coward because they killed themselves.

Suffering is Relative

First, it must be pointed out that suffering is relative, and none of us has any insight into the inner turmoil within anyone else, and so none of us have the authority or information to accurately assess whether the person chose the “easy” route of suicide and was wrong to do so. We simply don’t know–because we can’t know–how a person feels, unless they tell us, and Chester did come pretty close to that, through his lyrics. These lyrics, incidentally, were those that angst-filled teens adored and identified with, because their own internal suffering was reflected back to them. But that isn’t really important.

Courage & Cowardice

I know many people who have “attempted” suicide. I’m among them, and the scars on my wrist bear it out. I was hospitalized in a behavioral ward several years ago because of it. Even after extensive research, I still didn’t cut deeply enough to hit the veins–no, seriously, the veins in your wrist are much deeper than you’re thinking–and I didn’t have any guns at the time. Today, I know a scary amount of information about suicide. Because of this, I’m well aware that the recent old Republican who “killed himself” with helium actually did commit suicide, and that there couldn’t possibly have been any foulplay. I know that, because I once owned a helium tank for exactly that purpose.

But I never did it.

Why not?

Because, as a method of suicide, it’s almost instantaneous. There is no time for second thoughts. Once you exhale and lower that bag over your head, that’s it. You pass out, and about half an hour later, you die, unconscious. I’m simply not struggling with depression badly enough to pursue that en sincera. I don’t want to die.

With very few exceptions, that is the same thing that nearly everyone who “attempts suicide” decides. There’s a reason that successful suicide rates are low. It’s not an easy thing to do. Substantial biological programming and the desire to survive outweigh most forms of depression, and, even when the depression is heavier, the person must face head-on their fear of death.

Anyone who has ever sat there with the barrel of a gun in their mouth, the blade of a razor against their wrists, a noose around their neck, or any other such situation and who still lives faced their fear of death head-on.

And they buckled.

They can make all the excuses they want. They can say that they realized that they were loved. They can say that they realized their problems would pass. They can say any-damned-thing that they want. But I know it, and they know it: the reason they live is that they are cowards. They stood on the precipice of oblivion and feared to jump, and so they backed away from the cliff. Some of these people are now calling Chester a coward because he didn’t back down from the precipice of oblivion.

Are you kidding me?

An Animal’s Instincts of Self-Preservation

There is tremendous resistance to death. Anyone who has seen wild animals chew off their own limbs (or humans saw off their own limbs) to escape from deadly situations knows that there is a powerful Will to Live inside every organism. Humans and non-humans are capable of incredible things in the interest of self-preservation, something that modern “horror” movies love exploiting for shock value. Put two people in a room together and tell them that one of them must kill the other, and then the survivor will be free, and they will almost immediately attempt to kill each other (Fun note: this is what Nietzsche described as Middle Class Morality). Saw off their own leg? No problem, once they have pursued other options.

Here’s a cold, hard fact for you: almost everyone out there–at least 99.999% of people–would cry and beg profusely as someone else lowered a noose around their neck. They would do anything, say anything, and promise anything to be spared. Disgusting amounts of tears and snot would run down their faces as they panicked, prayed to every god they could think of, and begged everyone nearby to “Please, I’ll do anything…” These are the same people calling Chester a coward because he lowered the noose around his own neck.

It would be funny, if it wasn’t true that, evidently, that’s how they see it.

There is an enormous difference between “thinking very hard about suicide” and gathering the means to do it, and actually proceeding with it. Even if the attempt is a failure, there is such an enormous gap between “thinking about suicide” and “legitimately trying to kill oneself” that most people can’t even fathom the divide.

It’s the same divide that exists between people who imagine how brave they would be if they faced down a criminal with a gun, and the people who have been there, and who gladly handed over their wallets and were terrified. Fear, after all, is what keeps people alive. It’s what kept human beings out of the darkness where there were lions, wild dogs, and hippos. That same exact fear keeps people from putting the gun in their mouth and pulling the trigger. It’s easy to say “I could have. I would have. I just changed my mind.”

In fact, it reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer says he’s going to build “levels” in his apartment, and Jerry bets him that it will never happen. In the end, Kramer renegs on the bet, and says that Jerry didn’t win, because, “I could have done it. I just didn’t want to.” Jerry vainly attempts to remind him, “That’s the bet! The bet is that you wouldn’t do it.” Kramer again reiterates, “But I could have.” Frustrated, Jerry says, “The bet wasn’t that you couldn’t. The bet was that you wouldn’t,” but it’s to no avail.

This is what people are saying when they say that they could have committed suicide, and they would have–if they hadn’t considered the loved ones they were leaving behind. The loved ones that they remembered were the panicked product of innate biological tendencies within an animal to preserve itself because it was afraid. It doesn’t matter what their reason for changing their mind is–why were they considering such things in the first place? By that point, they are already second-guessing whether they want to commit suicide. What propelled that? What caused them to stop and think about anything instead of just taking the gun, putting it in their mouths, and pulling the trigger? Why weren’t they just thinking about that?

Because their brain was desperately afraid and trying to stop to them using the last tool it had at its disposal. Compelling one to stop and think about all the loved ones being left behind is how it does that.

Anyone who ever attempted suicide–or “thought about” attempting suicide–and who still lives is a coward. They stood on the edge of the precipice, and they backed down. They can offer up any excuse they want, but, at the end of the day, what stopped them was fear. There’s no other reason why they’d have stopped to consider loved ones in the first place. That’s the brain’s last defense mechanism against self-destruction.

Consider this: the person who is about to commit suicide and stops because they think of the pain and suffering it will bring the loved ones left behind are aware, at least in some ways, that the fact that they even care about the pain and suffering they’ll leave behind will vanish the moment they’re dead. Sure, “If I commit suicide, I’ll leave behind so much pain and suffering.” Yet, also sure, “But I’ll be dead, so… there won’t be even a single solitary second of my existence where I feel the pain of having left people behind by killing myself, because I’ll have killed myself.” They didn’t think about that, though. I’d bet that thought didn’t occur to the overwhelming majority of people who attempted/thought about suicide. And why not? Because their brain was looking for ways to talk them out of it, not looking for ways to talk them into it.

Thoughts & Control

We tend to think of “our thoughts” as something we control, and our brains as something that is fully at our mercy, and that’s simply not true. Sentience is a curious thing, but your brain absolutely does things to try to convince “you” of things. The human brain is countless parts communicating with one another, not some collective unit that the “I” controls. You’re breathing right now–you are not in control of that. Your heart is beating right now. You can no more make your heart stop beating than (and this is important) you can make yourself stop thinking. You don’t control your thoughts. A thought comes when it wants to, not when “you” want it to. When some part of your brain decides to generate it, that’s when the thought occurs. You can no more create that thought than you can stop it. It’s coming. The only choice you have is how “you” deal with that thought. Whatever you are thinking about when the clock strikes noon after reading this, you won’t have any power to prevent.

The “I” takes these thoughts coming in from various parts of the brain, and assembles them into some form it can process, and then makes a decision. Maybe the “I” can control the decision that it makes, and maybe it can’t, because the decision itself is merely a product of the information sent to it by thoughts that it cannot dictate–it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the “I” doesn’t control what thoughts come, or when those thoughts come. Even extensive training by Buddhist monks cannot allow one to indefinitely take control of what thoughts come, or when those thoughts come. However focused the Buddhist monk is, and however in control of their thoughts they are, the moment they have to get back to life, they surrender control back to other parts of their brain. What will they think about while they slice potatoes in the monastery? While they till the ground?

You can do it, too. Think about an elephant, and try to keep thinking about an elephant. How long does it take you to realize that you’re not longer thinking about an elephant? Your thoughts will stray–a conga line of random thoughts perhaps not even related, until finally you’re thinking about John McCain’s brain cancer and realize, after forty seconds, “Oh, shit, I was supposed to be thinking about an elephant!” and direct your thoughts back to a pachyderm. Try to keep that elephant in your mind all day, as you go about work, as you eat lunch. You can’t do it. No one can. It requires exhaustive energy and focus to control one’s thoughts, and it simply cannot be done for any substantial period of time. You may think about the elephant several times an hour throughout the day, but through those instances, you’ll think about colleagues, food, friends, family, driving, money, and countless other things that you can’t control.

Those thoughts of loved ones that the person contemplating suicide has… They can’t control those thoughts, either. The question we have to ask is why the brain generated those thoughts. Why did some part of one’s brain conjure up an image of a son or nephew, and say, “But look how sad he’ll be…” and create vivid imaginings of the future of that child, raised without his father or mother? We can find the answer easily, by asking “What did the conjuration of those thoughts achieve?”

Well, it achieved causing the “I” to back out of committing suicide.

Why would a part of the brain want that?

Because it’s afraid of losing existence.

Conclusion

Maybe you don’t approve of what Chester did. Maybe you think it’s screwed up he left his family behind, and maybe you just think that suicide is immoral (I’ll save that for another day). Maybe you’re more like me, and you don’t really care one way or another, but you’d like it if there wasn’t so much confusion and misunderstanding surrounding suicide. Making the statement, though, that Chester was “wrong” to make the choice that he did is saying “He valued release from his pain more highly than he valued the pain he was leaving with others. His values are wrong, and the pain he left others is much greater than whatever pain he felt.”

I hope we can all immediately see what an asinine statement that is.

We don’t know what pain he felt, or what his personal suffering entailed. We can never know what it was like to live within his head and to feel what he felt. We can never know how deeply in That Place he was. Neither can we know how his children and wife/ex-wife will feel about it. We can guess, and we’d be right to some degree when we’d guess “They’ll be really sad,” but we can’t quantify that. We can’t even quantify our own suffering. Ask any person how much hardship and suffering they face and I’d bet wholeheartedly that you’ll see a graph identical to what we’d expect based on the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Everyone will rate their personal suffering and past hardships at 7.5, or thereabouts. I’d love to see a scientific survey done on this. In fact, I’m going to do one.

But if we cannot properly assess the value of his suffering and how bad it was, or the suffering of his family and how bad it’s going to be, how can we justify making the arrogant claim that he was wrong to make the choice that he did?

Being Audacious & Courting Disaster

You ever do something that you know, beyond almost any doubt, is going to have severely negative consequences? Because I’m about to do that. And I’m really not sure what the fallout will be, but it’s going to be an interesting ride.

First, I was successfully voted into the Audacious Caucus of the Libertarian Party. In fact, I was voted in unanimously with 18-0, and am the second prison to have been voted in with no dissent (The other was Starchild). Even Arvin Vohra isn’t likely to be voted in unanimously.

Second, speaking of Arvin, he was chosen as the first inductee into The Call to Freedom’s “Libertarian Drama Hall of Fame.” It was decided that Arvin is basically the LeBron James of Libertarian Drama, and that’s true, although the drama around him has been pretty mild lately. It’s sort of like South Park–once upon a time, people were outraged, but not it’s just like, “Well, that’s just South Park being South Park…”

That’s the trick of being audacious. If you’re audacious all the time, it becomes almost passé. It’s like the left protesting constantly and marching all the time; eventually, people stop paying attention, because it’s just expected. It’s not exciting or interesting. Arvin seems aware of this (hence his place in the Hall of Fame), because he’s generated no controversy lately, but I’m positive that he will. He’s Arvin. It’s what he does.

In other interesting news, perpetual dickbag Augustus Invictus followed in Austin Petersen’s footsteps and left the Libertarian Party to join the Republican Party. As with Petersen, actual libertarians celebrated the development.

This seems to be the beginning of the exodus of the paleo-libertarians and alt-right fascitarians from the party, including the likes of terminal idiot Jared Howe, Molyneaux, Cantwell, and others who thought the Libertarian Party meant “liberty for me, not for thee.”

And, on that note, the stupid thing I’m about to do: I’m forming an affiliate for the county I live in. The first meeting is July 29th, but I don’t expect it to generate much buzz. The second meeting is when things will begin to get interesting, because by then word will have spread.

I’ve no intention of peddling being transsexual to any sort of advantage or as any tool for getting publicity, but I’ve been a resident of Mississippi long enough to know how this is going to play out. Once that ball gets rolling, it’s going to snowball to unknown degrees, but I expect that at least half the county will be buzzing about the transsexual atheist chair of the county party. This, of course, will motivate many of those people to learn about libertarian philosophy and, especially, how a transsexual person isn’t a Democrat and actually advocates for the right of free association (and has years of history doing it).

It will surely warrant a statement at some point, to which I’m looking forward, which will allow me to change a lot of people’s minds about trans people and liberty. I’d rather the transsexual matter never be brought up, but it will be–persistently. I will be the #1 thing people bring up when they discuss the Libertarian Party of the county, because the chair of the county party is a transsexual atheist.

This will create many problems. Many of my clients are old school, and needing to earn money to not die has left me in the awkward situation of having to continue working as a male, but it’s the elephant in the room. Everyone has noticed. Dudes don’t typically dye their hair vibrant red. Some employees at various clients have even discussed it with me or my colleague; it’s not exactly hard to notice for people who only see me once every few weeks.

I think that’s going to go better than other people expect, though, because the effect of rapport cannot be denied. I discussed this recently–relationships are the destroyers of bigotry, and I’ve got existing relationships with the clients and their employees. They like me. They already know that I’m strange (everyone knows I’m weird), and they don’t mind. The revelation for some of them will just be that I’m more weird than they knew.

Yet there is at least one client for whom it will present an irreconcilable problem, because the client is managed by a couple with a gay son, whose sexuality they are in denial about, and who pulled him out of school to shelter him from the corruptive agents of mainstream society. I could be reading that entire situation wrong, but that assessment is based on my conversations with the guy and with my own experiences with oppressive guardians. So I don’t think that I am.

The remaining two members of my family whose opinions somewhat matter to me will learn the truth, but that’s just as well. I sheltered them from it, but the bell is going to ring, and it really doesn’t matter to me any longer.

There is a real risk of danger and attack. I’ve been attacked before, both for being trans and for being an atheist. A year ago, someone was trying to find out where I lived so that they could pay me a visit. Oh, well. My shotgun stays loaded.

I fully expect the message of liberty to form a bridge between me and most people, because that’s what liberty is: a truce. From there, personal relationships will pick up the slack and allow people to at least rely on cognitive dissonance to not fire me as their I.T. contractor. Or I could be wrong, and they all fire me. I could very well be digging my own grave almost literally.

But I don’t think so. As I said, most of them already know. They can only make so many comments about how I remind them of their step-daughter before it gets to the point of, “Yeah, just go ahead and say it.” Like I said, in most cases it’s the elephant in the room that no one is talking about.

Let’s have some conversations about liberty, and let’s disabuse people of some incorrect ideas.

Cultural Buffets: I’ll Debate You, Michael W. Miller

I’ll spare you all the details and give a brief summary. Arvin Vohra criticized Liberty Hangouts publicly, and members of Liberty Hangouts defended themselves. This led Arvin to apologize and correct himself, and on this thread of comments there appeared a discussion between Jason Weinman (with whom I’ve had disagreements with the past because, if I recall correctly, he went hard for Gary Johnson) and Michael William Miller of Liberty Hangouts about various things I don’t really care about. During the name-calling and pedantry, Michael said:

If you mean we support traditional values, yes, but we have never called once for legislation forcing anyone to do anything.

And, moments later:

[D]o you want to debate this on a livestream? [W]e’d be more than happy to host it on Liberty Hangout. 🙂

While, from what I can gather, the debate invitation was to discuss whether or not Liberty Hangout had called for legislation of traditional values, Jason Weinman declined the invitation. However, I would gladly debate anyone at Liberty Hangout on “traditional” values, and whether it’s a concern that they’re being eroded.

My Values Are My Values, and Therefore Correct

Everyone believes this to be true. It’s an application of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, in fact. Just as we use our ability to play the guitar to understand how skilled another guitar player is, so do we use our own values to judge the values of other people. When we look at uncontacted tribes that segregate girls from their tribe when they hit puberty, we reject the idea as backward and immoral, because our values tell us that it’s wrong to treat people that way, it will have severe permanent damage on the girl’s self-esteem, and there’s nothing magical or mystical about periods. Yet this assessment itself is built on our values that it’s bad to cause severe permanent damage to people’s self-esteem, and our values that positive self-esteem is a good thing. I’ve discussed this countless times before and won’t go into it in full detail. Instead, just check out this article on the subject. Or check out this one.

Cultural Competition

More importantly, the reality of the situation isn’t just that “traditional values” are being eroded from within, although many right-wing figures would deny this and focus their efforts on controlling immigration, in full disregard of the fact that America influences the rest of the world, not the other way around, but also that we are seeing cultural competition, and it functions exactly the same way as economic competition. Worldviews compete in the market in exactly the same way that businesses do, and the one that proves to be most efficient wins out in the long-run. In terms of culture, efficiency appears to be measured primarily in inclusiveness. This also makes sense in economic terms, as exclusiveness reduces a business’s customer base.

For example, acceptance of black people as equals won out the culture war when the two sides pitted against one another: one side advocated continued open racism and segregation, and the other side advocated an end to these things. Motivated by self-interest, the majority of people would have put their personal feelings aside, in the event that they were racist, to advocate for equality, because this, in Mississippi for example, increased their customer reach by 37%. An openly racist business in Mississippi immediately loses 37% of all customers, and more, when it’s considered that many people who aren’t black would refuse to do business with such a company. Many others are motivated simply by empathy, which is also self-interest, since no one wants to be filled with negative emotions like guilt and sorrow.

I have no desire to argue whether one side is right or wrong, even when it comes to “traditional values” (one assumes this to mean heterosexuality, anti-transgenderism, etc.) versus contemporary values, because both sides are subjective. Each can be demonstrated as desirable by its own parameters, and each can demonstrate the other as undesirable by those same parameters. Someone who thinks that transsexualism is a mental illness will obviously think that the normalization of transsexualism is a bad idea, because it openly accepts what they consider to be a mental illness, and they find treating mental illnesses as normal to be a bad idea.

Cultural values change over time, and they clearly move in some direction that I won’t try to name. The arc of human history is pretty evident, though, in that we’ve moved toward secularization and acceptance, rather than toward heightened religiosity and bigotry. We’ve also moved from despotism toward liberty and individualism, at least until the rise of fascism in the 20th century that has set us back so drastically. I’d hazard the guess that there is a common thread that connects these things–the move away from bigotry, the move toward secularization, the move toward liberty–but it’s something to think about some other day. The fact remains: cultural values change over time. Whether they are improving or getting worse is up for argument.

It would seem obvious that a stagnant culture would self-destruct in very short order, but it’s equally obvious that there has never been such a thing as a stagnant culture. Today, our culture changes at a shocking speed and is incredibly robust–so robust that many people don’t consider the United States as having a culture. Compare that to the relatively defined culture of Venice, France, and Saudi Arabia. Here in the United States, we have a culture that includes hateful assholes like Steven Anderson (a pastor who openly says that he wishes more trans teens would kill themselves), wonderful nameless Christians who don’t give a shit if someone is trans, atheists like myself who take no part in religion, people who openly believe themselves to be witches, people who openly worship the devil, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and even scientologists. The only description that will fit these many disparate beliefs and worldviews is that the United States’ culture as a whole values religious freedom.

In another sense, we have goth culture, emo culture, jock culture, snob culture, cheerleader culture, Christian culture, white culture, black culture, Japanese culture, Mexican culture, and so many others that it’s immaterial whether every single individual actively enjoys and embraces all of these different sub-cultures, because, again, on the whole the result is that the Unites States’ culture values cultural differences. This literally allows us to pick and choose what we like from each culture and incorporate it into our lives for personal fulfillment.

I think Michael and I both will agree that “cultural appropriation” is a positive thing, and that SJWs can fuck off.

This allows even the most ardent transphobic Christian to watch and enjoy Japanese anime, to eat burritos, and to have a goth son who listens to Megadeth (though the parent, because of the cultural conflict, won’t be happy about it, hopefully the parent realizes the futility and counterproductive nature of denying the teenager the ability to embrace their own preferences). The United States is basically a gigantic buffet of different cultural elements, and we are actively encouraged (nevermind the lunatic progressives) to take only the dishes that we like, while ignoring the dishes that we don’t like.

My wording in my willingness to accept a debate with Michael isn’t accidental. I have no desire to argue with him about the utility and value of “traditional values.” He has gone to the buffet and taken different dishes–that’s fine. I have absolutely no standing to tell him that the dishes he took are inferior, bigoted, hateful, or narrow-minded. They’re the dishes he likes, and that’s okay. My argument is that it’s not a problem that the Accepting Trans People Dish has been placed on the buffet. I’m not arguing that the “traditional” dishes should be removed from the buffet, and, evidently, Michael isn’t arguing that contemporary dishes should be removed from the buffet (so, really, there’s not much of a debate there).

However, it remains true that anyone who subscribes to traditional values will consider those traditional dishes to be superior to the contemporary ones–and that, in my estimation, is wrong. Not only is it a subjective assessment of different values that is based on the values that go into the assessment (it gets really hard to explain), but the closest we have to “objective” criteria (economic growth, prosperity, and peace) suggests that it’s a positive thing when culture shifts from “whatever it is” along the unnamed thread toward liberty, secularization, and acceptance. This becomes subjective because I value economic growth, prosperity, and peace, and I have absolutely no objective reason that I can point to in order to suggest that economic growth, prosperity, and peace are good things (see Darkside Philosophy for an idea of how deep that rabbit hole gets).

So the questions are ultimately:

  • Does the presence of contemporary values on the Cultural Buffet in any way decrease the value of traditional values?

The answer is “No,” but, to be fair, I don’t think Michael would make that argument in the first place. This is sort of counterintuitive. If we laid out a buffet of ten different currencies, all of them equal to 100 of whatever currency they are (one hundred dollars, one hundred pounds, one hundred euros, etc.), it would seem to cheapen the value of the 100USD if the USD customarily were the only option. However, given that monopolies are inherently wasteful and inefficient (whether cultural, currency, or business monopolies), the presence of competition would more likely increase the value of the USD.

  • Is the presence of contemporary values on the Cultural Buffet a negative detriment to the traditional values?

This is very similar to the first question. If a child of one of the traditional diners is intrigued by the look of some contemporary values dish, it could be argued that the mere presence of the dish piqued the child’s imagination, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. But here we have to point out: if the traditional dish is superior, then there is no harm in allowing the child to taste the contemporary dish. If we place a bowl of chocolate ice cream, and a bowl of sprinkle-covered shit on the buffet, it wouldn’t really be a problem, no matter how much one didn’t want one’s child to eat sprinkle-covered shit. If the chocolate ice cream is better, then even if the child does get the chance to taste the shit, the child will surely go running back to the ice cream at the first opportunity. This is the cowardice and weakness that underlies cultural protectionism: if their values were truly superior–as they profess to believe–it would be unnecessary to prevent others from being exposed to other values. I have no issue with my clients trying out other I.T. companies, because I know they’ll come running back to me in very short order.

  • Are traditional dishes likely to survive the diversity of the buffet in any noteworthy sense?

The answer here is “no,” just as the traditional dish of “divine right of kings” hasn’t survived the buffet. Sure, a few people every once in a while can be found eating that dish, but the total impact that dish has on the overall culture is negligible. Greek Mythology is another traditional dish that hasn’t been treated well by the buffet. Even though we can find people today who worship Zeus, Greek Mythology is widely considered mythology rather than a religion, and the total impact that Zeus worshipers have on wider society is negligible. As long as no one comes along and removes the dish from the buffet, it’s up to the people who like and prefer that dish to convince other people that it’s a dish worth having.

If one can’t do that, then I guess the dish isn’t that good after all. I don’t have to convince people to try my chicken enchiladas, because they’re freaking delicious, and smelling them while hearing everyone raving about them (no joke, my chicken enchiladas are amazing, but it’s not my recipe) will entice them to try them. I don’t have to convince people to not eat the beef burrito; I just have to convince them to give my own dish a shot. And if my dish is really as good as I say it is, after that it will speak for itself.

Everyone Wants To Be Free

No one ever said, “I really enjoy having the government telling me what to do, and I don’t think I should be free.”

Or, if they do, it’s such an extremely rare occurrence that it’s not really important to the discussion.

When people challenge the ideas of liberty and freedom, it’s never the speaker who has the problem; it’s never the speaker who can’t be trusted with liberty–it’s all those other people. It’s everyone else. I’ve talked with countless people who want freedom for themselves yet immediately recoil at the idea of freedom for others, handing out responses that range in ridiculous from “What about murderers?” to “What about those who would dump poo in your water?”

It’s telling that we’ve become so conquered by fear that we’d meet the idea of freedom with intransigence and build from the assumption that not only could someone dump poo in your water, but that it’s inevitable that someone will do so. The existence of murderers, rapists, and thieves is hardly a matter of concern to the libertarian or anarchist, because such people exist today, and all available evidence (as well as logic) suggests that the state and its laws do nothing to prevent such behavior, and instead simply exist as frameworks for punishing the behavior. Since the state has not managed to eliminate crime, it isn’t necessary for anarchists and libertarians to propose an alternate social structure that would eliminate crime before anyone can take it seriously.

It would be like if I proposed a new version of American football that has slightly different rules than the current set, and people rejected my idea on the grounds that I didn’t propose any way of preventing head injuries and brain damage caused by years of physical trauma. Even if my modified rules would reduce the number of fractures and other injuries, people would gleefully reject the proposed changes because, “What are you going to do about head injuries and brain damage?” in full disregard of the fact that their rules similarly fail to do anything to prevent head injuries and brain damage.

It’s simple mathematics to realize that something that affects two sides of an equation can be reduced. If we have an equation that reads “2x + 4y = 2x + 9,” we can immediately see that “2x” doesn’t factor into things at all–we are, instead, dealing with “4y = 9”. Crimes such as murder are never going to be eliminated from society, and we have a hundred thousand years of human history and societies that range from despotic tribes to fascist police states to serve as evidence, and not only have all of these societies failed to eliminate murder, but there is a noticeable correlation between the murder rate and the power of the state–the more powerful a state is, the higher its murder rate. It wasn’t a fluke that caused Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Lincoln, and Mussolini to murder millions of people; this is actually a feature of the state. It also remains true that no Charles Manson or Ted Bundy ever came close to approaching the murder rate of various states.

This is because society deals with murderers, rapists, and thieves before they can organize to the point that they can commit crimes against thousands and hundreds of thousands of people–unless those murderers, rapists, and thieves call themselves a government. Take, for example, the American Government, which murdered more than 1,000 Americans last year, as well as the year before (and are thus far on the path to surpassing last year’s record). Even the most barbaric and bloodthirsty mobster would look at those numbers and be impressed, because this works out to nearly three murders per day for the individual, if the person wanted to be more bloodthirsty than the government, and anyone who murdered three people each day would leave a trail of bodies and evidence that would take us directly to them for punishment. Without even including the 100,000 Iraqi civilians murdered by the American government since 2003, and the similar number of murdered civilians in Afghanistan, it’s readily apparent that if we want to reduce murder, there isn’t a better way of doing so than abolishing the government.

But these excuses for allowing the continued existence of the state persist.

The reality, however, is that the overwhelming majority of people aren’t murderers, rapists, and thieves. I cross paths with tens of thousands of people every single day, and none of them are murderers, rapists, and thieves. This notion that “It’s okay if I have freedom, but I can’t trust anyone else with it, because they might be a murderer!” is blatant fearmongering, and every bit as bad as suggesting that we should reject all refugees because one among two hundred thousand might be a terrorist, or that we should regulate immigration because one in millions may carry a deadly disease. In fact, the arguments are exactly the same:

  • “We need to have laws against open borders because some immigrants may be drug dealers, murderers, and rapists!”
  • “We need to have government, because some people may be drug dealers, murderers, and rapists!”
  • “We need to ban refugees from entering the country because some people out there are bad people and are terrorists!”
  • “We need to have government, because some people out there are bad people.”

It’s amazing how easily we recognize blatant fearmongering when we’re not the ones peddling it, and how blind we are to our fearmongering when we are.

Liberty is trust and faith in your fellow human beings, and an end to fearmongering. It’s time we stopped living in fear of everything and everyone.

Destroying Bigotry Through Relationships

One of the most interesting things that came about because of Porcfest 2017 is that I realized just how ignorant I am of “average” Muslim behavior. Given that I’m an atheist and have no more interest in Islam than I do Wicca or Zoroastrianism, I’m okay with that. I’m also an individualist, so I also make it a point to treat each person as an individual, not a homogenized blob because they happen to have this or that characteristic. I knew intellectually that all Muslims couldn’t fulfill “the stereotype,” but what stereotype is that? Certainly, there’s the “OMG TERRORIST” stereotype, but everyone except the most idiotic conservative knows that not all Muslims are terrorists. However, some idiotic conservatives do think that. I quote a local writer who recently gave me a copy of his book (yes, the book is trash) (and yes, the motherfucker signed it):

“There are no Peace-Loving Muslims, no Moderate Muslims, no Indifferent Muslims. No Radical Muslims. Just Muslims. A Muslim is a Muslim. Period.”

Yes, someone not only wrote that, but got it published in a book.

While most people wouldn’t go that far, it remains true that familiarity is the destroyer of stereotypes–which is the primary reason that I’m currently considering staying in Mississippi*. But before we get into that, let’s talk about paleo-libertarianism. The question of free markets and discrimination is one that a lot of people would like the answer to, because “let the free market deal with it” is not a satisfying answer when discussing people like me who could end up in situations where they can’t shop at critical stores because everyone in the area is transphobic/racist/homophobic/etc.

They have a point.

It doesn’t really make a difference that 50s era segregation was enforced by the state, because many of the business owners of that day would have carried on that policy regardless–and did so well into the 70s in some places. It’s a nice cop-out to be able to say, “There was nothing ‘free market’ about American segregation; it was legislated and enforced by the state, not the market.” Such a statement is true in a limited sense, but we can’t pretend like segregation and discrimination magically disappear if there’s a free market in place, because they don’t.

Last night I spent a while thinking about a friend of mine who immediately identified someone else as Jewish by their last name. Until this “someone else” told me so, I had no idea that he was Jewish, and even afterward it was worthy of nothing but a mental note. When I asked him how he identified the guy as Jewish, he said it was the last name, and that he knew most/all of common Jewish last names. Then I thought of the many borderline anti-semitic things this friend has said in the past. While he doesn’t deny the Holocaust happened, he does take a position closer to mine, that the truth is lost to history and that wartime propaganda twisted the story until it bears unknown  resemblance to the truth. It also occurred to me that, if asked, I would insist to people that this friend isn’t racist. Finally, I wondered whether that was true. Perhaps my own whiteness keeps me from being able to see his racism.

However, I was also repeatedly interrupted during every conversation at Porcfest a few weeks ago, and, when I mentioned this to someone, I was told that “Women traditionally didn’t have a voice at the politics table,” and that was why I was being interrupted. However, this was demonstrably false. It would have been all too easy to play the victim card and cry about sexism (it would also have been nonsense, given my voice), but instead I observed, and what I saw was everyone interrupting everyone else all the time, without regard to age, gender, or race. Seeing sexism in the interruptions would have been confirmation bias; if I went into it expecting to find that, that’s what I would have found, even though the issue is something larger and much more serious.

In fact, the idea that it was sexist struck me as odd from the start. Although hormones have certainly begun to affect my face and body, my hair still isn’t that long, and from some angles I don’t look very feminine at all. On top of that, my voice is certainly on the deeper end–an issue I haven’t yet worked out. Even wearing a dress, some people instinctively called me “he,” something else that I didn’t and don’t get worked up about (although, as I said to someone Friday night, there will come a time when calling me “he” must be intentional, but that’s after more physiological changes and, ideally, vocal surgery), and people tuning into Call to Freedom would have no idea that the person they were listening to identified as a chick. The idea behind the “They’re sexist” argument is that they’re sexist instinctively and without their conscious awareness, but that falls apart when instinctively they consider me a dude.

All that said, the entire reason my rant at Porcfest was so successful is that I’m transgender. How much power would my rant have lost if that wasn’t the case? Many people told me afterward that I broke through their stereotype of transgender people. One of the judges even said that he’d pre-judged me, and was surprised to have that prejudice shattered. I’m no stranger to stereotypes, and they aren’t really a problem; the only problem is when we cling to them and refuse to allow individuals to break them.

I’ve experienced this more than simply at Porcfest. A friend of mine has a grandmother who strongly disliked transgender people, and this friend handled it by showing her grandmother my posts on Facebook from a year ago about just wanting to live in peace. Stereotypes are built of straw people, and they very rarely apply fully, and sometimes they don’t apply at all. The reason they persist is due more to unfamiliarity than anything else. They imagine in their heads some amalgam of all the terrible things they’ve heard about this or that group, and various factors lead them to believe that their imagined person is representative of everyone in that group. It’s just human nature, and it’s not something to condemn people over.

I wouldn’t be able to fully explain my Straw Muslim. The Straw Muslim wasn’t a terrorist, but they were extremely devout–uncomfortably devout. Your Straw Southern Baptist is pretty much what my Straw Muslim looks like, and I’d go even further and suggest that your Straw Muslim also looks a lot like mine. And while the faith of the people involved with Muslims 4 Liberty cannot be doubted, they don’t fit the stereotype at all. Prior to meeting and spending a week with Will Coley et al., I had no idea how pervasive that perception of Islam was, but why else would I have been surprised by the generosity they showed during Ramadan? I’ve been equally surprised by some of the Christians I’ve met within libertarian circles, such as Thomas Knapp, and I’ve been surrounded by Christians most of my life. Prior to meeting some of these people, I probably would have said there’s no such thing as a moderate Christian. In fact, I’m sure I’ve said that in the past. And there’s no doubt: people like Thomas Knapp are entirely the reason I’ve eliminated anti-Christian rhetoric from my repertoire.

However, even as vehemently anti-Christian as I used to be (and I’m still anti-fundamentalist), I was more than willing to allow people their right to free association, and have been arguing in favor of that for years. I look back on an article I published about a year ago and badly want to remove it, because it’s so close to being anti-Muslim in its tone. And that came from myself; it came from within. There was no talk of individualism in that article. It was a lot of bullshit about social customs, integration, and assimilation. I’m positively embarrassed that I wrote that spiel, although that sentiment was present before I met people of Muslims 4 Liberty and goes back at least 7 months, to the first time I re-read the article.

Under no circumstances have I or would I ever deny service to someone because of their characteristics, it must be stated unequivocally, but most people aren’t like that. The same people who condemn Trump for his ban of Muslims also praise Canada for refusing to allow entry to members of the Westboro Baptist Church; the Westboro Baptist Church, on the other hand, would adamantly refuse to allow me into their building, and people like Steven Anderson (not with the WBC, but every bit as hateful and vile) whine and bitch when companies don’t want to do business with them, even as they explicitly refuse to do business with others.

We saw the same thing when Obama became president, and everyone who wanted to see his birth certificate was dismissed as a racist. The reality for most people, however, was something different: through their entire lives, an old white man had been in charge. Suddenly, a black, relatively young man was in charge. They were uncomfortable and afraid, not hateful. And while it’s true that fear often motivates horrific behavior, it didn’t on this occasion, and manifested primarily in cries that Obama was a Muslim or wasn’t from Kenya. It was a knee-jerk reaction to an unfamiliar situation, and one by one these people adapted and realized their world wasn’t coming to an end. Anyone still going on about Obama being a Muslim or a Kenyan is probably just racist and attempting to mask their racism with those allegations, but the birther movement died out because people adjusted and moved on, leaving behind only the racists.

It’s ultimately a matter of cognitive dissonance.

When Bob is told his entire life by his fundamentalist church that gay people are evil abominations, he’s going to experience cognitive dissonance when his best friend of 17 years, Jim, confesses to Bob that he is gay. At this point, Bob is presented with several choices for resolving the dissonance:

  1. My church is wrong. All gay people cannot be evil abominations, because Jim is gay and isn’t an evil abomination.
  2. Jim is wrong and isn’t really gay. He isn’t an evil abomination, and my church is right; ergo, Jim isn’t really gay.
  3. My church is right. All gay people are evil abominations. Therefore, Jim has managed to hide his evil from me for the last 17 years.
  4. On rarer occasions, Bob might craft a special exemption for Jim. “Jim is different… He isn’t like all the other gay people.”

Which of these Bob lands on is ultimately going to come down to trust and relationship importance. If his friendship with Jim is more important to him, then he will decide on #1. If both are equally important to him, he will decide on #2. If his relationship with his church and his religious beliefs are more important, he will go with #3. We can immediately see, then, that Jim has his work cut out for him; there aren’t many things that will be more important to Bob than his religious beliefs, because religious beliefs are “core beliefs” that form the foundation of other beliefs. Asking Bob to accept that his church/religious beliefs are wrong is a much greater thing than simply accepting that Jim is wrong, because Bob’s entire worldview stems from his religious beliefs. If we pull the foundation out from under his worldview, the entire thing collapses.

“Muslim call to prayer while hula-hoppers [sic] groove nearby.”

…And?

That’s a pretty awesome event to be at, if you ask me. People hula-hooping, people stoned, people drunk, people tripping, people dancing, people praying… Everyone getting along, everyone celebrating, and no one hating anyone else over squabbling differences… That sounds to me like a fucking utopia, not something that should be mocked or looked upon with disdain. Indeed, that’s how our entire society should be. I fail to see how anyone has a problem with “Everyone is doing their own thing, and everyone is friendly with everyone else. If they can’t get along, then they just leave each other be.”

In fact, Porcfest is proof that you can put Muslims, Jews, atheists, Christians, transgender people, straight people, gay people, black people, white people, Asian people, and all other people with various characteristics into a society together and end up with something that is really awesome. Yet this douchenozzle from CNN said this with disdain and contempt, and people who replied to the tweet made even more contemptuous remarks: “They don’t pay you enough to attend that crap.”

There are only three ways that liberty can work: homogeneity, diversity, and individualism.

Homogeneity is obviously broken as an idea–it’s simply impossible. There will always be differences between people, and those differences will always be highlighted. Hitler wanted to basically produce an all-white society, and what happened? The differences among white people were immediately targeted as points of divide: those with blond hair and blue eyes were considered superior to someone who had brown hair and brown eyes. By definition, a society can never be truly homogeneous. Even if Hitler had succeeded in eliminating everyone but white people with blond hair and blue eyes, the divisiveness wouldn’t have ended; instead, it would have become “tall people are superior to short people” or something else. I’d venture the statement that the more homogeneous a society is, the more petty are its points of division.

Diversity is flawed for other reasons. A homogeneous society of 99% white people (in addition to still being divided, as the previous paragraph contends) discriminating against the 1% black population can’t be fixed by “the free market” alone. However, what if the society is 75% white and 25% black, and the white population is uniformly racist? With these numbers, it’s true that the black population could simply shop at black-owned stores and work for black-owned businesses, but at this point we aren’t dealing with one society; we’re talking about two societies that just happen to reside in geographic proximity. This is still true if we add in an 80% straight population that doesn’t want to associate with the 20% LGBT population; we aren’t “uniting” society. We’re segregating it into many different societies.

It’s similarly true that diversity fails to take hold in homogeneous societies because of social pressures and economic concerns that often conspire to make it impossible for a person to “come out.” This is a problem that never magically vanishes, and there will always be one group or another who cannot openly admit to being in that group because of the adversity they will face upon doing so. Suppose our society was 99% Christian and 1% atheist, but no atheists were even allowed to speak out without being put to death (as was the case until about 300 years ago). Atheists would not be able to band together to create their atheist stores because coming out as an atheist resulted in death. Diversity requires openness, but there will always be disenfranchised people who simply aren’t allowed to be open about who they are.

Instead we could take the approach of individualism, that a person’s characteristics shouldn’t matter, and that a person should be judged by their actions and behavior rather than being judged over what characteristics they happen to have. This is precisely how Jim breaks through Bob’s anti-gay bigotry. Instead of being lumped into that foreign group that has been painted as a bogeyman by Bob’s church, Jim has an in-road directly to Bob’s heart by being his friend–someone he personally knows. When Bob accepts that Jim isn’t an evil abomination, it is because he isn’t lumping his friend into that group and therefore isn’t applying that group’s alleged qualities to his friend.

Often, we aren’t aware of what stereotypes we harbor, and we’re capable of harboring them regardless of how individualist we are. The destroyer of those stereotypes is the individualism that allows us to have a relationship with someone regardless of their characteristics. Only then can we see how wrong we were.

* As stated elsewhere, the state arresting me and extorting me for nearly $2,500 six months ago ravaged my bank account and basically put me back at square one, albeit with $250~ or so. If I pursue this avenue, all funds contributed to that campaign will be returned, either directly or via matching donations to donors’ campaigns.