Tag Archive | self-defense

Debate on the Nature & Scope of Self-Defense

Friday night, I debated with Matt Kuehnel of “Dankertarians,” who run the website https://dankertarians.com. I don’t really follow the site or the page, but I think they make memes or something. I’m not entirely sure. Matt is a hard-left leaning libertarian of the anarchist persuasion and calls himself a Libertarian Socialist. From my reading of Libertarian Socialism, it’s basically anarcho-communism by a different name. C’est la vie, it’s not important.

After we’d each been cross-examined, we featured Will Coley of Muslims 4 Liberty to talk about his MALIC center project, where he is opening a mosque and interfaith place of worship in Keene, New Hampshire to serve the community there. As a fun bonus, it is opening within five miles of where now felon Chris Cantwell lives. The project has been funded well, but it could use your support, and not just to make a Nazi cry by having a mosque open up in his backyard; even as an atheist, I’m fully on-board with the project. You can find it here, and I hope that you can throw $5 his direction.

I took basically the position that you’ve heard me describe before: there are limits to what is and isn’t self-defense–objective criteria by which we determine an act was self-defense. This is critically important, because saying “I was defending myself” is not just an excuse for one’s own actions; it’s an accusation of criminal behavior. In order for me to be “defending myself,” the person attacking me must be guilty of a crime–assault, battery, etc. Yet this person has the right to be presumed innocent until they are proven guilty (socially or legally–as I reminded Matt several times throughout the debate, we’re not talking about law as much as we are social custom and what is right). If my claim of self-defense is to hold up, I must prove beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt that the person against whom I defended myself was guilty of a crime. This often gets lost in the self-defense debate, but there’s never just one person: both sides are prosecutor and defendant, and both must be presumed innocent.

Anyway, all that said, I was really rusty, and it showed. I haven’t formally debated anyone in years. And after all the bitching about formality, wouldn’t you know it? It was I who cross-examined someone when I shouldn’t have. Anyway, the debate weighs in at just over an hour, and we take questions at the end, so I hope you enjoy it, and thanks for watching.

The Free Market is not Omnibenevolent

I know it’s considered heresy among libertarians and anarchists, but I feel it’s important to remind people that “The Free Market” isn’t always an acceptable answer. Says the anarcho-capitalist, right–what many would rightly call a “free market anarchist,” in fact, given  the history of the word “capitalism” and whether the market as advocated by anarcho-capitalists actually is “capitalism,” but it’s not important. I’ve written loads praising the free market, and now that we are seeing widespread cheering for the firing of white nationalists, I’m going to write something condemning the free market as the solution.

But let me explain, before you get all worked up and say that I’m abandoning the market now that it’s targeting Nazis, because, in fact, I’m not, and I’ve written this exact thing before targeting traditional values“” and other Nazi-style aphorisms. So, you see, rather than contradicting myself, I’m actually staying true to what I’ve said before, and am now applying the same logic and principles now that the shoe is on the other foot. In this article praising the virtues of personal relationships as the destroyers of bigotry (by all accounts, a positive thing), I said:

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

I also said this on Facebook, drawing attention to the inherent absurdity of attempting to use homogeneity to achieve liberty–we would recognize this as a direct attack on paleo-libertarianism, a weird and twisted school of libertarian philosophy that, in essence, argues that liberty is only for white people:

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.

The idea that any group of people can be truly homogeneous is laughable. If that divisive mentality is there, then it is there regardless of the characteristics of the people in the group. With the divisive mentality in place, paleo-libertarians, the alt-right, and Neo-Nazis think that all non-white people are the problem. Let’s presume for a moment that they somehow manage to get rid of all the non-white, non-straight, non-cisgender people. Do they suddenly stop hating people? No. They merely redirect their hatred to some other minority. Redheads become the target of their hatred, or people who are under 5 feet, 6 inches tall, because the core of their hatred–that there are differences within their group that cannot be tolerated–remains. As long as that idea remains, they will identify any and every difference and pinpoint it as the problem, and will continue on until only one person remains standing and everyone else is dead.

The point I’ve been driving at since I began thinking and writing about this subject a month or so ago is that neither homogeneity nor heterogeneity can deliver on the free market promises of “ultimate equality,” despite its ups and downs. The market, as any market advocate will tell you, swings like a pendulum, and it isn’t always fair or just. It does, however, tend to come to a point of equilibrium, one that is based on the dominant positions and ideologies about what constitutes “justice” and “equality.” If a market comes to rest indefinitely* on inequality, then it is merely a reflection that the majority of people in that society do not value equality.

As written in Fight Club, “on a long enough timeline, the survival rate of everyone drops to zero.”

Just as that is true, so is it true that “on a long enough timeline, the values embraced by a free market are reflective of the people who support that market.” This is why it’s so damning to see that so much child and sweatshop labor continues to go into much of the gimmicky, cheap bullshit bought by people at Wal-Mart; that these things have not vanished in the last few decades since we learned of the child and sweatshop labor is a tacit endorsement of child and sweatshop labor. We know that Indonesian children are making our Nikes. We just don’t care. We know that diamonds are steeped in blood. We just don’t care. We know that the cobalt that goes into our phone and laptop batteries, and soon into our Tesla electric cars, is stepped in blood and horrific child labor. We just don’t care.

With this enormous preamble out of the way, let me get to the point.

People are cheering the firing of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. I’m actually inclined to view this as a Pandora’s Box–one that we painstakingly managed to close in the 60s and 70s, and one that we should not, under any circumstances, open again. It was arduous, difficult, and unjust for black Americans, Asian Americans, women, homosexuals, transsexuals (ongoing), and all of these others to have to fight an uphill battle to take back their jobs, to not be fired for these things. Thirty years ago, we all (those of sound mind and reasonable ideas–I didn’t even exist then) condemned the idea of firing a man because he was a drag queen two Fridays out of the month, because he and his wife were swingers, because his wife was black, because he was living with his girlfriend and they weren’t married, or because he was gay. How far have we truly come, if we now revisit these ideas, but simply reverse the power structures so that, instead of the white supremacists firing the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual for being a transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual, the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual fires the white supremacist for being white supremacist?

I’d argue that we haven’t changed anything. We simply turned the table around.

It’s important to remember that swords like this cut both ways, which we should damned well know from the history of American injustices against black people, LGBT people, Hispanic people, women, Asians, and everyone else. We know how this shit feels when it’s done to us, and we know that it can be done to us. As it stands, “we” have the cultural power–there is no doubt of that. We are currently the ones holding the reins of power, freely able to bend society to our will in whatever ways we want, with very few exceptions. We will not always be the ones holding the power. Less than a century ago, we were not the ones holding the power.

It so perfectly mirrors the growth of the executive branch that it’s staggering. For years, Republicans gave their approval to the growth of the executive branch, apparently never considering the possibility that it could end up in the hands of someone they didn’t like. Then Democrats did the same. Now we have Trump in power, and people are like, “You know? Maybe we shouldn’t have created this power structure that is now ripe for abuse against us instead of in favor of whatever we happen to want at that particular moment.”

More bizarrely, we’ve already been through this. We’ve already been on the receiving end of discrimination, and it’s still the case that there are tons and tons of “non-protected groups” with whom we are allies to some extent, and who are free to be fired by their employees for upsetting someone’s personal moral sensibilities.

Drag queens aren’t protected.

Swingers aren’t protected.

Interracial couples aren’t protected.

Women who have had abortions aren’t protected.

Former partiers, musicians, rappers, and the like are not protected. In fact, we see this already with colleges and employers searching through people’s histories and firing them for getting a little too wild at a party 6 years before.

Polyamorous people aren’t protected.

In fact, if we look at things rationally and objectively, we’ll find that not a whole lot are protected from anti-discrimination laws. And while I don’t think we need anti-discrimination laws at all, and certainly not more of them, the overall sentiment appears to be that “It’s okay if we discriminate against them, because the law prevents them from doing the same to us,” and this simply isn’t true.

There is no protection for contractors, of course. You could wreck my entire life by finding out who my clients are and informing them that I’m transsexual. This was actually my biggest concern with forming the Libertarian Party in my county. Even if I was an employee, and not a contractor, there is still very little protection for transgender and transsexual people, legally or socially, and none at all in the state of Mississippi.

Do you think that the white supremacists and traditional valuists in positions of authority will not retaliate? Do you think that secret KKK member Bob Greenwich, head of the marketing department in some firm, won’t suddenly begin finding reasons to fire his black employees?

Unlike many people who seem to be talking these days, I reject both. I fully recognize the right of an employer to fire anyone that they want for any reason that they want. This does not mean, however, that having the right to do something makes it the right thing to do. I have the right to fire someone for being gay, for being a white supremacist, or for being lazy. But this doesn’t mean it’s right, just, or moral to fire someone for being gay, or for being a white supremacist. The only factors that should go into employment are the person’s capabilities to do that job. I said this exact thing two weeks ago when arguing against Trump’s proposed trans military ban, and people applauded. I say it now, and I’m called a Nazi sympathizer.

On July 27, I said this:

Banning trans people from a job is dumb.

As an employer, you shouldn’t be interested in what characteristics a person has; you should be interested in their ability and skills to do the job. If you hire them according to any other criteria, you won’t be hiring the best unless it’s by complete accident.

This applies to every job.

If you want the best military in the world, then you have to hire the people who are the best. If you hire the people who are second-best or third-best because they have whatever characteristics you prefer, then your military will be second-best, third-best, or worse.

People are looking at this thing all wrong. Perhaps, on average, the extra medical and psychological needs make trans people inferior to other potential employees. But then you have people like me, whose only “need” is to be left the hell alone by people with more free time than common sense. “Can this individual do the job? Is this individual the best person for the job?” The hardships and struggles of the collective are fictitious. We are dealing with individuals.

I don’t give a damn if I hire a guy who seduced his dog, if he’s the best damn tech in the area. The “best” are usually pretty quirky, to put it kindly.

No one disagreed. No one took issue with it. It was common sense, and I was obviously right. Earlier today, I said this:

People are cheering the firing of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. I’m actually inclined to view this as a Pandora’s Box–one that we painstakingly managed to close in the 60s and 70s, and one that we should not, under any circumstances, open again. It was arduous, difficult, and unjust for black Americans, Asian Americans, women, homosexuals, transsexuals (ongoing), and all of these others to have to fight an uphill battle to take back their jobs, to not be fired for these things. Thirty years ago, we all (those of sound mind and reasonable ideas–I didn’t even exist then) condemned the idea of firing a man because he was a drag queen two Fridays out of the month, because he and his wife were swingers, because his wife was black, because he was living with his girlfriend and they weren’t married, or because he was gay. How far have we truly come, if we now revisit these ideas, but simply reverse the power structures so that, instead of the white supremacists firing the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual for being a transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual, the transsexual black swinging Satanist homosexual fires the white supremacist for being white supremacist?

I’d argue that we haven’t changed anything. We simply turned the table around.

… which you’ll find written above. I do that often, where I write something in an article and preview it on Facebook. Anyway, I was immediately accused of being against freedom of association. That’s quite remarkable, considering that I have a long ass history of arguing in favor of freedom of association.

On an individual basis.

I wholly reject as immoral, reckless, stupid, and irresponsible the idea of disassociating from an entire group of people because of the actions of some, the words of some, ostensible similarities among its members, or whatever-fucking-else is proposed. If someone wants to fire the racist asshat Bob because he treats black customers like crap, I have absolutely no issue with that. But if someone wants to fire the racist asshat Bob because he’s a KKK member even though he’s never displayed any tendency for treating black customers differently, I have to take issue with that. Sure, they have the right to do it, but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

And it’s really just a back-handed, passive aggressive forceful coercion, when it comes down to it, especially in these hypothetical numbers I gave above, where 99.99% discriminates against the 0.01%. As someone pointed out, “Then the 0.01% of people who are racists need to change their minds.” Yes, and that’s a moral hazard. “If the 0.01% don’t want to die, then they need to get on board with my ideas and stop disagreeing with me.” I’m not saying that it violates the NAP. Nor does it violate the NAP if 99.99% of people are cisgender and insist, “Then the 0.01% need to stop being transgender if they want to work.”

I’m kinda surprised that I’m saying this, but the NAP isn’t the ultimate standard on what is and isn’t moral. It’s only the standard of what must be tolerated and what must not be tolerated. It’s not a moral guide. It’s a minimal level of acceptable behavior guide. One’s morality is something for one to work out themselves, and I have many thoughts on morality–many of which would you would disagree with. I’m not saying that my moral proclamations that collectivist discrimination is morally wrong is objectively correct. I’m saying that it’s subjectively correct, and here I’ve outlined the subjective criteria for making that assertion.

It has also been stated that the 0.01% are more than welcome to form their own little society, despite that I’ve pointed out that, even in the United States, this would produce a society of only 30,000 people–nowhere near enough for a self-sufficient society in any modern terms. Besides which, the nature of leaving a society where food is bought from stores to form one where there are no stores from which to buy groceries, and where food would have to be raised and farmed, is effectively a death sentence without outside help–do we need to be reminded that the only reason the Puritan settlers survived the first winter in the New World was the benevolence of Native Americans? There’s a rather large gap there between “leaving society” and “growing one’s own food” that results in rather a lot of death.

Now I’ve got someone who says he’s closer to anarcho-communism than anarcho-capitalism suggesting market solutions, while I’m pointing out that a free market, in order to achieve liberty, requires either pure heterogeneity (practically impossible), pure homogeneity (theoretically impossible), or individualism. You know–the same thing I said a month ago, when another group–*cough* trans people *cough*–were being treated as a collective instead of as individuals with their own merits regardless of these characteristics and behaviors that had absolutely nothing to do with their ability to do a job and function within the confines of a free market.

And though I was right a month ago… Now, I’m wrong. In fact, one of the people who liked my status about this very subject when I wrote it about trans people in the military is not arguing with me, because I’ve had the audacity to say the same damned thing about individuals who, regardless of their ability to do the task they are required to do, are also white supremacists. And, in so doing, this person–who alleges to fall closer to AnComs than AnCaps–is suggesting market solutions.

I will be debating this person–presumably–on the 25th, where we will use Lincoln-Douglas format to discuss “The nature and scope of self-defense.” Honestly, I don’t think the debate is going to happen. I’ve not heard anything about it since I challenged and Matt accepted. This isn’t the way I do things, you know? I iron out the details beforehand, and I still don’t know the venue where we are having this debate. But, as soon as I have that info, I’ll share it.

I made that crappy thing. Someone is, again presumably, making a better one. Since they’re doing it for free out of kindness, I’m not badgering them about it, but it doesn’t seem to have been made, and that further makes me wonder whether this debate is actually going to happen.

* Markets never rest indefinitely, but that’s not the point.

When Push Comes To Shove

I do want to take a brief moment to say goodbye to Toni, who I actually just mentioned by name in a post. She died yesterday. She was found dead in her home, and the cause is probably an overdose, but that’s just conjecture on my part, based on what I know of her. She wasn’t murdered, at least. And while I’m not going to fall into the mindset of “She had such a bad life!” and “Heaven gained another angel!” the fact is that the last decade of her life was tragic.

And self-caused.

Worse yet, I was a way out for her, and I wasn’t going to let her fall back onto that path. It was the reason that her family loved me to death. I owned my own company, had my own place, had fought my own battle with drugs and knew how vicious that could be, and kept my eyes on her. But it was for nothing. She slowly slipped back to it, and, to my knowledge, she never tried to climb back out again.

Anyway.

I want to expand on something I’ve mentioned several times, because a lot of people are still arguing that the solution to the problem, the problem that caused the shooting in Orlando, is more gun control. While I’m not going to say everything on that front is fine, I am going to say: that’s a red herring. It can never work.

The reality is that a law can do two things: it can punish a crime, and it can make it a little harder to do something. But if human history has taught us nothing, it should be that a law will NOT prevent anything. Just look at how easy it is to get marijuana in the United States. Marijuana is illegal. Yet people want to smoke it, and so they do. When abortions were illegal, we had back alley abortions. People wanted abortions, and so they got them. In the 1920s, we established Prohibition and outlawed alcohol, and it created two years of horrifically violent crime and people like Al Capone. We attempted to throw more cops, more laws, and more federal agents at the problem, but it was for nothing; we could not weed out all of the Al Capones. What did? Repealing Prohibition. As soon as we repealed Prohibition, people like Al Capone vanished, replaced with Anheiser-Busch and Budweiser.

Outlawing something that people want to do will not prevent them from doing it.

Okay, now take a deep breath.

Deeper.

Be calm, and say it with me.

There are some fucking psychopaths out there who want to kill people.

Okay, so let’s apply everything we know. Murder is already illegal, and the law certainly isn’t preventing murder. People are murdered every single day. Not all of those people are murdered with guns. In fact, a fair portion of those people are murdered with hammers, baseball bats, crowbars, knives–whatever the murderer can get their hands on. Whatever the murderer can get their hands on.

Making it harder for these people to acquire guns is not going to stop them. What do you imagine happening? Do you think Marteen would have sat there in his apartment, thinking, “I sure would love to wage Jihad against the infidels and kill a bunch of gay people, but damn! I just can’t find a gun!”

Of course not. Such an argument is silly.

Radical Muslims have been using homemade bombs for ages, and the availability of guns and ammunition did not really make things easier for Marteen. It meant only that he had to do a little less legwork, but there is no chance that the inability to get a gun was going to stop him. And trying to prevent him from getting a gun is another red herring–a lot of people seem to not understand how extremely long American borders are.

Gun control requires a fence on both borders, and it requires illegal immigration to be totally and completely nipped in the bud. The overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants (Note: I think borders are ridiculous, and think anyone who wants to come to our country should be allowed to, no questions asked–if they can get here, then… then they can get here.) are great, ordinary people, but you’re a fool if you think that smugglers aren’t using those very same channels to sneak drugs and weapons into the country. They simply are. No, these are not the same people trying to find a job at the Home Depot, but they are using the same channels and coming from the same place, and you cannot stop one without stopping the other. If one is possible, then both are possible.

Nor do we even have the resources or manpower to station someone every 50 yards along both borders to make sure that no one is sneaking in guns–and they are sneaking in guns. You can buy unmodified AK-47s in the United States. You just have to know where to go. Gangs in Chicago know where to go. Don’t get into the habit of denying these realities; you will never fix the problem if you deny the facts. And I’m not making a judgment assessment of this. I’m simply pointing out that: it is the case. So even if we outlawed all guns and confiscated everyone’s guns, it really wouldn’t be that difficult for Marteen to get one.

And if he, for some reason, couldn’t get a gun, he would have simply built a bomb. It’s not really that hard to do. And by that point, he obviously didn’t care about whether or not he was caught, so all cards were on the table; he was going to do whatever he had to do, because he wanted to kill people. No law was going to stop him.

When he walked into that club and opened fire, that is the exact moment when push came to shove. There is not a law that could be written that would have protected the people in that club when Marteen walked in and opened fire. Even if security guards and armed police officers had been stationed in that club, they would have been Marteen’s first targets, and he had the element of surprise. Even armed police officers being present would not have stood a chance of stopping Marteen before he gunned them down.

Fuck this asshole.

Under the “best” of circumstances, this disarmed population of 300 people would then have immediately called the police. And, after a 7-10 minute delay, police would have arrived outside the building. Meanwhile, Marteen and his guns are inside the building, with 300 innocent people who are being killed and held hostage. At the very least, there would have been more delay as the police prepared and executed a plan to take out Marteen. And we’re looking at 14-20 minutes with this maniac and his gun having totally free reign over everyone in that club.

What would have stopped him? A law obviously wouldn’t have. None of the present laws stopped him, after all. They were probably no more than inconveniences to him, and it is irrelevant how tight the laws could have been–criminals have spent all of human history finding ways around laws. See Prohibition, marijuana, abortion, homosexuality. So what would have stopped him?

Well… what did stop him?

A bullet.

Hours later, and after fifty people were dead and fifty more injured, someone was finally able to put a bullet into this piece of shit. Is it not obvious? Is it not inescapably clear? What we needed, what would have stopped Marteen and saved a bunch of lives, was if even 10% of the people in that club had been carrying their own weapons and knew how to use them. Marteen would have come in and pulled his shit, and absolutely people would still have died. As we’ve agreed, it was impossible to prevent. All we can do is minimize the damage. And as soon as these 10% of people realized what would happen, one of them would have put Marteen down.

How many lives might have been saved?

I’m not blaming the people in that club for not having guns or for not knowing how to use them. I’m simply pointing out that, yes, the presence of guns and a group of people who knew how to use them would have put the bullet in Marteen hours before the police finally did. His little escapade of terror would have been over very quickly, and it’s extraordinarily probable that fewer people would have died.

The question isn’t “How can we stop this from happening?”

It’s “How can we stop it when it happens?”

Because trying to answer the first question… is impossible. It simply can’t be done. Even a totalitarian police state with absolute control over its citizens wouldn’t be able to accomplish it. Even the Orwellian nightmare of Big Brother in 1984 wasn’t able to stop random criminal acts like those perpetrated by Goldstein. Focusing on that question leaves us distracted and not answering the real question:

How could lives have been saved?

That is the question. How could lives have been saved?