Book Review: The Age of Jihad

The Age of Jihad is a book about political unrest in the Middle East by Irish journalist Patrick Cockburn. The book is a compilation of his notes and articles over a 20-year period (1996-2016) while traveling throughout the Middle East. Cockburn did direct reporting where possible, and relied upon first-hand accounts when venturing into certain places was too dangerous.

Cockburn begins with his reporting from Afghanistan in late 2001 as the United States began its intervention to remove the Taliban from power. Next, he shares his experiences of Iraq under sanctions from 1996, 1998, and 2001, followed by his experiences there during the American occupation from 2003 to 2010. This is followed by his next forays into Afghanistan from 2009 to 2012.

The next part of the book focuses on the Arab Spring and the events that followed, with particular emphasis on countries in which the rulers were not quickly deposed. Cockburn begins with the Libyan Civil War of 2011 that removed Muammar Gaddafi from power, along with the difficulties that followed. Sectarian violence in Yemen from 2009 to 2015 and the failed uprising in Bahrain in 2011 each get a chapter.

The last part of the book covers recent developments in Syria and Iraq. First, the Arab Spring in Syria and its development into the Syrian Civil War from 2011 to 2014 is discussed in two chapters. Another two chapters are devoted to the contemporaneous destabilization of Iraq. This culminates in the rise of ISIS and the establishment of the Caliphate, in and near which the final four chapters take place.

The book gives important insight into just how terrible daily life is for people in war-torn lands, including the near-absence of basic utilities, shortages of essential items, rampant unemployment, and fear of mistreatment both from rebel groups and one’s own government. The book is filled with anecdotes of behavior which have not been seen since the Renaissance in the West, and knowledge of this behavior helps to explain animosity toward migrants from that region. The reader may be familiar with some of the events described, but almost anyone would find new information somewhere in the book.

One comes away from the book with a sense that both Western and regional powers had to be trying to perform so poorly. Western powers sought to punish Saddam Hussein without regard for the Iraqi people who bore the brunt of sanctions. They ignored cultural attitudes and sectarian divisions while turning a blind eye to mass corruption that greatly weakened the nation-building projects in Afghanistan and Iraq. They removed dictators who were stabilizing forces, thus creating power vacuums which were filled by al-Qa’ida and its affiliates. It is difficult to be so maliciously incompetent without intending to do so.

Overall, Cockburn does an excellent job of conveying the reality on the ground in most of the conflicts in the War on Terrorism and the Arab Spring. The only real improvement would be to add sections on recent events in Egypt and Tunisia, which only get passing mentions as sources for jihadists in other places. The Age of Jihad belongs on the bookshelf of any serious student of recent history, the Middle East, revolutions, war, and/or the effects of foreign intervention.

Rating: 5/5

20 Reasons Why Gary Johnson Will Not Be Inaugurated

On January 20, barring any extraordinary circumstances, 2016 Republican candidate Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. Needless to say, this means that Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson will not be inaugurated. There are a multitude of reasons for this, some of which are common to all third-party candidates, some of which affect the Libertarian Party in particular, and some of which are specific to the Johnson himself. Let us examine all of them in that order and see why Johnson not only lost, but failed to earn 5 percent of the vote against two of the least popular major-party candidates ever to seek the Presidency.

I. All Third Parties

a. Duverger’s Law

Duverger’s Law holds that plurality-rule elections (such as first past the post) structured within single-member districts tend to favor a two-party system. Duverger suggests two reasons for this; some smaller parties ally together to make a stronger party, and other smaller parties fail because voters abandon them. A purely statistical restrictive feature is that because the system rewards only the winner in each district with political power, a party which consistently loses will never gain political power, even if it receives a sizable minority of votes. There is also the matter of polarization; if a large group of voters support a candidate who is strongly opposed by another large group of voters, defeating that candidate is easier if they do not split their votes among multiple candidates. Furthermore, evolutionary psychology suggests a possible genetic basis for a left-right two-party political system.

b. Electoral College

The American system for electing presidents contains an additional barrier to third parties: the Electoral College. Rather than a direct popular vote, the winner of the popular vote in each state gains a number of electors which depends on the population of that state. This amplifies the effect of Duverger’s Law by making all losing votes in each state worthless for gaining the Presidency. This effect was seen in the 1992 election, when Ross Perot earned 18.9 percent of the national popular vote but failed to earn any electoral votes, as he did not come in first place in any state. This result has made people in recent elections more likely to view third-party campaigns as a wasted effort. Another historical example is the 1912 election, in which Theodore Roosevelt’s candidacy caused Woodrow Wilson to win far more electoral votes than his popular vote percentage would suggest.

c. Media Coverage

If a candidate is unlikely to achieve political power, then it makes little sense for the media to devote significant airtime to covering that candidate’s campaign, activities, and policy positions. Diverting media to a third-party campaign might also incur the wrath of the major parties, who could view such a move as a conspiracy between the media and the third party to upset the established order and respond with censorship measures. With the advent of the Internet and social media, this barrier is breaking down, but it is not yet gone.

d. Funding

Part of the purpose of funding a political campaign is quid pro quo; in other words, wealthy donors expect something in return for their patronage. In fact, studies show that there is no better return on investment for a corporation’s capital resources than to bribe politicians, which can generally only be done legally by funding their campaigns or their SuperPACs. If a candidate and/or party is unlikely to achieve political power, then funding them is a waste of capital. Furthermore, funding them may invite a backlash from one’s fellow oligarchs, who do not wish to see the system that benefits them be upended by a new political force.

e. Ballot Access

Like most groups which manage to consolidate power, the Republicans and Democrats abuse it. Regardless of whatever disagreements they have, they routinely agree that no other party should gain a foothold in the institutions of power and act in concert accordingly. The most common way of doing this is to pass ballot access laws which greatly favor the two major parties. This is done to burden third parties with expensive and time-consuming efforts to gain thousands of petition signatures in order to gain or keep ballot access. The third parties which cannot succeed in this are eliminated from the ballot and thus eliminated from political contention. Those which do succeed are greatly weakened by the loss of effort, money, and time which could have been spent campaigning for office if there were not such onerous requirements for ballot access.

f. Debate Access

Just as the establishment media is loathe to devote coverage to alternative parties for the reasons discussed above, they also collude with the major parties to deny access to televised general election debates. Since the 1988 election, the Republicans and Democrats have used the Commission on Presidential Debates that they created to effectively silence third-party candidates in general election debates (with the exception of Perot in 1992, but this was only because both major-party candidates believed that Perot’s presence was in their self-interest). This creates the appearance in the minds of voters that the two major-party candidates are the only legitimate choices.

II. The Libertarian Party

a. Inherent Contradiction

Libertarianism is a philosophical position on what constitutes the acceptable use of force. It says that initiating the use of force is never acceptable but using force to defend against an initiator of force is always acceptable. Taken to its logical conclusion, libertarianism requires anarchy and views the state as an institution of violent criminality. This is because the state is a group of people who claim and exercise a monopoly on initiatory force within a geographical area.

With this in mind, the Libertarian Party contains an inherent contradiction, in that it is a political party devoted to anti-politics, an attempt to use the current system in order to destroy it. In the words of Christopher Cantwell,

“Any libertarian who tells you he is trying to win an election is either lying to you about trying to win the election, lying to us about being a libertarian, or terribly misinformed. As far as we’re concerned, elections are a bad thing. We’re trying to end them, not win them.

The nature of the State is to make false promises to bait support from the people it victimizes. They promise to protect you from boogeymen; they promise to solve your economic problems; they promise to carry out the will of your deity. We see this as completely ridiculous; we know it will fail, and we know that most people are stupid enough to swallow it hook, line, and sinker, so we cannot compete with it in a popular vote.

Libertarians are anarchists, whether they realize it or not. Even the ones who are delusional enough to think that they are going to get elected and restore the bloody republic are little more than useful idiots who are repeating anarchist propaganda for us through channels normally reserved for government. The goal is not to win your elections; the goal is to turn a large enough minority against the legitimacy of the State as to make its continued function impossible.”

Though the Libertarian Party has other purposes, such as social networking and educating people about libertarian philosophy, it is hampered in a way that other, non-libertarian third parties are not by its contradictory nature.

b. Principles Over Party

The Libertarian Party brands itself as the Party of Principle, though this is questionable when one considers the candidates who run under its banner. To the extent that this is true, however, it can harm the party’s election results. A principled libertarian will reject the political quid pro quo bribery that allows the major parties to fund their campaigns and maintain their power, and this puts one at a structural disadvantage to the political establishment. As Nick Land explains,

“Since winning elections is overwhelmingly a matter of vote buying, and society’s informational organs (education and media) are no more resistant to bribery than the electorate, a thrifty politician is simply an incompetent politician, and the democratic variant of Darwinism quickly eliminates such misfits from the gene pool. …It is a structural inevitability that the libertarian voice is drowned out in democracy.”

c. Lack of Unity

If an insufficiently libertarian candidate wins the party’s nomination, LP voters are more likely than voters of other party affiliations to support another party’s candidate. In 2016, this manifested in the defection of many libertarians to the Trump campaign (and a small handful to the other campaigns), as well as the quixotic write-in campaign of failed Libertarian candidate Darryl Perry. This results in the LP having less of an impact than it would if its voters came home after a bitter primary to the same extent that voters for the two major parties do. A lack of unity in an already small party is a death sentence for its political influence.

d. Bad Presentation

From the standpoint of a philosophical libertarian, the 2016 Libertarian National Convention was a raging dumpster fire. Candidates voiced support for all sorts of anti-libertarian ideas, the least libertarian candidates for President and Vice President were nominated, a candidate for party chair performed a striptease at the convention podium, and failed presidential candidate John McAfee thought it wise to attack the core demographic of libertarianism. At a time when the Libertarian Party most needed itself to be taken seriously by the American people, the convention did nothing to help the image of libertarianism while doing much to pollute its message and tarnish its image in the minds of voters.

After the convention, the LP spread misinformation concerning what a vote for Johnson could actually accomplish. It turns out that contrary to LP propaganda, 5 percent of the national popular vote does next to nothing for ballot access because ballot access is a state-level issue. The only such law is found in Georgia, but it requires 20 percent of the national popular vote for automatic ballot access in the next election. Lying to potential voters about the impact that they will have for one’s cause is not a recipe for success.

III. Johnson/Weld 2016

a. Lack of Libertarianism

As mentioned above, Gary Johnson was the least libertarian of the five candidates featured in the debate at the convention. Johnson repeated the tired falsehood that libertarianism is social liberalism combined with economic conservatism, supported fixing Social Security rather than phasing it out, claimed that market forces had bankrupted coal companies rather than government regulations, supported for a consumption tax (which drew a round of boos from the audience), advocated regional banks rather than a free market in currency, declined to condemn the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, had no answer as to whether American involvement in the World Wars was justified, supported government involvement in marriage, favored the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which drew a round of boos from the audience due to parts which violate private property rights and freedom of association), and supported government-issued driver’s licenses (which drew several rounds of boos from the audience). Johnson also has a history of supporting military intervention against Joseph Kony, saying that Jews should be forced to do business with Nazis, wanting to ban Muslim women from wearing burqas, and growing state government spending as governor. William Weld, Johnson’s running mate, was even worse; he was the least libertarian of the four vice presidential contenders by a mile. Weld has a history of supporting affirmative action, eminent domain, environmental regulations, gun control, the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama, and the presidential candidacy of John Kasich. There was nothing to attract anyone who was looking for a principled libertarian message, and much to repel them.

b. Lack of Knowledge

In a September 8 interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Mike Barnicle asked Johnson about Aleppo. Johnson completely blanked out on the issue. At the time, he was hovering around 9 percent in the polls and needed to reach 15 percent to gain access to the debates. This gaffe marked the beginning of his gradual decline from 8.8 percent on September 7 to the 3.3 percent of the vote he received on November 8. Attempts were made to defend his gaffe by claiming that Johnson could not bomb other countries like major-party presidents do if he did not know about them, but these rightly rang hollow. A few weeks later, Johnson was asked to name a foreign leader that he admires and was unable to name anyone. While a philosophical libertarian could say that all heads of state are presiding over criminal organizations and are thus unworthy of admiration, Johnson did not do this and attempts by his supporters to spin his gaffe in that fashion were risible at best. It is one thing to withdraw from foreign entanglements, but quite another to have no idea what is happening in the world.

c. Lack of Personal Growth

Johnson first ran for President in 2012 as a Republican, then switched parties to gain the Libertarian nomination. As the 2012 campaign season wore on, Johnson improved in his ability to speak publicly and articulate libertarian ideas, though he still made some significant errors. Unfortunately, this trajectory did not continue. Four years is a long time in which to gain knowledge and grow as a person, but Johnson did not noticeably do either during this time. If anything, his mental faculties appear to have regressed between his 2012 campaign and his 2016 campaign.

d. Bad Presentation

Not only did Johnson gaffe badly on multiple occasions, but his presentation was downright weird at times. In an interview with NBC’s Kasie Hunt, Johnson stuck out his tongue and spoke almost incoherently. His intention was to make a point about debate access and how bad the major-party candidates were, but it looked desperate, forced, and strange. He appeared to be stoned in other media appearances, despite claiming that he had stopped using marijuana for the campaign.

e. Lack of Preparation and Study

A lack of knowledge and personal growth can only be properly addressed by preparation and study. Johnson and those around him needed to make sure that he was learning everything that he would need to know in order to be an effective presidential candidate on par with the major-party candidates. Clearly, this did not happen.

f. Inactivity Between Elections

A person who intends to run as a third-party candidate in multiple election cycles needs to be involved with the party’s activities in the intervening years. As the most public face of the organization, no one else has more power to bring in donors, encourage activists, and invite new people to the party than the party’s presidential candidate. But Johnson was nowhere to be found between the end of his 2012 campaign and the beginning of his 2016 campaign, having retreated into the private sector to run a marijuana company (which may help to explain the previous points in more ways than one). Johnson has similarly fallen off the face of the political landscape now that the 2016 campaign is over, which may harm the party’s outreach efforts leading up to the 2020 campaign.

g. Lack of Charisma

Johnson seems to lack the ability to take over a room in the way that successful presidential candidates do. Instead, he is usually soft-spoken and nervous, which causes his statements to lose some of their gravitas and his barbs to lose some of their sting. When he does raise his voice, it comes across not as righteous indignation but as a simple loss of temperament. While this might be good for countering the imperial Presidency after taking office, it is counterproductive for getting there.

h. Lack of Political Awareness

Much like Rand Paul during his campaign, Johnson seemed completely oblivious to what was happening in middle America. Whether by the statism indoctrinated into the voting public or by the political autism and cuckoldry that commonly manifest in mainstream libertarians, the libertarian moment passed and the right-wing populist moment came. The Libertarian Party found itself just as unprepared for this as did the Democrats and the establishment Republicans. For this reason (and the previous reason), Johnson was incapable of effectively countering Trump.

i. Unscrupulous Spending/Ron Neilson

The Libertarian Party and its candidates never have the resources of a major-party campaign. It is therefore of the utmost importance to wisely use the limited amount of funds available. The Johnson campaign failed to do this, spending an inordinate amount on campaign consulting services while still owing nearly $2 million from his 2012 campaign. If the campaign had received a good return on its investment into Ron Neilson’s consulting firm, then this might not be so bad. But given all of the above issues which a consulting firm might be expected to notice, bring to a candidate’s attention, and attempt to resolve, this was clearly not the case.

j. Lack of Loyalty

Even if all of the above issues did not exist, it is difficult to mount a successful presidential campaign when it is being torpedoed by no less than the bottom half of the ticket. Bill Weld proved that he is not only anti-libertarian on the issues, but a traitor to the Libertarian Party. In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on November 1, Weld said,

“Well I’m here vouching for Mrs. Clinton and I think it’s high time somebody did, and I’m doing it based on my personal experience with her and I think she deserves to have people vouch for her other than members of the Democratic National Committee, so I’m here to do that.”

At a press conference on November 7, the following exchange occurred:

Press: Between Clinton and Trump would you say ‘vote for Hillary Clinton?’

Weld: “Absolutely! I’ve sort of said that from day 1… But I’m saying, you know, if you can see your way clear to vote the party in the middle, that would be the Libertarians, that’s our first choice.”

Weld then said,

“We want people to vote Libertarian, but I understand in very close swing states there may be different dynamics at play, but in places like Massachusetts, where Mrs. Clinton is way, way, ahead, I would encourage everybody to vote Libertarian.”

Given the history of third-party candidacies, this is exactly the wrong approach. Third parties advance their causes by playing spoiler, thus forcing the major parties to either adopt their platforms or face the threat of being replaced in the way that the Republicans replaced the Whigs.

Conclusion

Gary Johnson is not going to be President, and the 20 reasons discussed above show that there was never any doubt of this by any competent observer. In future elections, this should be a thorough guide for the Libertarian Party concerning what not to do. But because Johnson gained a record vote total and vote percentage for the LP and libertarians tend to be no better than other people at recognizing the need to contemplate counterfactuals rather than to look only at what happened in this timeline, these lessons will likely remain unlearned and the LP will continue to wander in the wilderness.

Book Review: Our Sister Republics

Our Sister Republics is a book about the history of the United States and its relations with Central and South America in the early 19th century by history professor Caitlin Fitz. The book discusses the popular sentiment in favor of revolutions against Spanish and Portuguese control in Latin America following the War of 1812, which turned sour after 1826 as the new republics suffered civil unrest and incompetent governance while the United States turned toward racialist nationalism.

Fitz first presents a map of the Americas as they were in 1825, to which the reader should continually refer while reading through the book in order to have a better sense of the involved geography. In the introduction, she explains her terminology, briefly covers American history from the Revolutionary War to the War of 1812, and gives a short overview of what she covers at length in the rest of the book.

The opening chapter explains the context in which Americans first came to look fondly upon South America. Early references to Christopher Columbus would lead to the concept of a liberty-loving Columbia. Spain’s distractions with European wars resulted in less trade restrictions between the US and Spanish America. These factors led to affinities for Spanish America once they began to revolt against their colonial masters. Even then, there were some reservations about the ability of South Americans to form republican governments. From 1810 until the mid-1820s, these reservations came to be expressed only when revolutionaries faltered. It helped that the US fought a second war for independence while the South Americans were fighting their first.

The second chapter discusses the agents of revolution who came to the US to foster support for South American rebels. Occasionally exceeding neutrality laws and frequently using American presses for propaganda purposes, they helped provide revolutionaries with the materiel they needed to secure independence. Fitz shows that this was a colorful cast of characters in more ways than one, and illustrates the undercurrent of race which would eventually come to the forefront.

The third chapter gives an overview of the activities of the press in the 1810s, showing how they affected (and sometimes manipulated) public opinion in favor of the revolutionaries. There were occasional dissenters, but they would be marginalized and rebutted until some years into the 1820s. Fitz demonstrates that then as now, there is no such thing as objective journalism because editors are more likely to publish and treat favorably that which they support.

The fourth chapter is about Simon Bolivar and the perception of him in the US. Fitz shows through toasts and baby names that Bolivar gained much admiration in the US, even as Bolivar did not respond in kind. Both whites and blacks found something to like in Bolivar, even though these aspects were quite different. Whites saw republican unity; blacks saw an abolitionist leader.

In the fifth chapter, Fitz discusses the US government’s actions toward South America at the time. Some black and white pictures augment the chapter, and would have improved the book elsewhere had they been included in other chapters. The role of merchants in financing and supplying revolutionaries is examined, along with the activities of privateers and filibusterers. Many Americans today would be surprised to know how many in those days volunteered to serve in foreign militaries. The second half of the chapter focuses on the important American political personalities of the time: Henry Clay, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams, but finally the rise of William Smith and those like him who eagerly defended racism and slavery.

The sixth chapter begins with the election of 1824 and the “corrupt bargain” that awarded the Presidency to John Quincy Adams instead of electoral vote leader Andrew Jackson. This event set the stage not only for the Whig versus Democrat party system, but for the turning of the tide in relations with South America. Fitz explains how the passivity of the egalitarian sentiments of the time left them vulnerable to growing slavery in the southern US and the arguments in favor of it. The controversy over the Panama Congress of 1826 furthered the shift in American views toward their southern neighbors. Though Clay, Adams, and Bolivar had high hopes, the congress was a disaster. It is interesting to note that some themes have been constant throughout American history; the Democrats’ antebellum platform of limited government, nationalism, racism, opposition to social reform, and economic populism has much in common with the views of the alt-right. And as always, when rhetoric and reality depart from one another, reality always wins in the long run.

The conclusion looks forward to the 1830s and beyond, showing how the sentiment of the 1810s and its reversal in the 1820s manifested going forward. Fitz ends the book by wondering how America could have turned out differently and for the better had the sentiments of the 1810s not been overthrown. The second half of the book shows how American exceptionalism originated as a pro-slavery, white supremacist idea, and how the US came to be a foe of anti-colonial movements in the 20th century.

Fitz’s appendix and notes demonstrate that she certainly did an appropriate amount of research for the project. Overall, this is an excellent book that covers an oft-neglected aspect of early US history in a manner which engages the reader much better than the average history book.

Rating: 5/5

The Case For Bringing Religion Into Politics

In a July 23 interview with Scott Pelley of CBS, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was asked about internal Democratic National Committee emails which had been released recently. One of the email chains included a staffer’s suggestion that they ask questions about Sanders’ religion in an attempt to undermine him with religious voters. Clinton said in response, “I am adamantly opposed to anyone bringing religion into our political process. …That is just absolutely wrong and unacceptable.” But is it? Let us make the contrary case that the religious beliefs of a candidate should be part of the political process.

In the philosophical sense, a religion is a set of principles by which an adherent is supposed to live. As these principles are supposed to be the guiding precepts by which a believer makes decisions, it is especially important for people who are going to choose who will wield state power to know about the stated religious views of each candidate. Knowing this will allow voters and rival candidates to detect hypocrisy, anti-empiricism, and aggressive tendencies, none of which are desirable in a person who wields state power. It also allows people to consider whether any heretical views held by a candidate are for good or ill.

Hypocrisy

It is in the nature of politicians to say one thing and do another, or to espouse contrary principles when pandering to special interest groups or demographics which are at cross purposes. This is understandable, given the perverse incentive structures which are invariably present in democracies. But some engage in more blatant hypocrisy than others, doing so out of internal corruption rather than merely as a reaction to the prevailing political system. One indication of this is for a politician to claim a certain religious affiliation while acting in contradiction to the teachings of that religion. This can be a sign that the candidate will flip-flop on important issues, as those who lie to voters about one thing will be more likely to lie to them about something else.

Anti-Empiricism

Religions are frequently a source of anti-empirical beliefs, as most prominent religions were founded long ago when current scientific knowledge was unavailable. In the absence of reason and science, religion offered people what they thought were answers for phenomena which eluded their understanding. But accepting answers on faith is dangerous on two counts; they are probably incorrect, and it keeps people from searching for a proper understanding of the correct answer. When politicians take answers on faith rather than seeking rational, scientific explanations, the policy results can be disastrous. As such, it is important for a voter or rival candidate to know whether a candidate believes, for instance, that the Earth is flat and/or less than 10,000 years old just because an ancient text tells them so. This is an important indication that the candidate can be made to believe almost anything without asking for proper evidence.

It must be noted that not all anti-empiricism is undesirable. There is nothing wrong with opposing the entry of empiricism into fields of study in which it does not belong, such as mathematics or economics. And because empiricism requires rationalism in order to be used, it cannot overrule pure reason. As such, logic overrules experience and a priori truths are not subject to empirical study. But religions do not generally offer such strongly rational truth; instead, they rely upon divine revelation, which believers are taught to accept without evidence.

Aggressive Tendencies

When most prominent religions were founded, the world was a more violent place. Punishments for behaviors which aggressed against no person or property were commonplace, as was genocidal behavior toward neighboring people of different faiths as well as conquered peoples. But understanding of moral principles (if not their practice) has advanced since then, and most people have come to rightly condemn such behavior. When a candidate espouses a fundamentalist or literalist interpretation of a religious text which calls for such behavior to be practiced throughout the society, it should give voters pause. This can require some study on the part of voters and other candidates to detect, as openly supporting wars on religious grounds is no longer fashionable in the West, but such tendencies can still be observed among religious neoconservatives.

Many religions also include content which is opposed to free markets, private property, and freedoms of thought and association. If such content influences a candidate to support such policies as high taxes on the wealthy, expansion of common spaces and/or welfare statism, restrictions on activities which do not aggress against any person or property, or policies which discriminate in favor one’s own religion and/or against other religions, voters and rival candidates should be aware of this.

Heresy

Some people claim to be an adherent of a particular religion but have a different understanding from most people of the meaning of the teachings of that religion. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if such heretical beliefs lead a religious person away from hypocrisy, truth denial, or aggression. But those who define terms differently in one aspect of life will almost certainly do so in other aspects, and this is important information for voters and rival candidates to know. Whether this is for good or ill depends upon the particulars of each case, but it is an indicator that a candidate must be given more than a cursory examination in order to be properly understood.

Conclusion

For the above reasons, it is entirely appropriate to bring religion into the political process. It is a tool that voters can use to examine a candidate for flaws, as well as legitimate grounds for one candidate to attack another for character traits unbecoming of a person who would wield state power.

Requiem for a Dumpster Fire: The 2016 Libertarian National Convention

On May 27-30, the Libertarian Party held its national presidential nominating convention in Orlando, Fla. Over a thousand delegates from all 50 states attended the convention, along with dozens of guest speakers. Much of this was well and good, though some leftist degeneracy has infiltrated most corners of the libertarian community, and the guest seminars and panels were no exception. But none of this matters much to those who are not libertarians and/or have no interest in the inside baseball of the Libertarian Party. Those people were paying attention to the presidential and vice presidential debates, as well as the election processes for the party’s presidential ticket and national party offices. What they saw, at least from the standpoint of this philosophical libertarian, was a raging dumpster fire.

At the vice presidential debate on Friday, the audio quality was unbecoming of an organization seeking to put people into the White House. William Weld was generally lacking in passion and boldness, supported using the United Nations as a check against corrupt governments in third-world countries, and frequently diverged from straight answers in order to attack presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Larry Sharpe seemed to believe that all punishment should be abolished and misidentified several historical figures as libertarians who were not. Will Coley was a mostly consistent libertarian, but managed to confuse non-aggression with pacifism. Alicia Dearn was more on point, but otherwise unremarkable. All four candidates were soft on the topic of violent revolution.

If the vice presidential debate was bad, then the presidential debate on Saturday was worse. The audio problems continued. Gary Johnson repeated the tired falsehood that libertarianism is social liberalism combined with economic conservatism, supported fixing Social Security rather than phasing it out, claimed that market forces had bankrupted coal companies (and was promptly corrected by Austin Petersen), supported for a consumption tax (which drew a round of boos from the audience), advocated regional banks rather than a free market in currency, declined to condemn the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, had no answer as to whether American involvement in the World Wars was justified, supported government involvement in marriage, favored the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which drew a round of boos from the audience due to parts which violate private property rights and freedom of association), and supported government-issued driver’s licenses (which drew several rounds of boos from the audience). John McAfee defended keeping entitlement programs for older people. Petersen voiced support for a flat tax to fund Social Security, claimed that roads will be unnecessary because we will have jetpacks, and voiced support for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Darryl Perry was wrong on some historical facts, but was generally a strong libertarian. Marc Allan Feldman mistakenly asserted that one cannot fight for one right without fighting for others, claimed that the Islamic religion cannot be blamed for terrorism, failed to realize that political leaders will want to engage in warfare if they perceive it to be in their interest, and was equivocal on the Civil Rights Act concerning private sector discrimination. All five candidates engaged in various degrees of openborders cuckery and said that there is no lesser evil between Republicans and Democrats.

The nominees were chosen on Sunday, and to the surprise of few, Johnson and Weld won, though neither earned a majority of delegate support on the first ballot. In this decision, the delegates decided to choose nominees with the most name recognition in hopes of reaching out to more voters at the cost of presenting a false message of what libertarianism is. This decision says that the Libertarian Party has forgotten its purpose as an educational tool and is instead trying to play the establishment’s game, thinking that the establishment is sufficiently divided against itself to allow an upstart challenger to the duopoly to have a chance. As such, they chose the most moderate, safe, mainstream, establishment candidates they could find to run with the banner of what is supposed to be an extreme, bold, anti-establishment party. But if history has taught us anything about third parties in America, it is that the two major parties always agree that no other party should be allowed to compete.

It would be bad enough if the heresies of Johnson and Weld were limited to their debate responses listed above, but there is much more. Johnson has a history of supporting military intervention against Joseph Kony, saying that Jews should be forced to do business with Nazis, wanting to ban Muslim women from wearing burqas, and growing state government spending as governor. Weld has a history of supporting affirmative action, eminent domain, environmental regulations, gun control, the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama, and most recently, the presidential candidacy of John Kasich.

It is hard to view this as anything other than a culmination of the hostile takeover of the Libertarian Party by cuckservatives and cuckertarians that has been underway for a long time. To quote myself from an earlier article,

“The cuckertarian denounces anarchist libertarians as utopian idealists, preaching instead a form of limited statism that contains obvious contradictions. Cuckertarians prefer to moderate the message of liberty to reach a wider audience, but in the process they corrupt it into something that a consistently principled libertarian would barely recognize. In the Libertarian Party, this results in moderate or even fake libertarians gaining the presidential nomination.”

Some libertarians may say that this election is a test to see whether libertarians can work within the system, but has this experiment not been run repeatedly for the past 40 years, with essentially the same result each time? This many attempts should be enough to convince even the most stalwart party operative that, in the words of Christopher Cantwell,

“Any libertarian who tells you he is trying to win an election is either lying to you about trying to win the election, lying to us about being a libertarian, or terribly misinformed. As far as we are concerned, elections are a bad thing. We are trying to end them, not win them. …Libertarians are anarchists, whether they realize it or not. Even the ones who are delusional enough to think that they are going to get elected and restore the bloody republic, are little more than useful idiots who are repeating anarchist propaganda for us through channels normally reserved for government. The goal is not to win your elections, the goal is to turn a large enough minority against the legitimacy of the State as to make its continued function impossible.”

Unfortunately, the troubles did not end with the presidential nominating process. At a time when the Libertarian Party most needs itself to be taken seriously by the American people, one candidate for party chair decided to perform a striptease on the convention stage during the process to fill that office. But perhaps worst of all, failed presidential candidate John McAfee thought it wise to attack the core demographic of libertarianism. During his concession speech, McAfee said,

“When I first joined the Libertarian Party, two things stood out very starkly. One, 75 percent of you are men. Number two, 99.8 percent of you are white. Shame on you. Shame on you, and shame on me for never having mentioned it before.”

If anything, white men deserve praise for being the demographic group that is intelligent enough to become libertarians to such a disproportionate extent. What McAfee is suggesting is that there is a white man’s burden, that it is the responsibility of white males to make sure that females and non-whites are educated and behaving properly. But rather than denouncing him as a racist and sexist, as would have been proper, the audience applauded him. Even if his intended point was that more outreach should be done to females and non-whites, there are evolutionary reasons to believe that this will be less than fruitful.

The long-term result of the 2016 Libertarian Party National Convention is hard to predict, but it did nothing to help the image of libertarianism while doing much to pollute its message. As such, the best result in the general election may be one of total failure so that libertarians can reject the approach taken by the party. As always, the path to liberty is anti-political.

A Glossary of Social Justice Warrior Terminology

The use of language by social justice warriors frequently departs from both the dictionary definitions and the common understanding of words by most of the general population. As such, a guide to social justice warrior speech may be helpful to the layperson, along with commentary about how their uses of words relate to reality. This will take the form of an informal and potentially humorous glossary, which will not be exhaustive due to some terms being understood in the same manner by social justice warriors and the layperson, and due to the continual invention of new terms. This glossary will focus on how such terms are used in practice rather than how social justice warriors might define them in theory.

Ableism
(noun): any criticism or negative sentiment that affects people with disabilities, regardless of validity.
Ablesplaining
(verb): condesplaining by a able-bodied person to a disabled person. See Condesplaining
AFAB/AMAB
(abbreviation): assigned female/male at birth. This tends to be a statement of biological reality concerning people whose brains do not conform to said reality.
Ageism
(noun): any criticism or negative sentiment that affects young or old people, regardless of validity.
Agesplaining
(verb): condesplaining to a person of a different age. See Condesplaining
Agender
(adjective): a person who identifies with no gender. Usually (but not always) a denial of biological reality.
Anti-Semitism
(noun): any criticism or negative sentiment that affects Jewish people, regardless of validity.
Appropriation
(noun): the use of parts of a culture by someone who does not identify as a person from that culture. Although appropriation has been responsible for the spread of new and better ideas and technology throughout the world, social justice warriors view appropriation as problematic.
Bigender
(adjective): a person who identifies as a mixture of two genders. Usually (but not always) a denial of biological reality. See Intersex
Bigotry
1. (noun): any criticism or negative sentiment that affects a group which is said to lack privilege, regardless of validity. See Ableism, Ageism, Homophobia, Racism, Sexism, Transphobia.
2. (noun): a combination of prejudice and power.
Brocialism
(noun): the belief that socialism will result in gender equality.
CAFAB/CAMAB
(abbreviation): coercively assigned female/male at birth. A term used by social justice warriors for an intersex child who is assigned a gender by parents and/or doctors.
Cisethnic
(adjective): a person who identifies with the ethnicity indicated by their externally observable features. This is usually a sign of a healthy mind.
Cisgender
(adjective): a person who identifies with the gender indicated by their externally observable features. This is usually a sign of a healthy mind.
Cisplaining
(verb): condesplaining by a cisgendered person to a transgendered person. See Condesplaining
Condesplaining
(verb): the act of a person said to be privileged explaining something to a person said to be oppressed in a manner believed to be condescending. In practice, there need not be anything inappropriate or condescending about said explanation.
Consent
(verb): to agree to participate in an activity, especially activity of a sexual nature. Consent cannot be given when someone is intoxicated, unconscious, or has been threatened or manipulated into compliance, but social justice warriors only recognize this if a female is in such a condition.
Content Warning
(noun): an alternative to trigger warnings which was created because some people complained that a trigger warning is itself triggering. See Trigger Warning and Triggering
Dangerous
(adjective): See Problematic
Derail
(verb): to divert a discussion from its intended topic. This is frequently done by social justice warriors through a variety of means, including accusations of bigotry, unchecked privilege, etc.
Discrimination
(noun): the expression of any less-than-favorable preference toward a person or group believed to be less privileged or more oppressed than oneself, regardless of validity.
Econosplaining
(verb): condesplaining by a wealthier person to a poorer person. See Condesplaining
Essentialism
(noun): the idea that people, objects, and ideas can be identified based on externally observable features. Although this is empirically true, social justice warriors consider this idea to be problematic.
Ethnocentrism
(noun): the idea that one’s own culture is superior to others. This is viewed negatively by social justice warriors, even if it is factually justified.
FAAB
(abbreviation): See AFAB
Feminism
(noun): the idea that women should have the same rights and privileges as men without having the same responsibilities and drawbacks.
Gender binary
(noun): the idea that there are only two genders; male and female. This is viewed as problematic by social justice warriors, despite being a biological truth (with the notable exception of intersex people).
Gender equality
(noun): the belief that people should receive equal treatment and not be discriminated against on the basis of gender. Frequently accompanied by a denial of inherent biological differences between the genders.
Gender identity
(noun): a person’s internal sense of gender. This may or may not be in alignment with biological reality.
Genderfluid
(noun): a gender identity that changes over time. No biological basis for such an identity exists in humans.
Genderqueer
(noun): an umbrella term for gender identities other than male and female. See Third gender
Hate crime
(noun): a crime said to be motivated by bigotry against some aspect of the identity of the victim, such as race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or disability. Most social justice warriors deny the possibility of hate crimes against people who are said to be privileged.
Heterosplaining
(verb): Condesplaining by a heterosexual person to an LGBT person. See Condesplaining
Hijra
(adjective): see Third gender
Homophobia
(noun): any criticism or negative sentiment that affects homosexuals, regardless of validity. Note: Most social justice warriors deny the possibility of bigotry against heterosexuals, due to their belief that bigotry is a combination of prejudice and power.
Internalized oppression
(noun): a term used to denounce a member of a group said to be oppressed who deviates from social justice ideology. Variants include internalized racism, internalized misogyny, internalized homophobia, etc.
Internalized superiority
(noun): a term used to denounce a member of a group said to be privileged who deviates from social justice ideology.
Intersectionality
(noun): the social justice warrior method for analyzing the various privileges or oppressions that a person may experience. This creates the progressive stack.
Intersex
(adjective): a person who is born with genitals which are not male or female, but something in between. While a legitimate concern, social justice warriors spend relatively little time addressing it.
Kyriarchy
(noun): see Intersectionality
MAAB
(abbreviation): See AMAB
Manarchism
(noun): the belief that social anarchism will result in gender equality.
Mansplaining
(verb): condesplaining by a man to a woman. See Condesplaining
Men’s rights activist (MRA)
(noun): any man who rejects social justice dogma, especially of the feminist variety.
Microaggression
(noun): any activity that makes a social justice warrior uncomfortable. In reality, there is no such thing as a microaggression because the law of excluded middle requires that an act be either aggressive or non-aggressive.
Misogyny
(noun): any criticism or negative sentiment that affects females, regardless of validity. Note: Most social justice warriors deny the possibility of sexism against men, due to their belief that bigotry is a combination of prejudice and power.
Neutrois
(adjective): See Agender
NTsplaining
(verb): condesplaining by a neurotypical person to a neurodivergent person. See Condesplaining
Oppression
1. (noun): discrimination at the group or societal level. See Discrimination
2. (noun): see Microaggression
Other
1. (noun): the idea that other people and groups are distinct beings different from oneself, even if they are not believed to be inferior.
2. (adjective): a person or group recognized as distinct from oneself.
3. (verb): to place another person or group into the position of an Other. This is generally a useful way of dealing with social justice warriors, as well as some of the more delusional types of people mentioned in this glossary.
Otherkin
(adjective): a person who self-identifies as a non-human. Otherkin are either one of the most delusional types of people given consideration in social justice ideology or trolls who are faking it to make fun of social justice warriors.
Patriarchy
(noun): a system of male dominance that suppresses non-masculine traits and behaviors. This is considered to be problematic by social justice warriors, even if such a system is formed voluntarily and proves more successful than other forms of social organization.
Policing
(verb): to reprimand a person who is not acting in accordance with social justice ideology, regardless of validity.
Polysexual
(adjective): a synonym for bisexual used by people who reject the gender binary.
Power
1. (noun): a person’s perception of one’s ability to influence outcomes to meet one’s needs and wants.
2. (noun): the ability to make decisions that affect another person
3. (noun): control of societal institutions
Prejudice plus power
(phrase): the social justice warrior standard for bigotry. This leads them to deny possibilities such as anti-white racism, misandry, heterophobia, cisphobia, and other bigotry against groups said to be privileged.
Pride
(noun): the celebration of a non-cisgendered identity or non-heterosexual orientation, despite the fact that having such an identity or orientation is innate and not an accomplishment.
Privilege
(noun): the sum of the advantages (or lack of disadvantages) that a person or group has, regardless of whether those advantages are innate, legitimately earned, or illegitimately taken.
Privsplaining
(verb): See Condesplaining
Problematic
(adjective): that which is at odds with progressive or social justice ideology, regardless of truth value. This glossary would be considered highly problematic.
Progressive stack
(noun): an arbitrary and capricious method used to decide how privileged a person is relative to others. Often referred to by non-SJWs as the Oppression Olympics. See Intersectionality
Questioning
(adjective): a person who is unsure of one’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
Racism
(noun): any criticism or negative sentiment that affects minority racial groups, regardless of validity. Note: Most social justice warriors deny the possibility of racism against white people, due to their belief that bigotry is a combination of prejudice and power.
Rape culture
(noun): the belief that brutally victimizing women while they scream for help is considered to be socially acceptable.
Reactionary
(adjective): See Problematic
Safe space
(noun): a location where emotionally unstable and/or immature people who are upset may gather to receive comfort and counseling for the traumatic experience of being exposed to a mere difference of opinion.
Self-identification
(noun): the idea that one can choose one’s identity, regardless of empirical facts.
Sexism
(noun): see Feminism. Note: Most social justice warriors deny the possibility of sexism against men, due to their belief that bigotry is a combination of prejudice and power.
Shaming
(verb): to suggest that degenerate behavior has negative consequences and should therefore be discouraged. Social justice warriors consider this to be problematic.
Shitlord
(noun): a person who engages in problematic speech and/or behavior.
Sizesplaining
(verb): condesplaining by a “normal-sized” person to a person widely perceived to be too small or large. See Condesplaining
Social construct
(noun): an idea created and developed in society. While a valid concept, social justice warriors misuse this concept to reject a priori truths.
Stereotype
(noun): a fixed image about a person or group that collectivizes them and denies their individuality. Social justice warriors tend to reject these unless they concern people said to be privileged, but they tend to ignore the fact that stereotypes frequently have a basis in reality.
Straightsplaining
(verb): See Heterosplaining
SWERF
(abbreviation): sex-worker exclusionary radical feminism. Some social justice warriors meet this description, while others find the concept to be problematic.
SWETERF
(abbreviation): See SWERF and TERF
TERF
(abbreviation): trans-exclusionary radical feminism. Some social justice warriors meet this description, while others find the concept to be problematic.
Thinsplaining
(verb): See Sizesplaining
Third gender
(adjective): a distinct gender that is neither male nor female. No biological basis for such an identity exists in humans.
Transabled
(adjective): a person who does not identify with the ability/disability indicated by their externally observable features. This is usually a sign of an unhealthy mind, and may lead a person to alter one’s externally observable features in an effort to make them resemble that of one’s ability identity.
Transethnic
(adjective): a person who does not identify with the ethnicity indicated by their externally observable features. This is usually a sign of an unhealthy mind, and may lead a person to alter one’s externally observable features in an effort to make them resemble that of one’s ethnic identity.
Transgender
(adjective): a person who does not identify with the gender indicated by their externally observable features. This is usually a sign of an unhealthy mind, and may lead a person to alter one’s externally observable features in an effort to make them resemble that of one’s gender identity.
Transphobia
(noun): any criticism or negative sentiment that affects transgender people, regardless of validity. Note: Most social justice warriors deny the possibility of bigotry against cisgendered people, due to their belief that bigotry is a combination of prejudice and power.
Trigger Warning
(noun): an advisory that following content may upset emotionally unstable and/or immature people.
Triggering
1. (adjective): content may upset emotionally unstable and/or immature people.
2. (verb): to engage in communication which may upset emotionally unstable and/or immature people.
Two-spirit
(noun): see Genderfluid
Verbal violence
(noun): the nonsensical idea that speaking words can inflict physical harm upon someone.
Victim blaming
(verb): to suggest that people have some responsibility for their own well-being and self-defense.
Whitesplaining
(verb): condesplaining by a white person to a person of color. See Condesplaining
Xenophobia
(noun): any criticism or negative sentiment that affects people who are different from oneself, regardless of validity.

A Case Against the First Amendment

One of the most esteemed parts of the United States Constitution is the First Amendment, which reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Certainly, this will sound like a good idea to the vast majority of people. Most people would agree that a state which is allowed to interfere with the speech, writing, assembly, and religious beliefs of its subjects can quickly become oppressive and authoritarian, and that people should be able to seek a redress of grievances from the state. But there are several flaws with this position. Let us examine the failings of the First Amendment and why a free (stateless) society would be better off without this standard.

The first thing to note is that the interpretation of this amendment, like every other part of the Constitution, is decided by judges who are paid by the state in courts which are monopolized by the state. Thus, the First Amendment means whatever people in black costumes say it means, which need not be in keeping with common usage or dictionary definitions because there is no effective challenge to their power once the appeals process is exhausted. (There are the possibilities that a judge will be impeached and removed or that the Constitution will be amended, but these possibilities are rare enough to dismiss in most cases.) The incentive of people who are paid by the state is to encourage the health of the state, which means erring on the side of expanding the size and scope of government as well as kowtowing to popular opinion rather than handing down consistent rulings. This constitutes a threat to individual liberty and tends toward the curtailment of civil liberties.

This has produced results both interesting and disturbing. The Supreme Court never ruled on the Alien and Sedition Acts while they were in force, only noting their unconstitutionality in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964). In 1919, the Court ruled on four cases resulting from the Espionage Act of 1917 (though it did not rule on the constitutionality of petitioning against the Act). From these cases, a standard of “clear and present danger” was invented to allow the state to interfere with the rights enumerated in the First Amendment in an ultimately arbitrary fashion. In Valentine v. Chrestensen (1942), the Court upheld a New York City ordinance forbidding the “distribution in the streets of commercial and business advertising matter,” even though such a restriction is clearly arbitrary and capricious (this was overturned in Virginia State Pharmacy Board v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council (1976)). In Dennis v. United States (1951), the Court upheld the Smith Act, which criminalizes the advocacy of overthrowing any level of government in the United States. In Roth v. United States (1957), the Court ruled that obscenity is not protected, and adopted a definition that relies upon “contemporary community standards,” which can be arbitrary and capricious. In New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964), the Court ruled that publishing statements “with knowledge that they are false or in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity” can constitute a civil offense. In Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins (1980), the Court ruled that “individuals may peacefully exercise their right to free speech in parts of private shopping centers regularly held open to the public,” meaning that any private property used for commercial purposes is effectively no longer private, as the owners may not exercise their freedom of association to expel people from their property if their reason for doing so is a difference of opinion over speech.

To make a case against the First Amendment, one must first understand its function. It was commonly understood by the Framers that rights do not come from the state, but are inherent in each sentient being through what later theorists would call self-ownership. Therefore, the First Amendment was written not to give people the rights it enumerates, but to limit the use of government force against petitioning the government, as well as against speech, writing, religious activity, and peaceful assembly in public spaces. But the First Amendment was only necessary because the Constitution purports to authorize and legitimize a government that imposes common spaces upon the society and poses a threat to the activities enumerated by the First Amendment. If the state were abolished and its common spaces returned to private ownership, then the need for such a mitigating element protecting communication, religious activity, and peaceful assembly vanishes a fortiori, as does the need to petition an entity which would no longer exist. It must also be noted that when the state does actually redress the grievances of one person or group, it almost always commits more grievances against another person or group while doing so.

In a stateless society, the lack of a coercive monopoly eliminates the need for a right to petition. If one has grievances with a person or group in such a society, one handles it much as one deals with other non-state actors today. First, an attempt to negotiate directly is made. If this fails, then one may seek arbitration with a neutral dispute mediator. If this fails, then one may initiate legal proceedings, though this would be accomplished through private courts rather than a state’s court system. Finally, one may resort to the use of force in self-defense. In criminal matters, one would be justified in skipping the first two steps by immediately resorting to legal proceedings or defensive force. Also note that while states initiate the use of force against people who would dissociate from them, this behavior would not be tolerated in a stateless society. A person in a stateless society is thus afforded the option of ostracism of a person or group which causes grievances, as well as the options of associating with their competitors or becoming their competitor oneself.

At first glance, freedom of speech, writing, assembly, and religious beliefs may appear to be reasonable standards for a free society to protect, but these are not fundamental rights that can be traced back to self-ownership. The fundamental rights in a free society are self-ownership, private property, freedom of association, and freedom from aggression. One might object that one must speak or write in order to argue against freedom of speech or freedom of the press, or that one must assemble in order to argue against freedom of assembly, thus creating a performative contradiction, but this only applies within one’s own property or an unowned place. No one has a right to enter into another person’s property and engage in any speech, writing, assembly, or religious activity that is against the wishes of the property owner, and it would be exceedingly difficult (if not impossible) to contrive a situation in which the Reecean proviso would grant an exception. If a person does so, then the property owner has the right to curtail that person’s speech, writing, assembly, or religious activity by trespassing the person from the property and physically removing the person if necessary.

This sort of societal arrangement provides several benefits over a statist system which imposes common spaces upon the society. In a society with common spaces, people at cross purposes will seek to utilize those commons, which necessarily provokes conflicts. This, of course, provides a perfect excuse for the state to raise taxes and expand its security forces in order to “solve” the problem that the state creates in the first place. The only way to truly solve the problem of the commons is to eliminate all common spaces. Once this is done, people with unpopular and abhorrent views will have to either provide for their own security and keep their advocacy within private properties in which such views are welcome or be silenced. No more will such people be able to promote their ideas virtually anywhere and stick the members of society who oppose them with the bill for their protection. At long last, those who promote ideas which are at odds with liberty, such as democracy, fascism, and communism, will be able to be cast out of a libertarian community.

To conclude, the First Amendment is an attempt to mitigate evil rather than to snuff it out, and the misuse of its concepts has infringed upon more fundamental rights. While people living in a free society could decide that they wish to uphold the ideals of the First Amendment within their communities, there are clear reasons not to do so.

Charlotte City Council Takes A Stand Against Liberty

On February 22, the Charlotte City Council approved an expansion of its anti-discrimination ordinance by a 7-4 vote. It will be forbidden by law as of April 1 for places of housing and public accommodation (such as stores, restaurants, bars, and taxis, but not public schools) inside Charlotte city limits to refuse service to LGBT people on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression. The ordinance already forbids discrimination on the basis of age, gender, race, and religion. More controversially, the ordinance allows transgender people to use the restroom or locker room of their choice, depending on whether they identify as male or female.

In March 2015, proposed changes to the anti-discrimination ordinance without the restroom provision failed by a 5-6 vote. Since then, two new council members were elected, both of whom voted to support the changes. The expanded ordinance is the first of its kind in North Carolina.

Governor Pat McCrory and House Speaker Tim Moore have spoken of “legislative intervention to correct this radical course,” which would occur when the legislature’s next scheduled session begins in late April. The North Carolina General Assembly has ultimate power over municipalities and can strike down all or part of any local ordinance.

Most opposition to the ordinance changes comes either from religious freedom arguments or from concerns that pedophiles and other sexual predators would take advantage of the ordinance to gain entry to women’s facilities or men’s facilities with children in them in order to commit sexual crimes. Supporters of the ordinance changes claim that such fears are not borne out in available evidence and that transgender people are currently at risk of being attacked in restrooms and locker rooms.

While all establishment media attention is focused on the LGBT rights, religious freedom, and potential crime aspects of this event, no attention has been given to a secular argument against this measure on the grounds of private property and freedom of association. When a government decrees that private property owners who run a business within their property must serve people despite their individual preferences not to do so, this is both a violation of private property and a form of forced association. (This is no surprise of course, as private property rights and freedom of association both require anarchy, and we are far from that as of this writing.) While we may decry certain forms of discrimination as ignorant bigotry, this is no excuse for asking the state to initiate the use of force against people to turn their private properties into de facto common spaces simply because they reject civil standards of values and/or have legitimate safety concerns.

The correct action to take, if any at all, is to speak out against and socioeconomically ostracize people who disagree with one’s strongly held positions on issues. In a free market, bigots are punished because they relinquish customers and employees who have the traits against which the bigot is prejudiced as well as customers and employees who are sufficiently offended by said prejudice to ostracize the bigot. This is more than a linear relationship, as those who cannot or will not obtain goods, services, and employment from the bigot will be likely to do so from other providers who are not bigoted rather than do without. This will not only impoverish the bigot, but enrich his competitors. The eventual result is that bigots cannot compete with those who are not bigoted, and must either renounce their bigotry or go out of business.

Unfortunately, seven members of the Charlotte City Council have decided that granting special privileges is more important than protecting private property, freedom of association, public safety, and freedom of religion.