Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Diogenes, the Libertarian

Diogenes, the Libertarian
©2017  Ross Williams

By now most of us have read the articles and laughed, and some of us have watched the videos and guffawed.  A drunken strumpet having a bad hair day gets booted from a comedy club, then arrested, and then lays into the cops in slurring, vitriolic invective.  She [it was a woman] attempts to parlay her status as a television reporter into some kind of Get Out Of Jail Free card − it doesn’t work.  Another comedian at the club records her performance art on his phone and posts it to the internet.  The following day she claims, though her family attorney, to have been drugged.  She was fired from her television reporting job anyway.

It was a classic object lesson in the negative aspects of self-important, anti-social tantrum.  She was charged with disorderly conduct, criminal mischief [whatever that is], and resisting arrest.  Resisting arrest is the pile-on feel-good charge offered up when cops don’t really have anything substantive.  We never see murderers or armed robbers charged with murder or armed robbery … and resisting arrest.  Whenever resisting arrest is announced, it’s fairly prima facie that the major issue is that the cop’s ego was bruised, the poor dears.

The essential sequence of events is this:
* - Drunken strumpet heckles performer
* - Performer can't handle heckler
* - Club employees escort drunken strumpet from venue to public sidewalk where cops were waiting
* - Cops confront drunken strumpet about her actions inside venue
* - Drunken strumpet lambastes cops for being, well, cops
* - Cops cuff drunken strumpet
* - Drunken strumpet continues to berate cops
* - Cops eventually haul her away

What happened next, though, is Grade-A statist apologism and rationalization.  People the nation over cheered and huzzahed.  Many manly he-men volunteered assorted fisticuffs to punctuate their disapproval of her actions.  It would be one thing − and completely understandable, if still distasteful − were these statist apologists the standard democrats and republicans who celebrate hyper-reactive government involvement in nearly every aspect of human interaction.  But they weren’t.

They claimed to be libertarians, which makes it inexcusable.

The worst part about it, none of those professing to possess libertarian sensibilities could understand why their hairy chest-pounding was putrid statism. 

The first and most common excuse offered up is that the woman at the center of the nothingness assaulted someone by spitting.  First … there was nothing in any of the written accounts that asserts she definitively spit on anyone.  Second … we’re supposed to be libertarians here.  Spitting is, under the worst of circumstances, little more than a second grader’s preferred method of making the girls in class run screeching, next to eating bugs and turning eyelids inside out.  Big-girl panties, guys; pull ‘em up.

To be fair, there were multiple accounts stating that the cop-denouncing woman − and I will quote from one of those accounts − “appeared to attempt” to spit, but the target of her expectoration changed from version to version, rendering the accusation suspect at best and contrived at worst.  I have no doubt, though, from what I remember about my, and observed in others’, bouts of pronounced drunkenness that more than a few people in her vicinity were hit with spittle from the volume and relentlessness of her tirading.  But spray is not the same thing as hocking a loogie.

Yet it was over this assault-by-saliva claim that most of the − ahem − libertarians offered to deconstruct the orthodontics her parents had paid for.  “Self-defense”, more than one suggested.

Sorry, no.  Self-defense, under law, permits only those actions which are necessary to prevent another similar assault, while using the minimum force available.  Someone spitting at you is not justifiably met with a punch to the teeth any more than it is justifiably met with a folding chair across the shoulders or a gunshot to the torso.  Minimum necessary force to prevent being spat upon a second time by a woman handcuffed by police consists of moving out of loogie-range, and not a lot else.

Self-defense against projectile saliva under libertarians’ holy Non-Aggression Principle, however, would be a different matter.  Does the NAP justify disproportionate response?  Dunno.  A quick straw poll of libertarians on US self-defense against terrorists knocking down some really tall buildings in 2001 and the 16-year war waged since then might prove illuminating.

The relevant question is: what would the NAP allow as self-defense against the appearance of an attempt to perform juvenile micro-aggression?  Would it allow more than the appearance of an attempt at self-defense?

The follow-on statist argument made by non-libertarian libertarians is, “Yabbut … spitting is assault, and attempting to spit is attempted assault.  Both are crimes!”

The State defines many things as crimes, including not buckling up, not buying health insurance, and smoking “herbage”.  The State does these things because it can and because not enough people call them on it.  Courts certainly aren’t about to do their duty and nullify laws made in excess of the government’s defined power to make law.  Not without a revolution waiting in the wings.  We’re supposed to be libertarians here; we understand that just because The State calls it a crime doesn’t mean squat to libertarian political philosophy.

Assault-by-saliva is one of those crimes.  It is childish and repulsive; nothing more.

Other excuses made for the arrest of this drunken strumpet over her outburst are that she was drunk in public, which is a crime.  Again, just because The State calls it a crime …

She was a possible danger to herself.  But we’re still libertarians; The State is not defined to be our Mommy.

The government has an obligation to provide public safety.  Apart from “providing public safety” being impossible without locking everyone up because they’re suspicious, it is only actually attempted by a police-state.  A free country housing free citizens requires that the government only pester those who have actually committed crimes falling within the legitimate authority of that government to define crime, and then only when there is enough evidence to support pestering them over it.  This drunken strumpet had done nothing that reached that lofty elevation; at most the police should have shooed her to a cab, or taken her home themselves.

She was asked to leave the comedy club; she was therefore trespassing.  No, crime cannot be retroactive, and trespassing is no different.  She was escorted out of the comedy club to the sidewalk. … where she stayed. … partly because she was almost immediately handcuffed, but still.  Among the crimes that she had not committed was especially trespassing.

It’s real simple, here: we’re libertarians.  We do not advise or condone the involvement of The State merely because of a squabble between self-interested private parties.  In this case, the self-interests were a drunken strumpet who couldn’t hold her liquor and a comedy club whose comedian couldn’t handle a heckler.  Liberty requires the freedom to squabble and the freedom to handle those squabbles privately, without The State.

If you want police in the vicinity just to make sure nothing gets out of hand … fine.  Hey, there might’ve been a few barrel-chested libertarians wanting to take the opportunity to slug a drunken strumpet appearing to attempt to hock a loogie.  But unless things do get out of hand, the cops are there, just like everyone else, to eat popcorn and watch the squabble.

Nor does being libertarian and reducing the involvement of The State to observer status mean that we condone anti-social behavior and immature outbursts.  Even if those outbursts are First Amendment-protected and − when directed at the cops − largely accurate and deserved.  It means we take videos on our smart phones and post them on the internet to serve as an object lesson in knowing one’s upper limit on alcohol.

Non-state social sanction is, in the long run, a far better deterrent to these tantrums than heavy-handed police-statism if only because it deters a state becoming a police-state.  Again: we’re libertarians; we’re supposed to live and breathe this philosophy.  So live it and breathe it; own your philosophy.  I shouldn’t have to keep reminding everyone what they claim to stand for.