Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Libertarian Rubicon

Over on Rad Geek People’s Daily the Rad Geek recently made some interesting comments. These comments were regarding the death of FBI Narcotics Agent Sam Hicks while executing a no-knock raid.

Seeing as Sam Hicks was a professional thug who was shot in the course of violently enforcing a tyrannical law on an innocent man — and endangering that man's whole family in the process — I'm glad he got himself shot while he was doing it. That was a righteous kill. If only more of his fellow gangsters had reason to fear that they might get shot whenever they attempted these storm-trooper raids on innocent families to enforce unjust laws. And I don't even care whether FBI Special Agent Sam Hicks could have saved his own skin by enforcing that tyrannical law through other, less confrontational means.

He goes further.

But, speaking only for myself, as a libertarian, I think that drug dealers' lives are worth far more than the lives of FBI agents, because at least some drug dealers make their living nonviolently, by peddling a valued product to willing customers. Whereas FBI agents, and especially FBI agents on drug task forces, make their livings by imprisoning people who have done nothing to deserve it, in the name of "protecting" people who never asked for it and often don’t want that kind of "protection," and taking home a salary that was extracted from their "protected" victims at the point of a gun.

This is a courageous stand to take. Libertarians are accustomed to disagreeing with police, even to the point of describing them as tyrants or thugs. But libertarians often stop short of cheering for the death of police officers, no matter how well deserving.

While libertarians generally embrace a revolutionary spirit and talk about the possibility of some day needing to rebel and fight back against government oppressors, the tendency is to couch such language in the future sense and always theoretically. Some of the more disgruntled libertarians like to say "is it time to shoot the bastards yet?"

Another step taken by the Rad Geek is to say that the life of a drug dealer is worth more than that of a police officer. People are trained since childhood to respect police as heroes doing an important and difficult job. While libertarians in general have a dissenting view, they often stop short of actively demeaning officers or glorifying those who defend their homes as heroes, especially when the person the so-called criminal was defending from was a police officer.

In other cases where a person shot a police officer who was presumed to be a home invader, the debate sometimes devolves to whether or not burglary is a death sentence offense. Since it isn't in a court, there is no reason for a person to shoot a burglar, other than the obvious one of the burglar being a threat. Other times the debate devolves into whether or not it is credible that the person didn't know the intruder was a police officer. Plus, given the self-defense angle of those who shoot invading burglars (and police officers) there will be those who insist that the lives of criminals are of equal value to others and therefore should never be taken. That argument is used to make libertarians appear callous for thinking that those who violate the rights of others have forfeited those rights themselves, even though it is true. What makes a police officer different is only a mistaken identity in those arguments.

While cheering is short of actually advocating armed resistance, it is a step closer. The first ones to take it will, of course, be jeered and treated as just a step above criminals themselves even among libertarians. But if the government is oppressive enough it is a necessary step and the first ones to take it will eventually be joined with other voices cheering when a home invader with a badge is treated like any other home invader. And daring to say that the police officer is not a valuable member of society, and that a drug dealer is, is another important step. This goes a step beyond simply comparing police to the criminals they "protect" us from.

This is a Rubicon that each libertarian needs to cross individually, but it is an important one. It's time to stop showing criminals respect simply because they have badges. It's time that people start saying that these thugs get what they deserve when they act like criminals.

Please give to the Salvation Army. They are a charity with a good record on how much of each donation goes to the intended recipient, and this year due to the depression their donations have fallen significantly. That’s unfortunate because in depressions is when charities like this are needed most. Yes, they are a religious based charity, and while I don’t agree with their religious beliefs they do good work. If you’re going to give to a non-political charity, please consider the Salvation Army.

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