Archive for January, 2011

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Government is necessary to preserve our freedom, it is an instrument through which we can exercise our freedom; yet by concentrating power in political hands, it is also a threat to freedom.

Milton Friedman

Nonsense and Such

I don’t really write about any one thing in particular; notably I rarely even write about what I do for a living, which is what I’ve been taught to do for self marketing purposes. Quite honestly, I am more vested in subjects that interest me than what I’ve come to see as work. So, there’s that.

As a consequence, this contraption has no focus–nothing to center the proverbial soul of its universe–and finds no visitors. But, do I really seek them anyway? A sick and twisted fate if there ever was one, considering the fact that I know exactly what is needed to reverse this state of affairs. The problem in this case is that I just don’t care.

What would I even have to say anyway? Without question, I have nothing of consequence to contribute to philosophy, science, history, and politics–all subjects I am highly invested in, but have little or no mastery of. Such is my lot in life: to have a lot of outlier knowledge with little or no value.

Maybe I should become a food blogger. I like to eat, how about “Easy Eats, with Mike?” And because I’m lazy: ideas?

When is Civility Inherently Uncivil?

Speech need not be hindered. Particularly in cases when it is decidedly boorish; unpopular speech deserves a hearing, plain and simple, no matter how disgusting it may seem. We must respect converse views at all costs!

Unfortunately, over the course of the United States’ historically brief existence many localities have restricted speech, and so while we respect free thinking in principle we do not hold it to be a universal truth–we make a habit of restricting that which is most difficult to restrict–and we lose an important opportunity to weigh our views in light of a diverse array of opinions.

In this context then I want to visit something that has been vexing me since I first heard commentary relating the tragic shooting in Arizona–a view that will hardly seem unique, but will promptly relieve me the anxiety I have felt.

Perhaps it is the blatant lack of evidence supporting such hypotheses that perturb me the most, but it is likely the charge that the views I hold, and the resulting rhetoric that supposedly surround it, is a contributing factor in the shooting death of so many that I find to be infuriating. Once such a charge is leveled, how can you defend yourself? Once you try, you’re promptly accused of living up to the expectation.

The fact is, you’re accused of being so uncivil, while your opposition has merely been trying to speak with you in meek, soothing tones in order to have a “national conversation.” Why can’t you just get along with them, give up your ideas, and move on?

Because my ideas hold as much legitimacy as yours, and you were just as antagonistic when your ideas held less sway.

I’m a libertarian. Some think that means I’m an anarchist, which is ridiculous, or that I favor some other nefarious out-of-the-mainstream views; but what it really means, in sum, is that I favor maximizing liberty at the expense of government largess. How this gets construed as extreme is…perplexing.

Just stop blaming the right for violence.

The recent attempted assassination of U.S. Representative Giffords, the deaths of six people, and the injuries of fourteen others is as senseless as it gets. This is the act of a gunman that was very likely unstable in some way. But how many more times do I have to read in commentary that right-wing, conservative ideas automatically lead to these sorts of extreme acts of violence?

Does it matter who incited this? No. All that matters is that this gunman was a nutjob, who apparently bought into a lot of loony conspiracy theories purported by the extreme right. You know, just like almost all would-be political assassins and domestic terrorists.

Where in the world did these ideas come from? Conspiracy theories on the right somehow are responsible for “almost all” of the reasoning behind acts of political assassination and domestic terrorism? This makes no sense.

Claims like this are even more infuriating because I fail to see any evidence to support them:

In contrast, when Beck declares that the non-profit organization Tides Foundation is the driving force behind leftists who want to illegally seize control of the government, destroy capitalism and dismantle organized religion, and is assembling an army to this effect, he supplements his conspiratorial rhetoric with explicit calls to violence. Again, in contrast, his supporters frequently follow-up his comments with violence.

Where are all of these violent acts being committed because they’re not being reported anywhere?

I really am curious as to the origin of the notion that right-wing ideology leads to violent extremism. Conservatives are really only after a certain set of things, and that is the preservation of traditional mores, laws, and ideas (I hate that I even have to say this, but that does not include the abhorrent treatment of any social class).

It really is a shame that political/philosophical debate is impossible; everyone wants us to go back in time to a place where both sides discussed so nicely the merits of their ideas. But it didn’t happen. Politics is a contentious affair. Frankly, it has and always will be. That doesn’t mean that a set of philosophical ideas certainly lead to violence–particularly when those ideas are mostly interested in increasing liberty–but what it means is that it will always be a highly partisan, dog-eat-dog experience.

But stop blaming one side for something that has nothing to do with its philosophy.