“They’re a Private Company.”

When people complain about censorship by FaceBook, Demonetizing or outright deleting content by YouTube, or ranking shenanigans by Google, the people who benefit from these things (by having their opponents silenced or at least throttled) always say it’s not “really” censorship and not a First Amendment Violation because they’re not government. “They’re private companies,” it is said. “They can do what they want.”

Except, I guess, refuse to bake a cake.

I’m going to ramble a bit on several topics here, but they do come together at the end.

Some years back Cleveland defense attorney Bob Ingersoll had a column, “The Law is a Ass” printed first in a magazine for comic book fans then repeated elsewhere. In this column he discussed the ways law is used, and misused–the ways they rarely got it right, and the ways they usually got it wrong–in comic books and other media. Among the things he discussed were exclusionary rules and exceptions thereto. One of those rules is if the police perform a search without meeting the legal requirements for probable cause and warrants and what not then the evidence could be excluded from trial.

Now, some people might think that this exclusionary rule would apply to someone like Batman making an illegal search so that any evidence thus found must be excluded because of coming from an illegal search. And the answer is…maybe.

You see, a private citizen could turn up evidence of a crime, even turn it up illegally, and the evidence is entirely admissible. It’s admissible because the reason for exclusionary rules is to provide an incentive against police misconduct. By not allowing the police to benefit from police misconduct it is meant to ensure the police don’t violate suspect (that whole “presumption of innocence” thing) rights. When a private citizen does it, however, there’s no police misconduct and, so, no real justification for excluding the evidence (although the citizen can be charged with crimes related to collecting that evidence–breaking and entering, theft, that sort of thing).

And so, evidence collected by Batman is perfectly admissible. Or is it? You see, depending on the era of Batman stories you’re talking about, Batman could have the unofficial, or even downright official (there is at least one rather risible reference in the late-silver to early bronze-age Batman being “officially deputized” by “every law enforcement office in the world”. Totally ridiculous, of course, even by comic book standards) status with the Gotham City Police. They permit him to function. They even work in cooperation with him. Other times they treat him as just another criminal…just one that’s harder to catch than even Two-Face and the Joker.

But it’s these periods where the police work with Batman that I want to talk about here, where the police turn a blind eye to his illegal activities. These are the cases where the police turn a blind eye to, or at most give no more than lip service of, his illegal activities. These are the cases where the police talk to him about crimes, give him information, or actually call. him. in. to help deal with criminals. A Batman that has that relationship with law enforcement is acting as an agent of government. It doesn’t matter that he’s not a sworn officer. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t draw a government paycheck. He is acting as an officer of the law through his actions and, most especially, through the way law enforcement by their actions approves his.

The courts might still allow illegally obtained evidence provided by Batman to be accepted (and, indeed, in the comics generally did) but the courts would be (and were) wrong to do so. It wouldn’t be the first time the courts made wrong decisions.

Now, let’s look at another topic (trust me, these will tie together). “Section 230”. Section 230 is a law that protects public platforms from being held liable for user content. A public platform doesn’t exercise control over content and, therefore, is not liable for it. When you speak to someone on your phone, the carrier, whether ATT or Verizon or someone else, is not legally responsible for anything you say. You can make the most vile statement, even legally actionable statements, and the carrier is protected because they have no control over what you say.

Fair enough, but what happens when a “platform” starts controlling content–limiting some voices, promoting others, endorsing one, disputing another? At that point the rationale for Section 230 protection breaks down. Instead of being a platform, they are now acting as a publisher. They are picking and choosing what content will be allowed. And this means that they are now responsible for everything that they do allow on what they are trying to call a platform. After all, since they are removing things, if they don’t remove that, then it must be because they approve of it. And so, if, among the billions of posts on a social media site that controls content there is one that includes something actionable, then the people running the social media site are also legally liable for that content. Or they would be if the rationale behind Section 230 were consistently applied.

For a large site with millions, or even billions, of users, it would be far, far better for the folk running it to throw up their hands and say “Oh, no. We’re not even going to try to control content. If you don’t like it, scroll past.” After all, how could any automatic algorithm, or any reasonably sized group of moderators, ensure that no posts contained something actionable that would leave them liable. They would be best advised to stay safely behind Section 230 provisions.

That is if the rationale behind Section 230 were consistently applied.

Side note: There can be laws that require even a platform to remove certain types of content as soon as they become aware of it. But note that such laws then are the action of government and, at least in the United States, are a First Amendment issue.

Next topic: Anti-Trust laws. In the US there are laws that are intended to “protect” American consumers from the problems of monopolies. We can discuss the value–good or bad–of such laws and whether their good outweighs their harm and maybe I’ll do that in another post. Not going to get into that here. Suffice to say that such laws do exist. Furthermore, then are often applied “proactively”. I.e. they sanction businesses long before they become an actual monopoly. One argument that has been used for sanctioning a company is that it “controls” (which is an odd way of saying “successfully sells to”) a “significant” percentage of the market). A company simply “controlling” some rather modest proportions of their market has been enough to trigger anti-trust action. (Note: Thomas Sowell goes into this a bit in his book Basic Economics.)

Facebook “Controls” 69% of the social media market.

About 70% of all searches on Desktop computers use Google. About 90% of all mobile device searches.

And yet, neither has seriously been challenged on an anti-trust basis.

And so we have these online versions of Batman, “private” but being given tacit sanction by government bureaucrats. They are shielded from laws that we peons have to abide by. And thus, they are not entirely “private” businesses, regardless of what their corporate structures might say. Their actions to silence or throttle certain views while promoting others, then, are First Amendment issues.

And if the courts say otherwise, just like with the courts of Gotham City allowing illegally obtained evidence provided by Batman, then so much the worse for the courts.

Cancel Culture is Evil

By CapLiber – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63939737

Yep. I said it. And I stand by it. I’m not going to pull any punches here.

I’ve been listening to Solzhenitzen’s “The Gulag Archipelago” on Audible and it’s scary how much similarity there is between the “description of the sewage disposal system” (first couple of chapters about how the various “waves’ of political arrests worked) resembles cancel culture. The only real difference is that they don’t have the power to make actual arrests and send people to gulags…yet.

Yet. They’re working on it.

And it’s not just Soviet Russia. if the author’s name was Mueller or something rather than Solzhenitsyn, then it could just as easily have described the arrests under the Nazis (the first camps weren’t for Jews but for political dissidents). And if the author’s name were Lee, then it could have just as easily been describing Chinese history.

It’s been said that history doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme. Well, this isn’t just history “rhyming” but a chorus repeated between verses segueing into a round like the way “Row, Row, Row Your boat” is traditionally sung (only the Nazi’s left the composition early before the refrain was fully taken up by the Chinese.)

If your actions follow those of three of the greatest evils in history, you might want to rethink them. Yes, you may think you’re “justified” and that the folk you are “cancelling” are the “real evil” but…so did they. They were just as convinced of their own rightness as you are.

Evil is as evil does. And, no, your intention and your “pure heart” (as you believe it to be) does not justify the evil.

If you are engaging in “cancel culture” than you. are. doing. evil. It’s not too late. You can repent. You can decide to instead contest idea against idea and sell your ideas on their merits without the need to silence and “cancel” anyone who disagrees with you. After all, if your ideas are so great, you shouldn’t need to. Simple persuasion should be more than enough to prevail.

But you won’t do that, will you? No, deep in your heart you know that your ideas aren’t strong enough to stand on their own. And, so, you have to silence any dissenting view.

And, thus, you fall into evil.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH BY LAWDOG

From According to Hoyt.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH BY LAWDOG

One of the things that has been sticking in my craw recently is the tendency of folks busy deplatforming people for Wrongthink to solemnly intone:  “Freedom of Speech in America has always been restricted.”
Eeh.

Before I get off on a roll, let me first state that I Am Not A Lawyer. I am, at best, a dilettante in the Law — but I can read. Which means that a whole bunch of other folks need to start reading, too.
So.

They are somewhat correct. Some speech has no protection from restriction: Obscenity, child pornography, false statements, and to a lesser extent speech that is owned by others, and commercial speech.

This, however, isn’t where the deplatformers come from (I’m looking at you folks taking a thunder run at Baen’s Bar in particular), they’ve decided that “Incitement to Violence” isn’t Free Speech, as they clutch their pearls.

Fortunately, we have established Supreme Court case law on this very subject!

Let us turn our eyes, or browsers in most cases, to Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969); a fascinating case involving a Ku Klux Klan leader who invited a reporter to attend a rally he was throwing.

As one would probably expect, at said rally Brandenburg got het up and made speeches of the type you would from that bunch of numpties. Lots of threats of violence against people with differing melanin levels, some exhorting of violence towards folks of different religious ideas; and topped it off with a demand that his bunch of cockwombles march on Washington DC, and do violence upon various personages and institutions up there.

As one might expect, the law in Ohio frowned upon this and promptly hooked Mr Brandenburg up. He, of course, sued; which leads us to Brandenburg v. Ohio.

When the dust settled, the Supreme Court established a simple, three-part (two in some definitions) test called, “The Imminent Lawless Action” test. These parts are:

1)  Intent to speak;

2)  Imminence of Lawlessness; and

3)  Likelihood of Lawlessness.

Anyone who’s unclear about the definition of “Imminent” or “Immediate” should probably pause to peruse a dictionary. We’ll wait.

So. If Sumdood gets all up in a tizzy and starts running his mush demanding that a crowd do violence now to the US Government/ Mongolian Gerbils/ Insert Your Favourite Group Here AND the crowd thinks that’s a splendiferous idea, takes up their torches, pitchforks, and gerbil sticks; and starts actively looking for the nearest Mongolian Embassy and Gerbil Ranch … well, Sumdood has a problem, because that little speech wasn’t protected free speech.

However if nobody does anything imminently or immediately in response to that speech … it’s protected speech.

And don’t yammer at me about “You can’t yell ‘Fire’ in crowded theater” — that’s Schenck v. United States (1919) which was clarified by Brandenburg, and you’re misquoting Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr anyway (the actual quote is: “[F]alsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”)

This is generally when a lot of folks trying to debate this will crawfish back to:  “But, but ‘Fighting Words!”

Sigh. Don’t. Just … don’t.


Under Chaplinksy v. New Hampshire (1942) “fighting words” requires that the words uttered “tend to incite an immediate [there’s that word again] breach of the peace”; be “directed towards the person of the hearer”; and “likely to be seen as a ‘direct personal insult’”, so unless the people being threatened was: a) present; 

b) personally and directly insulted; and 

c) The words [tended] incited an immediate breach of the peace …

You can’t use “fighting words” to restrict the speech.

“How,” I hear you ask, “Does this pertain to Baen’s Bar?”

Simple. If someone has been yacking about doing violence unto the Fed.gov for ten or fifteen years … it’s pretty safe to say that lawlessness is not “imminent”, and thus fails the Brandenburg test. That speech, distasteful though you may find it, is protected Free Speech.

If someone is discussing how long the Mongolian Embassies and Gerbil Ranches will last after they’re cut-off from civilization, and nobody is tooling up to cut the local ME&GR off from civilization … well, it fails Brandenburg, and is protected speech.

You may not like it, but we’re not guaranteed Freedom Of Speech We Like And Approve Of. That speech requires no guaranteed freedom.

We have Freedom of Speech for those things you don’t like or approve of.

Deal with it.

LawDog

Yes, He Really Said That (But I was Wrong).

There was a meme going around on the Book of Faces that quoted Gropey Joe Biden as saying that no ordinary American is concerned about their Constitutional Rights. I shared it because I remembered him saying it.

Well, what I “remembered” was apparently a Mandala effect issue because he actually said something different. (Thus the “But I was Wrong” in the title.)

The actual quote from the above video is:

“No law abiding citizen in the United States of America has any fear that their Constitutional Rights will be infringed in any way. None. Zero.”

Now, one can quibble whether the “no ordinary American is concerned about his Constitutional Rights” is a reasonable paraphrase or not, but the “fact” checkers (spin-doctors in reality) will be sure to mark it as “false” or “mostly false” because it’s not the direct, word-for-word, quote of what he said.

But let’s go with his actual quote, what he actually said, the “Yes, he really said that.”

“No law abiding citizen in the United States of America has any fear that their Constitutional Rights will be infringed in any way. None. Zero.”

I fear that my Constitutional Right will be and are being infringed.

  • Civil Asset Forfeiture could take my property without anything resembling due process. (Fifth Amendment)
  • Red Flag Laws can do the same. (Fifth Amendment)
  • Widespread government surveillance and electronic monitoring violates the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” (Fourth Amendment).
  • Platforms like Said Book of Faces, Twitter, et al are given government sanction to silence political voices without losing their Section 230 protections. And, for that matter, not being called on their monopoly status (companies have been found in violation of anti-trust laws for “controlling” far smaller fraction of the market than do these tech giants). The way laws are being ignored to give them a pass to censor certain political voices but not others makes them a defacto agent of the State, so, yes, they are infringing on First Amendment rights.
  • Oh, and they do want to take my guns.

So, yes, I fear that my Constitutional Rights will be and are being infringed. So, what does that mean in light of Biden’s statement?

  • Is he saying that I’m not law-abiding?
  • Is he saying that I’m not a citizen (perhaps losing my citizenship through wrongthink?)
  • Is he saying this is not the United States of America anymore?
  • Or is he simply calling me a liar for saying that I fear such things (even the ones that are actually happening)?

So which is it? Perhaps it’s “Law Abiding” that he disputes. I mean, I suppose that given the complexity, intrusiveness, and often self-contradictory nature of the law, the average American commits three felonies a day without even knowing it. In such case, well, I suppose that could make his statement true in the same way that “No invisible pink unicorns fear being hit by cars” because invisible pink unicorns don’t exist. If there are none, then they can’t fear anything, n’est pas?

Or maybe, he really does mean that this isn’t the United States of America any more? I mean, I read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and…sure the Declaration of Independence was a propaganda piece rather than a legal document but it does outline the philosophical basis of the new country they were forming, a nation unique, or nearly so, in being founded on and defined by a creed rather than anything else, and I look around and see how little of that creed remains in force in official circles (what remains is still well and away better than the rest of the world but that’s an observation on how bad the rest of the world is, not a contradiction to how far we’ve fallen). Perhaps he does mean that no law abiding citizen in the United States of America fears such things because there’s no longer a United States of America, in its original sense, for them to be in.

Or perhaps he just dismisses people like, well, me entirely. Perhaps we simply don’t matter to him. We aren’t fully human in his eyes because we hold the wrong opinions, we believe in the wrong things.

Perhaps the word he’s looking for to describe us is “Untermenschen.”

Home Defense Firearms: A Newly Relevant Blast from the Past.

Well, it’s started. The new administration (hack. spit) is calling for yet more “gun control”, leading the charge for an “assault weapon” ban, magazine size limits, universal background checks (which requires a complete gun registry to be enforceable), and so on.

Today I’m bringing forward a post addressing that so-called “assault weapon” issue. The definition of “assault weapon” is slippery. It mimics the term “assault rifle” but doesn’t meet the definition of one (an assault rifle is a rifle of intermediate power with “select fire”, meaning that it has a full-auto or “burst” capability–that is one trigger operation fires the rifle multiple times). Generally, “assault weapon is a semi-automatic (fires once for each trigger operation) rifle or carbine (overall length being the main difference there, or intermediate power (not the uber-high-power that the media would have you believe), and some various ergonomic and cosmetic features. It is this definition that I address in the post below.


When it comes to home defense, a strong argument can be made that the best, the absolute best, weapon for defense against a home invasion is a compact semi-automatic rifle with certain, particular features.

Despite what Hollywood would have you believe, criminals often continue to function after being shot, often after being shot several times. “The dead man’s ten seconds” is a phenomenon well and long known (the phrase comes from the Civil War). The criminal may be effectively dead from the first shot, but they still have the ability to do a great deal of harm before they’re stopped. Thus, it may take multiple shots to stop them. Maybe they’ll spend their entire “dead man’s ten seconds” staring down at the hole in their chest.  Maybe it’s easy for you to bet other people’s lives that that’s how it will go down but maybe instead they’ll use that ten seconds to hurt or kill the homeowner unless distracted by, oh, other holes being put in their body from repeat shots until they do stop.

We have repeated reports of people in military theaters shooting an individual multiple times and having them continue to fight.

And that’s not even counting that robberies are often committed by more than one person. Again, local news reports suggest that the majority of home invasions involve multiple attackers.

Now, maybe in the “average” it’s over after only a couple of shots. But one can drown in a stream that “averages” 6 inches deep if one happens to step in a hole that’s 8′ deep (the rest of the stream only being 4″ or so, so the “average” comes to 6″). But multiple attackers requiring multiple shots each to put down is one of the scenarios a “civilian” may face.

The person defending his home can’t wait until he’s got overwhelming force, SWAT, and backup before going in and engaging. They have to deal with the problem right. now. with only what they have ready to hand. Firing a shotgun twice into the air may or may not scare off attackers (or might not, despite what then Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden advocated) and shooting through the door is generally a felony (again, despite Joe Biden’t advocation of that very thing).

In high stress and fear situations human beings have certain common issues. One is that fine motor skills go to hell. Simply working the action of a rifle or handgun can become a thing of fumbling when one is in fear for ones life (a necessary condition of use of lethal force in all jurisdictions in the US). Much better a simple action of “aim, pull trigger, aim, pull trigger”. Thus, semi-automatic. (Police and civilian firearms trainer and recognized expert witness on firearms matters discusses the effects of fear on ones shooting ability in his book Stressfire among others.)

When an attack comes, you can’t be sure that everyone in your household is all together. You may, for example, have to go get the kids. This doesn’t involve hunting the “bad guys.” I don’t recommend that at all. Get your family together and defend them if the bad guys come to you, but “get your family together” may require some moving around. Now, when you’re moving around, you may have to do things like open doors or work light switches. Or maybe (it’s dark, say, and this occurred after everyone was in bed) you need one hand free to hold a flashlight. Maybe you have a light mounted on your rifle but, well, you’re looking for your kids. It would be good to have a light you can shine on things without pointing your gun at them, don’t you think? (First rule of safe gun handling is treat any gun with the respect due a loaded gun but the second rule is “never point a gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy.” What that means regarding using a light mounted on your firearm to look for family members is left as an exercise for the student.) A “pistol grip” simply makes it easier to handle and keep control of the rifle in such circumstances. Also, a more “compact” design is easier to maneuver down hallways, through doors, and the like.

The attack happens at night? When you fire the muzzle flash blooms in front of you, temporarily blinding you. Who knows what can happen in the couple of seconds it takes your eyesight to recover? A flash suppressor/hider doesn’t actually suppress or hide the flash. It diverts it to the side where it interferes less with your vision allowing you to keep eyes on target allowing you to assess whether the attacker had been stopped or if you need to keep shooting, and if you do need to keep shooting you can aim rather than fire blindly (literally) and trust to luck.

A rifle is easier to aim accurately than any handgun. A centerfire rifle has more stopping power than any handgun.

Now, maybe you’re not the one available to grab the rifle.  Maybe it’s your wife (or husband if you’re a woman reading this–or whatever if you’re in a non-traditional relationship.  I won’t judge) who’s smaller than you (or larger).  Or maybe you sometimes use the rifle out in the cold while wearing heavy, thick clothing and sometimes when its warmer so you don’t have so much heavy clothes on.  A stock that can be adjusted for length helps size the rifle for easy, comfortable, accurate shooting.

Now note what I’ve just described: a compact rifle with a pistol grip, “large” capacity magazine (actually “standard” capacity since that’s what these rifles are designed for), flash hider, adjustable stock, and possibly a rail to which a light can be attached. While there’s no “shoulder thing that goes up” (Carolyn McCarthy can never be sufficiently mocked for that) what I’ve just described is an “assault weapon” per the media and folk like the Brady Campaign. (Not an “assault rifle” as defined by the military since that definition calls for fully automatic capability.)

It also happens to describe the best tool for defending your family against one of the between 4 and 40 thousand home invasions that occur every year.

How many of those 4 to 40 thousand families, many with children, are you willing to sacrifice?

My First Tattoo

For most of my life I never considered getting any tattoos. I was just not into doing permanent things that I might come to regret later and body ink was one of the things that fell into that category. However, when my daughter decided to start a career as a tattoo artist my position changed. After all, it’s one of the jobs of a father to support his daughter. It’s a rule.

So I had my first tattoo. It’s a fairly simple and straightforward one, a Valknut done on my inner left forearm. In retrospect the inner forearm may not have been the best choice for a first tattoo. I suspect that area is more sensitive than some other areas would be. Still, I have plans for shoulder and back pieces once my daughter gets more experience. They’re a little more complicated and would involve color, which her mentor isn’t ready to try her with just yet.

So…pictures.

The stencil applied to my arm. The linedrawn at the elbow and wrist are guides to center the tattoo.
Setting up her equipment.
She’s got two machines, one a “liner” an one a “shader” used for filling in larger areas.
She’s beginning to work with the liner. Note the plastic wrapped over the arm rest. They are extremely careful about infection and cross-contamination here. i watched the preparations and they are very thorough.
Continuing on the line work.
Line work done, she starts working with the shader. The streaking is ink on the surface of the skin being wiped away.
Continuing the filling in. Somewhere around here she told me to relax my arm. Tensing up makes it hurt more.
Nearly done. There are a few touchups yet to be done.
The final result about a half hour after, once I’ve removed the wrap they put over it after it’s finished but before I ha a chance to wash the area. The red discoloration, I am told, is plasma leakage and normal at this stage. It washed away once I cleaned up the area according to the instructions given by the shop.

And that was my experience with my first tattoo. Yes, it hurt. They are, after all, stabbing you thousands of times with needles. However, it was far from unbearable. It stung a little bit for an hour or so afterward and now is only a little tender. I’m told that it will take about two weeks for the area to fully heal and they gave me care instructions to keep from damaging the area and protecting against infection.

Faith

The New Testament is big on the idea that a person is saved through “faith” rather than earning their way through “good works.” Pontius Pilate infamously asked, “what is truth” but turned away before the individual he was asking could answer. The question might also be asked “What is faith?”

Full disclosure: I am not a Christian. This, however, does not mean that there isn’t much within Christianity that is worth considering and implementing in ones own life just as there is in many another belief system (not all; I am not so foolish as to declare that all belief systems have their “good side”).

I submit that doing good simply because it is good is, in itself, an act of faith. Consider the exchange between Susan and Death at the end of Terry Pratchett’s book The Hogfather (a book I highly recommend):

Susan:
Now… tell me…

Death:
What would have happened if you hadn’t saved him?

Susan:
Yes.

Death:
The sun would not have risen.

Susan:
Then what would have happened?

Death:
A mere ball of flaming gas would have illuminated the world.

Susan:
All right, I’m not stupid. You’re saying that humans need fantasies to make life bearable.

Death:
No. Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.

Susan:
With tooth fairies? Hogfathers?

Death:
Yes. As practice, you have to start out learning to believe the little lies.

Susan:
So we can believe the big ones?

Death:
Yes. Justice, mercy, duty. That sort of thing.

Susan:
They’re not the same at all!

Death:
You think so? Then take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder and sieve it through the finest sieve and THEN show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. And yet… you try to act as if there is some ideal order in the world. As if there is some… some rightness in the universe by which it may be judged.

Susan:
But people have got to believe that, or what’s the point?

Death:
You need to believe in things that aren’t true. How else can they become?

When people do “good”, not for gain or to avoid loss–not because they will be rewarded for doing it or punished for not doing it–they are acting on the basis of their own belief. They are, in effect, exercising faith.

This is implicit in Jesus’ admonition about the giving of alms, of charity:

1Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:1-4 (I usually use the KJV simply because that’s the one I grew up on and, thus, the one I’m most comfortable with)

If one is “doing alms” publicly, in order to receive the praise of other men (and women), then it’s something being done for reward. When done in secret however, not even letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing, then you do it because you believe it to be good pure and simple. Any reward that might come is of the “bread cast upon the waters” variety, uncertain and itself a matter of faith.

There simply is no greater act of faith than to do “good” simply because one believes it to be good.

“Go, and do thou likewise.”

Why Libertarians (Big-L) Lose

This image showed up in my “memories” over on The Book of Faces and it really sums up why the big-L Libertarian types can’t get out of single digits in national elections.

Here’s the thing. Most people aren’t libertarian, let alone Libertarian. And, if you listen to Libertarians, most Libertarians aren’t Libertarian. Ask three different Libertarians and get five different views on what it is to be “Libertarian.” This cartoon, frankly, nails it:

Libetarians of the big-L variety seem to be unwilling to make common cause with folk they disagree with on some aspects in order to further things with which they do agree.

And that’s a large part of the reason they have been so very bad at spreading their ideas of individual freedom. (Note: I’m leaving aside questions of vote fraud–I’ve discussed some of that elsewhere–because it, frankly, isn’t needed for Libertarians to lose in the national arena. All the excuses they make pale behind the simple fact that they are really bad at outreach.) Consider someone who’s not anything close to libertarianism, but has decided that on some particular point, the government has gone too far and things should be dialed back, returning the liberty to the people. How do Libertarians react? Do they applaud the person’s increased understanding of the value of personal liberty? Do they rejoice at the cracks developing in the mirror of state power through which they had previously viewed the world–small cracks, perhaps, but maybe a start?

Nope. In my experience, the most common reaction is disdain that the person doesn’t go far enough. Instead of seeing a person taking the first steps on a journey toward libertarianism they see the person as still being “statist” and therefore a supporter of tyranny. After all, anything other than a pure voluntaryist society is simply tyranny in their eyes.

And when that happens the person who has taken those first steps usually turns right around and heads back. Congratulations. You’ve just driven somebody who might have been an ally in increasing liberty in the nation into being an opponent.

As somebody who is pretty far down that road, not quite voluntaryist but pretty far into minarchist, it’s enough to make you snatch your hat off, throw it on the ground, and stomp on it. As my grandmother used to say, “makes me so mad I could crush a grape.”

I understand the frustration when people can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea of actual liberty, when perfectly reasonable, fact based arguments persistently bounce off or, as the old saying goes, “in one ear and out the other”. I get it. It’s frustrating and it’s all too easy to end up responding hotly. I’ve done it myself. I am, after all, only human. In the end, though, perhaps it’s not the best approach in most circumstances.

We want to see people supporting more liberty. To that end whenever we see someone making a step, even a tiny step, in that direction from where they were, we should be encouraging it, and not punishing it. Lambasting them for the “statist” views they still hold is counterproductive. This does not mean you can’t criticize those views but a gentle halter to guide rather than a whip and spurs might work better toward that end, particularly when combined with fulsome, and sincere, praise of the steps they have made in the “right” direction.

The old saw about catching flies, however flawed it might be (who wants to catch flies, really?) comes to mind.

Goth on Ice: Go for the Gold

Okay, probably not really, but I am planning to compete. There’s a competition coming up in Fort Wayne, IN on March 27. The competition is based on the LearnToSkateUSA progression. I’ve talked before about the different progression levels: Adult 4, Adult 5, Basic 5, Basic 6, and so on? Well, that’s how the competition is divided up. A competitor is allowed to compete either in the highest level they’ve completed or one level up. If it were held today, I could compete in Adult 4 (completed), or Adult 5 (almost completed), but not Adult 1-3 or Adult 6 (and never mind “Free Skate”).

Each of these has two separate sub-divisions: Compulsory and “Free skate with music.” Unlike USAFigureSkating events (sectionals and nationals) or ISU Worlds, where you have the short program and have to place high enough to qualify for free skate, the compulsories and free skate with music are two separate events. A person could enter either or both.

So, I plan to enter. The plan is to aim at Adult 5 since I really only have one technique left to complete that–the two foot spin. Once I complete Adult 5, I’m no longer eligible to compete in Adult 4 (or any lower level) and I don’t think I’ll be ready for Adult 6 by then. I’ve got three techniques to learn yet for Adult 6–inside 3 turn, change of edge, outside to inside, on a line, and beginning one foot spin. I plan to enter both compulsories and the free skate with music giving me two shots at it.

So, the techniques I’ll need (plus steps to connect them together into a cohesive program): Backward outside edge on a circle (left and right), Backward inside edge on a circle (left and right), Backward crossovers (clockwise and counterclockwise), Forward outside three turns (right and left), Forward swing rolls, and beginning two foot spin.

I don’t have any good videos of my basic backward edges on a circle but here’s the other stuff I’ve done for Adult 5:

From a while ago. I have gotten better
Likewise, somewhat dated and I have improved. Indeed I now actually use this three-turn when skating.
The consecutive forward edges I’m working here aren’t quite swing rolls (never videoed myself doing thost) but they’re fairly closely related.
And, yeah, this is going to need some work.

Oh, well, what’s the worst that can happen? I can fall on my ass and look ridiculous? Like that’s never happened before (and no doubt will again).

I’ve worked out a schedule with my boss that will allow me more ice time to prepare. It involves going to work early and staying late so I can take some time in the middle of the day to head up to the rink. Those days will be short sessions but I plan to use them to focus heavily on technique and use the weekend time for longer duration skating for conditioning. I’m also looking into the local figure skating club which arranges “club ice” time and possibly “free skate” sessions (figure skaters only, more expensive than “public skate” particularly since public skate is free while I’m taking lessons).

So, we’ll see how it goes.

That Would Be a Very Bad Idea, Cupcake

Allow me to explain, Pam, why this is a really, really bad idea. I have warned about how bad an idea legal reprisals against a departing administration would be, but let’s consider the specific case you present here.

Let’s consider for a moment, purely for the sake of argument, that this were actually true. If folk, including governors, started treating Trump as the legitimate president and, therefore, the election illegitimate, what’s to stop them from treating an impeachment or indictment as equally illegitimate? Even imprisonment (follow that indictment with a show trial and send him to prison) wouldn’t stop it. After all, it’s not unknown for mob bosses to continue to run their organizations from behind bars.

So, what’s the solution? If this is truly the path they were to take how would they stop that “shadow government”? There are only two ways. One would be to hold Trump completely incommunicado, even to the extent of forbidding him contact with counsel to discuss appeals and other aspects of due process. Or they would simply have to kill him (assassination or execution depending on whether they fig-leaf it with a kangaroo court).

That would be absolute “go time”. Count on it.

Indeed, at this point, after comments by people like you, Pam, the movers and shakers among the Left need to be praying for Trump’s continued good health because if anything happened to him, anything at all–his fault, their fault, nobody’s fault–nothing in the universe would prevent people from assuming it was a political assassination and responding accordingly. Just like few people believe that Epstein killed himself.

So, I’ll say it here first: Donald Trump did not kill himself.

At that point, it won’t matter what actually happened. All that will matter is what people believe. And, people will believe that your side had him killed. And none of your willing lapdogs in the media will be able to change that belief. And when you add rhetoric about making lists of Trump “supporters” with what qualifies as a “supporter” being left delightfully vague, people with even a modest preference for Trump’s policies (i.e. close to half the nation) will see their options shrinking, getting closer to “fight or die” or maybe “fight and die or just die”. In which case, you’ll see a lot of people figuring if they are going down anyway, they might as well take a few others with them.

And that is why following your line of thinking to its inevitable conclusion is a very bad idea indeed.