Wednesday, July 17, 2013

On My Ignorance and Hypocricy

Wow, it has been some time since I have received a deluge of emails for a post, like the deluge I am receiving for my post, What If Trayvon Martin Had Been a Libertarian?

I reproduce below some of the emails I have received, with my responses in blue.

ESOSA VICTOR Osai emails:

your ignorance and hypocrisy

"Martin failed to act in a libertarian fashion. By failing to take the libertarian options available to him, he is now dead. If he had followed libertarian principle, he would be alive today. As Block makes clear, from a libertarian perspective, “there is no right to privacy; none at all.” Thus, Martin had no right, from a libertarian perspective, to physically assault Zimmerman. As I said, he could have asked Zimmerman to stop following him, but, again from a libertarian perspective, he could not go beyond a request. Once he smacked Zimmerman or even threatened Zimmerman with bodily harm, Zimmerman had the right, from a libertarian perspective, to defend himself."

In order to believe the "conservative" version of the story and the "verdict", you have to believe this:

The "non-aggressor" was warned by the authorities NOT to chase the "aggressor."
That's a non-sense statement. Of course in real life, the aggressor was the one doing the persecuting or pursuing. If chasing someone who did nothing to you is not an act of aggression, I don't know what is.

If you believe that Zimmerman - who was warned by authorities not to chase Trayvon but did it anyway - was not the aggressor, you are violating and hardening your own conscience. You are imagining and assuming that Zimmerman did not start the fight, and you are lying to yourself.

He chased him but did not tackle or touch him? Zimmerman chased Trayvon, but Trayvon did not feel threatened and therefore did not have a right to defend himself... but Zimmerman did. Really?

My perspective in my post was that of a libertarian and not that of the "authorities." From a libertarian perspective, a person can follow and watch another as long as there is no violation of the rules of the owner of the private property. Both Zimmerman and Martin had a right to be in the communal area of that property.

Your use of the term chase suggests that Zimmerman was following Martin in an attempt to do immediate bodily harm to Martin. There is no evidence of this. Martin's friend that was on the phone with him did not indicate this and the location of where Zimmerman's vehicle was relative to the altercation does not suggest this.

There were no indications of any bruises on Zimmerman's hands, which would have been consistent with Zimmerman hitting Martin. There were bruises on Martin's hands consistent with him hitting Zimmerman. I am assuming that Martin hit Zimmerman before Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.

How is observing from afar the same as chasing and pursuing on the aggression scale?
How is it that Zimmerman had a right to feel threatened and defend himself, but Trayvon didn't?

Watching from afar occurs by many, busybodies, peeping toms, etc. Watching from afar is not an indication of immediate danger of life or limb.

 Then I come to your site and I see articles about how "police are tracking your movements in databases."

In my post, I link to commentary by Prof. Walter Block. In the commentary he does a wonderful job of explaining the lack of a right to privacy , but he goes beyond this and explains why the lack of a right to privacy does not apply to government invasion of our privacy :

There is no right to privacy; none at all. It is not a negative right, all of which are supported by libertarian theory; e.g., the right not to be molested, murdered, raped, etc. Rather, the so called right to privacy is a so called “positive right,” as in the “right” to food, clothing, shelter, welfare, etc. That is, it is no right at all; rather the “right” to privacy is an aspect of wealth. As Murray N. Rothbard (The Ethics of Liberty, chapter 16) made clear, there is only a right to private property, not privacy:

 It might, however, be charged that Smith does not have the right to print such a statement, because Jones has a “right to privacy” (his “human” right) which Smith does not have the right to violate. But is there really such a right to privacy? How can there be? How can there be a right to prevent Smith by force from disseminating knowledge which he possesses? Surely there can be no such right. Smith owns his own body and therefore has the property right to own the knowledge he has inside his head, including his knowledge about Jones. And therefore he has the corollary right to print and disseminate that knowledge. In short, as in the case of the “human right” to free speech, there is no such thing as a right to privacy except the right to protect one’s property from invasion. The only right “to privacy” is the right to protect one’s property from being invaded by someone else. In brief, no one has the right to burgle someone else’s home, or to wiretap someone’s phone lines. Wiretapping is properly a crime not because of some vague and woolly “invasion of a ‘right to privacy’,” but because it is an invasion of the property right of the person being wiretapped.

The government, of course, has no right to invade our privacy, since it has no rights at all. It should not exist. Period.  It is an illegitimate institution, since it initiates violence against innocent people. Therefore, it can have no right to do anything. Anything. 

Libertarians complain so much about aggression, but then can't see that pursuing someone is an act of aggression?

Again, here you are using a word pursuing that can have a connotation that means more than simply watching and following. Watching and following is what Zimmerman was doing, but that in no way implies pursuit in the way a fox pursues a rabbit.

 Ryanrpg writes:

 I understand what is meant when you and Walter Block say “there is no right to privacy”. However, for the purposes of communicating with others (and non-libertarians occasionally stumble upon libertarian websites) I think it is better to word this same concept differently. The very people who might be the most shocked by such a statement are MORE likely to become libertarian than, for example, those who think Snowden should be roasted alive over a spit fire. I think it would be better to say “Privacy is dependent upon the right to property.” One could use this analogy. Suppose two strangers broke into your home and began having sex in your bed. Would you have a right to know what they are doing and why? Of course you would. In their own home they have a right to do whatever they want without interference, in your home however, they only do if they have your permission.

Again, I want to stress here, I have no objection to your conclusions, only with the way you worded it. Libertarians have enough enemies in the world. We should not make more of them out of those who value privacy. Privacy advocates are valuable allies in many fights against government intrusion. We simply need them to see that privacy cannot exist without property rights.

There is no unbreakable link between privacy and private property. If a woman is bathing on her roof top in a bikini in NYC and a man in a high rise in a nearby building has a telescope and is watching her, her privacy would be invaded but it would not be a violation of libertarian principle---anymore so than a man turning around in a restaurant to look at a decent set of legs.

Bab emails:

 I am a fan of EPJ. But Unfortunately, on this one, you are off on social theories and sociology. Maybe even criminal justice.

Since Martin is dead, to explain what he did prior to witnesses and the beating would be futile. It's foolish to say he "confronted" Zimmerman. No one knows.

It is hard to know anything with 100% certainty in this world. However, the location of the altercation suggests that Martin doubledbacked to confront Zimmerman. Further,  the evidence relative to the bruises on Martin's fists and the injuries on Zimmerman suggest that Martin was the aggressor.

BTW, your point is about the facts of the case and not " social theories and sociology. Maybe even criminal justice."

I can speculate, too. See: Zimmerman has a history of violence with people, including the police. With these facts at hand, Zimmerman confronted Martin, and out of fear Martin used self defense and was killed as a result.

See how speculation is useless.

It's useless if you don't want to consider the all facts of the case, including the bruises on Martin's hands and the damage to Zimmerman's nose and head. 

Finally, Martin heeding the two options provided would have possibly led to a different outcome. A bigger discussion could be had but that's for possibly another time.

Why are the two options a discussion for "possibly another time"? That was the point of my post, libertarianism suggests civility and had Martin been a libertarian, who respected libertarian principles, he would be alive today.


  1. "It's useless if you don't want to consider the all facts of the case, including the bruises on Martin's hands and the damage to Zimmerman's nose and head."
    So? thats just evidence that there was a fight, one caused by Zimmerman following Martin.
    the incident developed between two goofballs; the wannabe cop and the punk kid with centuries of real and imagined slights against him and his race. The court case on the other hand is a collision between the internal security force of the state and a major voting bloc of the party that holds the imperial throne, and who won that.

    1. " caused by Zimmerman following Martin."

      Following is a non-violent act. Punching a person for following is initiation of violence against an innocent. Also, illegal.

  2. So in a fight between an unarmed kid with no record of violence and an armed adult with a record of violence and a history that suggest emotional disturbance, you're backing the latter?

    Since when have you backed the cops and the cop wannabes over unarmed civilians?

    1. Why don't you get your facts straight before commenting? Martin's text messages suggest he did, in fact, have a history of violence. In one such message, he complains that his opponent in a fight "aint breed [bleed] nuff 4 me, only his nose." He had gotten in trouble at school for fighting.

      And what is the significance of Martin being unarmed? Earlier this month, a group of unarmed black teenagers savagely beat a white man and then threw him into the street, where he was run over by a car and died. Last year, unarmed black teens beat a white man walking home from a convenience store so severely he suffered internal bleeding. I could go on.

    2. " unarmed kid with no record of violence..."

      You may want to check out Martin's past a bit more. Fighting, assault, guns...

  3. Widgetmaker, I think you need to check the facts. "Unarmed kid" may be right, but "no record of violence" is laughable.

  4. This whole case was about when was one of the people entitled to use lethal force. Even if Zimmerman was the aggressor, he was permitted to use lethal force as soon as Martin was using lethal force and became the aggressor, i.e. when Martin was on top beating Zimmerman into the ground. Martin could retreat, and had the duty to retreat. Zimmerman could not retreat and was entitled to use lethal force to defend lethal force.

  5. There are so many legitimate cases of injustice against blacks that deserve national scrutiny. Yet the media, politicians and professional race hustlers all choose this one, in which there is no evidence of an actual crime, and the existing evidence and eyewitness testimony supports Zimmerman's claim of self-defense. What's it all about? I suspect that, in addition to race baiting, it's mainly about gun control. It's actually an attack on the right of self-defense. It's an attempt to portray that right as bringing about vigilantism, anarchy, tragedy. The people attacking Zimmerman, including President Obama, don't believe that private citizens should ever defend themselves using a gun.

    If Zimmerman had been a cop, this story would never have made headlines. A cop can invade a house with a flash grenade and shoot a 12-year-old black girl in the head, be acquitted of wrongdoing, and the president and others weighing in against Zimmerman are silent.

  6. There was no evidence that Zimmerman attacked Martin. Following someone is not attacking them. Plus he had lost Martin before the confrontation.

    Zimmerman could be guilty, but it takes evidence to get a conviction. I don't know why people don't understand that.

  7. I believe Robert LeFevre addressed this problem in his comments regarding "manners" and "property boundaries":

    "When we are dealing with items that have precise boundaries and are subject to the control of the owners, we are dealing in the moral area. This gives us a concept where precision can appear. We know absolutely how far our property rights go. They go up to the boundaries of what we own, and thus control. They do not go beyond. So when we find ourselves in an area where the property (moral) rules cannot be invoked, for one reason or another, we fall into the area of manners. Good manners are a substitute for moral boundaries where the latter cannot be determined.

    "Let us suppose, for example, that a man enjoys eating onions. He purchases them and he eats them. This man wishes to go out with a woman who becomes ill if she has to smell onions. The man has a right to eat the onions. The woman has a right not to smell them. How do we get around that dilemma?

    continue reading...

  8. Bob is backing the *facts* and how they relate to libertarian principle. What is important to ask is "Who was the aggressor?"

    Any objective look at the facts shows that Martin was the aggressor. If anyone can argue otherwise based on the *facts*- not some theory about how watching someone is an act of aggression - I'd love to hear the logic behind it.

    Zimmermans past "emotional issues" are as irrelevant as the fact he worked with black youths. Neither of these answer the important question - *Who is the aggressor?"

    The facts point to Martin.

  9. FYI, Mas Ayoob agrees with you Bob.
    "It’s about evidence, not about “what-ifs.” The simple fact is, no matter what some want to believe and no matter how much the brainwashers of the media have twisted the facts, there is no solid evidence to support any theory other than that Martin didn’t like being watched, attacked Zimmerman violently, and was shot in self-defense by the man whose head he had been smashing against the sidewalk with potentially lethal effect."

  10. The basic right to be left alone is the right of Martin's that Zimmerman infringed first. Zimmerman had no idea who Martin was and it wasn't his business, as even the cops told him, to know.

    Zimmerman is the aggressor. The aggressor State let him off because his crime mirrors their constant "armed man shoots unarmed kid" narrative to a tee. He's also the one with a legal record of violence, not Martin. Martin may have been no angel but he wasn't a shoot-him-down-in-the-street desperado either.

    That some libertarians, for whom I've had great respect for, can't or won't see see who infringed rights first in this case is good wake up call for me. The State's narrative is a virulent, sneaky virus that infects even the best minds at some point.

    1. There is literally no such thing as a "basic right to be left alone". There is only property rights. Both Martin and Zimmerman were on communal property, where they both had the right to move freely.

      All the available evidence suggests Martin initiated the physical violence, and continued to do so despite Zimmerman being unable to defend himself. This is felony battery. In the cold, rainy night, with his head being pounded against the pavement by stranger, Zimmerman had every right to feel his life was in jeopardy.

      There was no reason for Martin to assault Zimmerman. He could have verbally confronted him, but there is zero grounds for throwing the first punch, and then sustaining the attack despite Zimmerman's pleas.

      (I'm ignoring the theory that Zimmerman potentially threw the first punch, or that Zimmerman was in control for any part of the fight. Why would a man with a gun punch someone bigger than himself, who he has deemed as suspicious and possibly dangerous? Or how could an heavy set, out of shape man wrestle his way out of having his head beaten into the ground by an athletic person who has experience fighting, and having zero injuries to his knuckles? It makes zero sense.)

      And if Zimmerman's account of the event is true, that Martin told him something to the effect of "you're going to die tonight," then Martin attempted murder. Do you think a person deserves to die after mistakenly following someone?

    2. @widgetmaker:

      To prove GZ is the aggressor, you would have to establish that simply following someone violates their rights. That is not the case from a libertarian perspective, as Walter Block and RW have shown above. But what about torts and legal statutes in our society? Why wasn't GZ charged with stalking, for example? Because it has long been established in common law that, in the absence of stalking statutes, a person is free to follow any other in public in a non-threatening manner. As far as the Florida stalking stature, to be guilty of the offense of aggravated stalking, the defendant must be guilty of stalking the individual and have an aggravating factor, such as making a credible threat. What GZ did does not classify as a credible threat. Even then, the proper response is not to assault and batter the stalker.

    3. "Zimmerman had no idea who Martin was and it wasn't his business, as even the cops told him, to know."

      A lackey telephone dispatcher is not a "Police officer" and has no legal (or ethically based) right to order anyone to do anything at all.

    4. There's a big difference between "the right to be left alone" and someone watching you. Zimmerman was in a public place watching Martin in a public place. Martin, if he so chose, could have gone into his fathers dwelling and prevented Zimmerman's watching. The act of watching is not a violent act.

      Martin decided to leave his father's yard and pursue Zimmerman, and then initiated violence against Zimmerman, for which Zimmerman was perfectly justified to defend himself.

      Martin was the aggressor.

  11. Zimmerman was never told "not to follow him." He was told by the 911 operator that he "didn't need to" follow trayvon. Fact is Zimmerman passed two lie detector tests, had a BROKEN NOSE, and trayvon only had bloody knuckles (and a hole in the chest). Sucks that Trayvon died, but that evidence (and more) is enough to doubt he was hunted and murdered by a (non) white racist.

  12. > There is literally no such thing as a "basic right to be left alone".

    That's what every goddam incipient collectivist I've ever known has always told me.

    > There is only property rights.

    Those "rights" are backed up by the power of the State. We don't have any "rights" in America until we replace the State with something in which contracts actually work.

    You seem to be making the argument that Zimmerman was hunting on the King's land and the King has forgiven him for the trespass. Good ol' King.

    I'm out. You all have a good night.

  13. For cases like this I like to imagine what I would have done. If some creepy fellow followed me in a car at night, I'd fear for my life. If he got out of his car and followed me, I'd run as fast as I can. And if he chased me I'd hide. And if it looked like he was going to find me, I'd attack him first (those live-or-die instincts, right? I'd forget I'm into libertarian stuff and I'm supposed to just die).

    And then I would have gotten shot and killed. And the person who fired the shot would have been exonerated? Strange.

    I read this blog constantly, and there is always much discussion about the surveillance state. How can anyone here support a situation where an individual is incidentally followed because he is suspicious, and then ultimately killed? How? Do we truly think that self-defense can be invoked for intentional acts? The whole concept of self-defense is about incidental occurrences. It is when two people walk down a street, and incidentally end up in a fight with each other. In fact self-defense makes much more sense for the victim in the case. All libertarians should understand this. Put yourself in the same situation as the victim. What would you have done? I believe for most of us, if you are true to yourself, you will realize that it is possible with your heart pumping in survival mode you would have gotten yourself killed, defending yourself so to speak.

    It was my previous understanding that libertarians were very much for a well-functioning, objective justice system. If shooting the air lands decades in prison, and shooting yourself lands two years in prison, but shooting someone else because *you didn't walk away* is OK, then justice has not been served properly or the laws must change. If the people feel there is no justice, they will live their lives as if there is none.

    The precedent of this case (at least in Florida) is that murder with good intentions is OK. Following and aggravating 'suspicious' characters is ok. Killing them when they may fear for their life is rewarded with freedom. This is a win for the surveillance state. If this is the sort of world quote libertarians quote want to live in, then I am in the wrong group.

    1. Anon, if you aren't against the initiation of physical aggression , and you are opposed to defense against that aggression, then I would suggest that yes, indeed, you are "in the wrong group."

    2. And your statement uses a fairy tale that is inconsistent with the facts.

      "Looks like he's going to find you"
      - what does this mean? Trayvon was "found" when Zimmerman saw him. The evidence showed Trayvon initiated the violence, as you yourself claim you also would.

    3. "And if he chased me..." But that's not what happened. The 911 operator advised they didn't need him to do that, so he broke off pursuit. THEN Martin attacked him.

      I'll put my self in Martin's place, sure.

      First, I wouldn't have gotten thrown out of school for theft and assaulting a bus driver.

      Second, I wouldn't be smoking weed, wouldn't be selling guns, and wouldn't have pictures of either on Twitter.

      Third, I wouldn't have been out in the rain buying watermelon drink and Skittles to mix a drug concoction called "Lean" so I could get high when I got home.

      Fourth, I would have simply gone into my parents' home when I arrived, and not doubled back to confront someone following me.

      Fifth, had I been confronted prior to arriving at my house, I would have inquired if there was a problem, explained myself, kept my distance, and been prepared to use my superior athleticism to outrun my fat, out of shape inquisitor if things turned for the worse.

      Sixth, had I not been close enough to home, had he attacked, had I not been able to run away, I would have defended myself, and looked for the first opportunity to disengage and flee.

      Martin did none of these. He escalated to violence at the first possible opportunity, and got shot.

  14. A 17 year old is not required to, and is in fact often biologically incapable of, being logical. Based on eye-witness accounts and Zimmerman's own testimony, Zimmerman acted like a murderer. He took actions that are NOT ACCEPTABLE for a civilian. I don't care what he said after the fact. I don't care how he felt. I don't care what his intentions were. I don't care about Trayvon Martin's background (this especially- he had no part in this whole thing! If Zimmerman didn't show up, he'd be alive). Zimmerman acted like a conspicuous aggressor. Trayvon Martin, were he older and smarter, would likely have been more cunning and would have escaped. But likely because he was a stupid teenager, he didn't. It is inexcusable for us to simply say Trayvon initiated the violence and leave out the context.

    By stalking in a car and seeking on foot, Zimmerman elicits attack. This is the behavior of someone preparing to assault or kill, in any situation on earth. All details about what Zimmerman said after the fact and about Martin's life story are completely irrelevant. The moment you, as an ordinary civilian, take it upon yourself to aggressively pursue anyone for any reason, and prompt retaliation, are setting yourself up for manslaughter or assault the moment you hurt someone. The reason this is so is because according to the law as we know it, murder with good intentions is not acceptable. Were this the case, we'd live in a world where you could be killed for any reason. Considering how many excuses we've made for Zimmerman- all sorts of completely absurd, awful rationalizations, like Trayvon Martin should have been smarter, he should have called the police, he should not have hurt Zimmerman so much, he should have went to his friend's house- it's a good example of what happens when we side with the aggressor and consent to murder with good intentions.

    Eye witness accounts confirm that Martin was surprised and confused by being followed. Self-defense is not applicable when you stalk someone and inspire fear and confusion. It simply isn't. It is not true to any definition of self-defense: legal, logical, or moral. If you inspire the fear of death or injury in someone and they strike you first, the instigator is in no way allowed to claim self-defense. Self-defense, always, is reserved for the party who was incidentally present. If Zimmerman was sleeping in that night, Trayvon Martin would be alive. Zimmerman was the instigator. Therefore it makes sense for Treyvon Martin to claim self-defense, but he was killed and so could not be present at the trial.

    You are also presenting an insane argument to state that Martin, or any victim, anywhere, but especially a foolish teen, should have saved his own life by doing such and such. When the details in these cases are gray, we are not supposed to side with the initiator and the instigator. We are not supposed to say that- "Well, if Trayvon Martin knew Zimmerman wasn't gonna hurt him, he would be alive!." This is an insane argument. It is like saying, "Well, if knew that by running 2 blocks and catching a taxi on the corner, he'd be alive, he should have done just that! Our murderer is off the hook because of the victim's mistakes!"

    This whole case is a standard manslaughter. An incidental passer-by was pursued for looking 'suspicious' and killed in a struggle. The instigator is guilty. This isn't complicated by any means. Vigilante justice, or murder with good intentions, is not permitted by the laws of the land. Therefore it was Zimmerman's duty and obligation to society to allow the authorities to handle the 'suspicious' character he spotted. His life wasn't in danger before he pursued on foot, and nobody else's life was in danger. His attempt to carry out justice on his own is forbidden and is certainly not supposed to be rewarded in our society today. But because the legal system failed, it was.