Archive for October, 2013
Fuck it. I can’t bring myself to have a Halloween metal day without posting something by Rob Zombie. So here’s Dragula, which doesn’t have anything specifically to do with Halloween, except the band’s namesake is basically the embodiment of Halloween, but it’s my favorite song by him:
Is there a more appropriate Halloween band than Lordi? OK, Rob Zombie may tie them simply because he’s also produced horror movies (seriously, that man take his horror theme to the next level). But most of Lordi’s music deals with horror themes and that’s basically the theme of the holiday. The Devil is a Loser was chosen by random and my choice has nothing whatsoever to do with the jack-o’-lantern that appears at the beginning of the video:
If I have to introduce Black Sabbath to you then you’re already dead to me:
Halloween is the most metal holiday. Skulls, corpses, zombies, demons, Death, and other ghoulish decor is put up everywhere. Children and adults are running around screaming. More fake blood is dispensed than at a GWAR concert. It truly is wonderful.
To celebrate this most metal of holidays I will be taking a break from my usual content. Instead I will be posting metal appropriate for the holiday. What? Was I up late and therefore unable to post actual content? Of course not! I would never do such a thing. Well, maybe a little bit. OK, I admit it, I had nothing prepared. Whatever, you get what you pay for. Now shut up and listen to Fear of the Dark by Iron Maiden:
It’s October 31st, which means it’s the one day out of the year where the powers of evil want temporarily and children are allowed to have fun again. Put on a costume and go out and enjoy yourself. While the children are knocking on doors and begging for candy us adults can slam down beers at the bar. But beware, once the sun sets the forces of evil begin to rise again and the badged demons may start hassling both children and adults.
Looking through my recent posts I discovered that I had forgotten to actually publish this post. In the spirit of better late than never I hereby notify my readers that there will be a firearm carry and safety expo on November 2nd at Zylstra Harley-Davidson in Elk River, Minnesota:
Advocates of gun control have been trying to buy their way in politics for ages now. Seeing Michael Bloomberg’s actions in other state, including Virginia, to push for gun control the gun owners of Minnesota have decided to perform a political preemptive strike and start their own political action committee:
The Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee will mobilize Minnesotans to support pro-Second Amendment candidates through grassroots efforts. The PAC also plans to endorse and financially support candidates in the primary & general elections in Minnesota’s 2014 elections for the legislature & statewide offices.
Why not? Politics is all about money. If you can’t entice politicians with money they’re going to go with somebody else. Part of the reason I find politics to be some hopeless is because I, unlike Bloomberg, am not a billionaire who can afford to buy politicians. Combined Minnesota gun owners may be able to outspend Bloomberg and preserve our current gun ownership privileges (I’m sorry, but I can’t refer to them as rights since we need the state’s permission to own firearms before we can legally do so).
Linoge over at Walls of the City has an excellent post describing what laws actually do:
Laws, in general, do two things*. First, they define what a government does not like, whether it is killing another person (after all, no government likes having their population of taxpayers reduced), not paying your taxes (see previous comment), or consuming X substance (despite Y substance yielding much the same affect on you, but still being legal). Second, laws give governments the ability to punish people for doing things they do not like (or, alternatively, in the case of Obamacare, not doing something the government does like).
And before someone trots out the straw man that my argument boils down to, “Well, if there is no point in X law because criminals will break it, then why have laws at all?” allow me to re-introduce you to the notions of malum prohibitum and malum in se. “Safe storage”, “universal background checks”, arbitrary magazine capacity limitations, and all the rest of those are malum prohibitum laws – having a magazine loaded with 30 rounds in New York state harms no one, but it is illegal there because the government has defined it as being illegal. On the other hand, laws prohibiting, and punishing, murder are malum in se laws – these are crimes deserving of punishment because you have detrimentally harmed someone against their will.
The latter is generally necessary for society to exist and get along within itself (though Christopher Burg may disagree).
It may surprise many people to hear that I agree with Linoge’s post. Even us anarchists believe laws are necessary to lay down ground rules for human interaction. Where we disagree is how those laws are created and enforced. As I explained in my post on laws under anarchism, even stateless societies have laws. The difference from societies with states is that laws in stateless societies are almost exclusively malum in se.
Instead of giving some suit-glad guys in marble buildings a monopoly on creating laws, stateless societies put the burden of creating laws on the people themselves. In order for a law to arise in a stateless society enough members must be willing to invest the resources necessary to enforce it. These resources include time, money, and the risk of bodily harm or death. Because of this the laws in a stateless society tend to involve demonstrable harm and enforcement techniques tend to be efficient (in regards to resource usage).
Let’s look at prohibitions for a moment. Consider the rate at which the United States is traveling down the road to complete cigarette prohibition. Many people disapprove of cigarette smoking and have worked to pass laws prohibiting it in public areas. People who oppose cigarette smoking fight for such laws because they are not directly responsible for enforcing them. If we ever reach a point where cigarette smoking is prohibited it will be treated the same as other prohibitions. Consequences will involved costume-clad badge-wearing men kicking down your door in the middle of the night, kidnapping you, and throwing you in a cage (and probably shooting your dog). In a stateless society individuals wanting to prohibit cigarette smoking would have to do the enforcement themselves. Can you imagine the consequences of an individual kicking down a smoker’s door and attempting to kidnap him? Without the general legal barriers to self-defense that societies with states have on the books, the risk of such an act would be very high. The prohibitionist would likely be shot by the home owner or possibly shot by the smoker’s neighbors, who may see the act of enforcing a prohibition as an act of assault.
Meanwhile people have a general disdain for theft, assault, and murder. Statists often ask what motivation individuals in a stateless society would have to defend their fellows. In societies with states we see a tendency for individuals to call the cops when witnessing an act of aggression. The reasons for this attitude are many but it is strongly influenced by the potential risks of intervening (laws that acts as barriers to self-defense) and a general apathy towards the well-being of our fellow individuals (since we’ve grown accustomed to leaving the state to provide for the general welfare). These barriers don’t exist in a stateless society. In fact the opposite is true. When individuals are expected to shoulder the burden of law enforcement the lack of action can lead to social ostracism. If you’re unwilling to put yourself on the line by defending your neighbors then your neighbors are unlikely to put themselves on the line to defend you.
Laws will always exist but the way they’re created is important. Decrees from rulers tend to focus heavily on malum prohibitum whereas laws created by spontaneous order tend to focus heavily on malum in se. The latter are necessary for social interactions because such interactions are impossible if individuals are constantly under the threat of violence. The former is dangerous because they put everybody under the threat of nonretaliatory violence.
Sometimes you have to feel sorry for the state. It has a lot of problems. Between being unable to centrally plan economic matters and failing to wipe out or enslave everybody under the rule of other states the state has a very difficult time. But when the medical industry is competing with the it to acquire drugs necessary to execute people, well, your heart can’t help but go out to the state:
Shortages of anaesthetic drugs usually used in lethal injection, the most common method of execution, are forcing states to find alternative sedatives. Propofol, used up to 50 million times a year in US surgical procedures, has never been used in an execution. If the execution had gone ahead, US hospitals could have lost access to the drug because 90% of the US supply is made and exported by a German company subject to European Union (EU) regulations that restrict the export of medicines and devices that could be used for capital punishment or torture. Fearing a ban on propofol sales to the United States, in 2012 the drug’s manufacturer, Fresenius Kabi in Bad Homburg, ordered its US distributors not to provide the drug to prisons.
This brings me to my rant for the day. The way the death penalty is handled in this country is absolutely insane. Most countries have the decency to just execute prisoners. Here in the United States we pretend that we’re more civilized because we go through a lot of pointless rituals before we execute somebody (in prison, the cops are far less ritualistic when they kill somebody). Only “humane” methods are used to execute prisoners. Let that roll around in your head for a minute. Only humane methods are used to execute prisoners. That’s almost too oxymoronic for me to even write.
In addition to use very complicated methods to execute prisoners the United States attempts to come to terms with its conscious by throwing additional rituals into the mix. Reading the prisoner his or her last rights, allowing him or her to have a last meal of their choosing, marching them down death row, and giving him or her a chance to say some final words are all little rituals used to absolve our conscious. We use those little rituals to make ourselves feel better about executing a guy whose crime is so far in the past (after all, it takes a long time to execute somebody) that killing him or her really has no point.
Obviously I’m not a fan of the death penalty but if a state is going to go ahead with it I would appreciate some honesty. It should stop wrapping the process in a bunch of rituals designed to make the act of killing seem like something else. That includes a move away from fancy execution methods like lethal injection. If the state is bound and determined to execute somebody then it should just use a fucking bullet to the head. That may save us a bunch of pretense about humanely executing somebody and make the act far more reflective of what it is: killing.
I’ve been thinking over the story of the 13 year-old shot by police for holding a pellet gun. Officers hit the teenager seven times out of a believed eight rounds fired. At first this lead me to one of two possibilities. Either the officer took glee in unloading rounds into the teenager or he had poor shot placement.
But another thought has crossed my mind regarding this incident. Since a police officer performed the shooting many people, including advocates of gun control, seem willing to assume fault on behalf of the teenager. We have little more than the officers’ words to go by since the teenager is dead. After 30 years of living on this planet one of the lessons I’ve learned is that police officers aren’t more honest than other individuals. In fact I’ve found that police officers are quite often dishonest. I’m not willing to simply believe the officers’ stories. Even the outcome of the investigation may be in question because the same organization that shot the teenager is performing the investigation. Having a monopoly on law enforcement and justice has its benefits.
Now let’s assume that the person who shot the teenager wasn’t a police officer but an average Joe with a carry permit. Do you think people would be blaming the teenager or the permit holder? My guess is that the permit holder would be the one receiving the brunt of the blame. We need only look at the shooting of Trayvon Martin to get an idea of how things may have gone down. Before any evidence was brought forth people would be calling for the permit holder’s head. The media would be reporting about how the horrible permit holder purposely shot the small child for no reason whatsoever. We would learn about how the kid worked at several local charities, excelled in school, and never did anything wrong. Every bit of dirt on the permit holder would be dug up and put under a microscope. The fact that the permit holder felt threatened by what he thought was a real rifle would be brushed aside. It would be written off as a lame excuse to get away with murdering a child in cold blood. Even if the evidence later exonerated the permit holder his life would be ruined by the media’s character assassination.
This is something to think about. As permit holders we are under far more scrutiny than police officers. While the average person, media, and courts tend to side with the police the same is not true for permit holders. I guess they believe that an officer’s costume and badge somehow make him morally superior to the common man. But my point is that life will be far different for us than it is for a police officer. While police officers get a paid vacation after shooting somebody we get to spend time in a cage. Media outlets will generally consider the evidence and explanations put forth by police officers after a shooting. As permit holders we don’t receive the same treatment. Ever grain of dirt will be brought out for the public to see.
The bottom line is this: we need to be absolutely sure of our targets. We have to be so sure of our targets that we’re willing to go to jail for the remainder of our lives over not defending ourselves. Equality under the law, at least here in the United States, is a myth. Police officers, as the state’s enforcers, receive special privileges that us serfs do not. Keep this fact in mind at all times and let it guide you in whatever manner you see fit.