Cultural Libertarianism

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, one of the few remaining writers at Reason worth reading, wrote an article discussing a particular pebble that has been in my shoe as of late — cultural libertarianism:

Today’s “cultural libertarians” claim to be concerned, first and foremost, with free speech and fending off the “illiberal” or “regressive left.” Where they succeed, from a libertarian-no-qualifier perspective, is in igniting the passions of young people toward the protection of civil liberties. Where they fail is by turning off more people in the process than they win over, delighting in the kinds of tactics and stunts that provoke but little else. Going to a feminist rally and holding up signs saying “there is no rape culture” may seem edgy when you’re 20, but most people realize that intruding on private events just to throw shade simply makes you an asshole, not a radical for free expression.

That paragraph sums up my feels quite concisely. While libertarianism certainly allows for individuals to make complete asses of themselves and I would never use coercive force to stop somebody from making an ass of themselves, I do get tired of these libertarians who seem hellbent on making asses of themselves.

Whenever a feminist, social justice advocate, or any other person these libertarian reactionaries have deemed leftists make a statement they are quick to respond. And by respond I mean with as offensive of statements as possible, not anything that would lead to constructive conversation. In addition to make these reactionaries look like asses their behavior is also counterproductive. There is a lot of common ground between libertarianism and feminism, social justice advocacy, and other so-called leftist philosophies.

Consider racism. If you try to discuss the issue of racism you’ll inevitably have one of these reactionaries calling you a social justice warrior and saying various racial slurs over and over in a pathetic attempt to be edgier than my Benchmade. But the fact of the matter is, many laws in the United States do institutionalize racism even though they claim to be neutral on the matter of race. This is a topic libertarians and advocates of social justice could work together against the State.

An important question to ask yourself, if you’re a libertarian, is whether you actually want to move society towards libertarianism. If you do then being edgy isn’t going to cut it (I’m not apologizing for that pun, it’s a damn good pun). The only way we’ll move society towards libertarianism is by making libertarianism appealing (it’s that damn market rearing its head again). This is where socialists tend to succeed over libertarians. A socialist can tell somebody facing oppression that their oppression will be a thing of the past because the socialist government will come down on their oppressors like a bag of hammers… and sickles (seriously, these are good puns, don’t try to tell me otherwise). Libertarians needs to explain how the State, by legislating oppression, is the biggest enabler of oppression. That requires actually listening to people’s stories and working with them to figure out a way libertarian principles can solve or at least reduce their problems.

I, like many libertarians, am a contrarian by nature so I understand that telling a group of feminists discussing rape culture that rape culture isn’t a real thing can sound amusing. But it’s also counterproductive (and a really shitty thing to do). What is far more productive, and I know this because it’s what I’ve done, is to listen to them and try to work with them to achieve mutual goals (which is why I invest so much time in advocating self-defense, because rape is a real problem and everybody should be able to defend themselves against rapists).

The Only Argument In Favor Of A Cruz Nomination

I find almost nothing redeemable about Ted Cruz. The same goes for his competitors — and his party — and the opposing party — and its candidates. But somebody has finally given a valid reason to support Cruz as the Republican nominee:

Just when it seems that Rep. Peter King must have exhausted his venom for Ted Cruz, he fires off another poisoned dart.

“I hate Ted Cruz, and I think I’ll take cyanide if he ever got the nomination,” the New York Republican told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday, as voters prepared to cast ballots in the state’s primary.

I admit that the thought of Peter King voluntarily consuming cyanide fills my heart with joy.

Loyalty To The Party

Politics is a necessarily collectivist activity. This is why I find the Libertarian Party amusing. Admittedly, of all the political parties out there — with the exception of the Guns and Dope Party — I hate the Libertarian Party the least. But the fact that it must constantly be at odds with itself makes for some top tier comedy.

I was at the Minnesota Libertarian Party Convention this weekend, helping run the Agorist Suite (I wasn’t part of the convention itself outside of giving a security talk), and the topic of John McAfee stating he would not vote for Gary Johnson came up a few times. What I found most interesting is that a lot of libertarians were very upside by McAfee’s statement. Apparently the most important aspect of being a Libertarian Party candidate is loyalty to the party.

These are the kinds of collectivist traps one finds themselves in when claiming to be an individualist but participating in the political process. McAfee’s personal choice to not support Gary Johnson shouldn’t be an issue. He shouldn’t be expected to provide active support to a party that nominates a candidate he doesn’t approve of. Yet his announcement is being treated like high treason by some. Many have even said his statement has convinced them not to support him any longer.

One of the reasons I don’t involve myself in the political process is because I’m not willing to set aside my individualist principles. If somebody says they won’t support a party because of personal objections I’m not willing to harangue them over it. In fact such an action would demonstrate to me that the person is more of an individualist than the people criticizing them.

I can’t help but doubt the feasibility of any means the requires compromising expressed philosophical beliefs.

Some Inspiration For You

Those of us living under the boot of the State — which is to say almost all of us — need a little inspiration from time to time. Fortunately, many animals seem less willing to accept their chains that humans. Last week two heroic animals reminded us that freedom is something to always be strived for.

First up was Inky the octopus:

By the time the staff at New Zealand’s National Aquarium noticed that he was missing, telltale suction cup prints were the main clue to an easily solved mystery.

Inky had said see ya to his tank-mate, slipped through a gap left by maintenance workers at the top of his enclosure and, as evidenced by the tracks, made his way across the floor to a six-inch-wide drain. He squeezed his football-sized body in — octopuses are very malleable, aquarium manager Rob Yarrall told the New Zealand website Stuff — and made a break for the Pacific.

Next up was Cha Cha the chimpanzee:

A chimpanzee named Cha Cha escaped from a zoo in Sendai, Japan, and led police and zoo staff on a dramatic two-hour chase through a residential neighborhood, according to NHK, Japan’s largest broadcaster.


I have a similar reaction when somebody tries to cage me.

Unfortunately Cha Cha was recaptured. But failure usually precedes success so there’s still hope.

Simulation Of The Titanic Sinking

I spent the evening working on my submission for the Agorist Writers Workshop so there isn’t much in the way of content today. One thing that I did come across that was rather neat though was a realtime simulation of the sinking of the Titanic. I admit that I jumped around as I didn’t have two hours and forty minutes to watch a ship sink but it was still neat.

FBI Found Nothing Significant On Farook’s iPhone

After all that fuss over Farook’s iPhone the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) finally managed to unlock it without conscripting Apple. So did the agency find information that will allow them to arrest the next terrorists before they can attack? Did the phone contain the secret to destroying the Islamic State? No and no. It turns out, as most people expected, there wasn’t anything significant on the phone:

A law enforcement source tells CBS News that so far nothing of real significance has been found on the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone, which was unlocked by the FBI last month without the help of Apple.

It was stressed that the FBI continues to analyze the information on the cellphone seized in the investigation, senior investigative producer Pat Milton reports.

All that hullabaloo over nothing. This is a reoccurring trend with the State. It makes a big stink about something to justify a demand for additional powers. Eventually it’s revealed that reason it needed the additional power was nothing more than fear mongering. Why anybody takes the State seriously is beyond me.

Mind Blowing Research

Sometimes I wonder about the average intelligence of our society:

One finding that really surprised us is that a good deal of the potential for miscommunication may come from different interpretations of the exact same emoji rendering.

They were “really surprised” that a system of communication based on subjectively interpreted symbols was confusing?

Cripes. That shouldn’t have been surprising to anybody. Especially not to aspiring Ph.D.s.

I’m fascinated by languages. When I was in high school I studied German, in college I studied Japanese. Last year I learned Esperanto and this year I’m studying Latin. What fascinates me about languages is that they all accomplish the same basic thing, communicating ideas between individuals, but with vastly different rulesets. German uses pronouns where Latin uses conjugations. Esperanto uses a Latin alphabet where Japanese uses a writing system adapted from the Chinese writing system. Since the rules are well defined (even though they don’t necessarily have to be strictly abided by) anybody who understand a set of rules can communicate with anybody else that understands those same rules.

There are no well defined rules surrounding the usage of emojis. Each symbol doesn’t have a specific well known meaning like the symbols used in English or Chinese do. So it should be obvious that using emojis to communicate is going to be more confusing than using languages with well defined rules. Apparently it’s not obvious and resources had to be invested into researching whether the use of emojis is confusing or not. To make matters worse the researchers were “really surprised” that their research showed that using emojis is confusing.

This Is Why I Try To Wait For Proof

I’m fortunate in that I follow a lot of intelligent security professionals. When it was first announced that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) had hired a partner to break into Farook’s iPhone 5C the speculation was that the partner was Cellebrite. Note the key word, speculation. Most of the people initially speculating on the topic were careful to couch their terms as hypothetical but that didn’t stop media outlets from reporting speculation as fact. The problem with reporting speculation as fact is that it’s often wrong:

The FBI cracked a San Bernardino terrorist’s phone with the help of professional hackers who discovered and brought to the bureau at least one previously unknown software flaw, according to people familiar with the matter.


The bureau in this case did not need the services of the Israeli firm Cellebrite, as some earlier reports had suggested, people familiar with the matter said.

When the media reports something as fact do yourself a favor and dig into the story. You may find out that the fact is actually speculation.

Sometimes A Judge Displays Some Common Sense

Although the system of “checks and balances” that make up this nation’s various governmental bodies more commonly looks like a circlejerk, sometimes a judge displays some good, excuse the pun, judgement:

A west-central Minnesota judge has tossed out the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ highest-profile deer-poaching bust in recent memory, saying a GPS device that conservation officers attached to the suspect’s pickup was illegal.


Van Hon said in his ruling that had the DNR asked for a search warrant to place the tracking device on Liebl’s truck, the request probably would have been granted.

“Although the [tracking order] application provided sufficient basis for finding probable cause to issue a warrant, no finding of probable cause was requested or made,” Van Hon wrote in his decision. He added:

“The court cannot retroactively transform what is not a warrant into a warrant. The tracking order is not the equivalent of a warrant. … In the present case there was ample information to support a finding of probable cause for a warrant to issue for the GPS device.”

This cases falls under that legal category loathed by so many prosecutors: a technicality. In this case the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), according to the judge, likely had enough evidence get get a warrant. But the agency didn’t get a warrant so the judge threw the case out instead of bending the rules to favor his employer, the State.

So much of what people, especially law enforcers and prosecutors, see as bureaucratic red tape is often the only thing standing between a prosecutor desperate to get a guilty plea and an innocent person. Sometimes that red tape lets a guilty person walk free but, as William Blackstone once said, “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”

It’ll be interesting to see if the DNS chooses to appeal this case and, if so, whether the next judge will “transform what is not a warrant into a warrant.”