Liberty & Power: Group Blog
Aeon J. Skoble
Follow-up thought: I'm overdue for re-reading the book! Maybe the impending film will motivate me to do that.
David T. Beito
. The crowd was on its feet, some cheering"Cheney for president!" The boos from CPAC's libertarian contigent continued and at times interrupted Cheney's remarks.
"America is stronger and more secure" because of Rumsfeld's service, Cheney said, prompting one person to loudly shout,"Where's bin Laden at!"
Some of the vice president's supporters shouted,"Shut up!" and started a loud chant of"USA, USA!"
The jeering continued, with some yelling"draft dodger!" at Cheney.
"What I do know, however, is that his extradition from Britain, in these circumstances, could not have happened 100, 200 or even 10 years ago, when Britain considered itself to be more liberal, and was certainly more sovereign."
The Al Jazeera article referenced is an excellent opinion piece by Lew Rockwell on the uprising in Egypt. The information about Murray Rothbard's estate is in Lew's bio note at the bottom. BTW, I believe Lew inherited only the rights to Murray's works, not to any other financial aspect of the estate...but I could be wrong.
For more commentary, visit WendyMcElroy.com
David T. Beito
Martín, who has followed this story for some time, is seeking to bring greater public scrutiny to the matter, which on its face appears to involve oppressive state action against inoffensive people who have violated no one’s rights and who seek only to live in peace according to their religious convictions. The group has recently established a website, although at present the site has little content and not all of the materials posted there have been translated into English. The website is available at http://www.congregaciondelolivo.com/en/persecucion_sec_8.html.
If the authorities have acted as heavy-handedly as they appear to have acted, then it would serve the cause of justice if publicity were brought to bear on their actions and efforts were made to ensure that the Congregación del Olivo receives the just treatment to which all persons are entitled.
Despite my own outlook being made more sunny by the recent doings in Afghanistan, I grant that even the most ardent American patriot may read the following and despair of our most prominent imperial venture:"A scandal at Kabul Bank, Afghanistan’s embattled lender, has engulfed prominent reformers in the government of Hamid Karzai." In the circus that is Afghanistan’s government – a staunch ally ever since we created it post-invasion – everything that isn’t nailed down is stolen and even the reformers need reforming.
Click here to read the rest.
The it over which so many vacillate is capital punishment -- the sanctioned execution of those convicted of a crime punishable by death. Laws vary across America, with about two-thirds of the states permitting capital punishment, usually in aggravated murder cases, while the others either ban or do not authorize it.
On a federal level, the death penalty attaches to a wider variety of 'crimes' including treason and espionage.
Intense debate surrounds this issue.
Perhaps the most vigorous one revolves around the possibility (or inevitability) of wrongful convictions causing the execution of innocent people. High-profile campaigns by organizations like the Innocence Project ensures that this line of argument will remain active; the Project uses DNA testing to exonerate convicted criminals. To date, 266 convicts have been exonerated, including 17 on death row.
Within libertarianism, capital punishment remains a point of unsettled theory. Libertarians generally agree on the imprudence of granting government the power of life and death but this important concern is not a fundamental one. The question of capital punishment would also confront a private justice system.
Could a private court properly deliver a death sentence?
To rephrase the question: can you justly kill a stranger who has done you no personal harm and who poses no immediate threat to others? This is what a courtroom does when it sentences an already imprisoned man to die.
If capital punishment is proper, then it is based on the right of self-defense, the right to kill another person who uses deadly force against you. Once the threat of deadly force has gone, however, courts – or, more broadly, a legal system – take over. If people were permitted to personally execute yesterday's aggressor in his sleep, it would become impossible for third parties to tell victims from perps. A third party might well come to the defense of the aggressor, killing the victim-vigilante in the process. Thus, one role of a proper court system is to provide the public objectivity that prevents society from resembling a Hobbesian war of all against all.
In short, if an individual has the right to personally kill another during deadly aggression, then he can properly delegate that right to a private court.
But what of the aggressor and his rights? The 19th century classical liberal Herbert Spencer believed rights could be alienated through acts of aggression. For example, by murdering, a man stripped himself of the humanity required to claim a reciprocal right to life and, so, he reduced himself to the level of a base animal. The 20th century Austrian economist Murray Rothbard argued that an aggressor forfeited rights to the extent that he had violated them himself.
The foregoing case for free market capital punishment is counties away from conclusive. The imposed brevity of discussion means that far more is unexplored than touched upon. Moreover, capital punishment raises many troubling and unresolved questions. For example, if it is proper to kill an aggressor, why not just hideously torture him for months instead? After all, the imposition of pain is a lesser punishment than death.
For libertarians, however, capital punishment may remain a theoretical football.
The government is in charge of all aspects of the death penalty and this one fact presents an insuperable barrier to advocacy. It is not merely that the encroaching state cannot be trusted with power; it is, as the Innocence Project spotlights, that the system is rampantly bureaucratic and inefficient.
In an increasingly militarized and militant society, capital punishment is likely to expand both in definition and application. In Louisiana and Florida, the death penalty covers aggravated rape. Connecticut includes drug trafficking that results in a death. Alabama will execute you for airplane hijacking.
As definition and application expand, it becomes increasingly dangerous for the government to have the institutionalized 'right' to execute.
In short, whether libertarian theory can embrace capital punishment is a fascinating debate but, in the current reality, there is only one practical answer: ban the procedure.
For more commentary, please visit WendyMcElroy.com.